With Australian troops now fighting World War I overseas and growing numbers of players enlisting, a motion was put by Geelong and seconded by Melbourne to cancel the season. Essendon, St Kilda and South Melbourne voted in favour of the resolution, but Carlton, Collingwood, Fitzroy and Richmond ensured the required two-thirds majority was not achieved. Melbourne chairman Bill McClelland and his committee had already called upon all footballers to enlist in the conflict. One committeeman suggested that the league should withdraw payments to players so that young men would not be induced to stay in Australia. The chairman supported the concept but pointed out that contracts with players would make it difficult to withhold payment.
Melbourne supported another lost motion, to stop sending stewards to games to report rough play. They were joined by Collingwood, Fitzroy, and Geelong but the other five clubs voted against. VFL delegates did vote in favour of adding a crossbar over which goals would need to be kicked, banning forward handpasses, and allowing stronger rugby-style tackling but the war meant these changes were never approved by the Australasian Football Council.
Andrew Manzie and Bill McClelland were once again Melbourne's delegates to the league. Nominees for the committee before the season were CC Couchman, Vin Coutie, G. Strachan, WAJ Branston, Amos Norcott and Harry Parkin.
The season was played against the increasingly intense war. Anzacs landed at Gallipoli a day after Round 1, where Fen McDonald and Joe Pearce became the first senior Melbourne players to lose their lives in the conflict. While they had been in favour of cancelling the season, the club fielded their best side in years. Former VFA premiership coach Jack McKenzie finally became player/coach, a year after Melbourne's first attempt to sign him was held up in a permit dispute. He arrived at a side that had inherited the best of the defunct University club, including Roy Park, Jack Brake, Claude Bryan, Jack Doubleday and Percy Rodriguez. Officially the clubs had amalgamated, but other than their pick of the Students' best players, the only other concession to the union was reserving some seats of the committee for former University officials. McKenzie also had the service of three-time leading goalkicker Harry Brereton, who was returning for the first time since 1912.
After Round 12 clubs voted on whether to curtail the season and play finals immediately to allow all available men the chance to enlist for the war. The Fuschias were in hot form, with six consecutive wins, and supported the motion along with Essendon, Geelong, South Melbourne and St Kilda, but the four dissenting voices again blocked the motion. After over a decade out of the finals, Melbourne returned to the top four but lost three of their last four games and had to rely on South Melbourne losing to top of the table Collingwood in the last round to qualify. They pushed second placed Carlton in the Semi Final but were eliminated.
At the end of the season, a district scheme and permit rules for players were introduced. Melbourne's zone was shown as:
Commencing at a point at the junction of Victoria-street and Elizabeth-street, thence easterly along Victoria street and Victoria-parade to Hoddle-street; thence southerly along Hoddle-street and Punt-road to the River Yarra; thence easterly along the River Yarra to the Gardiner's Creek; thence easterly along the Gardiner's Creek to Back Creek; thence easterly along Back Creek to Glen Iris-road; thence southerly along Glen Iris-road to Ferndale-road; thence easterly along Ferndale-road to Summer Hill-road; thence southerly along Summer Hill-road to Baker-parade; thence easterly along Baker-parade to the Outer Circle railway line thence southerly by the Outer Circle railway line to High-street; thence easterly along High-street to Boundary-road; thence southerly along Boundary-road and Warragul-road to the Gippsland railway line to its junction with the Outer Circle railway line; thence northerly along the Outer Circle railway line to its junction with the Glen Iris railway line; thence northerly along the Glen Iris railway line to the a point opposite Wattletree-road; thence westerly along Wattletree-road to the Caulfield railway line; thence northerly along the Caulfield railway line to High-Street; thence westerly along High-street to St Kilda-road; thence northerly along St. Kilda-road and Swanston-street to Flinders-street thence westerly along Flinders-street to Elizabeth-street; thence northerly along Elizabeth St to the commencing point.
The club did not play another game until 1919. By February 1916 every player who was medically fit had enlisted and Melbourne voted to go into recess until the conflict ended. An earlier suggestion that the season should be played as a strictly amateur competition was not adopted by other sides. In March 1918, after Essendon and St Kilda rejoined, the MCC committee voted on whether to join them but elected almost unanimously to follow their decision of two years earlier and stay out of the game until the end of the war.
|Round 15||Reg Gibb||Elbowing||Not Guilty|
|Round 15||Roy Park||Striking||4 matches|
|Round 16||Len Incigneri||Striking||8 matches|
Herald - 17/02/1915
Argus - 20/02/1915
Age - 20/02/1915
Football Record 1915
Football Record 1915
Football Record 1915
Argus - 18/02/1916
Ballarat Courier - 26/02/1916
Argus - 20/03/1918
Geelong Advertiser - 21/03/1918