With the spectre of the World War hanging over the season (the ANZACs landed at Gallipoli a day after Round 1) a motion was put by Geelong to cancel the season. Melbourne seconded the motion and were joined in voting for it by Essendon, St. Kilda and South Melbourne. Carlton, Fitzroy, Collingwood and Richmond voted against and the motion failed to be carried by a two thirds majority.
Melbourne's chairman Bill McClelland and his committee had already called upon all footballers to enlist in the conflict. One committeeman suggested that the league should withdraw payments to players so that young men would not be induced to stay in Australia when they could be fighting in Europe, and his proposal had support but the chairman pointed out that clubs had contracts which had to be carried out so it might be difficult to remove payments.
Melbourne supported another failed vote, this time to stop having stewards at games to report rough play. Melbourne, Collingwood, Fitzroy and Geelong were in favour of abandoning the system but the motion was defeated 5-4.
On the field the Demons were captain/coached by Jack McKenzie, the former Essendon player who had coached Brunswick to a VFA flag. At his disposal he had several former University players including Roy Park, Jack Brake, Claude Bryan, Jack Doubleday and Percy Rodriguez after the club had folded the year before and been amalgamated with Melbourne, also seeing members of their committee join Melbourne's. He also had the service of champion goalkicker Harry Brereton who returned to the club.
Midway through the year a vote was taken with the question of curtailing the season and moving straight to the finals in order to give all the available men the chance to enlist for the war. Not surprisingly considering they were sitting comfortably in third and on a six match winning streak the Melbourne committee supported the motion, as did South Melbourne, Essendon, St Kilda and Geelong but four dissenting voices saw it defeated.
After more than ten years years without a finals series the Fuschias qualified for the four but lost in the first week to Carlton. Tragedy struck the Redlegs just as they were starting to reassert themselves as a force.
In February 1916 the club voted to go into recess until the end of the war after every player who had been passed medically fit had enlisted to fight. They had earlier proposed that if the season went on that it would be only played on strict amateur lines.
The club wouldn't play again until 1919, by which time ten serving or ex-MFC players had died in the conflict. In 1918, after Essendon and St Kilda had decided to rejoin the competition, a vote was taken by the committee of the MCC in March of that year but it was almost unanimously decided to stay out of the game until conflict ended.
At the end of the year a district scheme and permit rules for players were adopted for each club. Melbourne's zone was as follows, even though they weren't able to use it until returning to the league in 1919.
Commencing at a point at the junction of Victoria-street and Elizabeth-street, thence easterly along Victoria street and Victoria-parade to Hoddle-street; thence southerly along Hoddle-street and Punt-road to the River Yarra; thence easterly along the River Yarra to the Gardiner's Creek; thence easterly along the Gardiner's Creek to Back Creek; thence easterly along Back Creek to Glen Iris-road; thence southerly along Glen Iris-road to Ferndale-road; thence easterly along Ferndale-road to Summer Hill-road; thence southerly along Summer Hill-road to Baker-parade; thence easterly along Baker-parade to the Outer Circle railway line thence southerly by the Outer Circle railway line to High-street; thence easterly along High-street to Boundary-road; thence southerly along Boundary-road and Warragul-road to the Gippsland railway line to its junction with the Outer Circle railway line; thence northerly along the Outer Circle railway line to its junction with the Glen Iris railway line; thence northerly along the Glen Iris railway line to the a point opposite Wattletree-road; thence westerly along Wattletree-road to the Caulfield railway line; thence northerly along the Caulfield railway line to High-Street; thence westerly along High-street to St Kilda-road; thence northerly along St. Kilda-road and Swanston-street to Flinders-street thence westerly along Flinders-street to Elizabeth-street; thence northerly along Elizabeth St to the commencing point.
|Round 15||Reg Gibb||Elbowing||Not Guilty|
|Round 15||Roy Park||Striking||4 matches|
|Round 16||Len Incigneri||Striking||8 matches|
The Argus - 20/02/1915
The Age - 20/02/1915
Football Record 1915
Zones - Football Record 1915
Permit rules - Football Record 1915
The Argus - 18/02/1916
The Ballarat Courier - 26/02/1916
"Melbourne stands out" - The Argus 20/03/1918
Geelong Advertiser - 21/03/1918