1981 VFL premiership season
Teams12
PremiersCarlton
(13th premiership)
Minor premiersCarlton
(15th minor premiership)
Night seriesEssendon
(1st Night series win)
Matches played138
Attendance3,830,231 (27,755 per match)
Highest attendance112,964
Brownlow MedallistBernie Quinlan (Fitzroy)
Barry Round (South Melbourne)
Coleman MedallistMichael Roach (Richmond)
← 1980
1982 →

The 1981 VFL season was the 85th season of the Victorian Football League (VFL), the highest level senior Australian rules football competition in Victoria. The season featured twelve clubs, ran from 28 March until 26 September, and comprised a 22-game home-and-away season followed by a finals series featuring the top five clubs.

The premiership was won by the Carlton Football Club for the 13th time, after it defeated Collingwood by 20 points in the 1981 VFL Grand Final.

Night series

Essendon defeated Carlton 9.11 (65) to 6.5 (41) in the final.

Premiership season

Round 1

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date North Melbourne 21.19 (145) South Melbourne 12.25 (97) Arden Street Oval 19,437 28 March 1981 Footscray 16.12 (108) St Kilda 23.19 (157) Western Oval 19,101 28 March 1981 Melbourne 16.16 (112) Hawthorn 23.15 (153) MCG 32,202 28 March 1981 Geelong 10.17 (77) Essendon 10.11 (71) Kardinia Park 37,303 28 March 1981 Fitzroy 20.13 (133) Collingwood 22.27 (159) Junction Oval 27,200 28 March 1981 Carlton 22.12 (144) Richmond 12.10 (82) VFL Park 56,372 28 March 1981

Round 2

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Essendon 16.15 (111) North Melbourne 15.9 (99) Windy Hill 26,443 4 April 1981 Collingwood 26.22 (178) Footscray 13.6 (84) Victoria Park 26,512 4 April 1981 South Melbourne 16.14 (110) Richmond 22.13 (145) Lake Oval 17,850 4 April 1981 St Kilda 14.23 (107) Geelong 16.13 (109) Moorabbin Oval 24,496 4 April 1981 Hawthorn 16.11 (107) Carlton 17.21 (123) Princes Park 31,660 4 April 1981 Fitzroy 23.17 (155) Melbourne 16.14 (110) VFL Park 20,107 4 April 1981

Round 3

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Footscray 18.11 (119) Melbourne 18.12 (120) Western Oval 13,256 11 April 1981 Carlton 14.24 (108) Fitzroy 12.20 (92) Princes Park 24,780 11 April 1981 North Melbourne 15.26 (116) Geelong 14.5 (89) Arden Street Oval 17,744 11 April 1981 Richmond 17.16 (118) Essendon 16.18 (114) MCG 61,908 11 April 1981 St Kilda 19.21 (135) Collingwood 23.19 (157) Moorabbin Oval 33,882 11 April 1981 South Melbourne 21.13 (139) Hawthorn 18.9 (117) VFL Park 21,977 11 April 1981

Round 4

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Melbourne 10.16 (76) St Kilda 16.32 (128) MCG 36,488 18 April 1981 Fitzroy 25.19 (169) South Melbourne 14.16 (100) Junction Oval 15,635 18 April 1981 North Melbourne 13.17 (95) Richmond 17.22 (124) VFL Park 48,526 18 April 1981 Essendon 11.13 (79) Hawthorn 13.16 (94) Windy Hill 29,597 20 April 1981 Geelong 9.14 (68) Collingwood 11.10 (76) Kardinia Park 42,395 20 April 1981 Footscray 11.10 (76) Carlton 15.14 (104) VFL Park 27,299 20 April 1981

Round 5

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Hawthorn 17.16 (118) North Melbourne 11.17 (83) Princes Park 16,106 25 April 1981 Collingwood 21.20 (146) Melbourne 13.5 (83) Victoria Park 30,096 25 April 1981 Richmond 15.22 (112) Geelong 11.18 (84) MCG 46,230 25 April 1981 South Melbourne 18.22 (130) Footscray 9.14 (68) Lake Oval 12,545 25 April 1981 St Kilda 10.13 (73) Carlton 19.23 (137) Moorabbin Oval 32,341 25 April 1981 Essendon 15.14 (104) Fitzroy 19.11 (125) VFL Park 33,465 25 April 1981

