Coach: Ron Barassi
Captain: Robert Flower
Finishing Position: 11th
Best and Fairest: Danny Hughes
Leading Goalkicker: Brian Wilson (40)
Best First Year Player: Rod Grinter
Major Sponsor: Drake
|Matches||Ladder||Playing List||Best and Fairest||Reserves||Under 19's|
The club suffered twin blows before the season when first joint major sponsors Mayne Nickless and Hertz cut their financial commitments in half, then the MCC threw the club off the MCG and forced them to use the Junction Oval as a training base. North Melbourne's increased use of the MCG for home games prompted the MCC to protect their ground by having less training on it.
Writing in the club's annual report Barassi said that 1985 may be his last if the club was not successful. He said "looking forward to 1985, it's clear that we've come to the end of the line as far as excuses are concerned. Explanations - whether it be lack of experience or strength or pace - just won't be tolerated".
The club had made a left field selection for a Chief Executive to replace the retiring Richard Seddon when they hired former Department of Housing supremo Roy Gilbert. Struggling with the culture of the club and without a footballing background Gilbert resigned in 1986 and Ray Manley was elevated to the role to replace him.
Gilbert had sat on a committee during the season which mooted scrapping the Reserves and Under 19's and replacing them with an Under 21's competition which would allow clubs to save money by having smaller squads. The report proposed that clubs would be able to farm players out to VFA sides. The idea was rejected and the reserves survived until the end of 1999, though the Under 19's wound up after the 1991 season.
A lack of funding hampered recruiting efforts and despite a Round 1 victory Melbourne were soon down the bottom of the ladder again. Once again the club were comfortably clear of the wooden spoon contenders but not good enough to seriously challenge for the finals. The loss of Robert Flower for most of the season with a broken collarbone didn't help. Neither did a drop in form by reigning Brownlow Medallist Peter Moore and Kelvin Templeton succumbing to his injuries more often.
Injuries hit the entire squad hard. When Stephen Icke went down with an injury in the Round 16 match against Carlton he became the fifth captain or stand-in to be hurt that year. Flower, Healy, Smith and Giles had all been hurt while captaining the side.
The end of the season was played out against the backdrop of turmoil with members attempting to force an extraordinary AGM to oust the Billy Snedden board. The chairman attacked the rivals during an interview on the live telecast of the Round 21 game against Sydney, saying that the takeover effort was "without merit, without ability and without capacity to run a club" but it was ultimately his undoing.
The group included former players Robert B Johnson, John Lord, Barrie Vagg, Peter Keenan and Peter Sinclair. In October a fiery meeting was held at the Camberwell Civic Centre and the resolution passed for Snedden to be replaced by Jim Cardwell but the sitting board declared the vote unconstitutional. After the meeting both camps claimed control of the club.
When nominations were held for board elections at the end of the year none of the "Reform Group" candidates nominated and the incumbent board was elected unopposed. Snedden, however, still resigned as chairman against the backdrop of Gerard Healy walking out to join Sydney in a big money deal. Healy had finished a narrow second in that year's best and fairest.
The club made a trading loss of $473,000, not including $225,000 received as a dividend from the league after the sale of the Sydney Swans.
Best and Fairest
|Round 1||Peter Moore||Striking||Guilty|
|Round 1||Peter Giles||Striking||1 Match|
|Round 15||Danny Hughes||Knocking to ground after marking||Not Guilty|
|Round 22||David Cordner||Striking||2 matches|
|Round 22||Chris Connolly||Striking||3 matches|
"Demons lose major sponsor" - The Age 08/03/1985
"VFL may scrap reserves" - The Age 28/05/1985
"Demon rebels gain support" - Canberra Times 27/08/1985
"Demon board member joins reform group" - The Age 10/09/1985
"Hughes voted Demons' best" - The Age 11/09/1985
"Sir Billy refuses to accept rebels' compromise plan" - The Age 17/10/1985