Sydney win by 29 points
Last MFC Game
Roger Ellingworth (3rd game)
The lure of a battle of the big cities to open the brave new era of a 'national' football competition can't have escaped the VFL's fixture gurus when they were deciding who to match up in round one.
Never mind that Victorians were more interested in feuding with South Australians - this was the birth of the Sydney Swans and there was never going to be anybody else they would play than the side with the name of the other 'big' city.
Nobody was sure what to call them though. Were they South Melbourne playing in another city, were they the Sydney Swans or was the football world to compromise and simply call them "The Swans" while somebody came up with an official position? Officially they renamed South Melbourne to Victorian audiences in the short-term.
Whoever they were Melbourne's opponents were playing the 1981 wooden spooner (perhaps another key factor in fixturing the Demons in the Sydney opener?) and though confidence was high in the Demon camp they simply didn't handle the smaller SCG as well as their opponents.
Down and out at three-quarter time they finally came to play and booted five goals without reply on the small SCG to draw within a couple, but when the Swans steadied with a pair of late goals to win the 15,000 strong crowd - and more than a few VFL and South officials - breathed a sigh of relief. Included in the crowd of Sydney fans was future Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
Ron Barassi, long an advocate of VFL football in the Harbour City, was keen to spoil the party. After the game he said: "I feel like cutting somebody's throat. I really thought we could win it". He was furious at his players, saying "We had guys who might as well not have been there", before suggesting there would be a minimum of two changes the following week. "I put up with .... performances last year but I won't be putting up with them this year".
Barassi also clashed with Gerard Healy, dragging after 10 minutes then having a heated confrontation with him at half time. Healy cited it as the turning point to his season, saying he believed Barassi needed to be challenged before he’d “stand up and take notice of you”.
Best were Flower, Giles and Wilson.
Melbourne's 20th loss in a row established a club record streak, which was finally ended the next week.
Melbourne 18.13.121 d. South Melbourne 13.14.92
Goals - P. Tossol 4, Fidge 3, O'Dwyer 3, Castles 2, Hutchison 2, Dickson 1, O'Brien 1, J. Tossol 1, Young 1
Best - Hutchison, O'Dwyer, P. Tossol
Melbourne 26.14.170 d. South Melbourne 15.19.109