Round 6

Round 6
Saturday, 2 May (2:10 pm) Carlton 12.15 (87) def. by Collingwood 22.12 (144) Princes Park (crowd: 36,343) Report
Saturday, 2 May (2:10 pm) Footscray 13.13 (91) def. Essendon 12.11 (83) Western Oval (crowd: 19,624) Report
Saturday, 2 May (2:10 pm) North Melbourne 27.17 (179) def. Fitzroy 19.12 (126) Arden Street Oval (crowd: 16,219) Report
Saturday, 2 May (2:10 pm) Richmond 10.19 (79) def. by Hawthorn 23.16 (154) MCG (crowd: 45,750) Report
Saturday, 2 May (2:10 pm) St Kilda 13.15 (93) def. by South Melbourne 15.13 (103) VFL Park (crowd: 27,250) Report
Sunday, 3 May (2:10 pm) Geelong 22.21 (153) def. Melbourne 16.8 (104) SCG (crowd: 11,077) Report

Round 7

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Fitzroy 13.14 (92) Richmond 12.16 (88) Junction Oval 12,997 9 May 1981 Essendon 14.17 (101) St Kilda 11.10 (76) Windy Hill 16,828 9 May 1981 Collingwood 18.15 (123) South Melbourne 7.16 (58) Victoria Park 20,553 9 May 1981 Hawthorn 8.8 (56) Geelong 7.17 (59) Princes Park 13,275 9 May 1981 Melbourne 8.8 (56) Carlton 12.24 (96) MCG 22,020 9 May 1981 North Melbourne 17.16 (118) Footscray 7.12 (54) VFL Park 10,989 9 May 1981

Round 8

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date St Kilda 8.16 (64) North Melbourne 25.18 (168) Moorabbin Oval 16,860 16 May 1981 South Melbourne 17.25 (127) Melbourne 12.11 (83) Lake Oval 12,808 16 May 1981 Richmond 25.17 (167) Footscray 17.15 (117) MCG 21,721 16 May 1981 Hawthorn 21.18 (144) Fitzroy 16.19 (115) Princes Park 17,459 16 May 1981 Geelong 12.8 (80) Carlton 12.13 (85) Kardinia Park 28,396 16 May 1981 Collingwood 14.3 (87) Essendon 21.18 (144) VFL Park 79,326 16 May 1981

Round 9

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Footscray 10.14 (74) Hawthorn 11.18 (84) Western Oval 13,789 23 May 1981 Fitzroy 13.15 (93) Geelong 16.18 (114) Junction Oval 15,604 23 May 1981 Carlton 25.22 (172) South Melbourne 11.7 (73) Princes Park 22,445 23 May 1981 Melbourne 10.10 (70) Essendon 14.20 (104) MCG 31,769 23 May 1981 North Melbourne 12.26 (98) Collingwood 16.15 (111) Arden Street Oval 24,625 23 May 1981 Richmond 20.16 (136) St Kilda 15.15 (105) VFL Park 40,240 23 May 1981

Round 10

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Hawthorn 13.17 (95) St Kilda 11.14 (80) Princes Park 14,961 30 May 1981 Geelong 14.8 (92) South Melbourne 10.10 (70) Kardinia Park 19,760 30 May 1981 Fitzroy 22.15 (147) Footscray 10.10 (70) Junction Oval 11,630 30 May 1981 Collingwood 17.10 (112) Richmond 8.9 (57) Victoria Park 37,177 30 May 1981 Essendon 11.13 (79) Carlton 6.8 (44) Windy Hill 30,574 30 May 1981 Melbourne 6.7 (43) North Melbourne 25.22 (172) VFL Park 17,015 30 May 1981

