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After a traumatic off-season where premiership success was followed by Ron Barassi defecting to Carlton and the drawn out clearance saga that followed, the Demons lined up with Hassa Mann as their new skipper, seemingly ready to continue the success which the side had enjoyed over the last decade.
In a season where St Kilda and North Melbourne moved into new grounds, the Demons had competition at the MCG for the first time when Richmond moved into the ground as co-tenants. The Tigers move tested the loyalty of MCC members for the first time and it soon became clear that many would prefer to sit in their usual seat and watch the Tigers than travel to grounds like Moorabbin or the Lake Oval to watch Melbourne.
An attempt to play a practice match against South Adelaide at the MCG on April 10 was rejected by VFL league delegates, but with the SANFL having no problems about the two sides meeting the reigning premiers of Australia's premier competitions played off against each other in Adelaide instead. Melbourne won comfortably and became the unofficial 'champions of Australia'.
Despite winning the first eight matches of the season the Demons were well down on their performance of 1964. In the first four weeks of the season they had three narrow victories over sides they should have thrashed. It was only when they picked up a scrappy victory at Kardinia Park in Round 5 that confidence amongst journalists was restored. Another scrappy win the next week over the Magpies left them undefeated after six rounds.
Norm Smith was sensationally sacked after Round 12 when his issues with the committee came to a head and he was sacked by letter. Checker Hughes was brought out of coaching retirement to look after the team for the Round 13 match against North Melbourne at Coburg Oval (Melbourne's only match at the ground) but Smith was reinstated for the next match.
Despite winning their first match after Smith's reinstatement the Demons fell apart and only won one more match for the season. Four losses to finish the year saw them finish 7th, and a last round defeat to the Bulldogs which helped Footscray avoid the wooden spoon was a last cruel blow in a year where after the side's first eight wins they were the worst performing side in the league.
Playing in their first night series with just teams who hadn't made the top four the Demons were knocked out in the first round by Carlton.
The club suffered its first financial loss for many years, with a £5,733 shortfall.
Early in the season the Under 19's forfeited the points from two games for fielding ineligible players, but by the end of the year all their wins were credited on the ladder.
"League Rejects Practice Games" - The Age 18/03/1965