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1921 by Whispering Jack


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The selection of eight players in Melbourne's squad for Sunday's game against Port Adelaide recalls the season opener for 1921 when Harry Bruce, Harry Coy, Joe Flanagan, Clarrie Lethlean, John Lord, Enos Thomas, Ted Thomas and Percy Tulloh and captain coach Percy Wilson who had crossed from Collingwood all lined up for the club against Essendon on 7 May making it nine newcomers to the club on the one day.

Two years earlier, Melbourne had made an inauspicious return to the VFL after a three year wartime break failing to win a game in 1919. It improved marginally in the following season rising to 8th place in what was then a nine team competition.

The club then looked to new captain coach Wilson, who the Magpies felt had passed his prime as a player, in the hope of lifting it to a finals appearance for the first time since 1915.

Melbourne certainly needed something to bring about a lift. Its membership number for 1921 stood at a mere 397. A crowd of only 3,500 turned up at the East Melbourne ground which was then home for Essendon, known as the "Same Olds" in those days, and they started the game strongly kicking five goals to Melbourne's solitary major for the opening term.

This was the first year in which scores from other grounds were displayed on the scoreboards of the grounds, with codes to decipher the scores available in the Football Record.

The new Melbourne coach introduced the tactics employed at Collingwood and his inexperienced side went a long way to reeling in the deficit by half time and before going ahead by the end of the third term by 8 points.

Essendon was not to be denied and clawed back the lead but a mistake by one of its defenders gifted Melbourne a goal. When the final bell rang the scoreboard showed Melbourne leading by two points, but the scores were actually level. The error was corrected leaving the result as a draw. Ironically, the Redlegs also drew their game against St. Kilda a few weeks later after a Saints' protest against a point given to Melbourne during the game was dismissed.

The newcomers were all impressive eapecially Lord in the ruck, Ted Thomas at centre half-back and Lethlean at full-back. Wilson was instrumental as one of the players who gave his team the edge in the middle of the ground.

The team finished two games out of the final four in sixth place with six wins and two draws in a 16 game season - a big improvement on its last two seasons although it would take another five years before the club would taste premiership glory in 1926.

Melbourne 1.2.8 5.6.36 11.6.72 12.6.78

Essendon 5.6.36 6.8.44 9.10.64 11.12.78

Goals George Haines Harry Harker 3 Bill Allen 2 Jack Brake Enos Thomas Percy Tulloh Percy Wilson

Thanks to Supermercado's DemonWiki - a great source of information about the MFC.

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