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Peter Woite (Port Adelaide)

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SANFL: Redlegs Rule the Roost

The foundations of Norwood's return to pre-eminence were laid by Robert Oatey, who coached the club, for an ostensibly miserly return of just two finals appearances, between 1968 and 1973. Like his father, Jack, Robert Oatey placed the onus clearly and irrevocably on skill. Players spent long hours at training ironing out perceived deficiencies, ensuring that they could dispose of the ball equally well with both feet (and, indeed, with both hands), and performing drills aimed at augmenting teamwork rather than self-reliance.  The result was a gradual, season by season improvement which meant that, when former North Adelaide champion Bob Hammond took over from Oatey as senior coach in 1974, he inherited a playing group with genuine premiership credentials. If there was a missing ingredient, at least according to the popular contemporary perception, it was that the players, despite their undoubted skill, were mentally weak, and exhibited a concomitant tendency to crumble under pressure. What they needed was a mentor with personal experience of coping successfully with the type and level of pressure which confronted teams at finals time. Enter the aforementioned Bob Hammond, a triple premiership player with North Adelaide and arguably one of the toughest players in the state over the preceding decade and a half, to instill that “missing something” into the mix, transforming a team of 'bridesmaids' into “brides” in the process.

Superficially persuasive as this viewpoint might seem the truth was probably a trifle more mundane. In players like Phil Carman, Ross Dillon, Jim Michalanney, John Wynne, Neil Button, Roger Woodcock and Mike Poulter Norwood already had the nucleus of a flag-winning combination. In 1975, the increased maturity of these players, coupled with the arrival of two highly talented defenders in the shape of Rodney Pope (from West Adelaide) and Stephen Kerley (from Melbourne) gave the side the final necessary impetus to maneuvre it from the status of contenders to that of bona fide champions. 

Despite Norwood's finishing the 1975 minor round at the head of the ladder with only 2 defeats it was Glenelg, which during the season had scored a large number of substantial victories, that was widely favoured for the flag.  This favouritism was reinforced following a high quality second semi final which saw the Bays move straight into the grand final after comprehensively defeating the Redlegs by 29 points, 21.9 (135) to 16.10 (106).

Losing in the second semi final has often been seen in hindsight as affording a much needed impetus to eventual premiership-winning combinations (although it could equally be argued that the team which wins the second semi final tends to accord an exaggerated degree of significance to the achievement which spawns complacency a fortnight later).  Whatever the reason, Norwood in 1975 quickly recovered from its disappointment by outclassing Port Adelaide 11.19 (85) to 8.7 (55) in the preliminary final, giving the pundits considerable pause for thought before the grand final re-match with Glenelg.

After a season of high scores and gargantuan winning margins[5] the final game of the year was atypical in the extreme. In front of 53,283 spectators Norwood and Glenelg waged an all out war of attrition with neither side able to establish a decisive break at any juncture. Overall, however, the Redlegs appeared to have the edge in both desperation and incisiveness; they led for most of the afternoon, and when the final siren sounded the scoreboard showed a difference of two straight kicks between the sides, in Norwood's favour.  Scarcely a classic grand final, it was, nevertheless, as far as the navy and red fraternity was concerned, an extremely memorable one, ending as it did an unprecedented period of a quarter of a century in the football wilderness. Final scores showed Norwood 9.10 (64); Glenelg 7.10 (52), with ruckmen Neil Button and Michael Gregg, centreman Rod Seekamp, wingman Glen Rosser, and half backs Rodney Pope and Stephen Kerley among the leading lights for the victors. For Redlegs coach Bob Hammond it must have been difficult to decide which was the overriding emotion, elation or relief.  Among the 3,000 or so Norwood aficionados who converged on the Parade later that evening were many who, two years earlier, had openly and vociferously questioned Hammond's appointment, but dissenting voices now were conspicuous by their absence.

Glenelg’s habit of reaching grand finals only to lose continued in 1975. This was their fifth grand final appearance in seven seasons and only once, in 1973, had they managed to win. Questioning the players’ attitude would be churlish, however. Under the coaching of Neil Kerley the Bays had firmly established themselves as one of South Australian football’s “big four”, along with Norwood, Port Adelaide and Sturt. Given that the Tigers amassed considerably more points than any other team in 1975 it should come as no surprise that they boasted the league’s top goal kicker in the shape of Dennis “Fred” Phillis who booted 108 goals. Phillis had previously topped the SANFL’s goal kicking list in 1969, 1970 and 1971.

