1897 VFL premiership season
Essendon 1897 VFL premiership team
Date8 May—4 September 1897
Teams8
PremiersEssendon
1st premiership
Minor premiersGeelong
1st minor premiership
Leading Goalkicker MedallistEddy James (Geelong)
Jack Leith (Melbourne)
22 goals
Matches played62
1898 →

The 1897 VFL season was the inaugural season of the Victorian Football League (VFL), the new highest-level senior Australian rules football competition in Victoria. The season featured eight clubs, ran from 8 May until 4 September, and comprised a 14-game home-and-away season followed by a finals series featuring the top four clubs.

The new league was established when eight clubs from the Victorian Football AssociationCarlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne, South Melbourne and St Kilda – seceded from the Victorian Football Association at the end of 1896. The inaugural premiership was won by the Essendon Football Club after it won all three of its matches in the finals series.

Background

In 1897, the VFL competition consisted of eight teams of 20 on-the-field players each, with no "reserves" (although any of the 20 players who had left the playing field for any reason could later resume their place on the field at any time during the match).[1] Each team played each other twice in a home-and-away season of 14 rounds.

Once the 14-round home-and-away season had finished, the 1897 VFL Premiers were determined according to the conditions dictated by the specific format and conventions of the 1897 Finals System, which was used in this season only. A round-robin finals series has only been used once since, in 1924.

Home-and-away season

Round 1

Round 1
Saturday, 8 May (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 6.13 (49) def. Carlton 2.4 (16) Brunswick Street Oval
Saturday, 8 May (3:00 pm) Collingwood 5.11 (41) def. St Kilda 2.4 (16) Victoria Park
Saturday, 8 May (3:00 pm) Geelong 3.6 (24) def. by Essendon 7.5 (47) Corio Oval
Saturday, 8 May (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 3.9 (27) def. by Melbourne 6.8 (44) Lake Oval

Round 2

Round 2
Saturday, 15 May (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 6.4 (40) def. Carlton 5.6 (36) Lake Oval
Saturday, 15 May (3:00 pm) Essendon 4.6 (30) def. by Collingwood 8.2 (50) East Melbourne Cricket Ground
Saturday, 15 May (3:00 pm) St Kilda 3.8 (26) def. by Fitzroy 10.6 (66) Junction Oval
Saturday, 15 May (3:00 pm) Melbourne 9.10 (64) def. Geelong 3.1 (19) Melbourne Cricket Ground

Round 3

Round 3
Saturday, 22 May (3:00 pm) Collingwood 6.5 (41) def. Geelong 5.7 (37) Victoria Park
Saturday, 22 May (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 5.9 (39) def. by Melbourne 7.8 (50) Brunswick Street Oval
Monday, 24 May (3:00 pm) Essendon 12.6 (78) def. Carlton 6.5 (41) East Melbourne Cricket Ground
Monday, 24 May (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 8.11 (59) def. St Kilda 0.2 (2) Lake Oval

Round 4

Round 4
Saturday, 29 May (3:00 pm) Geelong 5.14 (44) def. Carlton 3.4 (22) Corio Oval
Saturday, 29 May (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 5.11 (41) def. Collingwood 5.3 (33) Lake Oval
Saturday, 29 May (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 2.8 (20) def. by Essendon 6.6 (42) Brunswick Street Oval
Saturday, 29 May (3:00 pm) Melbourne 11.10 (76) def. St Kilda 7.4 (46) Melbourne Cricket Ground

Round 5

Round 5
Saturday, 5 June (3:00 pm) Melbourne 15.17 (107) def. Carlton 3.8 (26) Melbourne Cricket Ground
Saturday, 5 June (3:00 pm) Collingwood 5.7 (37) def. Fitzroy 2.9 (21) Victoria Park
Saturday, 5 June (3:00 pm) St Kilda 3.8 (26) def. by Essendon 9.9 (63) Junction Oval
Saturday, 5 June (3:00 pm) Geelong 10.12 (72) def. South Melbourne 3.6 (24) Corio Oval

Round 6

Round 6
Saturday, 19 June (3:00 pm) St Kilda 3.6 (24) def. by Carlton 5.5 (35) Junction Oval
Saturday, 19 June (3:00 pm) Melbourne 5.3 (33) def. Collingwood 3.8 (26) Melbourne Cricket Ground
Saturday, 19 June (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 2.4 (16) def. by Essendon 1.13 (19) Lake Oval
Saturday, 19 June (3:00 pm) Geelong 3.13 (31) def. Fitzroy 2.3 (15) Corio Oval