Round 11

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Richmond 20.16 (136) Melbourne 14.10 (94) MCG 31,025 6 June 1981 St Kilda 14.15 (99) Fitzroy 7.17 (59) Moorabbin Oval 21,672 6 June 1981 Carlton 17.13 (115) North Melbourne 11.18 (84) Princes Park 31,808 6 June 1981 Hawthorn 18.19 (127) Collingwood 12.9 (81) VFL Park 92,935 8 June 1981 Footscray 12.10 (82) Geelong 17.15 (117) Western Oval 24,974 8 June 1981 South Melbourne 12.8 (80) Essendon 15.18 (108) Lake Oval 28,588 8 June 1981

Round 12

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Geelong 19.21 (135) St Kilda 4.11 (35) Kardinia Park 22,154 13 June 1981 Carlton 21.13 (139) Hawthorn 14.16 (100) Princes Park 27,000 13 June 1981 Melbourne 13.12 (90) Fitzroy 17.32 (134) MCG 17,691 13 June 1981 North Melbourne 13.12 (90) Essendon 18.29 (137) Arden Street Oval 22,526 13 June 1981 Footscray 13.15 (93) Collingwood 14.14 (98) Western Oval 20,903 13 June 1981 Richmond 19.12 (126) South Melbourne 16.15 (111) VFL Park 24,588 13 June 1981

Round 13

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Hawthorn 20.18 (138) South Melbourne 15.16 (106) Princes Park 11,657 20 June 1981 Geelong 26.14 (170) North Melbourne 8.8 (56) Kardinia Park 27,395 20 June 1981 Essendon 12.22 (94) Richmond 13.12 (90) Windy Hill 30,718 20 June 1981 Collingwood 19.14 (128) St Kilda 10.11 (71) Victoria Park 23,669 20 June 1981 Fitzroy 20.11 (131) Carlton 15.16 (106) Junction Oval 18,455 20 June 1981 Melbourne 14.10 (94) Footscray 19.11 (125) VFL Park 15,599 20 June 1981

Round 14

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Carlton 15.25 (115) Footscray 5.4 (34) Princes Park 17,419 27 June 1981 Richmond 21.23 (149) North Melbourne 15.16 (106) MCG 31,212 27 June 1981 St Kilda 18.19 (127) Melbourne 8.7 (55) Moorabbin Oval 14,058 27 June 1981 South Melbourne 9.16 (70) Fitzroy 14.9 (93) Lake Oval 11,756 27 June 1981 Collingwood 13.8 (86) Geelong 9.14 (68) VFL Park 50,441 27 June 1981 Hawthorn 20.13 (133) Essendon 22.19 (151) The Gabba 20,351 28 June 1981

Round 15

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date North Melbourne 7.13 (55) Hawthorn 16.19 (115) Arden Street Oval 8,160 4 July 1981 Fitzroy 8.13 (61) Essendon 11.14 (80) Junction Oval 18,374 4 July 1981 Carlton 6.14 (50) St Kilda 5.5 (35) VFL Park 21,579 4 July 1981 Geelong 12.10 (82) Richmond 8.4 (52) Kardinia Park 26,635 11 July 1981 Footscray 7.9 (51) South Melbourne 17.12 (114) Western Oval 10,478 11 July 1981 Melbourne 10.6 (66) Collingwood 12.16 (88) MCG 30,803 11 July 1981

Round 16

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Hawthorn 12.14 (86) Richmond 20.11 (131) Princes Park 19,519 18 July 1981 Essendon 22.21 (153) Footscray 8.12 (60) Windy Hill 21,588 18 July 1981 South Melbourne 22.19 (151) St Kilda 16.4 (100) Lake Oval 13,297 18 July 1981 Melbourne 12.7 (79) Geelong 22.35 (167) MCG 21,947 18 July 1981 Collingwood 11.11 (77) Carlton 10.16 (76) Victoria Park 30,708 18 July 1981 Fitzroy 18.13 (121) North Melbourne 12.15 (87) VFL Park 17,713 18 July 1981

