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1972 - A RETROSPECTIVE by Whispering Jack


"Long, long time ago ..." (the opening line of the Don McLean song American Pie which was the # 3 single of 1972 according to Billboard Magazine - see footnote)

This might be hard to believe but in 1972 there was not a single Jack on the playing list of the Melbourne Football Club. To compensate, there were six Johns and five Peters but, to prove that not everything changes over time, there was still only one Max although he was destined to make his mark in another sport. The captain's name was Frank (Davis) and he, along with Barry Bourke and John Townsend, was one of the three remnants of the club's 1964 premiership team - the last of its twelve flags to date. The latter two had stood alongside each other on grand final day, Townsend the leading goalkicker on the day with three, Bourke scoring one and also taking an important saving mark in the dying moments of the game. In turn, some of their teammates had been at the club as far back as 1953 when the Demons were a lowly young team thirsting for success that was, as it happened, just around the corner.

So there were two decades of separation between the players of the Melbourne Football Club as season 1972 dawned. Another four decades have come and gone since then and the club, with a new coach is again placing its faith on youth and hard work in anticipation ...

But for now, let's go back in time to 1972.


Coach: Ian Ridley 

Captain: Frank Davis 

Finishing Position: 8th 

Best and Fairest: Stan Alves 

Leading Goalkicker: Greg Parke (63) 

Best First Year Player: Ross Brewer

After fading out and missing out on the finals in 1971, the mood was buoyant and coach Ian Ridley declared his team's motto for the season would be "This Is It" - appropriate for a team that had not seen finals action for eight long years. There was some hope for the Demons in the fact that they had won the Under 19s premiership in 1971 and several talented youngsters were on their way up but were they good enough to make the transition to senior VFL standard?

The team tuned up for the season with a bonding and training trip to Sydney and reports from pre season practice was positive leading up to the season's opener against reigning premier Hawthorn.

Melbourne, Collingwood  and South Melbourne had voted against the McIntyre Final Five system but its introduction gave the club a greater chance of making its first finals series since 1964.


1. Max Walker 11 games, 1 goal

2. Robert McKenzie 8, 0

3. Trevor Rollinson 6, 0

4. Tony Sullivan 18 , 0

5. John Gallus 8, 8

6. Frank Davis 21, 0

7. Graham Osborne 13, 7

8. Peter Keenan 16, 13

9. Peter Yeo 3, 1

9. George Lakes 2, 0

10. Lloyd Burgman 7, 12

11. Greg Wells 22, 34

12. Mike Collins 13, 6

14. Barry Bourke 22, 0

15. Stan Alves 21, 22

16. John Townsend 12, 9

17. Denis Clark 9, 2

18. John Tilbrook 9, 10

19. Ray Biffin 20, 0

20. Laurie Queay 2, 2

21. Graham Molloy 21, 7

22. Ray Carr 4, 11

23. Peter Sinclair 8, 8

24. Ross Dillon 11, 5

26. Col Anderson 2, 0

26. Greg Parke 20, 63

27. Ross Brewer 17, 15

29. Noel Leary 1, 0

30 . John Letcher 12, 0

33. Gary Hardeman 21, 10

34. John Clennett 17, 13

35. Paul Callery 22, 23

37. John Reid 1, 0

38. Wayne Delmenico 1 , 0

39. Peter Dilnot 1, 0

41, Stephen Kerley 14, 1

45 . Henry Ritterman 12, 4

46. Geoff Harrold 2, 0

50. Shane McSpeerin 6, 3

54 . Peter Williamson 4, 0


The opening round game of  1972 between Hawthorn and Melbourne at Glenferrie Oval on Saturday, 1 April, 1972 was famous for all the wrong reasons. Late in the second term Hawk goalkicking sensation Peter Hudson, who equalled the VFL record of 150 goals in a season on the day his team won the previous year's grand final, found himself wedged between Demon defenders Ray Biffin. His knee buckled and his season was over. Indeed, his career was severely curtailed.

The 21,513 fans at the ground watched in stunned silence as the Hawk forward, who had kicked 8.1 in less than half a game was carried from the ground. 

