1997 AFL Grand Final
The 1997 AFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested between the Adelaide Football Club and the St Kilda Football Club, held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne on 27 September 1997. It was the 101st annual grand final of the Australian Football League, staged to determine the premiers for the 1997 AFL season; the match, attended by 99,645 spectators, was won by Adelaide by a margin of 31 points, marking that club's first premiership victory. The 1997 grand final saw the Saints playing in their first premiership decider since losing the 1971 VFL Grand Final, looking to win just their second premiership after their famous one point win against Collingwood in 1966; the Crows were appearing in their first grand final since entering the competition in 1991. It was a even home and away season, with St Kilda finishing on top of the AFL ladder after 22 rounds, winning the McClelland Trophy, their record of 15 wins and 7 losses was the lowest season tally. The Saints had won.
Adelaide, with former Woodville and North Melbourne star Malcolm Blight taking over as coach, had finished fourth with 13 wins and 9 losses. They had made the finals for only the second time in their club history, after losing in a preliminary final in 1993 to eventual premiers Essendon. Tony Modra was the club's leading goalkicker for the fifth straight season with a total of 84. Adelaide won their qualifying final encounter against West Coast at Football Park by 33 points, due to a quirk in the finals system at the time, were drawn to play a home semifinal against the higher-ranked Geelong at Football Park, despite the Crows finishing two places lower than the Cats on the ladder. In a tense, hard-fought encounter, they overcame the Cats by 8 points, in a game best remembered for a crucial mark by Geelong's Leigh Colbert during a critical period in the third quarter, not awarded by field umpire Grant Vernon. Capitalising on this good fortune, the Crows progressed to a preliminary final against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG, a match in which they came from behind to snatch victory by just two points.
This victory was, at that time, the greatest win in the Crows' team history. However, in this game Adelaide lost Modra in the first quarter to an ACL injury, meaning he would not be available for the grand final. St Kilda won their qualifying final against the eighth placed Brisbane Lions by 46 points at Waverley Park before over 50,000, sending them to a home preliminary final against seventh placed North Melbourne at the MCG, which they won by 31 points in front of crowd of 77,531; the Saints went into the grand final as heavy favourites. St Kilda's Robert Harvey won the Brownlow Medal earlier in the week for having been the best player in the AFL for the 1997 season. Western Bulldogs player Chris Grant polled the highest number of votes, but as he had been suspended for a one match ban - in Round 7 against Hawthorn for striking - he was deemed ineligible for the award, it was an intense and exciting Grand Final, with Adelaide starting well and leading by 2 points at quarter time, before St Kilda got the jump in the second quarter and led by 13 points at half time.
Adelaide started to take control after the break and took back the lead at three quarter time by 10 points, before overpowering the Saints in the last quarter to win by 31 points. The Crows kicked 8 straight goals to the Saints 4.3 in the final quarter which sealed the premiership. Adelaide became the first team to win four consecutive finals to claim the premiership - a feat matched by the Western Bulldogs in 2016. Andrew McLeod won his first Norm Smith Medal for being judged the best player afield. Shane Ellen a defensive player for the Crows, provided a cameo at full-forward in place of Modra and finished with five goals, while Darren Jarman booted a grand final record of five in the last quarter, taking him to six for the match and sealing the game. Other influential Crows players included Shaun Rehn, Kane Johnson, David Pittman, Troy Bond and Ben Hart. St Kilda's Austinn Jones kicked the goal of the match. In an effort reminiscent of Phil Manassa in the replayed 1977 Grand Final, Jones ran the full length of the ground and kicked the goal from the boundary.
Saints forward Barry Hall, who kicked three goals, would feature in the Sydney Swans' premiership winning team in 2005. Adelaide went on to win its second consecutive premiership the following year, whilst St Kilda had to wait until 2009 for another shot at the premiership, but were defeated by Geelong. 1997 AFL season
Australian rules football
Australian rules football known as Australian football, or called Aussie rules, football or footy, is a contact sport played between two teams of eighteen players on an oval-shaped field a modified cricket ground. Points are scored by kicking the oval-shaped ball between behind posts. During general play, players may position themselves anywhere on the field and use any part of their bodies to move the ball; the primary methods are kicking and running with the ball. There are rules on how the ball can be handled: for example, players running with the ball must intermittently bounce or touch it on the ground. Throwing the ball is not allowed and players must not get caught holding the ball. A distinctive feature of the game is the mark, where players anywhere on the field who catch the ball from a kick are awarded possession. Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except when mark is paid. Players can use their whole body to obstruct opponents. Dangerous physical contact, interference when marking and deliberately slowing the play are discouraged with free kicks, distance penalties or suspension for a certain number of matches, depending on the seriousness of the infringement.