Fourth after the minor round Port Adelaide accounted for North Adelaide by 30 points in the elimination final and, somewhat unexpectedly, Sturt by 67 points in the first semi final. However, Norwood in the preliminary final ultimately proved much too strong, kicking 5.7 to 0.1 in the final term to win “pulling away” by 30 points. Port had reason to be optimistic about the future, however, as they boasted a youthful playing group, while Jack Cahill was improving all the time as coach.

Winning best and fairest awards at Port Adelaide in the 1970s was no easy matter - unless your name happened to be Russell Ebert, that is. One player to buck the trend was Peter Woite, who won the Magpies' top individual award in 1975 - and, for good measure, threw in a Magarey Medal as well.

Woite began with Port Adelaide in 1969, when he starred on the half back flank in the first two quarters of a pre-season match against Melbourne, only for injury to put him out for virtually the remainder of the year.  His full scale resumption in 1970 was spectacularly successful, and he earned selection on a wing in South Australia's team to meet the VFL at the Adelaide Oval in May, when he was widely acclaimed as the home side's best player. Apart from anything else, the performance highlighted his versatility, as he was being used at centre half forward by Port in club games.

Arguably Woite's best position, however, was centre half back, where his authoritative, one grab marking, excellent anticipation, and good rebound skills came to the fore. Recognising these traits, North Melbourne endeavoured to sign him in 1976 with an offer that would, allegedly, have made him the highest priced South Australian recruit in VFL history. In the end, Woite elected not to transfer, although that was far from the end of the matter as North took him to court in an attempt to recoup an alleged $10,000 “signing on” fee.  Fortunately for Woite, the judge ruled in his favour.

A member of Port's 1977 premiership team, Woite later joined grand final rivals Glenelg where he saw out his career with a further 20 league games in 1979-80, taking his final tally to 202.  He represented South Australia a dozen times.

Sturt disappointed in the major round after winning 15 and losing just 3 matches during the home and away rounds. Statistically, the Blues boasted the best defence in the competition, but they were comprehensively outgunned in both finals matches, losing the qualifying final to Glenelg by 26 points, and the first semi final to Port by 67 points in the most one-sided match of the major round. Like Port, the Double Blues had a comparatively young squad, and their future looked rosy.

It has to be said that fifth placed North Adelaide, with just 8 wins from 18 matches, were scarcely finals material, and this was proved in a substandard elimination final which saw the two teams register 19.52 between them. The Roosters only win against a top four side occurred in round eight when they downed Sturt at Prospect Oval by 15 points, 13.16 (94) to 10.19 (79).

Had sixth placed West Adelaide won 1 more match they would have qualified for the finals on percentage. As it was, their unexpected round fifteen loss to eventual wooden spooners West Torrens at Thebarton was perhaps crucial, althopugh they still went within a whisker of making the major round as North Adelaide had to come from behind to win their final match of the season against Woodville.

For Central District the debacle at Glenelg Oval on Saturday 12th August would be both agonising to reflect upon and impossible to forget. The Bulldogs actually conceded no fewer than 82 goals in their 2 minor round clashes with the Bays in 1975, an undignity unlikely ever to be experienced by any other SANFL club.

Eighth placed South Adelaide (5 wins), ninth team Woodville (4 wins) and bottom side West Torrens (2 wins) all finished light years off the pace in 1975. For West Torrens it was a remarkable and rather surprising fall from grace as the Eagles had finished the 1974 season extremely well, ultimately contesting the finals. 