Hawthorn held a 27 point lead at the main break but the excitement went out of the game with Hudson's departure. Both sides went goal for goal in the second half with the home side prevailing by 29 points by the time the final siren sounded.

Despite the win, the loss of Hudson turned out to be too much for Hawthorn who missed out on the finals finishing in 6th place.

Melbourne went on to win 10 games after losing the first three and finished two spots behind Hawthorn which it beat in the return game later in the season.

Hawthorn 4.3.27 9.4.58 10.10.70 15.14.104

Melbourne 1.3.9 4.7.31 5.11.41 10.15.75

The Team:

Backs B. Bourke R. Biffin J. Letcher

Half backs F. Davis G. Hardeman A. Sullivan 

Centreline G. Osborne P. Sinclair S. Alves

Half forwards L. Burgmann G. Molloy R. Brewer

Forwards F. Dillon R. Carr J. Townsend

Followers P. Keenan G. Wells P. Callery

19:20 G. Lakes M. Walker

Goals Ray Carr Greg Wells 2 Stan Alves Ross Brewer Paul Callery Ross Dillon Peter Keenan John Townsend.

Best Garry Hardeman Stan Alves Tony Sullivan Paul Callery Peter Sinclair Greg Wells

The Hawks also won the curtain raiser when their reserves beat the Demons in the reserves by 14.19.103 to 12.7.79.

Goals Clennett Parke 3 Ritterman Tilbrook 2 McSpeerin Morgan 

Best Clennett McSpeerin Kerley

Hawthorn made it a clean sweep in the Under 19s winning 20.9.129 to Melbourne 12.19.91.


The early optimism was shattered by losses in the opening three games of the season with Footscray and Collingwood prevailing over them after the opening round loss to Hawthorn.

There was a breakthrough with a big win over the Swans but, as the season progressed, those early losses and some narrow defeats (2 by one point, one by five and a couple of others thanks to poor kicking at goal) left the team well short of a chance of making the finals. Perhaps the sole consolation was that a win in the return game at the MCG ended up costing the Hawks a finals berth. 

It was disappointing that although a number of youngsters were blooded (9 first year players), the club went backwards by one position on the ladder in Ridley's second year as coach. They were to slide again the following year and wouldn't see finals action again for another decade and a half by which time every degree of separation had been exhausted although there was a young bloke named Robert coming through the fourths (Under 17s) which won their premiership in the Melbourne Boys League who was about to make his mark at the club.


1. Hawthorn LOSS

2. Footscray LOSS

3. Collingwood LOSS

4. South Melbourne WIN

5. Richmond LOSS

6. Essendon WIN

7. Carlton LOSS

8. Geelong WIN

9. St. Kilda LOSS

10. North Melbourne WIN

11. Fitzroy LOSS

12. Hawthorn WIN

13. Footscray WIN

14. South Melbourne WIN

15. Collingwood LOSS

16. Richmond LOSS

17. Essendon LOSS

18. Carlton LOSS

19. Geelong WIN

20. St. Kilda LOSS

21. North Melbourne WIN

22. Footscray WIN


Carlton 134.3% 74 Pts

Richmond 117.7 % 72

Collingwood 133.0% 66

St. Kilda 115.6% 56

Essendon 108.3% 56


Hawthorn 111.1% 52

Footscray 94.7% 44

Melbourne 105.9% 40

Fitzroy 96.8% 36

Geelong 84.2% 28

South Melbourne 65.1% 8

North Melbourne 62.9% 4



1st Stan Alves

2nd Greg Wells

3rd Gary Hardeman

4th Barry Bourke

5th Paul Callery

6th Greg Parke


1st Denis Clark 

2nd John Gallus 

Outstanding Service Henry Ritterman Ross Dillon John Cumming 

Under 19s

1st Frank Giampaolo 

2nd Ian McGuinness 

Outstanding Service Peter Slade Peter Watts Neil McMullin 

Under 17s

1st Robert Flower 

2nd James Ahern 

Outstanding Service Glen Campbell Guy Moorhouse 

Best Clubman Ian Kavanagh


The club made a substantial profit for the first time since 1956 turning a $7,493.80 loss in 1971 into a $8,923.30 profit. A major reason for the profit a finals ground hire payment of close to $44,000.00.