The game features frequent physical contests, spectacular marking, fast movement of both players and the ball and high scoring. The sport's origins can be traced to football matches played in Melbourne, Victoria in 1858, inspired by English public school football games. Seeking to develop a game more suited to adults and Australian conditions, the Melbourne Football Club published the first laws of Australian football in May 1859, making it the oldest of the world's major football codes. Australian football has the highest spectator attendance and television viewership of all sports in Australia, while the Australian Football League, the sport's only professional competition, is the nation's wealthiest sporting body; the AFL Grand Final, held annually at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, is the highest attended club championship event in the world. The sport is played at amateur level in many countries and in several variations, its rules are governed by the AFL Commission with the advice of the AFL's Laws of the Game Committee.
Australian rules football is known by several nicknames, including Aussie rules and footy. In some regions, it is marketed as AFL after the Australian Football League. There is evidence of football being played sporadically in the Australian colonies in the first half of the 19th century. Compared to cricket and horse racing, football was viewed as a minor "amusement" at the time, while little is known about these early one-off games, it is clear they share no causal link with Australian football. In 1858, in a move that would help to shape Australian football in its formative years, "public" schools in Melbourne, Victoria began organising football games inspired by precedents at English public schools; the earliest such match, held in St Kilda on 15 June, was between Melbourne Grammar and St Kilda Grammar. On 10 July 1858, the Melbourne-based Bell's Life in Victoria and Sporting Chronicle published a letter by Tom Wills, captain of the Victoria cricket team, calling for the formation of a "foot-ball club" with a "code of laws" to keep cricketers fit during winter.
Born in Australia, Wills played a nascent form of rugby football whilst a pupil at Rugby School in England, returned to his homeland a star athlete and cricketer. His letter is regarded by many historians as giving impetus for the development of a new code of football today known as Australian football. Two weeks Wills' friend, cricketer Jerry Bryant, posted an advertisement for a scratch match at the Richmond Paddock adjoining the Melbourne Cricket Ground; this was the first of several "kickabouts" held that year involving members of the Melbourne Cricket Club, including Wills, Bryant, W. J. Hammersley and J. B. Thompson. Trees were used as goalposts and play lasted an entire afternoon. Without an agreed upon code of laws, some players were guided by rules they had learned in the British Isles, "others by no rules at all". Another significant milestone in 1858 was a match played under experimental rules between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College, held at the Richmond Paddock; this 40-a-side contest, umpired by Wills and Scotch College teacher John Macadam, began on 7 August and continued over two subsequent Saturdays, ending in a draw with each side kicking one goal.
It is commemorated with a statue outside the MCG, the two schools have competed annually since in the Cordner-Eggleston Cup, the world's oldest continuous football competition. Since the early 20th century, it has been suggested that Australian football was derived from the Irish sport of Gaelic football, not codified until 1885. There is no archival evidence in favour of a Gaelic influence, the style of play shared between the two modern codes was evident in Australia long before the Irish game evolved in a similar direction. Another theory, first proposed in 1983, posits that Wills, having grown up amongst Aborigines in Victoria, may have seen or played the Aboriginal game of Marn Grook, incorporated some of its features into early Australian football; the evidence for this is only circumstantial, according to biographer Greg de Moore's research, Wills was "almost influenced by his experience at Rugby School". A loosely organised Melbourne side, captained by Wills, played against other football enthusiasts in the winter and spring of 1858.
The following year, on 14 May, the Melbourne Football Club came into being, making it one of the
Kicking is a skill used in many types of football, including: Association football Australian rules football International rules football American football Canadian football Gaelic football Rugby league Rugby unionKicking is the act of propelling a ball by striking it with the foot or, depending upon the sport, the shin. Kicking is most common in Association Football, where only the two goalkeepers are allowed to use their hands, it is the primary method of transferring the ball in Australian rules football and Gaelic football. Whereas most sports allow points to be scored by methods other than kicking, in Australian rules football kicking for goal is the only method allowed to score a goal and get the maximum six point score. Kicking is used less in Rugby League, Rugby Union, American football, Canadian football, may be restricted to specialist positions, but it is still an important tactical skill in each sport; the range of kicking styles available is influenced by the shape of the ball and the rules.
