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Strong practice match wins over Richmond and Hawthorn, and an opening round success against North Melbourne led some pundits to declare that Melbourne were a danger of making their first finals series since 1964. Writing in The Age Richmond's Royce Hart declared the Demons "the emerging force in the VFL".
The season began with a second field umpire for the first time but it was business as usual Melbourne who were tenth after Round 18 before a three game winning streak put the Demons on the brink of their first finals appearance in a decade going into the last day of the season. With shrewd off-season buys like Craig McKellar and Allan Davis coming into form Bob Skilton even declared that they could give the premiership a shake if they qualified.
As long as they beat Collingwood, and minor premiers Carlton defeated 5th place Footscray at Princes Park they would be finalists for the first time since 1964. The Bulldogs were lucky to still have their destiny in their own hands, having beaten lowly Fitzroy with a kick after the siren the week before. Had centreman Alan Stoneham missed a Demon win at Victoria Park would have been enough to catapault Melbourne into the four no matter what happened at Princes Park.
The Demons did their job, beating wooden spooners Collingwood by 15 points at Victoria Park but Footscray, however, managed to hold off a fast finishing Carlton and earn a draw to take them into the finals in front of a side who would have to wait another 11 years to see a top 5 appearance.
Despite nearly leading his side to the finals, Bob Skilton risked losing his job when he requested a pay-rise that didn't meet the expectations of the committee. Despite media reports suggesting Tom Hafey would take over, the former Richmond premiership coach went to Collingwood and Skilton was reappointed for another year.
Henry Bolte and Lord Mayor Ron Walker were club patrons.
Yearbook image courtesy of grandoldflag.net