Gary Dempsey (Footscray)

Norwood's Roger Woodcock

Alan Watling (West Perth)

VFL: Kangas Claim Their First VFL Flag

The feelings of dejection and hurt on which Barassi so calculatedly focused, and which he reinforced at every opportunity, contributed in no small measure to the club's long awaited breakthrough premiership in 1975. As Barassi himself later recalled, "The hunger won it for us”.[1]  Indeed, after an appalling start to the season which saw the side lose its opening 4 games, that hunger no doubt verged on malnutrition.  In any event, the form of the team gradually improved, with 11 wins from the last 13 matches of the year finally securing third spot on the ladder going into the finals. A comfortable 20 point qualifying final defeat of Carlton raised confidence, but Hawthorn threw a substantial spanner into the works by downing North by 11 points in a bruising second semi final. The sole positive to be drawn from this defeat was that it enabled the Kangaroos to achieve revenge over their 1974 nemesis Richmond in the preliminary final, and this they duly did with greater ease than the final margin of 17 points suggested.

And so to grand final day, and the first occasion since the club's VFA era that it had played off for the premiership in two successive seasons. The Hawks, having out pointed North in the second semi final, were not surprisingly the punters' favourites, but just as in 1974 the Kangaroos enjoyed enormous sentimental favouritism and this, coupled no doubt with the memories of Barassi's stinging rhetoric of twelve months earlier, enabled them to sprint out of the blocks and have a couple of goals on the board through John Burns before their opponents had properly settled. Hawthorn fought back strenuously, but North was never headed, and finally won by a surprisingly emphatic 55 points after extending its lead (12, 20 and 29 points) at every change. John Rantall, who had kept Hawk champion Leigh Matthews quiet all afternoon, was one of many key contributors to North's win, along with fellow half back flanker Brent Crosswell, full back David Dench, wingman Keith Greig, and the roving pair of John Burns and Barry Cable. At that night's post grand final function, club president Allen Aylett, after opening his address with the wry observation that "Tonight is a little different to last year", went on to describe the team's achievement as "almost a fairytale". Moreover, he went on:

"We don't just owe our success to the footballers but some of the richest men in Melbourne, to pensioners in little back rooms or little garages in Kensington.  They are the people who have supported the cause." [2]

North Melbourne claimed some further silverware a fortnight later when the side was successful at the last ever staging of the Australian club championships in Adelaide. After easing to a 39 point win over WANFL premiers West Perth in a semi final played on Saturday 11 October, the Kangaroos outclassed home favourites Norwood, 17.15 (117) to 5.11 (41) two days later to take out the championship in style. North's South Australian utility Malcolm Blight won the Winfield Medal as player of the series.

Minor premiers Hawthorn could be considered slightly unfortunate not to win the premiership. The Hawks defeated North Melbourne in rounds one and nine of the minor round as well as in the second semi final, but when it mattered most on grand final day they could not cope with the Kangaroos’ relentless aggression and determination. One possible reason for their failure might have been the fact that they had only played one match in the preceding three weeks compared to North’s three, leaving them a little underdone in  terms of the frenzied pressure cooker type atmosphere of finals football. They did not, at any rate, perform with anything like their customary panache and gusto and they were unusually lacking in discipline. Nothing fuels premiership hunger like a grand final loss, however, particularly when you know deep down that you have failed to do yourselves justice. Few of the110,551 spectators at the MCG on grand final day 1975 doubted that the Hawks would be back.

Popularly referred to as “Lethal” there was nothing delicate or fancy about the style of Hawthorn champion Leigh Matthews.  However, unlike in “sports" like gymnastics, diving and synchronised swimming, Australian football scores do not derive in any directly assessable way from perceived aesthetic merit.  Efficiency and expediency are paramount in Australian football, and Leigh Matthews possessed both in abundance.

Which is only to affirm that, in Australian football terms, he was a highly skilful player.  In 332 VFL games over seventeen seasons with the Hawks he was eight times adjudged his club's fairest and most brilliant player - quite an awesome accolade when you consider that his career coincided with arguably Hawthorn's greatest ever era. He also topped the club goalkicking list on no fewer than six occasions in amassing a career total of 915 goals (and, in the process, highlighting another reason for the aptness of the “Lethal" epithet). In 1975, Matthews was the VFL’s top goal kicker after he booted 68 goals.

Matthews' failure to secure Victorian football's highest individual honour, the Brownlow Medal, is perhaps not too surprising given his relentlessly vigorous style of play, but participation in the Hawthorn premiership sides of 1971, 1976, 1978 and 1983 will no doubt have afforded more than adequate compensation (if such were needed).