South Australian National Football League
The South Australian National Football League, or SANFL, is an Australian rules football league based in the Australian state of South Australia. It is the governing body for the sport of Australian rules football in South Australia. Formed as the South Australian Football Association on 30 April 1877, the SANFL is the oldest surviving football league of any code in Australia and one of the oldest football competitions in the world, forming just a few years after the United Hospitals Challenge Cup, the oldest rugby football competition, over a decade before The Football League. Consisting of a single division competition, since 2014 the season has been an 18-round "home-and-away" season from April to September; the top five teams play-off in a final series culminating in the grand final for the Thomas Seymour Hill Premiership Trophy. The grand final had traditionally been held at Football Park in October the week after the AFL Grand Final, though this was altered ahead of the 2014 season resulting in Adelaide Oval hosting the grand final in the penultimate weekend of September.
The league owned the sub-licences for South Australia's two AFL clubs – Adelaide Football Club and Port Adelaide Football Club until March 2014, when South Australian Football Commission reached an agreement with the Adelaide and Port Adelaide football clubs – endorsed by the AFL – which will see the two AFL licences transferred to the clubs in return for payments totalling more than $18 million. The league is responsible for the management of all levels of football in the state; this includes junior football, country football, amateur football and specific programs rolled out across schools, indigenous communities and newly arrived migrant communities. The SANFL owns the 51,240 seat AAMI Stadium the largest stadium in South Australia; the stadium, which opened in 1974, was used for Australian Football League matches up until 2013. The stadium was the headquarters for the league from 1974–2013; the SANFL competition is the second highest attended Australian rules football league behind the AFL.
The first recorded game of any "football" in South Australia was that of'Caid' played in Thebarton by people of the local Irish community in 1843 to celebrate St Patrick's Day. In 1844 there was debate amongst the South Australian Legislative Council whether it be allowed that "foot-ball" be played on Sundays, with arguments against preferring the quiet worship of God. In 1859 the Gawler Institute ran a rural fete; the earliest recorded Australian rules football club in South Australia was Adelaide Football Club, formed in 1860. The early years of football were poorly organised and dogged by argument over which set of rules to adopt. In fact, after a match between Port Adelaide and Kensington in 1873, it was remarked that neither side understood the rules clearly. However, as the years progressed, there became a growing push for uniformity and structure in South Australian football. In 1877, 12 of South Australia's football clubs met to develop a uniform set of rules and establish a governing body.
The South Australian Football Association was formed at a meeting at the Prince Alfred Hotel in King William Street, Adelaide on 30 April 1877, the first governing body of its type for football in Australia, adopted rules similar to those used in Victoria. The inaugural 1877 season was contested by 8 clubs: South Park, Port Adelaide, North Adelaide, Bankers, South Adelaide and Victorian. Norwood joined the Association the following season in 1878, went on to win the next six premierships. Norwood, South Adelaide and Port Adelaide together won 23 of the first 24 premierships. South Park, North Adelaide, Prince Alfred College, Kapunda, Bankers and Victorian all left the Association within the first 10 years. By 1886, the Association had been reduced from 12 to four clubs; the Association experienced a resurgence in the late early 1890s. The addition of North Adelaide, West Adelaide and West Torrens and only the demise of Adelaide, meant the Association comprised six clubs by the turn of the century.
In 1898, the Magarey Medal was awarded to the most brilliant player for the first time. In 1899, after a period of declining public interest in football due to the long term inequality between the traditional clubs and the younger clubs, the SAFA introduced electorate football, meaning that players were allocated to clubs based on the district in which they resided. Sturt joined the Association in 1901, but performed poorly finishing last in its first three seasons. In 1902, Port Adelaide adopted its white colours. In 1907, the Association changed its name to the South Australian Football League. Norwood and Port Adelaide continued their domination of the league, were joined by West Adelaide and North Adelaide. West Adelaide followed three straight wooden spoons from 1904–06 with four out of the five premierships from 1908–1912, the most successful period in West Adelaide's history; the SANFL maintained competition for the first two years of World War I, 1914 and 1915, with Sturt winning their first premiership in 1915, but from 1916 the competition was suspended and did not resume until 1919.
