Coach: Neale Balme
Captain: Garry Lyon
Finishing Position: 14th
Best and Fairest: Jim Stynes
Leading Goalkicker: David Neitz and Jeff Farmer (40 goals)
Best First Year Player: Darren O'Brien
Sponsors: Toohey's Blue
|Matches||Ladder||Playing List||Best and Fairest||Reserves|
After missing the finals in the last game of the year in 1995, Melbourne was handed what it considered to be an unfair draw for the league's centenary season. They only had nine matches, of 11 total, at the MCG, which was less than Essendon, North Melbourne or Richmond, and level with Collingwood who weren't even full time tenants of the ground. They were also due to travel to all five interstate venues and scheduled for a pair of home games at Princes Park, a ground where main sponsor Tooheys was unable to display signage. Melbourne had already been forced to do pre-season at Elsternwick because the Junction Oval was not available.
Third year coach Neil Balme was dealt a series of cruel blows in the pre-season. First Todd Viney announced early in the year he was retiring to take up a position in the entourage of tennis player Mark Phillopousis, then David Schwarz injured his knee for the third time in a pre-season reserves practice match. Sean Charles, Steven Febey, Shaun Smith and Stephen Tingay also suffered injuries while Garry Lyon and Andrew Obst both entered the season under an injury cloud. The Dees entered Round 1 with only 34 players to choose from - and two of those were the twins David and Donald Cockatoo-Collins, expected to spend the year developing with their school teams.
Stung by the bad luck the Demons crashed to a 1-8 start, and despite Viney returning for Round 2, the season was a bust. Off-field matters soon became the focus, a press conference on the Monday after Round 17 confirmed the club was in talks with Hawthorn over a merger. Fitzroy and Brisbane had just merged, and it appeared the Melbourne Hawks were a fait accompli.
Ironically the two sides were drawn together in Round 22. Hawthorn would play finals, prolonging the history of their club for a few more weeks, but depending on the verdict of the members it could have been the Demons last match. The two sides duly served up a classic, with the Hawks winning by a point after Jason Dunstall kicked nine goals - including his 100th for the season.
A meeting on September 16 at Dallas Brookes Hall voted against the merger, but when proxies were counted the 'members' had voted to put their club out of existence. The Demons were saved when the Hawthorn members overwhelmingly rejected what they saw as a takeover of their financially embattled club. Despite the turmoil, the club made a profit of $267,000 for the year, despite spending $250,000 on the failed merger.
A contested 1996 board election saw Joseph Gutnick, Bill Balcam, Mark Jenkins, Ian Johnson, Kevin Jones, Stuart Spencer and Anthony Rodbard-Bean reelected with over 2500 votes. Angus Graham replaced Garry Pearce, while Gerald Clarke and Aris Imbardelli were both defeated.
|Round 2||Jim Stynes||Melee||Withdrawn|
|Round 2||David Neitz||Melee||Not Guilty|
|Round 2||Craig Nettelbeck||Melee||Withdrawn|
|Round 2||Andrew Obst||Melee||Not Guilty|
|Round 2||Donald Cockatoo-Collins||Melee||$1000 fine|
|Round 3||Jeff Hilton||Wrestling||$2000|
|Round 3||Marcus Seecamp||Wrestling||Not Guilty|
|Round 15||Jeff Hilton||Striking||Cleared|
|Round 15||Darren Kowal||Misconduct||$1500 fine|
|Round 19||Todd Viney||Striking||1 match|
|Round 19||Paul Hopgood||Striking||1 match|
|Round 20||Anthony Ingerson||Striking||2 matches|
Age - 30/11/1995
Age - 25/02/1996
Age - 18/10/1996
Age - 08/12/1996
Age - 11/12/1996