Round 7

Round 7
Tuesday, 22 June (3:00 pm) Carlton 5.5 (35) def. by Collingwood 6.5 (41) Princes Park
Tuesday, 22 June (3:00 pm) Essendon 8.15 (63) def. Melbourne 3.9 (27) East Melbourne Cricket Ground
Tuesday, 22 June (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 5.13 (43) drew with South Melbourne 5.13 (43) Brunswick Street Oval
Tuesday, 22 June (3:00 pm) St Kilda 4.7 (31) def. by Geelong 16.18 (114) Junction Oval

Round 8

Round 8
Saturday, 26 June (3:00 pm) Carlton 1.3 (9) def. by Fitzroy 5.17 (47) Princes Park
Saturday, 26 June (3:00 pm) St Kilda 4.5 (29) def. by Collingwood 7.11 (53) Junction Oval
Saturday, 26 June (3;00 pm) Essendon 5.2 (32) def. by Geelong 8.9 (57) East Melbourne Cricket Ground
Saturday, 26 June (3:00 pm) Melbourne 3.2 (20) def. by South Melbourne 11.7 (73) Melbourne Cricket Ground

Round 9

Round 9
Saturday, 3 July (3:00 pm) Carlton 4.4 (28) def. by South Melbourne 11.8 (74) Princes Park
Saturday, 3 July (3:00 pm) Collingwood 5.7 (37) def. by Essendon 6.10 (46) Victoria Park
Saturday, 3 July (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 9.21 (75) def. St Kilda 2.6 (18) Brunswick Street Oval
Saturday, 3 July (3:00 pm) Geelong 1.9 (15) def. Melbourne 0.10 (10) Corio Oval

Round 10

Round 10
Saturday, 10 July (3:00 pm) Carlton 2.1 (13) def. by Essendon 5.12 (42) Princes Park
Saturday, 10 July (3:00 pm) Geelong 7.10 (52) def. Collingwood 1.4 (10) Corio Oval
Saturday, 10 July (3:00 pm) Melbourne 8.5 (53) def. Fitzroy 3.8 (26) Melbourne Cricket Ground
Saturday, 10 July (3:00 pm) St Kilda 0.3 (3) def. by South Melbourne 8.16 (64) Junction Oval

Round 11

Round 11
Saturday, 17 July (3:00 pm) Carlton 2.4 (16) def. by Geelong 9.12 (66) Princes Park
Saturday, 17 July (3:00 pm) Collingwood 0.8 (8) def. by South Melbourne 2.15 (27) Victoria Park
Saturday, 17 July (3:00 pm) Essendon 9.8 (62) def. Fitzroy 4.6 (30) East Melbourne Cricket Ground
Saturday, 17 July (3:00 pm) St Kilda 1.7 (13) def. by Melbourne 10.11 (71) Junction Oval

Round 12

Round 12
Saturday, 24 July (3:00 pm) Carlton 2.6 (18) def. by Melbourne 5.16 (46) Melbourne Cricket Ground
Saturday, 24 July (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 4.4 (28) def. by Collingwood 3.17 (35) Brunswick Street Oval
Saturday, 24 July (3:00 pm) Essendon 13.16 (94) def. St Kilda 0.3 (3) East Melbourne Cricket Ground
Saturday, 24 July (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 5.2 (32) def. by Geelong 6.8 (44) Lake Oval

Round 13

Round 13
Saturday, 31 July (3:00 pm) Carlton 8.11 (59) def. St Kilda 3.7 (25) Princes Park
Saturday, 31 July (3:00 pm) Collingwood 5.13 (43) def. Melbourne 3.10 (28) Victoria Park
Saturday, 31 July (3:00 pm) Essendon 8.1 (49) def. South Melbourne 6.9 (45) East Melbourne Cricket Ground
Saturday, 31 July (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 2.9 (21) def. by Geelong 5.3 (33) Brunswick Street Oval

Round 14

Round 14
Saturday, 7 August (3:00 pm) Collingwood 7.12 (54) def. Carlton 3.4 (22) Victoria Park
Saturday, 7 August (3:00 pm) Melbourne 8.8 (56) def. Essendon 6.3 (39) Melbourne Cricket Ground
Saturday, 7 August (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 3.12 (30) def. Fitzroy 4.5 (29) Lake Oval
Saturday, 7 August (3:00 pm) Geelong 14.12 (96) def. St Kilda 3.0 (18) Corio Oval