The introduction of a final five the night series redundant, leaving Melbourne the last ever champions under that format.


from the Melbourne Football Club Annual Report ...

In presenting the Annual Report for Season 1972, one must record a drop from Seventh to Eighth position on the Premiership ladder, and a decline from 46 Premiership points in '71 to 40 points in '72. Perhaps the charge of failure might be levelled against the team, but this would be most unfair and unjust to a club which suffered many narrow defeats over the season.

Although we rarely rose above the middle of the list it was accepted by opponents and critics alike, that we were a side to be respected, and no team approached our matches with over-confidence. The brilliance of our younger players was generally admired, and it was no surprise at the end of the season to find Melbourne players in Greg Wells, Gary Hardeman and Stan Alves polling so well in the Brownlow Medal.

To this splendid trio one must include players such as Ray Biffin, Ross Brewer. Paul Callery, Dennis Clark, John Clennett, Wayne Delmenico, Geoff Harold, Peter Keenan, Stephen Kerley, and Peter Williamson who are all young players who must improve, and to have this group backed up with the skill, determination and experience of Frank Davis, Barry Bourke, Ross Dillon, Greg Parke and Tony Sullivan, then we boldly declare that Melbourne will improve its position in 1973 and we have set our eyes on the Final Five and are determined to achieve this position.

We are still recruiting widely, both interstate and in pur Country and Local Zones, and we are delighted to have included in our Metro­politan area the City of Chelsea and all clubs contained therein, this will be a most profitable area, as will be the Waranga North Eastern League which has been a new addition to our Country Zoned areas. New players will be encouraged within our limits, and we are certain to produce a much stronger final list in 1973, than we had in '72. 

On the administrative side the club is very well geared with many sub-committees working to improve our financial position which'has become No. 1 in priority on all V.F.L. Clubs' agenda, and we are very appreciative of the work our members of Committee are doing on the club's behalf, reference is made elsewhere in this report to-these mem­bers, but special mention must again be made of our Senior Coach. Ian Ridley.

When Ian.Ridley was appointed as Senior Coach in 1971 he brought with him a new enthusiasm which is burning as brightly as ever, his desire for success has been accepted by the team, who are all very much behind him in every demand he makes. Whilst he has the support of the team, he has more importantly the respect of the Team, and with this attitude, coupled with the skill of the players we will not fail.

Backing Ian Ridley we had in 1972, Bernie Massey, former defender, Assistant Coach who had the satisfaction of reaching the Grand Final with his Reserve Eighteen, and Brian Gray was again Coach of our Under 19's, another side to make the Final Five and play in the final series at the M.C.G., whilst yet again Gordon Duff led the Under 17 team to another well won Premiership. Of great assistance to Ian Ridley was Laurie Prosser our Physical Fitness Adviser, and assistance was rendered in our early training running sessions at Caulfield by John Hicks.

Ken Carlon was again in charge of Recruiting, ably supported by Bill Deans, Roy McKay, John Osborne and Rick Mollison, with Allan McKay as our Metropolitan Public Relations Officer. The miles that Ken covers in the Country Zones and the hours away from his home, leave us very much in his debt, and we must acknowledge the great work all these gentlemen do in recruiting for us.

This year we conducted our Best and Fairest voting in public at the M.C.G. This proved to be an outstanding success, and will be a feature at the conclusion of the 1973 season. After a most interest­ing count Stan Alves was the Winner of our Best and Fairest award, and praise must be given to this great clubman. His play has always been an inspiration to all, and many of our younger players have endeavoured to model their football on Stan's and he could be paid no higher compliment than this, we know that he will continue to thrill us with his great play and his splendid example for many years to come. Our runner-up Best and Fairest players were Gary Hardeman and Greg Wells in that order, Gary Hardeman climaxed a great year's football by travelling overseas with Carlton to play our football in Europe as a member of the All Stars team. Gary's excellence as a player was also evidenced by his selection in this year's Victorian Team he played in the key positions of Centre Half Back and Centre Half Forward and was a star wherever he appeared we are fortunate to have a player of his ability in our side.

