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1956 - WHEN THE DEMONS RULED (PART TWO) by Whispering Jack

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My trip back in time continues ...

Round 10 1956 Saturday 23 June at MCG Attendance 36,361 
 
Melbourne 5.1.31 8.4.52 11.7.73 12.10.82
South Melbourne 2.1.13 3.7.25 6.10.46 8.11.59

Goal kickers Frank Adams 3 Denis Cordner Robert "Bob" Johnson Ian Ridley 2 Tony Bull Peter Marquis Athol Webb
 
The undefeated Demons continued on their winning way with a comfortable 23 point victory at home against the Swans after leading at every change.

Round 11 1956 Saturday 30 June at Glenferrie Oval Attendance 15,500
 
Hawthorn 3.4.22 3.7.25 5.10.40 5.12.42
Melbourne 1.1.7 6.7.43 8.7.55 11.14.80

Goal kickers Clyde Laidlaw Ian Ridley 3 Ron Barassi Athol Webb 2 Robert "Bob" Johnson 
 
After a slow start, Melbourne got into gear in the second quarter against Hawthorn at Glenferrie Oval, keeping the hosts to two goals after the first break and winning by a little over six goals. Future coach Dennis Jones made his debut in this game.

Round 12 1956 Saturday 7 July at MCG Attendance 26,772

Melbourne 1.6.12 4.9.33 8.12.60 11.13.79 
Richmond 2.0.12 3.1.19 5.1.31 7.3.45

Goal kickers Robert "Bob" Johnson  Ian Ridley Athol Webb 2 Ron Barassi Brian Dixon Dennis Jones Laurie Mithen Stuart Spencer
 
In a milestone game Geoff McGivern (100) and Ron Barassi (50), accurate kicking for goal kept the Tigers in the game for most of the first half but the Demons were far too strong in the end. It was Richmond's lowest score against Melbourne since 1925.
 
Round 13 1956 Saturday 14 July at MCG Attendance 46,022

Melbourne 5.7.37 8.8.56 12.10.82 14.10.94
Carlton 4.1.25 6.4.49 9.7.61 12.7.79

Goal kickers Stuart Spencer 5 Ian Ridley 4 Peter Marquis 3 Robert "Bob" Johnson 2

The Blues put up some stiff resistance but the Demons, with their rovers Spencer and Ridley dangerous in front of goal, held sway by 15 points.
 
Round 14 1956 Saturday 21 July at MCG Attendance 47,956

Melbourne 0.5.5 3.10.22 6.14.50 7.17.59
Footscray 1.4.10 4.6.30 7.8.50 10.12.72

Goal kickers Stuart Spencer 3 Peter Cook Robert "Bob" Johnson Ken Melville Athol Webb
 
Melbourne lost its first game for the season and only its third in 12 months after a tight tussle with Footscray on the MCG. Scores were level at the final break but the Bulldogs were too strong and drew away to win by 13 points against the inaccurate Demons who hit the post four times during the game.
 
Round 15 1956 Saturday 28 July at Brunswick Street Attendance 13,000

Fitzroy 2.2.14 4.6.30 5.9.39 7.11.53
Melbourne 1.4.10 3.7.25 8.12.60 11.15.81

Goal kickers Stuart Spencer 3 Terry Gleeson Ian Ridley 2 Ron Barassi Brian Dixon Noel McMahen Laurie Mithen
 
Melbourne started slowly against Fitzroy but took over after half time to get back on the winning list.
 
Round 16 1956 Saturday 4 August at Kardinia Park Attendance 29,687

Geelong 0.5.5 3.9.27 5.9.39 8.10.58
Melbourne 2.3.15 3.5.23 3.8.26 8.8.56

Goal kickers Robert "Bob" Johnson  3 Ian Ridley Stuart Spencer 2 Peter Cook
 
After going thirteen rounds without a loss, the Demons suffered their second defeat in three weeks at Kardinia Park. The home side dominated for most of the game in the centre of the ground but when Melbourne kicked four goals in eight minutes at the start of the last quarter, it set up a grandstand finish. The Cats regained composure to just hold on to draw a game behind the league leaders.