Ladder

(P) Premiers
Qualified for finals
# Team P W L D PF PA % Pts
1 Geelong 14 11 3 0 704 383 183.8 44
2 Essendon (P) 14 11 3 0 706 445 158.7 44
3 Melbourne 14 10 4 0 685 473 144.8 40
4 Collingwood 14 9 5 0 509 445 114.4 36
5 South Melbourne 14 8 5 1 595 430 138.4 34
6 Fitzroy 14 4 9 1 509 485 104.9 18
7 Carlton 14 2 12 0 376 737 51.0 8
8 St Kilda 14 0 14 0 280 966 29.0 0

Rules for classification: 1. premiership points; 2. percentage; 3. points for
Average score: 39.0
Source: AFL Tables

Progression by round

4 Finished the round in first place 0 Finished the round in last place
4 Won the minor premiership 0 Won the wooden spoon
4 Finished the round inside the top four
41 Subscript indicates the ladder position at the end of the round
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Geelong 06 08 07 46 86 124 164 204 242 282 322 362 402 441
Essendon 43 44 85 122 162 202 241 241 281 321 361 401 441 442
Melbourne 44 82 121 161 201 241 242 243 243 283 323 363 363 403
Collingwood 42 83 122 124 163 163 203 242 244 245 245 285 324 364
South Melbourne 05 45 84 123 124 125 145 185 225 264 304 304 305 345
Fitzroy 41 81 83 85 85 86 106 146 186 186 186 186 186 186
Carlton 08 06 06 07 07 47 47 47 47 47 47 47 87 87
St Kilda 07 07 08 08 08 08 08 08 08 08 08 08 08 08

Source: AFL Tables

Finals series

Main article: 1897 VFL finals series

Finals week 1

Finals week 1
Saturday, 21 August (2:30 pm) Geelong 3.11 (29) def. by Essendon 5.5 (35) Corio Oval (crowd: 5,000)
Saturday, 21 August (2:30 pm) Melbourne 7.5 (47) def. by Collingwood 7.9 (51) Melbourne Cricket Ground (crowd: 7,000)

Finals week 2

Finals week 2
Saturday, 28 August (2:30 pm) Essendon 9.16 (70) def. Collingwood 4.6 (30) Melbourne Cricket Ground (crowd: 8,000)
Saturday, 28 August (2:30 pm) Geelong 5.16 (46) def. Melbourne 5.7 (37) Brunswick Street Oval (crowd: 4,000)

Finals week 3

Finals week 3
Saturday, 4 September (2:30 pm) Essendon 1.8 (14) def. Melbourne 0.8 (8) Lake Oval (crowd: 3,800)
Saturday, 4 September (2:30 pm) Geelong 8.4 (52) def. Collingwood 6.12 (48) East Melbourne Cricket Ground (crowd: 3,000)

Finals ladder

Won the premiership
# Team P W L D PF PA % Pts
1 Essendon 3 3 0 0 119 67 177.6 12
2 Geelong 3 2 1 0 127 120 105.8 8
3 Collingwood 3 1 2 0 129 169 76.3 4
4 Melbourne 3 0 3 0 92 111 82.9 0

Rules for classification: 1. premiership points; 2. percentage; 3. points for
Source: AFL Tables

Win/loss table

The following table can be sorted from biggest winning margin to biggest losing margin for each round. If two or more matches in a round are decided by the same margin, these margins are sorted by percentage (i.e. the lowest-scoring winning team is ranked highest and the lowest-scoring losing team is ranked lowest). Opponents are listed above the margins and home matches are in bold.