The same praise can be showered on Greg Wells who was a brilliant and spectacular member of our team, in being voted runner-up to Len Thompson in the Brownlow Medal. Greg Wells confirmed our own Selectors' judgement who placed him as our own Best and Fairest in 1971. Greg has everything that pleases our spectators to our game, a most brilliant player he will star in V.F.L. football for many years to come and is a potential Medallist every year in which he plays.

Barry Bourke's effort in finishing fourth in our voting list cannot be over-emphasised, throughout the year Barry had to overcome injury and soreness and week after week excelled in his effort on the Back line, his dependability, courage, and team spirit are an object lesson to all our young players. Trophies for outstanding service were won by Paul Callerv. Tony Sullivan and Greq Parke. Each player gave us great pleasure during the vear. and each in his way means a great deal to the Melbourne Football Club.


Paul Callery with his great determination his never say die spirit, Tony Sullivan with his con­sistency, the ability that rarely permits a mistake, his great leadership that commands everybody's respect, and Greg Parke with the amazing skill in marking and his uncanny sense of position play as the team moves around him, spell the qualities that we see in abundance in the team of today. We sincerely believe this team to be the best Melbourne team since 1964, and look forward to the players them­selves confirming this statement.

A special reference should be made of the performance of Ray Biffin in 1972. Almost with the beginning of our Season it was found that Ray Biffin had suffered a Hernia, and it was suggested that the operation should be conducted immediately for this annoying occur­rence. However on Ray's request this was deferred until the season had ended, praise must be given to Ray for a most courageous and effective season, when one realises the burden he imposed upon himself in the club's interest one must be loud in praise of his courage and team spirit.

Our best First Year player in a very good group was Ross Brewer, who exemplified the skill and ability in our club today, it is quite certain that Ross will develop into a star in V.F.L. football and will represent Melbourne for many years to come.

Financially our club had a much better year, aided very much by the draw in the Final series which gave us an additional Final round at the M.C.G. It would appear however that there might be some slowing down of the development at Waverley, and that more money may be diverted to the V.F.L. Clubs who are badly in need of assistance in this direction. The progress that has been made at Waverley is indeed commendable, but it is high time that the clubs which comprise the V.F.L. should be assisted in their efforts to meet the increased payments they will be called upon to meet from our own players.



Special thanks must be conveyed to Frank Davis and Barry Bourke who again acted as our leaders on the field. Frank by his example and devotion to his team is an ideal Captain, his great courage inspires the younger members of the team, and with Barry Bourke who is equally inspiring in his approach to football we have been very well served in 1972 by these fine young men. We thank them most sincerely.



Dr. Duffy again presided as Chairman of the football club for season 1972. It would have been more pleasant to have reported greater success because of the time and effort that Don Duffy displays in his role as Chairman, but, as mentioned before, we feel that this must surely come in the very near future.

Our sub-committees continued to meet regularly two or three times a week in an endeavour to improve our club's position. Our Committee in 1972 comprised the following:

Representing M.C.C. Committee: Dr. D. G. Duffy, Messrs. D. Ferguson, J. R. Mitchell, T. C. Trumble.

Representing M.C.C. Members: Messrs. K. Carlon, R. S. Geary, F. V. Hughes, A. L. V. King, N. Lockwood, M. McLean, N. J. McMahen, G. W. Patterson.

Representing M.F.C. Members: Messrs. G. A. Lenne, J. P. McGrath.

Co-opted Official: Mr. G. M. Swan.

Representing M.F.C. Reserve XVIII: Mr. R. Miller.