Richmond, who had been premiers in both 1973 and 1974, dropped to third in 1975. The Tigers were not the side they were as was evidenced, for instance, by a 62 point loss to Hawthorn in round fifteen when they managed just 2.20 for the match. In the finals they were too good for both Collingwood and Carlton but, just as in the home and away rounds, found Hawthorn and North Melbourne too hot to handle. Arguably the greatest era in gthe history of the Richmond Football Club was at an end.

After failing to qualify for the finals in 1974 Carlton won 16 of their 22 minor round matches to finish the home and away rounds in second place. However, they then underperformed badly in the finals, losing first to North Melbourne, and then by 9 points to Richmond. The Blues’ fortunes, like those of Richmond, were unmistakably, if only temporarily, in decline.

Collingwood finished with a 13-9 record to qualify for the finals with some comfort, albeit only in fifth place. They provided elimination final opponents Richmond with a stern challenge, particularly after half time when the rains came. Late in the final quarter with the scores 11.11 to 10.7 in favour of the Tigers Collingwood attacked persistently, but tenacious defending by Richmond restricted them to 6 straight behinds leaving the Magpies 4 points in arrears at the final siren.

Sixth placed St Kilda finished 2 wins behind both Richmond and Collingwood and boasted a superior percentage to the former. The Saints were almost invariably too strong for the sides below them on the premiership ladder but their 12 point defeat of Richmond in round eleven was their sole success against a final five team.

Footscray, elimination finalists in 1974, slipped down the list to seventh in 1975. The Bulldogs could still produce some fine football - they thrashed Richmond by 66 points in round four, for instance, and also achieved wins against both Collingwood and Hawthorn - but overall they lacked consistency. The highlight of Footscray’s year was probably ruckman Gary Dempsey’s feat in capturing the Brownllow Medal. 

Few players have experienced triumph and trauma in their careers to quite the same extent as Dempsey.  Recruited by Footscray from Footscray Technical School Old Boys, he was a ready made league player when he debuted in 1967, and over the course of the ensuing eighteen seasons he built a reputation as one of the finest ruckmen ever to play the game. In January 1969, however, the prospects of any sort of football career, let alone a highly auspicious and successful one, seemed virtually non-existent, as Gary Dempsey lay in a hospital bed with severe burns covering fifty per cent of his body, a legacy of a failed attempt to repel bush fires threatening the family farm at Lara.  The fact that he eventually recovered from such serious injuries was remarkable enough, but the fact that he recovered sufficiently to return to top level football was next door to miraculous. 

Having returned to the Footscray side in round nineteen 1969, just seven months after his life had hung in the balance, Dempsey was soon playing the best football of his life. In 1970 he won the first of six Bulldog best and fairest awards and finished second to South Melbourne's Peter Bedford in the Brownlow Medal voting, and in 1971 he took over from Stuart Magee as Footscray's captain. In 1972 he assisted the Big V to a seemingly effortless triumph in the Australian interstate championships in Perth, and was rewarded for his own dominant series of performances with selection in the All Australian team.

Like his namesake at West Perth, Bill Dempsey, a key element in Gary Dempsey's greatness was that he was, effectively, two champion players rolled into one. Virtually unbeatable in 'round the ground ruck contests, he transformed seamlessly into an indomitable, strong marking defender when resting in the backlines. Small wonder he attracted so much attention - of the right sort - from umpires: after coming second in the Brownlow in 1970, he came within clutching distance of the award in each of the following four seasons, before finally breaking through for a win in 1975.

Individual awards are all very well, but what every footballer worth his salt really wants is participation in a premiership team. With that in mind, in 1979 Gary Dempsey sought, and was granted, a transfer from the perennially under-achieving Bulldogs to the team which had contested the previous five VFL grand finals, North Melbourne. Sadly for Dempsey, it was to be another eighteen seasons before the 'Roos would again feature in that 'one day in September', by which time, needless to say, his career as a league footballer was long over.  Nevertheless, Dempsey gave North sterling service in 123 games over six seasons, winning a best and fairest award in 1979, besides consistently polling well in the Brownlow.  When he left the VFL at the end of the 1984 season he had played a total of 337 games, and had secured more Brownlow Medal votes than any other player in history.[3]  Moreover, his achievement in winning seven VFL club champion awards has only been bettered by three players.