+ Win Qualified for finals
- Loss X Bye
Draw Eliminated
Team Home-and-away season Ladder Finals series Finals
ladder
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 F1 F2 F3
Carlton FIT
-33
SM
-4
ESS
-37
GEE
-22
MEL
-81
STK
+11
COL
-6
FIT
-38
SM
-46
ESS
-29
GEE
-50
MEL
-28
STK
+34
COL
-32
7
(2–12–0)
Collingwood STK
+25
ESS
+20
GEE
+4
SM
-8
FIT
+16
MEL
-7
CAR
+6
STK
+24
ESS
-9
GEE
-42
SM
-19
FIT
+7
MEL
+15
CAR
+32
4
(9–5–0)
MEL
+4
ESS
-40
GEE
-4
3
(1–2–0)
Essendon GEE
+23
COL
-20
CAR
+37
FIT
+22
STK
+37
SM
+3
MEL
+36
GEE
-25
COL
+9
CAR
+29
FIT
+32
STK
+91
SM
+4
MEL
-17
2
(11–3–0)
GEE
+6
COL
+40
MEL
+6
1
(3–0–0)
Fitzroy CAR
+33
STK
+40
MEL
-11
ESS
-22
COL
-16
GEE
-16
SM
0
CAR
+38
STK
+57
MEL
-27
ESS
-32
COL
-7
GEE
-12
SM
-1
6
(4–9–1)
Geelong ESS
-23
MEL
-45
COL
-4
CAR
+22
SM
+48
FIT
+16
STK
+83
ESS
+25
MEL
+5
COL
+42
CAR
+50
SM
+12
FIT
+12
STK
+78
1
(11–3–0)
ESS
-6
MEL
+9
COL
+4
2
(2–1–0)
Melbourne SM
+17
GEE
+45
FIT
+11
STK
+30
CAR
+81
COL
+7
ESS
-36
SM
-53
GEE
-5
FIT
+27
STK
+58
CAR
+28
COL
-15
ESS
+17
3
(10–4–0)
COL
-4
GEE
-9
ESS
-6
4
(0–3–0)
South Melbourne MEL
-17
CAR
+4
STK
+57
COL
+8
GEE
-48
ESS
-3
FIT
0
MEL
+53
CAR
+46
STK
+61
COL
+19
GEE
-12
ESS
-4
FIT
+1
5
(8–5–1)
St Kilda COL
-25
FIT
-40
SM
-57
MEL
-30
ESS
-37
CAR
-11
GEE
-83
COL
-24
FIT
-57
SM
-61
MEL
-58
ESS
-91
CAR
-34
GEE
-78
8
(0–8–0)

Source: AFL Tables

Season notes

Leading goalkickers

1 Led the goalkicking at the end of the round
1 Led the goalkicking at the end of the home-and-away season
11 Subscript indicates the player's goal tally to that point of the season
Did not play during that round
# Player Club Home-and-away season (Leading Goalkicker Medal) Finals series Total Games Average
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 F1 F2 F3
1 Eddy James Geelong 22 13 03 36 39 110 313 013 114 14 14 115 419 322 123 225 227 27 15 1.80
2 Jack Leith Melbourne 22 46 17 07 411 314 216 016 016 117 219 221 122 022 426 026 026 26 17 1.53
3 Norman Waugh Essendon 22 02 13 25 5 5 16 28 19 110 212 214 418 119 019 423 023 23 15 1.53
4 Charlie Coles Geelong 0 0 11 12 35 16 28 311 011 213 114 115 116 117 017 17 17 17 13 1.31
5 Wally O'Cock Carlton 11 12 13 14 26 06 39 9 9 9 9 211 213 215 15 10 1.50
Archie Smith Collingwood 00 22 24 15 27 18 08 210 111 112 012 012 214 014 014 014 115 15 17 0.88
7 Hugh Gavin Essendon 0 00 00 11 23 03 25 05 27 07 310 10 010 212 012 214 014 14 15 0.93
Dinny McKay South Melbourne 11 34 26 06 06 06 28 19 312 012 012 113 114 014 14 14 1.00
Jack Quinn Geelong 00 00 11 01 12 13 36 6 06 28 19 110 010 111 112 012 214 14 16 0.88
Fred White Geelong 0 0 0 0 0 00 00 22 2 02 35 27 07 310 111 112 214 14 11 1.27
Charlie Young Melbourne 22 02 35 16 6 17 07 07 07 29 211 011 011 112 113 114 014 14 16 0.88

Source: AFL Tables

References

  1. ^ "THE FOOTBALL SEASON". The Argus. Melbourne. 8 May 1897. p. 11.
  2. ^ 'Markwell', "Football Notes: Ballarat Defeat the League, The Australasian, (Saturday, 19 June 1897), p.1229.
  3. ^ 'Markwell', "Football Notes: Hollow Defeat", The Australasian, (Saturday, 10 July 1897), p. 77.
  4. ^ A Footballer's Romance: Rejected by his Sweetheart: He Attempts Suicide, The Argus, (Monday, 12 July 1897), p. 5.
  5. ^ a b Ross, John (1996). 100 Years of Australian Football. Ringwood, Victoria: Penguin Books. p. 39. ISBN 978-0670868148.

Sources