There is much confusion over the origin of the fourths, and various competitions which had the name.
The Melbourne Boys League was reformed in 1933, and funded by the VFL in the 1940s. It had various grades but the widest age range was the 15-17 group. Teams of league clubs such as Footscray, North Melbourne, South Melbourne, Collingwood - as well as the Hawthorn thirds - played in the 40s.
In 1950 the league abandoned all grades for younger players and began concentrating solely on Under 17s. Melbourne FC fielded its first Fourth XVIII in 1953, a reaction to being inundated with more recruits than their Thirds team could handle.
In 1970 and 1971 (at least) the Demons fourths played at East Bentleigh/Bentleigh McKinnor Youth Club in the Melbourne Boys' League. At this point the side had a sister club called Moorabbin United. After the 1971 Grand Final against Port Melbourne descended into violence, Jim Cardwell was quoted as saying he'd recommend the club leave the Boys' League.
Some sources suggest 1977 was the last year the competition was played, but others have the Melbourne Fourths playing in the Metropolitan League in 1980. From the 70's onwards it was known as the Under 17's. Melbourne supported a Hawthorn motion that a league Under 17s competition be adopted in the late 1970s but it was not passed.
An Under 17 team is shown as playing against a touring Irish side in 1983, though this is likely to have one of the Demons' scholarship sides rather than a team from an organised league.
Best and Fairest
|1962||M. Brodie and T. Date|
|1963||R. Sheers and W. Adams|
The Melbourne United and Melbourne Rovers clubs who played in the competition in the 1940s were not related to the MFC.
1957 Football Record shows Melbourne playing South Melbourne in the Grand Final on 24 August at Punt Road, but a later edition says the GF was Richmond vs South.
talks about a proposal for an official Under 17s grade.
Sporting Globe - 01/04/1933
Argus - 21/05/1942
Argus - 01/04/1950
Football Record R1 1953
Herald - 25/03/1953
Age - 08/04/1953
Bendigo Advertiser - 05/08/1960
Age - 23/08/1971
Inside Football 31/08/1978
Inside Football - 26/06/1980