Sturt won the first premiership of the post-World War I era, beating North Adelaide in the Challenge Final replay. Glenelg became the newest addition to the league in 1921 a
St Kilda Football Club
The St Kilda Football Club, nicknamed the Saints, is an Australian rules football club based in Melbourne, Australia. The club plays in the sport's premier league; the club's name originates from its original home base in the bayside Melbourne suburb of St Kilda in which the club was established in 1873. The club has strong links to the south-eastern suburb of Moorabbin, where it was based between 1965 and 2010. St Kilda were a foundation team of the Victorian Football Association in 1877 and in 1897, became a foundation team in the Victorian Football League, the basis of an evolved National Football league that took on a number of clubs from other states of Australia; the primary focus of this was to enhance the game and throw off the parochial and localised nature of suburban club Football that the VFL represented. The decision was made to begin the new decade with a fresh non Suburban competition and it was duly named the Australian Football League prior to the start of the 1990 season. Collingwood were the inaugural winners of a National competition Premiership, an enormous achievement for a club with a strong history in Melbourne suburban football.
St Kilda have won a single premiership to a famous one-point win in the 1966 VFL Grand Final. St Kilda most won the minor premiership in the 2009 AFL season and were grand finalists in 2009 and 2010. St Kilda developed a reputation as perennial underachievers, much of this attributed to their record of finishing last more than any other club in the league, as well as having the second lowest all-time win percentage of any team still playing in the league; the St Kilda Football Club was formed on 2 April 1873, containing many elements of the previous South Yarra Football Club which had disbanded a year earlier. Soon after a decision was made to amalgamate St Kilda FC with nearby Prahran Football Club. St Kilda retained their colours and ground, as well as picking up a number of Prahran players. St Kilda competed as a senior club in the VFA from 1877 to 1879, 1881–1882 and 1886–1896 before moving into the breakaway competition – The Victorian Football League – from 1897 onwards. St Kilda were one of the eight clubs that took part in the inaugural VFL season in 1897.
They made their debut in an away game against Collingwood on 8 May 1897, which they lost 2.4. to 5.11.. The club's home ground in the new league was the Junction Oval in the suburb of St Kilda in Melbourne and the club's first home game was against Fitzroy; the score was St Kilda 3.8. to 10.6.. St Kilda's early years in the VFL were not successful and, in 1899, they had the lowest score recorded in a VFL/AFL match, one point against Geelong. In 1902, Charlie Baker became the first St Kilda player to be the league's leading goalkicker in a home and away season with 30 goals. Six successive wins at the start of the 1907 season saw St Kilda make the finals for the first time, qualifying third with nine wins and eight losses. St Kilda were beaten by Carlton in their first VFL final by 56 points, they qualified in third position again in 1908 and were once again eliminated by Carlton in the semi-finals, this time by 58 points. The 1913 season saw major improvement in which the team qualified fourth, but were beaten in the 1913 grand final by Fitzroy.
At the time a challenge system was in place, which allowed the team that qualified in first position as minor premiers to challenge any team that won through to be the top ranked team in the finals series if it was not the minor premiers. St Kilda won its semi-final against South Melbourne and defeated Fitzroy two weeks 10.10. to 6.9. in what was a match between the two teams that won the semi-finals. Fitzroy as minor premiers were allowed to challenge St Kilda – the number one ranked team in the finals series at that point – and the two teams played again the following week in the grand final which Fitzroy won 7.14. to 5.13.. Due to World War I the St Kilda Football Club was in recess in 1916 and 1917 but resumed in 1918 and fared well, making the finals in fourth position but were eliminated by Collingwood in a semi final by nine points, 58 to 49. Colin Watson became the first St Kilda player to win the league's highest individual award, the Brownlow Medal; the following years saw St Kilda establish itself as a more competitive club.
They made the finals in 1929 and were eliminated once again by Carlton, 12.9 to 11.7 in the semi-finals. In 1936, Bill Mohr became the second St Kilda player to be the league's leading goalkicker in a home and away season. Bill Mohr kicked 101 goals in 1936 and was the first St Kilda player to kick 100 goals or more in a season; the mid-1930s saw the club vying for finals berths making it in 1939 by qualifying fourth after a record run of eight consecutive victories and an overall record of 13 wins and five losses. The team had its first finals win since 1913, against Richmond, but were eliminated in the 1939 finals series by Collingwood in the preliminary final. St Kilda won three of the first four games early in the 1940 season and were on top of the ladder after Round 4 before finishing second last. Although there were some prominent players like Harold Bray, Keith Drinan, Peter Bennett and Neil Roberts, St Kilda were competitive in the 1940s; the 1950 season saw St Kilda win the first five games before fading to finish with eight wins and a draw in ninth place.
