Monday 24th June, 2024

Footscray’s Night Premierships

Footscray’s Night Premierships

1963, 1964, 1967 & 1970

The night competition commenced in 1956 and it has been conducted in two formats. This first series was played at South Melbourne’s home ground- the Lake Oval and it was for teams who did not make the finals in the days of a twelve team competition and when the finals consisted of a final four. This ran until 1971 and then the new final five system commenced in 1972 (it ran until 1990) meaning that seven teams missed the finals rather than eight, so the even draw of 8 teams, then four teams then a Grand Final with its winner and Runner up could no longer operate with the odd number of seven, compared with the pre 1972 even eight.

So it wasn’t every team- indeed the 8 worst performing teams on the ladder in that year. Thus Melbourne didn’t play in it until 1965 then their bad spell set in and from then they were to be involved every year till the Night Competition’s (then) conclusion of 1971.

Collingwood and Essendon played in the finals nearly every year between 1957 and 1971 so they weren’t running around the Lake Oval all that often in September. On the other side of the coin poor old South Melbourne took part in it every year except 1970, North Melbourne were there every year bar 1958. We didn’t qualify in 1956 and 1961.

The Re-introduction of the Night Competition: 1977 –

The night series was re-introduced for 1977 and it still functioning now in 2009 despite calls from some to send it to the scrap heap. So the expression ‘The night series was disbanded at the end of 1971’ has been altered to ‘The night series went into recess for the 1972 -1976 years.’

Though the word ‘night’ in ‘Night Competition’ could and possibly should be changed to ‘alternative’ as in ‘Alternative Competition’ because not all games in this 1977 and onwards scheme have been played at night. Many are played all over Australia (and even outside Australia) and not necessarily at night and under lights.

When it recommenced in 1977 the games were played at V.F.L. Park (Waverley Park) exclusively, in more recent years other grounds have been used.

To gain more information regarding the night competition, definitely visit the Full Points Footy website- clicking this link will take you straight there.

Footscray- the most Premierships in the First Innings 1956-1971

Footscray was the most successful team in the initial Night Premiership that ran from 1956 – 1971.

We won the competition four times, a 100% winning Grand Final record from our four Grand Final appearances. So until the 1980’s Footscray held the record for the most number of night Premierships until Hawthorn equaled us in 1985 with their fourth success and one year later in 1986 they surpassed it with their fifth night flag.

South Melbourne won three- as South Melbourne in 1956, 1957 and 1960 then Sydney won it in 1982, so if you combine the three of South Melbourne with the Sydney one then it can be argued that they equaled our four flags in 1982. Depending on your point of view- some old time South Melbourne fans who don’t view Sydney as a continuation of their club, would regard the 1982 flag as nothing to do with them. Those Swans fans who accept the relocation of South Melbourne to Sydney would count 1982 as the clubs fourth night Premiership.

Since 1977 we have arguably the worst record in the ‘second’ night series. We have not played in a Grand Final let alone won it. There have been a few appearances in the last four, but just like the real McCoy in 1985, 1992, 1997, 1998 and 2008 we keep falling at that second last hurdle. All the twelve Victorian teams from the 1925-1981 V.F.L. era have won the Night Premiership- South Melbourne the first in 1956, Carlton was the last of the 1925-1981 gang of twelve to win their first- which they did, over Richmond in 1983.

Most of the original Victorian teams have surpassed or equaled our four triumphs. Only Collingwood, Melbourne and Richmond have not won it four times or more. Melbourne has three Night flags, Collingwood and Richmond perhaps surprisingly just the one each- although Collingwood do have a genuine grievance about the 1980 final where North Melbourne beat them after the siren. That 1980 Grand Final should have an asterisk against it.

Of the current 16 A.F.L. clubs, Fremantle is the only team not to play in a Night Grand Final. Therefore they join West Coast, Brisbane and (as both the Brisbane Bears from 1987-1996 and now (1997- as Brisbane Lions) to have not one won it. Fitzroy did have some success- winners in 1959 and then again in 1978. They were also were Runners Up- most recently in 1992.

Richmond has not won it since 1962, that has been their only success in the night series, but they have at least made the Grand Final a few times since our last Night Grand Final appearance in 1970, finishing Runners up in 1983, 1993 and 2002. So the tiger fans have at least gone to a Grand Final knowing that they could win a flag in those years, we have not had this situation since 1970. Next year it will be 40 years since the Bulldogs played in a senior Grand Final. Footscray’s last appearance in a Grand Final is 1970- a winning Grand Final thankfully, but still the most recent- So from 1971 until 1996 and then as Western Bulldogs from 1997 we have not improved upon this terrible statistic.