Still in search of that elusive premiership, Dempsey, who now spoke in a coarse, rasping voice courtesy of a hefty blow to the throat received during a game, ventured north once the VFL phase of his career was over, and joined consistently successful QAFL side, Southport. In 1987, he finally achieved his “Holy Grail” with a best afield performance as the Sharks scored a 23 point win over Windsor-Zillmere in a tempestuous grand final which left many players much the worse for wear, and Dempsey himself with an assortment of facial wounds requiring ten stitches.  Having spent the majority of the night before the match wide awake, nursing his asthmatic son, he certainly earned his spurs the hard way, but the broad grin on his face as he clutched his premiership and Joe Grant medallions to his chest after the game made it obvious that, as far as Gary Dempsey at any rate was concerned, it was “mission accomplished”, and “cheap at half the price”.[4]

Gary Dempsey's selection as first ruckman in the Western Bulldogs’ official Team of the Century was predictable, but eminently warranted.

Eighth placed Essendon, who won 10 matches and lost 12, were blighted by inconsistency, capable of downing the likes of North Melbourne and Hawthorn, whilst losing to Fitzroy (which they did twice), Melbourne or Geelong. The Bombers had a fair amount of talent but needed it to be expertly managed and honed.

Fitzroy, who finished ninth, with 9 wins, could usually be counted on to provide an uposet or two, but overall lacked the depth of talent necessary to stake a claim for finals involvement. Those upsets duly came, in round four against North Melbourne at Arden Street, round twelve versus Richmond at the MCG, round eighteen against Hawthorn at the Junction Oval and round twenty-one over Carlton at Princes Park, but overall the Lions lacked the ruthless streak necessary to make them competitive week in week out.

Tenth placed Melbourne, like Fitzroy, won 9 matches. They too were emininetly capable of causing an upset as they did at various stages of the season against North Melbourne, Collingwood, Richmond and Carlton, but they were also inconsistent, and 3 wins in a row between rounds seventeen and nineteen was their only noteworthy sequence of success.

Geelong, who dropped from sixth in 1974 to eleventh, were a chopping block for many other sides, and even provided wooden spooners South Melbourne with their only 2 victories of the season.

Bottom club South had a truly dismal season, winning just twice. It was the Swans' third wooden spoon in five seasons.

WANFL: Classy Cardinals Break Records

After West Perth’s nightmare 1974 season which produced only 6 wins and the club's first wooden spoon since 1939, Dennis Jones departed to be replaced in the coaching hot seat by former Fitzroy player Graham Campbell. In a dramatic turn around the side clinched the minor premiership with a 14-7 record, and qualified for the grand final with ease with a 20.22 (142) to 8.16 (64) second semi final annihilation of Swan Districts, a result rendered all the more remarkable by virtue of the fact that, at the teams’ previous meeting just three weeks earlier, Swans had scored a thumping 105 point victory. A grand final record crowd of 52,322 turned up to see West Perth collide with South Fremantle in what turned out to be the most one-sided premiership play-off ever. Cardinals half forward Barry Day kicked 7 last quarter goals for a match total of 8 as West Perth stormed to victory by 104 points, 23.17 (155) to 7.9 (51). Evergreen centreman Mel Whinnen earned the Simpson Medal after a performance of measureless class, while his fellow veteran Bill Dempsey was similarly superb. On a day when it was impossible to find a poor West Perth player, ruck-rover Alan Watling, wingman Stuart Hillier, rover Shane Sheridan, and half back flanker Ross Prunster all stood out, as did Day during the processional last quarter which saw the Cardinals add 10.5 to their opponents' solitary behind.

Fourth after the minor round, albeit a comfortable fourth, South Fremantle played superbly in the first semi final to crush East Perth by 65 points. Scores were South Fremantle 21.13 (139); East Perth 10.14 (74). Swan Districts in the preliminary final provided stiffer opposition but South’s persistence saw them home by 13 points, 15.16 (106) to 12.21 (93). Then came the wholly unexpected humiliation of grand final day and a defeat the scale of which Bulldogs supporters who recalled the epic clashes with West Perth of the forties and fifties could scafrcely believe.

