1897 VFL Premiership season
Essendon fc 1897.jpg
Essendon won the inaugural VFL premiership
Teams8
PremiersEssendon
(1st premiership)
Minor premiersGeelong
(1st minor premiership)
Matches played62
Highest attendance8,000
Leading Goalkicker MedallistEddy James (Geelong) (22 goals)
Jack Leith (Melbourne) (22 goals)
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 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.

Premiership season

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.

Round 1

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

Round 2

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

Round 3

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

Round 4

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

Round 5

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

Round 6

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

Round 7

Round 7
Tuesday, 22 June (3:00 pm) Carlton 5.5 (35) def. by Collingwood 6.5 (41) Princes Park Report
Tuesday, 22 June (3:00 pm) Essendon 8.15 (63) def. Melbourne 3.9 (27) EMCG Report
Tuesday, 22 June (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 5.13 (43) drew with South Melbourne 5.13 (43) Brunswick Street Oval Report
Tuesday, 22 June (3:00 pm) St Kilda 4.7 (31) def. by Geelong 16.18 (114) Junction Oval Report
  • Geelong's 16.18 (114) was the highest score in 1897

Round 8

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

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 Report
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 Report

Round 10

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

Round 11

Round 11
Saturday, 17 July (3:00 pm) Carlton 2.4 (16) def. by Geelong 9.12 (66) Princes Park Report
Saturday, 17 July (3:00 pm) Collingwood 0.8 (8) def. by South Melbourne 2.15 (27) Victoria Park Report
Saturday, 17 July (3:00 pm) Essendon 9.8 (62) def. Fitzroy 4.6 (30) EMCG Report
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) MCG Report
Saturday, 24 July (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 4.4 (28) def. by Collingwood 3.17 (35) Brunswick Street Oval Report
Saturday, 24 July (3:00 pm) Essendon 13.16 (94) def. St Kilda 0.3 (3) EMCG Report
Saturday, 24 July (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 5.2 (32) def. by Geelong 6.8 (44) Lake Oval Report

Round 13

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

Round 14

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

Win/Loss table

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 F1 F2 F3 Ladder
Carlton Fit
-33
SM
-4
Ess
-37
Geel
-22
Melb
-81
StK
+11
Coll
-6
Fit
-38
SM
-46
Ess
-29
Geel
-50
Melb
-28
StK
+34
Coll
-32
X
X
X
7
Collingwood StK
+25
Ess
+20
Geel
+4
SM
-8
Fit
+16
Melb
-7
Carl
+6
StK
+24
Ess
-9
Geel
-42
SM
-19
Fit
+7
Melb
+15
Carl
+32
Melb
+4
Ess
-40
Geel
-4
3
Essendon Geel
+23
Coll
-20
Carl
+37
Fit
+22
StK
+37
SM
+3
Melb
+36
Geel
-25
Coll
+9
Carl
+29
Fit
+32
StK
+91
SM
+4
Melb
-17
Geel
+6
Coll
+40
Melb
+6
1
Fitzroy Carl
+33
StK
+40
Melb
-11
Ess
-22
Coll
-16
Geel
-16
SM
0
Carl
+38
StK
+57
Melb
-27
Ess
-32
Coll
-7
Geel
-12
SM
-1
X
X
X
6
Geelong Ess
-23
Melb
-45
Coll
-4
Carl
+22
SM
+48
Fit
+16
StK
+83
Ess
+25
Melb
+5
Coll
+42
Carl
+50
SM
+12
Fit
+12
StK
+78
Ess
-6
Melb
+9
Coll
+4
2
Melbourne SM
+17
Geel
+45
Fit
+11
StK
+30
Carl
+81
Coll
+7
Ess
-36
SM
-53
Geel
-5
Fit
+27
StK
+58
Carl
+28
Coll
-15
Ess
+17
Coll
-4
Geel
-9
Ess
-6
4
South Melbourne Melb
-17
Carl
+4
StK
+57
Coll
+8
Geel
-48
Ess
-3
Fit
0
Melb
+53
Carl
+46
StK
+61
Coll
+19
Geel
-12
Ess
-4
Fit
+1
X
X
X
5
St Kilda Coll
-25
Fit
-40
SM
-57
Melb
-30
Ess
-37
Carl
-11
Geel
-83
Coll
-24
Fit
-57
SM
-61
Melb
-58
Ess
-91
Carl
-34
Geel
-78
X
X
X
8
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 F1 F2 F3 Ladder
Colour Symbol Result
Green + Win
Red - Loss
Blue N/A Draw

Bold – Home game
X – Bye
Opponent for round listed above margin

Ladder

Pos Team Pld W L D PF PA PP Pts
1 Geelong 14 11 3 0 704 383 183.8 44 Finals series
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
Source: VFL ladder
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) percentage; 3) number of points for.
(P) Premiers

Ladder progression

Points by round
Team ╲ Round1234567891011121314
Geelong0608074686124164204242282322362402441
Essendon434485122162202241241281321361401441442
Melbourne4482121161201241242243243283323363363403
Collingwood4283122124163163203242244245245285324364
South Melbourne054584123124125145185225264304304305345
Fitzroy418183858586106146186186186186186186
Carlton0806060707474747474747478787
St Kilda0707080808080808080808080808
Source:[citation needed]

Finals series

Main article: 1897 VFL finals series

Week 1

Week 1
Saturday, 21 August Geelong 3.11 (29) def. by Essendon 5.5 (35) Corio Oval (crowd: 5,000) Report
Saturday, 21 August Melbourne 7.5 (47) def. by Collingwood 7.9 (51) MCG (crowd: 7,000) Report

Week 2

Week 2
Saturday, 28 August Essendon 9.16 (70) def. Collingwood 4.6 (30) MCG (crowd: 8,000) Report
Saturday, 28 August Geelong 5.16 (46) def. Melbourne 5.7 (37) Brunswick Street Oval (crowd: 4,000) Report

Week 3

Week 3
Saturday, 4 September Essendon 1.8 (14) def. Melbourne 0.8 (8) Lake Oval (crowd: 3,800) Report
Saturday, 4 September Geelong 8.4 (52) def. Collingwood 6.12 (48) EMCG (crowd: 3,000) Report

Finals Ladder

1897 Finals ladder
Pos Team Pld W L D PF PA PP 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
Source:[citation needed]
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) percentage; 3) number of points for.

Grand final

Essendon won the premiership for finishing on top of the round-robin finals ladder; no Grand Final was played.

See List of Australian Football League premiers for a complete list.

Awards

Leading goalkicker medal

Other Awards

Notable events

Footnotes

  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.

References