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1981

Coach: Ron Barassi
Captain: Robert Flower
Finishing Position: 12th
Best and Fairest: Steven Smith
Leading Goalkicker: Mark Jackson (76)
Best First Year Player: Mark Jackson
Major Sponsor: Mayne Nickless
Members: 6087

Matches Ladder Playing List Best and Fairest Reserves Under 19's Tribunal Draft

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Despite showing some improvement under Carl Ditterich during 1980, the playing coach announced midway through the year that he would retire at the end of the season. Having purchased the rights to his coaching services if he ever left North Melbourne several years before Melbourne's committee were happy to assist in the fairytale homecoming.

Before the deal was done Barassi sought to prove that there were no hard feelings about his departure after 1964 but putting an ad in the paper seeking the support of fans for his return. Not surprisingly the long suffering Melbourne faithful jumped at the opportunity.

Barassi had been linked to the Demons as early as 1979, but after beating Carlton, Collingwood and Richmond for his signature the committee got their man and Barassi returned as senior coach.

One of the new coach's first moves was to employ Australian lightweight boxing champion Barry Michael as a sparring partner for the players. New recruit Mark Jackson was reported to have cut him above the eye, but Michael Young and Greg Hutchison were less successful and suffered a battering. Another early edict was to ban his players from wearing beards. He also managed to lure his old mate John Nicholls to the club to help as a specialist ruck coach.

In February the club sued Carlton over the clearance of Alan Mangels. They claimed that as part of the Greg Wells deal the Blues had to pay $70,000 if Mangels didn't sign with the Demons. Eventually they settled for the $35,000 which had already been paid plus clearances for Vin Catoggio and Michael Young.

In March the first sign of the impending dispute concerning over-use of the MCG saw the MCC request that the Demons only train on the MCG once every week when winter kicked in. Until then they were allowed to use the ground on Thursday night only when the weather was fine. Yarra Park was the alternative training venue.

Celebrity fan Derryn Hinch backed the Dees to make the finals for $5000 to win $25,000, but he couldn't have been any more wrong about the side's fortunes. Despite the return of the great Barassi, and the emergence of the enigmatic forward "Jacko", who kicked 76 goals, the Demons went perilously close to suffering a winless season. A one point victory over Footscray in Round 3 would be their last until Round 2, 1982 - the longest losing streak in club history.

Image Another major signing who was touted before the season was the supposed new #1 ticket holder Rupert Murdoch. Sir Billy Snedden had been forced to give up his position when he assumed the club presidency. A report in The Age of March 11 announced that Murdoch was set to come on board as "one of the name recruits at Melbourne Football Club" this year. Chief Executive Richard Seddon said "Murdoch is the great Australian as far as we are concerned". The deal never went through and Murdoch would later turn his attention to moving South Melbourne to Sydney.

Barassi-Mania swept the club. Fans flocked to watch him take training and fundraising efforts were at their most successful in years. The coach tried to take the long handle to the losing mentality at the club and immediately ordered that the words "Just how long do we wait before coming winners?" painted on the walls of the changing rooms.

88 players began the season trying to find a place on the list, and the first training session saw 200 fans cheering them as the crossed the bridge to Yarra Park on their first run of the year. His old sparring partner Brent Crosswell called their reunion "comic tragedy" and suggested that it wouldn't be long until the fun and games ended and the tough stuff started.

The initial optimism faded 20 minutes into the first training session when Barassi confronted Chairman of Selectors Barry Richardson to say "Jesus Christ, they are bloody hopeless".

Mike Sheahan, always sympathetic to the Dees, declared in his newspaper column that the experiment was a certain success and cited the excitement at the club over the summer break as a key factor. The coach and his loyal assistant Ray Jordon weren't so sure though. Their first training sessions showed just how far behind the players were.

Back on-field, while Jackson was booting big bags in losing sides at one end of the ground, the backline was struggling to contain opposition forwards and conceded over 150 points six times across the year, and held opponents to under 100 points just twice. The wheels started to fall off after the Round 4 loss to St Kilda when Barassi channelled his embarassment into tough training. On Sunday morning they were were told that their Easter break had been cancelled and that they would do three laps of the Tan.

When only six players showed up on time he told them that they'd be on the track on Easter Monday too and forced them to watch the Saints match again before a four hour punishment session. He continued to thump his troops on the track throughout the year as the losses kept mounting.

Image Despite the thumping the Demons ended up taking the points from the match when the VFL decided that the Saints had played Doug Cox without an appropriate clearance. Until the league returned the points from two games to the Saints in the week of round 18 Melbourne were credited with two wins. The decision dropped the Demons from equal points with 11th placed Footscray to a game and percentage last.

The lowpoint of the Demons defensive calamaties was Round 10 when North Melbourne had a day out with a 129 point victory, including a then career high 9 goals to Kangaroo forward Kerry Good. Good would only ever better his tally once more - with 10 against the Demons in Round 20 of the same year.

By conceding 100 points in 20 of 22 games they tied a club record from 1978 which still stands today.

Barassi used 46 players - the equal most of any Melbourne season - including ten newcomers. In a shining light of an otherwise awful season the Under 19's won the premiership under 'Slug' Jordon. Adrian Battiston had earlier won the Morrish Medal for best player in the competition.

In July it was revealed that the Demons executives had conducted informal talks with both North Melbourne and South Melbourne officials about a potential merger. The club lost $130,000 for the season. This, and his own club's pitiful on-field record, didn't stop secretary Richard Seddon from suggesting that the league should let South Melbourne go to the wall if they were unwilling to move to Sydney. In voting against a loan to South he said: "Everyone has been saying Melbourne cannot support 12 league clubs, and one will go broke. Well here's one going broke so let it go to the wall." THe other clubs voted to grant South the loan anyway.