1977- 1996 nothing for Footscray 1997- 2009 and nothing for Western Bulldogs in the Second Innings

A 55 year old Footscray fan born in 1954 would not remember 1954 or finishing third in 1956. Some 55 year olds may recollect 1961. However 1970 would be stored away and hopefully 1967, 1964 and 1963 should be recallable. A Footscray supporter born from say 1966 and onwards would not remember one appearance by the Bulldogs in a senior Grand Final. I can remember Fitzroy’s triumph over North Melbourne in 1978- the Kangaroos held to a score of 2.2.14 and I even went to the 1992 night Grand Final which Fitzroy finished runners- up to Hawthorn.

As for my team- well I have to make do with Footscray’s 1988 and 1994 Reserve Premierships and then the 1998 seconds flag won as Western Bulldogs. I remember the 1977 Reserves Grand Final- we lost to Richmond and then we lost again in 1986 to Carlton. So the 1988 triumph over North Melbourne was the first Premiership that I had ever seen and with 1994 and 1998 the only ones. Other team supporters laugh at you talking about winning 3 seconds flags! That 1998 flag and Adam Cooney’s 2008 Brownlow Medal are the only things we have won as Western Bulldogs, so when you hear people say the name change has been a success, the politest thing I can reply with is that- your definition of success is different from mine because it hasn’t- all it has been is a continuation of non-success under another name.

Anyhow here are the four Footscray Night Premiership teams.


Footscray v Richmond

Wednesday night October 2 1963
Lake Oval, South Melbourne

Back Line Ray Walker Dave Darcy John Hoiles
Half Back Line John Jillard Ray Baxter Robert Schultz
Centreline Barry Smith Bob Spargo Graeme Chalmers
Half Forward Line Graham Ion Ted Whitten (Snr) Algy Vosilitis
Forward Line John Charles Don McKenzie George Bisset
Followers John Schultz John Bradley Merv Hobbs
Reserves Ken Duff Bernie Dowling
Coach Teddy Whitten (Snr)
Captain Teddy Whitten (Snr)

Teams Quarter Time Half Time 3/4 Time Full Time
Footscray 2.0.12 6.1.37 7.4.46 10.9.69
Richmond 2.4.16 6.5.41 8.8.56 9.9.63


Footscray v St Kilda

Monday night September 21 1964
Lake Oval, South Melbourne

Back Line John Miles Dave Darcy John Charles
Half Back Line John Jillard John Hoiles Ken Duff
Centreline Ian Bryant Noel Fincher Barry Smith
Half Forward Line Don McKenzie John Bradley Allan Hunter
Forward Line Merv Hobbs Robert Gray Ted Whitten (Snr)
Followers John Schultz Ivan Marsh George Bisset
Reserves Robert Barr Kevin Jackman
Captain Teddy Whitten (Snr)

Teams Quarter Time Half Time 3/4 Time Full Time
Footscray 3.3.21 6.7.43 8.10.58 11.12.78
St Kilda 4.2.26 5.2.32 9.4.56 11.7.73


Footscray v South Melbourne

Monday night September 25 1967
Lake Oval, South Melbourne

Back Line Kevin Delmenico John Reilly Ken Greenwood
Half Back Line John Jillard Fred Cook Ron McGowan
Centreline Graeme Chalmers Ian Bryant David Thorpe
Half Forward Line Alan Mannix Ted Whitten (Snr) Don McKenzie
Forward Line Gary Dempsey Gary Merrington George Bisset
Followers John Schultz Ivan Marsh Bob Spargo
Reserves Joe McGhie Graeme Cook
Coach Charlie Sutton
Captain Teddy Whitten (Snr)

Teams Quarter Time Half Time 3/4 Time Full Time
Footscray 4.3.27 8.5.53 13.9.87 15.11.101
South Melbourne 0.0.0 3.4.22 4.4.28 8.8.56


Footscray v Melbourne

Monday night September 28 1970
Lake Oval, South Melbourne

Back Line Gordon Casey Robert McGhie Laurie Rippon
Half Back Line Ron McGowan Gary Merrington Graeme Joslin
Centreline Steve Power Stuart Magee David Thorpe
Half Forward Line Laurie Sandilands Les Bartlett Don McKenzie
Forward Line Barry Round Bernie Quinlan Graeme Austin
Followers Gary Dempsey Ken Greenwood George Bisset
Reserves Grant Simmons Richard Radziminski
Coach Ted Whitten (Snr)
Captain Stuart Magee

Teams Quarter Time Half Time 3/4 Time Full Time
Footscray 3.4.22 6.4.40 11.11.77 13.17.97
Melbourne 2.4.16 8.8.56 9.12.66 13.15.93