Round 17 1956 Saturday 11 August at MCG Attendance 16,186

Melbourne 5.3.33 10.6.66 12.10.82 16.18.114 
North Melbourne 3.2 8.3 11.4.70 11.5.71

Goal kickers Athol Webb 6 Ian Ridley 4 Robert "Bob" Johnson 3 Ron Barassi 2 Stuart Spencer
 
Stung by two defeats in the space of three weeks, Melbourne blasted North Melbourne to the tune of 43 points at the MCG on a day when full forward Athol Webb booted six goals.

Round 18 1956 Saturday 18 August at Victoria Park Attendance 31,089

Collingwood 4.1.25 6.1.37 7.2.44 9.6.60
Melbourne 1.1.7 6.5.41 7.10.52 10.13.73

Goal kickers Stuart Spencer 3 Ron Barassi Robert "Bob" Johnson Ian Ridley 2 Brian Dixon
 
The Magpies on their home turf held the early ascendency but the inaccurate Demons took control in the second quarter to win by 13 points. Ruckman Denis Cordner celebrated his 150th game as he neared the end of a stellar career. Future skipper John Beckwith played his 100th game for the club.
 
Melbourne finished the season three games clear of their nearest rivals Collingwood and Geelong with the latter suffering a late season slump missing out on the double chance with a final round defeat at the hands of Essendon. After looking like the Demons' biggest threat for the flag, the Cats were out of the race a week later when they lost the first semi-final to the Bulldogs.
 
Ladder W D L % P
 
Melbourne 16 2 - 146.0 64
Collingwood 13 5 - 125.9 52
Geelong 13 5 - 121.9 52
Footscray 11 7 - 114.2 44
----------------------------
Carlton 10 7 1 113.7 42
Essendon 10 8 - 95.8 40
Hawthorn 7 10 1 88.9 30
Fitzroy 7 11 - 89.3 28
South Melbourne 6 11 1 88.1 26
Richmond 6 12 - 86.8 24
St. Kilda 4 13 1 88.0 18
North Melbourne 3 15 - 69.6 12
 
Second Semi Final 1956 Saturday 1 September at MCG Attendance 91,680
 
Melbourne 1.4.10 3.6.24 8.9.57 11.14.80 
Collingwood 1.4.10 3.7.25 8.10.58 8.16.64
 
Goal kickers: Robert "Bob" Johnson Stuart Spencer 3 Ron Barassi Clyde Laidlaw Noel McMahen Ian Ridley Jim Sandral
 
A crowd of more than 90,000 watched as two traditional rivals in Melbourne and Collingwood slugged it out a close game in windy conditions on the first day of spring at the MCG. Scores were level at quarter time and the Magpies held a one point lead at each of the next two breaks before the Demons kicked away in the final term to win by 16 points.
 
The first half was dominated by the defences of both sides with the highlight for Melbourne being a 65 metre goal from skipper Noel McMahen. The lowlight was the injury to Geoff McGivern following a collision with John Beckwith during the second quarter. He played on to the end of the quarter with ankle and knee injuries but was unable to reappear for the second half and did not play in the grand final. This was therefore his last game.
 
The team had to be recast after the main break with McGivern's replacement Jim Sandral playing an important role as the game's tempo increased dramatically. The teams booted five goals each in a high quality third quarter, but the fast-fading Magpies managed just 0.6 in the last to allow the fitter Demons to take control of proceedings. Rovers Spencer and Ridley, who had dominated their opposition all day, opened the last quarter with Demon goals before the Pies put in a period of sustained pressure which only netted them four points. Bob Johnson kicked his third goal, and his team's last, from a difficult angle after a 40 yard dash by Ian Ridley make the result safe.
 
Best for Melbourne were Spencer, Johnson and Cordner. 
 
GRAND FINAL DAY 1956
Saturday 15 September at MCG
Attendance 115,802
 
1956 Seconds Grand Final 1956
 
Melbourne 4.6.30 9.8.62 11.12.78 16.14.110
South Melbourne 2.2.14 8.4.52 8.10.58 10.12.72

Goal kickers Ben Crameri 8 Terry Mountain 3 Tony Bull 2 Peter Brenchley Longney Dick Atkinson Brian Collopy
 
It was a big day for the Melbourne Football Club. In the hours before the senior team ran out for their clash against Collingwood, the Seconds team was in action against South Melbourne and thanks to an eight goal haul from rookie Ben Crameri they were never seriously challenged. The Demons' led by 20 points at three quarter time and smashed the opposition in the final term to win by 38. Best were Crameri, John Lord and Carlton recruit Graham Kerr.
 