Swan Districts’ finals performances came as a big let-down after the side had  produced some excellent football during the home and away rounds. To lose against West Perth in the second semi final was not surprising in itself, but to go down by nearly 13 goals was. When Swans had previously played the Cardinals in round twenty at Bassendean they had done virtually as they liked in running out victors by 106 points, 22.13 (145) to 5.9 (39). Football can assuredly be a fickle and unpredictable game at times. Swans restored a little pride with a battling performance in the preliminary final against South Fremantle, but ultimately that game too was lost.

East Perth had downed South Fremantle in 2 out of 3 minor round encounters but when it mattered much more, on first semi final day, they were brushed aside with contemptuous ease. 

He may not have been the greatest player ever to win Western Australian football's most prestigious individual award, the Sandover, but to suggest, as some have done, that East Perth's Alan Quartermaine does not warrant a place among the game's elite is palpably unfair. Quartermaine, who played a total of 108 WANFL games and kicked 195 goals for the Royals between 1969 and 1979, was not always a first choice senior player, but performed consistently well in 1975 to win his Medal with 16 votes, two more than team mates Peter Spencer and Ross Glendinning, and Stan Nowotny of Swan Districts. A ruggedly aggressive performer, the biggest disappointment in Quartermaine's career came in 1972, when the WANFL Tribunal found him guilty of striking Claremont's Wayne Reynolds in that season's second semi final, and he was suspended for three matches. This meant that he missed the 1972 grand final, in which the Royals won their first flag for thirteen years. The nearest he came to making amends was in the 1976 grand final against Perth, but a fine, 3 goal performance on a half forward flank was insufficient to prevent the Demons from winning comfortably. Somewhat ironically, when East Perth finally went top again in 1978, he played just one senior game for the year, preferring to concentrate on his University studies. Alan Quartermaine, who played most of his football either in the centre or across half forward, was chosen to represent Western Australia on 3 occasions.

Fifth placed East Fremantle finished 3 wins adrift of finals participation. After claiming the 1974 premiership this was, needless to say, immensely disappointing. The side could still play impressive football, as witness wins during the season against West Perth, South Fremantle (twice) and East Perth. However, had it not been for a fine finish to the season which saw them win their last 4 matches Old Easts might have plummeted to the wooden spoon.

The beaten grand finalists in 1974 were Perth, and like East Fremantle they suffered a marked, and somewhat surprising, decline. A minor highlight was the achievement of full forward Murray Couper in topping the league’s goal kicking list with 63 goals.

Seventh placed Subiaco, like Perth, managed 9 wins, including triumphs over East Perth, Swan Districts (twice), South Fremantle and West Perth. Overall, however, they were rather inconsistent, and a big mid-season dip in form effectively ruled them out of finals consideration.

Claremont finished a very distant last after winning just 3 games. Since reaching the 1972 grand final the Tigers had had to endure a three season flirtation with the wooden spoon and, in the short term at any rate, it was hard to see the situation improving.

Huddo Takes Magpie Hotseat

The big news in Hobart prior to the start of the 1975 TANFL season was the appointment of Tasmania's and one of Australia's greatest ever goalkickers, Peter Hudson, as senior coach of Glenorchy. Hudson was to have a pronounced immediate impact on the team's fortunes, both as coach and player. In the latter capacity he kicked 81 goals for the year to top the league list, while in the former he steered the Magpies to their first grand final in eight years and their first premiership in ten. Glenorchy's victims on grand final day were Sandy Bay. Hudson kicked 7 goals to be one of his side's best players, while others to do well included 1975 Leitch Medallist Trevor Sprigg, obviously revelling in his new found freedom from the burdens of coaching, Parish, Linton and Johannsen.

Glenorchy also won the 1975 state title thanks to an 18.24 (132) to 16.12 (108) defeat of North Launceton in Hobart.