During the year, certain changes were made in Committee and we were pleased to grant leave of absence to Dr. D. P. Cordner who left us in April of this year to travel overseas and retired from the Committee at that time. His place was taken by Mr. J. R. Mitchell who was elected as a member of the Melbourne Cricket Club and now represents that Committee. Formerly, he was a representative of Melbourne Cricket Club members. We were also most pleased to welcome Mr. Don Ferguson, the Treasurer of the Melbourne Cricket Club to our Committee representing the M.C.C. Committee and his presence is much appreciated. His interest and guidance on matters financial are of great value and we trust he will remain with us for many years to come. Mr. Mitchell's work as President of the Redlegs is also very well known and his long association with the Melbourne Cricket Club is also very much appreciated. Replacing Mr. Mitchell as a representative of M.C.C. members was Mr. Neil Lockwood who joined our Committee in July. Mr. Lockwood has been most prominent in club affairs and led the W.I.P. Committee which has contributed so much financially to the players in the incentive scheme and we were pleased to welcome him to our Committee.

During the year, Mr. J. P. (Shane) McGrath, our former great full back, suffered a most severe illness which kept him from our meetings for some months. However, we are pleased to report that he is back in full health and joined us towards the end of the season.

All members of our Committee are truly hard working individuals comprising such men as Ken Carlon, who is in control of recruiting for our club and spends many hours carrying out this most important task. Mr. Reg Geary and Bill Patterson are closely involved with the operation of our Business Committee, and we are very fortunate to have such gentlemen devote so much time and energy to our Club affairs. A football team today needs businessmen as much as it needs players and we thank them for their continued efforts on our behalf.

The work that Mr. A. L. King, our League Director, undertakes must once again be praised. Mr. King, a member of Committee since 1938, again controlled our membership ticket—and reserved seat sales, and in the final series, conducted sales of final series tickets. It is to the credit of Mr. King and Mr. Bill Langley that so much praise was heaped upon them by our supporters who were very happy with the manner in which our tickets were distributed and the many oppor­tunities they were given to purchase these tickets. Our office received many letters of thanks and commendation from supporters for the work of these officials on that occasion. 

When one also considers the fact that Mr. King is our Director at the Victorian Football League and the leading role he occupies with that body, emphasizes our obliga­tion to him.

Mr. Bob Miller, acting as Reserve XVIII Chairman and represent­ing that group on our Committee, has shown great confidence in this role and our Reserve XVIII Committee are most pleased with his attention to their requirements. We are very fortunate with the type of person that represents our Committee at the present time.



We were again pleased to report that the Premier of Victoria, The Hon. Sir Henry Bolte, K.C.M.G., again consented to act as our No. 1 ticket holder for season 1972. Sir Henry was most attentive at our matches and was supported at our Pre Season Dinner by Mr. Lindsay Thompson and later, our Federal Treasurer, Mr. Billy Sneddon. Sir Henry has now retired from his high office as Premier of the State of Victoria but we sincerely trust that we shall see him even more fre­quently in Season 1973.

Congratulations are extended from the Club on the appointment of Cr. Allan Whalley as Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne. Allan is a very keen Melbourne supporter, a former member of Coterie and we are most pleased to learn of his appointment.

Our congratulations must also go to the Carlton Football Club and playing coach John Nicholls, for their great performance in win­ing the 1972 V.F.L. Premiership. Their determined and professional approach is one that we envied greatly. However, we are still quite certain that Carlton are a side that we can challenge and look forward to meeting them in 1973. We must also congratulate Richmond on an excellent performance in season 1972 and though disappointed as they undoubtedly were in not winning that vital final match, they have had a most successful season. 

These remarks can also apply to Collingwood, St. Kilda and Essendon who comprised the Final Five.

Congratulations are conveyed to Len Thompson of the Collingwood Football Club for his win in this year's Brownlow Medal. Len Thompson will undoubtedly develop into one of the most brilliant players ever to have played our game and the winning of another medal must surely come to this very great player. Reference has been made earlier to the magnificent voting of the Melbourne Football Club players in the Brownlow Medal. Greg Wells was runner-up to Len Thompson and secured 22 votes. He was closely followed by Gary Hardeman who was equal third with John Williams of Essendon and Stan Alves succeeded in gaining twelve votes. Our players were always at the head of affairs in the public counting of the votes and as a result, a great deal of interest in our club was created. Each of these three players figured high in the various awards that were made through Television and radio and, becoming more established V.F.L. players each year, it is quite possible that we will produce a Brownlow Medal­list in the very near future.