In 1955, after one of the club's worst seasons, Alan Killigrew was appointed coach. His first action was one of the largest clean-outs of players in the history of any VFL club, it is believed that only 17 players from 1955 played for St Kilda again in 1956, with 11 new
Adelaide Football Club
The Adelaide Football Club, nicknamed the Crows, is a professional Australian rules football club that competes in the Australian Football League. The club is based in Adelaide, South Australia, playing its home matches at Adelaide Oval; the club has its training and administration base at Football Park in West Lakes, where it played home matches between 1991 and 2013. The club song is "The Pride of South Australia", to the tune of the Marines' Hymn; the Crows were formed in 1990 to be the'state team' to represent South Australia in the AFL. They were owned by the South Australian National Football League, before gaining independence, they played their first season in 1991. They won both the 1997 and 1998 Grand Finals, have appeared in 15 finals series in their 28-year history; the club is co-captained by Taylor Walker and Rory Sloane and coached by Don Pyke. Walker was appointed captain prior to the 2015 season, While Sloane joined Walker as co-captains at the beginning of the 2019 season while Pyke permanently succeeded the late Phil Walsh as head coach in October 2015.
After the VFL was renamed the AFL for the 1990 season, the SANFL clubs unanimously resolved, in May 1990, that a team would not be entered into the AFL until season 1993. The AFL refused to accept this, revised negotiations with individual clubs Port Adelaide and Norwood. Two months the Port Adelaide Football Club reached terms of agreement with the AFL to enter a team into its competition in season 1991; the other nine SANFL clubs reacted and entered into litigation in an endeavour to halt Port's bid. As the terms offered were more favourable than offered, talks were resumed. On 19 September 1990, the AFL approved the bid for a new South Australian club to enter to the league, rather than a single existing SANFL club; the Adelaide Crows played their first season in the AFL in 1991. Inaugural coach Graham Cornes and captain Chris McDermott led Adelaide to a respectable ninth place out of 15 in the league, with 10 wins and 12 losses and a percentage of 89.44. Adelaide's first AFL game was against Hawthorn on Friday 22 March at their home ground, Football Park.
The Crows defeated the eventual premiers by a hefty 86-point margin, winning 24.11 to 9.15. The club reached its first finals series in the 1993 AFL season losing to Essendon in the preliminary final; the year 1997 marked the entry of Port Adelaide. The Crows finished fourth to qualify for its first finals series since 1993, hosted fifth-placed West Coast in the First Elimination Final. In the first final to be played at Football Park, the Crows won 14.15 to 9.12. The next week, Adelaide benefited from the finals system in use at the time and hosted the higher ranked Geelong, who had finished two places above the Crows but were forced to play away due to losing the previous week to North Melbourne; the Crows won narrowly in a controversial match, where a clear forward 50 mark to Geelong's Leigh Colbert during a critical stage of the third quarter was not awarded by field umpire Grant Vernon. Final scores: Adelaide 11.10 to Geelong 9.14. This set up an away Preliminary Final against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG.
Despite losing Coleman Medallist Tony Modra, who had kicked 84 goals for the season, to an ACL injury in the first quarter and trailing by 31 points at half time, the Crows kicked four unanswered goals in the last quarter to record a two-point victory, 12.21 to 13.13, with Darren Jarman kicking a goal to put Adelaide in front with less than two minutes remaining. This allowed the Crows to qualify for their first AFL Grand Final, to be played against St Kilda at the MCG a week later. St Kilda, chasing just their second premiership in VFL/AFL history, were warm favourites to win the Grand Final, having come first in the minor round and won both of their finals by margins of 46 and 31 points, against an Adelaide side without Tony Modra, Mark Ricciuto and goalsneak Peter Vardy due to injury. However, the Crows again overcame a half-time deficit, kicking 14 second-half goals to win by 31 points, 19.11 to 13.16. Darren Jarman kicked six goals, five of which came in the last quarter, whilst utility Shane Ellen kicked a career-best five and Troy Bond kicked four.
Andrew McLeod, who gathered 31 possessions across half-back and in the midfield, won the Norm Smith Medal for the best player on-field in the Grand Final. The win is arguably one of the finest moments in South Australian sporting history. Few expected the Crows to defend their premiership the following year. Adelaide struggled in close matches during the 1998 AFL season; the Crows were well beaten by Melbourne in the qualifying final at the MCG by 48 points, at the time, looked far from a premiership threat. Since season 2000, a loss in the finals by a team outside the top four would result in instant elimination, but the Crows benefited from a quirk in the McIntyre finals system, in use during the 90's and still progressed to the second week, drawn to play a semi final against the Sydney Swans at the SCG; the Crows bounced back from their disappointing first finals loss and recorded a comprehensive upset 27 point win against the Swans in the wet, which set up a Preliminary Final rematch against the Western Bulldogs.