VFA: Roosters Too Classy

Geelong West’s pace and precise use of the ball proved too much for Dandenong in the VFA first division grand final played at the Junction Oval in front of 27,582 spectators. The Roosters eventually won by 27 points after easing off somewhat in the final term. It was their first ever first division flag. Dandenong were possibly a little leg weary following a titanic preliminary final battle with reigning premiers Port Melbourne from which they had emerged battered and bruised victors by 4 points.

In second division Brunswick comfortably accounted for Camberwell in the grand final at Toorak Park. Scores were Brunswick 18.22 (130) defeated Camberwell 12.11 (83).

Other Highlights

An interstate carnival of sorts was contested this year in which South Australia defeated Tasmania and the VFL accounted for Western Australia in two semi final matches played at VFL Park in Melbourne. A somewhat desultory final then took place in Adelaide in which the VFL downed the home state with seemingly effortless ease.

Perhaps the highlight of the season on the interstate front was Queensland’s feat in downing Tasmania for the first ever time. The encounter took place in Brisbane, with the home state’s winning margin of 22 points scarcely reflecting the scale of their dominance. Final scores were Queensland 16.29 (125) defeated Tasmania 16.7 (103).

Earlier in the year, also in Brisbane, Queensland had defeated the Northern Territory by 47 points, 18.10 (118) to 10.11 (71). The victory was revenge of sorts for the loss sustained at the hands of the Territory in 1974.

Tasmania played two home interstate matches in 1975, downing New South Wales 22.19 (151) to 7.7 (49) in Hobart, and the ACT 17.13 (115) to 7.8 (50) in Devonport.

For the second year in succession Western Suburbs defeated East Sydney in the grand final of the NSWAFL. St George came third and Newtown fourth.

The QAFL premiership went to Windsor-Zillmere who accounted for Mayne by 44 points in the grand final. It was the merged club’s first senior grade flag.

The CANFL became the Australian Capital Territory Football League (ACTFL) this year. Premiers for the third season in a row were Manuka who overcame Ainslie by 17 points in the grand final. Eastlake and ANU completed the top four.

The NTFL had to suspend its 1974/5 competition in the wake of the devastation caused by Cyclone Tracy.


[1] The Flag: North Melbourne Football Club 1975-1995 20th Anniversary Souvenir, page 7.

[2] Ibid., page 9. 

[3] Dempsey received a total of 246 votes, 44 more than second placed Leigh Matthews, but both these players' totals were somewhat inflated by the fact that they played in 1976-7, when double votes - one complete set per umpire - were awarded.

[4] I am indebted to Greg Parker for supplying details of Gary Dempsey's QAFL career.  Dempsey was also a joint runner-up in the 1987 Grogan Medal voting. 

[5] Glenelg's total of 49.23 (317) against Central District on 23rd August, for example, remains an Australian record in what used to be referred to as 'first class football'. 

Grand final results -CoA: North Melbourne 17.15 (117) d. Norwood 5.11 (41); VFL: North Melbourne 19.8 (122) d. Hawthorn 9.13 (67); SANFL: Norwood9.10 (64) d. Glenelg 7.10 (52); WANFL - West Perth 23.17 (155) d. South Fremantle 7.9 (51); VFA: Division One - Geelong West 18.13 (121) d. Dandenong 14.9 (93); Division Two - Brunswick 18.22 (130) d. Camberwell 12.11 (83); TANFL: Glenorchy 15.16 (106) d. Sandy Bay 10.7 (67); NTFA: North Launceston 16.14 (110) d. Scottsdale 8.10 (58); NSWAFL: Western Suburbs18.18 (126) d. East Sydney 12.16 (88); QAFL: Windsor-Zillmere 20.8 (128) d. Mayne 13.6 (84); NWFU: Wynyard 15.10 (100) d. Ulverstone 12.8 (80); ACTAFL: Manuka 12.13 (85) d. Ainslie 10.8 (68); TSP: Glenorchy 18.24 (132) d. North Launceston 16.12 (108).

Melbourne/Adelaide Knock-out Carnival Results - MELBOURNE: South Australia 17.16 (118) d. Tasmania 8.11 (59); VFL 20.24 (144) d. Western Australia 8.15 (63); ADELAIDE: VFL 18.10 (118) d. South Australia 11.15 (81).

North Melbourne's David Dench

A Review of the 1975 Football Season