Congratulations must go to our interstate representatives in Gary Hardeman and Stan Alves. They were most worthy representatives and represented our Club with great distinction. Stan Alves was selected as a member of the All Australian team and richly deserved this splendid honour. Reference is made elsewhere in this report to his success as Best and Fairest player for 1972.



We have always been fortunate at Melbourne in the strength of our Reserve Eighteen and 1972 has been no exception. The Reserve Eighteen lost a very great administrator with the passing of Ray Read, but gained a fine leader with the appointment of former Melbourne player and now Senior Committee member in Bob Miller. We were all delighted when Bob accepted the Chairmanship of the Reserve Eighteen and he has led this group most capably.

The Executive Committee which comprised Messrs. R. Miller, N. Parkhill, W. Rodriquez and E. Massey gave great leadership to the rest of the Reserve Eighteen, with Bill Rodriquez again acting as Secretary, with Noel Parkhill as Reserve Eighteen Manager, and Steve Stevens as Manager of the Under 17's we have a hard working group of officials who serve our club very well indeed. We are most fortunate to have them leading our youngsters and would like to thank them most sincerely.

The Best and Fairest winner in the Reserve Eighteen was the hard working and at times quite brilliant player Dennis Clark, he was ably supported by our runner-up best and fairest in the Reserve Eighteen in John Gallus. Great Support to the team throughout the season was given by the other trophy winners in Henry Ritterman, Ross Dillon and John Cumming. The best and Fairest winner in the Under 19's was Frank Giampaolo, whilst our best and fairest winner in the Under 17's was a name to be marked down in the file for the future, player Robert Flower*.


The Billboard Magazine # 1 single of 1972 was Roberta Flack's First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Ironically, the club's 1972 annual report gave us our first glimpse of a bespectacled, scrawny youngster in the Under 17 team photograph being the last named player in the above report.

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Very comprehensive post PA.

There was also something happening in Vietnam whilst the Liberal government was drowning itself in Scotch .

E G Whitlam appeared at Full Forward for the ALP and turned around a 23 year losing streak on December 2nd .

On the same day - yours truly was born .

Did Bob Massie grab his haul of 18 at Lords that year also?

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I met the great Alan McGilvray in Sydney as a kid quite a few times at The Lord Dudley . The sound of summer .When cricket was a game worth watching (or listening to) .

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    GAMEDAY: Rd 11 vs St. Kilda

    It's Game Day and after 2 losses on the trot the Dees must win against the Saints today at the MCG to keep in touch with the Top 4. A loss today will see them drop out of the Top 8 for the first time since 2020 ... READ MORE

    Demonland | May 26

  • Player Interview  

    PODCAST: Kade Chandler Interview

    I interview Kade Chandler about his road from being overlooked in the draft to his rookie listing to his apprenticeship as a sub to VFL premiership player to his breakout 2023 season to mainstay in the Forward line and much more ... LISTEN

    Demonland | May 01

  • Next Match 


    Round 12


    Sunday 2nd June 2024
    @ 01:00pm (TP)

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  • Topics

  • Injury List  

    Tom Fullarton Hamstring Test
    Harrison Petty Ankle Test
    Daniel Turner Calf Test
    Marty Hore Calf 2-3 Weeks
    Josh Schache Foot 2-3 Weeks
    Jake Lever Knee 3-4 Weeks
    Jake Melksham ACL 3-5 Weeks
    Charlie Spargo Achilles TBC
    Joel Smith Suspension TBA

  • Player of the Year  

    1 Max Gawn 129
    2 Christian Petracca 84
    3 Steven May 70
    4 Alex Neal-Bullen 59
    5 Jack Viney 43
    6 Jake Lever 40
    7 Clayton Oliver 34
    8 Bayley Fritsch 31
    9 Kysaiah Pickett 26
    10 Christian Salem 24

        FULL TABLE
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