Despite going into the match as underdogs, the Crows played some of their best football of the year to soundly beat the Dogs by 68 points - 24.17 to 13.15. It was a complete contrast to the thriller that took place the previous year, with Matthew Robran kicking six goals an
Australian Football League
The Australian Football League is the pre-eminent professional competition of Australian rules football. Through the AFL Commission, the AFL serves as the sport's governing body, is responsible for controlling the laws of the game; the league was founded as the Victorian Football League as a breakaway from the previous Victorian Football Association, with its inaugural season commencing in 1897. Comprising only teams based in the Australian state of Victoria, the competition's name was changed to the Australian Football League for the 1990 season, after expanding to other states throughout the 1980s; the league consists of 18 teams spread over five of Australia's six states. Matches have been played in all states and mainland territories of Australia, as well as in New Zealand and China to promote the sport abroad; the AFL season consists of a pre-season competition, followed by a 23-round regular season, which runs during the Australian winter. The team with the best record after the home-and-away series is awarded the "minor premiership."
The top eight teams play off in a four-round finals series, culminating in the AFL Grand Final, held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground each year. The grand final winner is termed the "premiers", is awarded the premiership cup; the current premiers are the West Coast Eagles. The Victorian Football Association was established in 1877 and went on to become Victoria's major Australian rules football competition. During the 1890s, an off-field power struggle occurred between the VFA's stronger and weaker clubs, the former seeking greater administrative control commensurate with their relative financial contribution to the game; this came to a head in 1896 when it was proposed that gate profits, which were always lower in matches involving the weaker clubs, be shared amongst all teams in the VFA. After it was intimated that the proposal would be put to a vote, six of the strongest clubs—Collingwood, Fitzroy, Geelong and South Melbourne—seceded from the VFA, invited Carlton and St Kilda to join them in founding a new competition, the Victorian Football League.
The remaining VFA clubs—Footscray, North Melbourne, Port Melbourne and Williamstown—were given the opportunity to compete as a junior sides at a level beneath the VFL, but rejected the offer and remained for the 1897 VFA season. The VFL's inaugural season occurred in 1897, it made several innovations early on to entice the public's interest, including an annual finals tournament, rather than awarding the premiership to the team with the best record through the season. Although the VFL and the VFA continued to compete for spectator interest for many years, the VFL established itself as the premier competition in Victoria. In 1908, the league expanded to ten teams, with Richmond crossing from the VFA and University Football Club from the Metropolitan Football Association. University, after three promising seasons, finished last each year from 1911 until 1914, including losing 51 matches in a row; as a result, the club withdrew from the VFL at the end of 1914. Beginning sporadically during the late 1890s and from 1907 until World War I, the VFL premier and the premier of the South Australian Football League met in a playoff match for the Championship of Australia.
South Australia's Port Adelaide was the most successful club of the competition winning three titles during the period along with an earlier victory. In 1925, the VFL expanded from nine teams to twelve, with Footscray and North Melbourne each crossing from the VFA. North Melbourne and Hawthorn remained weak in the VFL for a long period. Although North Melbourne would become the first of the 1925 expansion sides to reach a Grand Final in 1950 it was Footscray that adapted to the VFL with the most ease of the three clubs, by 1928 were well off the bottom of the ladder. Between the years of 1927 and 1930, Collingwood became the first, only VFL team, to win four successive Premierships. In 1952, the VFL hosted ` National Day'. Matches were played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Brisbane Exhibition Ground, North Hobart Oval, Albury Sports Ground and Victorian country towns Yallourn and Euroa. Footscray became the first of the 1925 expansion teams to win the premiership in 1954. Melbourne became a powerhouse during the 1950s and early 1960s under coach Norm Smith and star player Ron Barassi.
The club contested seven consecutive grand finals from 1954 to 1960, winning five premierships, including three in a row from 1955 to 1957. Television coverage began with direct telecasts of the final quarter permitted. At first, several channels competed through broadcasting different games. However, when the VFL found that television was reducing crowds, it decided that no coverage was to be allowed for 1960. In 1961, replays were introduced although direct telecasts were permitted in Melbourne. In 1959, the VFL planned the first purpose built mega-stadium, VFL Park, to give it some independence from the Melbourne Crick