When the AFL Reserves competition was abolished, Melbourne entered into a partnership with Sandringham that would last nine seasons and deliver four premierships.
Formed, and admitted to the VFA in 1929, as a merger between Sandringham Amateurs (Gold), Black Rock (Black) and Hampton Park (Blue) the Zebras wore a distinctive uniform comprised of the colors representing the three sides.
Their first years were lean, with the first flag coming in 1946 a year after avoiding the wooden spoon on percentage. Their first premiership nearly didn't happen after they had to overhaul a 40 point three-quarter-time deficit against Williamstown to win by a point. The Grand Final was no less tense with heavy favourites Camberwell beaten by just 7 points.
Further success was elusive and the Zebras had to wait until 1962 to win another flag, and once again a blockbusting comeback was required. 44 points behind Moorabbin at 3/4 time, they kicked 8 goals to 1 in the last quarter to win by a point. Another long wait for success followed, including a 100pt humilation at the hands of Port Melbourne in the 1977 decider, before a 6pt win over Williamstown in 1985 delivered their third flag.
From 1986 to 1991 the Zebras missed the finals by they returned in '92 to beat Williamstown by 44 points - finally a comfortable Grand Final win - to claim the title. Ex-Melbourne player Joe Rugolo was a star in the final and won the league's Liston Medal. They also saluted in 1994 and 1997.
With the coming of VFL/AFL alignments in 2000 Sandringham became the Demons VFL affiliate and won a premiership in their first season together. Steven Pitt and Matthew Febey were amongst the best Melbourne listed players in Sandy's 41 point win over North Ballarat.
Four years later the Zebra/Demon connection delivered its second title when they beat Port Melbourne by four points with Guy Rigoni awarded the Norm Goss Medal for best afield. The next year they again racked up a big three-quarter-time lead before surviving a late charge, this time by Werribee. Chris Lamb took a crucial mark in the backline deep in the last quarter, and Daniel Ward was named best afield.
A premiership hat-trick was achieved in 2006 when Phil Read won the Norm Goss in the Zebs 18 point win over the Geelong reserve side. Having become the first side to win three flags in a row since the mighty Port Melbourne of the early 1980's Sandringham found themselves with the chance to rack up four in a row in 2007 but, with the side decimated by injuries to Melbourne listed players, were knocked out of the finals race by North Ballarat.
Former MFC player Andy Lovell was appointed senior coach for 2007 but failed to deliver a flag in his first season.
At the end of 2008 Melbourne and St. Kilda swapped affiliates and the Demons joined the Casey Demons in an attempt to break into the growth area around Cranbourne and the South-East.
VFA/VFL First Division
1946, 1962, 1985, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006
Coaches (under alignment)