Round 17

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Geelong 10.11 (71) Hawthorn 8.9 (57) Kardinia Park 24,750 25 July 1981 Footscray 18.8 (116) North Melbourne 19.11 (125) Western Oval 14,755 25 July 1981 Carlton 23.15 (153) Melbourne 15.10 (100) Princes Park 15,198 25 July 1981 Richmond 16.19 (115) Fitzroy 17.14 (116) MCG 37,589 25 July 1981 St Kilda 12.4 (76) Essendon 12.21 (93) Moorabbin Oval 23,126 25 July 1981 South Melbourne 18.13 (121) Collingwood 15.13 (103) SCG 22,238 26 July 1981

Round 18

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date North Melbourne 16.21 (117) St Kilda 12.13 (85) Arden Street Oval 11,517 1 August 1981 Melbourne 12.14 (86) South Melbourne 17.13 (115) MCG 13,886 1 August 1981 Fitzroy 10.13 (73) Hawthorn 7.19 (61) Junction Oval 16,013 1 August 1981 Carlton 17.13 (115) Geelong 12.10 (82) Princes Park 31,507 1 August 1981 Footscray 9.15 (69) Richmond 15.13 (103) VFL Park 19,725 1 August 1981 Essendon 12.16 (88) Collingwood 9.15 (69) MCG 64,149 2 August 1981

Round 19

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Essendon 14.20 (104) Melbourne 9.6 (60) Windy Hill 15,411 8 August 1981 Collingwood 14.19 (103) North Melbourne 11.13 (79) Victoria Park 21,237 8 August 1981 St Kilda 9.11 (65) Richmond 10.11 (71) Moorabbin Oval 15,943 8 August 1981 Hawthorn 15.21 (111) Footscray 13.12 (90) Princes Park 8,058 8 August 1981 Geelong 11.19 (85) Fitzroy 9.16 (70) VFL Park 25,565 8 August 1981 South Melbourne 8.14 (62) Carlton 13.7 (85) MCG 24,287 9 August 1981

Round 20

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Carlton 15.8 (98) Essendon 14.15 (99) Princes Park 36,736 15 August 1981 North Melbourne 21.19 (145) Melbourne 13.9 (87) Arden Street Oval 7,749 15 August 1981 South Melbourne 12.14 (86) Geelong 21.13 (139) Lake Oval 11,489 15 August 1981 Footscray 12.14 (86) Fitzroy 22.15 (147) Western Oval 11,770 15 August 1981 Richmond 11.20 (86) Collingwood 14.7 (91) MCG 69,217 15 August 1981 St Kilda 9.14 (68) Hawthorn 10.17 (77) VFL Park 20,863 15 August 1981

Round 21

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Melbourne 15.9 (99) Richmond 17.14 (116) MCG 19,567 22 August 1981 Fitzroy 14.18 (102) St Kilda 9.10 (64) Junction Oval 12,130 22 August 1981 Essendon 26.23 (179) South Melbourne 10.8 (68) Windy Hill 18,773 22 August 1981 Collingwood 22.17 (149) Hawthorn 11.10 (76) Victoria Park 26,680 22 August 1981 Geelong 18.20 (128) Footscray 8.11 (59) Kardinia Park 17,573 22 August 1981 North Melbourne 8.14 (62) Carlton 12.12 (84) VFL Park 25,544 22 August 1981

Round 22

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Venue Crowd Date Hawthorn 15.20 (110) Melbourne 8.9 (57) Princes Park 7,912 29 August 1981 Collingwood 4.9 (33) Fitzroy 8.11 (59) Victoria Park 32,393 29 August 1981 South Melbourne 10.14 (74) North Melbourne 15.17 (107) Lake Oval 8,484 29 August 1981 St Kilda 12.15 (87) Footscray 5.8 (38) Moorabbin Oval 11,948 29 August 1981 Richmond 5.10 (40) Carlton 9.13 (67) MCG 64,207 29 August 1981 Essendon 6.11 (47) Geelong 7.13 (55) VFL Park 75,221 29 August 1981