Practice Matches

OppositionResultScore
North Melbourne LOSS112-154

Escort Cup

RoundOppositionResultScore
1 Footscray WIN41-31
2 BYE
3 Richmond LOSS52-86

Premiership Season

RoundOppositionResultScore
1 Hawthorn LOSS112-153
2 Fitzroy LOSS110-155
3 Footscray WIN120-119
4 St.KildaLOSS76-128
5 CollingwoodLOSS83-146
6 GeelongLOSS104-153
7 CarltonLOSS56-96
8 South MelbourneLOSS83-127
9 EssendonLOSS70-104
10 North MelbourneLOSS43-172
11 RichmondLOSS94-136
12 FitzroyLOSS90-134
13 FootscrayLOSS94-125
14 St. KildaLOSS55-127
15 CollingwoodLOSS66-88
16 GeelongLOSS79-167
17 CarltonLOSS100-153
18 South MelbourneLOSS86-115
19 EssendonLOSS60-104
20 North MelbourneLOSS87-145
21 Richmond LOSS99-116
22 Hawthorn LOSS 57-110

Ladder

WDL%P
Carlton1705130.368
Collingwood1705122.668
Geelong1606129.864
Essendon1606127.664
Fitzroy1408112.156
Hawthorn1309109.452
Richmond1309105.352
North Melbourne10012104.140
South Melbourne801485.832
St. Kilda501785.220
Footscray202065.88
Melbourne102163.54

Playing List

NumberPlayerGamesGoals
1 Gary Baker 120
2 Robert Flower 165
4 Peter Giles 161
5 Michael Young 122
6 Robert Elliott 80
7 Phil Pinnell 135
8 Brent Crosswell 1411
9 Laurie Fowler 220
10 Peter Keenan 142
11 Gary Hardeman 90
12 Cameron Clayton 83
13 Wayne Gordon 112
14 Michael Byrne 102
15 Vin Catoggio 815
16 Robert Walters 10
17 Michael Seddon 129
19 Bill Nettlefold 137
20 Graham Gaunt 184
21 Jim Durnan 60
23 Kelly O'Donnell 2030
24 Tony Martyn 31
25 Mark Jackson 2276
26 Glenn McLean 20
27 Don Whitford 31
28 Tony Dullard 72
29 Andrew Moir 1811
30 Peter Hamilton 30
32 Shane Zantuck 72
33 Tony Elshaug 1824
34 Roger Ellingworth 20
35 Steven Smith 222
36 Peter Maynard 50
37 Glenn Giles 20
38 Shane Braddy 23
38 Tony Barnes 23
39 Gerard Healy 2227
40 Paul O'Brien 60
41 Dave McGlashan 31
42 Jamie Barham 41
43 Greg Hutchison 162
44 Stephen Bickford 64
45 Russell Dickson 41
47 Des O'Dwyer 63
48 John Tossol 23
50 Ian Todd 61
54 Trevor Korn 31

Best and Fairest

Player Votes
1st Steven Smith 367
2nd Brent Crosswell 250
3rd Robert Flower 229
4th Graham Gaunt 224
5th Gerard Healy 217
6th Laurie Fowler 204
7th Garry Baker 184
8th Tony Elshaug 150
9th Wayne Gordon 130
10th Mark Jackson 129
11th Phil Pinnell 111
12th Peter Keenan 107
13th Peter Giles 105
14th Greg Hutchison 92
15th Andrew Moir 83
16th Kelly O'Donnell 79
17th Michael Seddon 74
18th Peter Maynard 58
19th Bill Nettlefold 54
20th Paul O'Brien 33
21st Jim Durnan 26
22nd Michael Byrne 23
23rd Vin Catoggio 16
24th Gary Hardeman 15
25th Tony Martyn 13
26th Robert Elliott 10
26th Michael Young 10
28th Tony Dullard 9
29th Ian Todd 6

Other Awards
Redlegs Trophy - Gerard Healy
RDB Leadership Award - Michael O'Sullivan
Special Award - David Cordner

Reserves

1981 Reserves Season
Best and Fairest - Peter Maynard
Leading Goalkicker - Dave McGlashan
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Under 19's

1981 Under 19's Season
Best and Fairest - Adrian Battiston
Leading Goalkicker - David Cordner
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Finals

RoundOppositionResultScore
QF Fitzroy LOSS81-134
SF HawthornWIN203-90
PF Fitzroy WIN111-104
GF Geelong WIN132-101

Tribunal

RoundPlayerChargeSanction
Escort Cup Round 3 Brent Crosswell Striking 2 matches
Round 1 Tony Martyn Striking 2 matches
Round 13 Jim Durnan Striking 2 matches
Round 18 Peter Keenan Striking Not Guilty
Round 18 Brent Crosswell Charging 4 matches

Draft

1981 VFL Draft

Lists
Season Records

Notes
Another practice match may have been played in Terang

Media
"Demons sue over Mangels" - The Age 04/02/1981
"Barassi bans beards" - The Age 06/02/1981
"Murdoch set to sign with Demons" - The Age 11/03/1981
"Demons back winter relief" - The Age 13/03/1981
"Foot Notes" - The Age 27/03/1981
"Demons get tough" - The Age 02/12/1981
"Demons - even Robbie Flower was lost" - The Age 07/03/1993
"Derryn's Dee day" - Herald Sun 14/04/2001

Created by Supermercado. Last Modification: Friday 03 March 2017 16:09:25 AEDT by Supermercado. (Version 81)

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