Seniors VFL Grand Final 1956 
 
Melbourne 2.4.16 6.11.47 10.16.76 17.19.121
Collingwood 3.3.21 4.3.27 5.6.36 6.12.48

Goal kickers Stuart Spencer Athol Webb 5 Ron Barassi Robert "Bob" Johnson 3 Ian Ridley
 
Collingwood won the right to challenge Melbourne in the Seniors Grand Final with an emphatic 39 point victory in the Preliminary Final against Footscray but the Demons were still hot favourites to go back to back as premiers, having already beaten the Magpies three times during the season. 
 
The Melbourne team sheet read:
 
B: John Beckwith Peter Marquis Trevor Johnson
HB: Don Williams Noel McMahen (captain) Keith Carroll
C: Frank "Bluey" Adams Ken Melville Brian Dixon
HF: Jim Sandral Clyde Laidlaw Laurie Mithen
F: Robert "Bob" Johnson Athol Webb Ian Ridley
FOLL: Denis Cordner Ron Barassi Stuart Spencer
19/20: Terry Gleeson Ralph Lane
COACH: Norm Smith
 
The premiers out-matched the Pies in skill and ability and eventually won their second straight flag comfortably - sealing their status as one of the greatest teams in VFL history.

Collingwood’s Bill Serong kicked the first goal after three minutes and, despite the answering goal from Athol Webb, they were full of running and held a slender lead at quarter time after a late goal for the Demons from Bob Johnson. After the break, the tide turned. Webb booted his second thirty seconds into the quarter and Stuart Spencer pounced after a ball-up in the goal square for another. From then on, it was one way traffic. Every Collingwood player was beaten in his position and Melbourne was in control with Denis Cordner dominant in the ruck and Laurie Mithen brilliant at ground level. The Demons held a 22 point lead at the half time siren.
 
The Demons came out and did all the attacking with Spencer and Johnson dangerous in front of goal. The match was over at three-quarter time with the Pies trailing by 40 points but the ruthless Demons went on their merry way with Webb helping himself to three goals in the last term to make the match a rout.

The only thing the Magpies won was the free kick count (32-24) but otherwise they were smashed everywhere on the ground.

Stuart Spencer was best on ground with his "powerful" roving and five goals. Ron Barassi and Ken Melville were also amongst the best. Athol Webb also had one of his best games. Keith Carroll suffered a broken nose and concussion after being struck with an elbow in the second quarter. He was already being operated on by the time the game ended.

Unsurprisingly for such a large crowd the match grossed an all-time VFL record crowd and gate receipts to match - raising £19,718.
 
The match was to be the final game for four excellent footballers in Denis Cordner, Noel McMahen, Ken Melville and Stuart Spencer who had won the last two best and fairests. The fear was that with the loss of so much experience and talent, the team would be unable to maintain the momentum and possibly even fall by the wayside but the team was up to the task and won the flag again in 1957.
 
The Demons were entitled to be called the champions of the nation as they also recorded wins against Port Adelaide  (SANFL), East Perth (WAFL) and Tasmania’s North West Football Union in exhibition games
 
Stuart Spencer capped off his carry with a second consecutive Keith “Bluey” Truscott Memorial Trophy for the club’s Best and Fairest player.
 
Voting

1st Stuart Spencer 87.5
2nd John Beckwith 87
3rd Ron Barassi  50
Other Awards
Best Clubman - Ralph Lane
Outstanding Service - Brian Dixon
Most Unselfish - Athol Webb
Best First Year Player Jim Sandral
 
The leading goal kicker was Robert B Johnson (43) 
 
Off the field, the club made a profit of £1,268 for the year.
 
The dominant Demons of sixty years ago could truly lay claim to the mantle of the greatest ever sides produced in VFL/AFL history.

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