Ladder

1981 VFL ladder
Pos Team Pld W L D PF PA PP Pts
1 Carlton (P) 22 17 5 0 2303 1768 130.3 68 Finals
2 Collingwood 22 17 5 0 2399 1957 122.6 68
3 Geelong 22 16 6 0 2224 1714 129.8 64
4 Essendon 22 16 6 0 2323 1821 127.6 64
5 Fitzroy 22 14 8 0 2413 2152 112.1 56
6 Hawthorn 22 13 9 0 2313 2114 109.4 52
7 Richmond 22 13 9 0 2323 2207 105.3 52
8 North Melbourne 22 10 12 0 2386 2293 104.1 40
9 South Melbourne 22 8 14 0 2165 2522 85.8 32
10 St Kilda 22 5 17 0 1930 2266 85.2 20
11 Footscray 22 2 20 0 1764 2680 65.8 8
12 Melbourne 22 1 21 0 1824 2873 63.5 4
Source: VFL ladder
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) percentage; 3) number of points for.
(P) Premiers


Finals

Main article: 1981 VFL finals series

Week One

Elimination final
Saturday, 5 September (2:30 pm) Essendon 13.16 (94) def. by Fitzroy 16.13 (109) VFL Park (crowd: 58,598) Report
Qualifying final
Saturday, 5 September (2:30 pm) Collingwood 13.20 (98) def. by Geelong 16.16 (112) MCG (crowd: 83,899) Report

Week Two

Semi-finals
SF1: Saturday, 12 September (2:30 pm) Collingwood 19.19 (133) def. Fitzroy 19.18 (132) MCG (crowd: 85,133) Report
SF2: Saturday, 12 September (2:30 pm) Carlton 16.17 (113) def. Geelong 11.7 (73) VFL Park (crowd: 66,078) Report

Week three

Preliminary final
Saturday, 19 September (2:30 pm) Geelong 11.9 (75) def. by Collingwood 12.10 (82) VFL Park (crowd: 69,536) Report
  • In an incident that has become part of football folklore, the Geelong team bus failed to pick up Garry Sidebottom on the way to VFL Park for the Preliminary Final. Apparently, due to a breakdown in communications, no Geelong officials had told Sidebottom that he was going to play, so believing that had not been chosen, Sidebottom was not at his usual stop when the bus passed.[1]

Week four

Main article: 1981 VFL Grand Final

Grand final
Saturday, 26 September (2:50 pm) Carlton 12.20 (92) def. Collingwood 10.12 (72) MCG (crowd: 112,964) Report

See also

Notes

Notable events

References

  1. ^ Atkinson, Graeme (1989). 3AW Book of Footy Records. South Melbourne: Magistra Publishing Company Pty Ltd. p. 278. ISBN 1863210091.
  2. ^ "AFL Grounds". Whirlpool.net.au. 30 August 1997. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Grand final details". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. 28 September 1981. p. 38.
  4. ^ Simunovich, Peter (16 October 1980). "13 teams? East Perth wants to join VFL". The Sun News-Pictorial (Final ed.). Melbourne, VIC. p. 84.
  5. ^ Simunovich, Peter (30 October 1980). "Record finals a help". The Sun News-Pictorial (Final ed.). Melbourne, VIC. p. 71.
  6. ^ Ron Carter (28 May 1981). "South is fined $20,000". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. p. 30.
  7. ^ "AFL Tables - St Kilda v North Melbourne - 16-May-1981 - Match Stats". AFL Tables. 16 May 1981. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  8. ^ "AFL Tables - Alex Jesaulenko - Statistics". AFL Tables. 2 August 1945. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  9. ^ "AFL Tables - Fitzroy v North Melbourne - 18-Jul-1981 - Match Stats". AFL Tables. 18 July 1981. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  10. ^ "Malcolm Blight - Past Players - Official AFL Website of the North Melbourne Football Club". Kangaroos.com.au. Archived from the original on 20 November 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  11. ^ Mark Brolly; Geoff Slattery (6 May 1981). "Sunday football is here to stay". The Age. Melbourne, VIC.
  12. ^ Ron Carter; Neil Mitchell (8 August 1981). "Juniors to umpire matches". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. p. 40.
  13. ^ Ron Carter (13 August 1981). "Umpires back with a winning score". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. p. 28.

Bibliography