Our First Premiership
This was the first year of the new VFL competition, with Essendon and Geelong finishing on top of the ladder with 11 wins and 3 losses each. Under the system of playing finals Essendon had to play Geelong, Collingwood and Melbourne in second round matches to win the Premiership.
In the first game against Geelong, Essendon came from behind at three quarter time, kicking 4 goals in the last quarter to win, 5.5.35 to 3.11.29. Essendon then beat Collingwood the next week, 9.16.70 to 4.6.30.
The Grand Final was played at the South Melbourne ground with only 3,800 people attending. The game was amazing in that Essendon won, kicking 1.8.14 to Melbourne 0.8.8. Essendon’s solitary goal was kicked in the last quarter when champion ruckman Charles “Tracker” Forbes marked the ball a short distance from the goal square. His kick looked easy and almost every player had moved back to the centre of the ground, however the kick was a shocker and was marked by Edgar Croft near the goals and he kicked the winning goal.
In 1897 the teams comprised of 20 players plus two extra Ruckmen and the Grand Final team were as follows:
- Stuckey, A. Sykes, N. Waugh, A. Keaney, A, Officer, J. Anderson, T. Collins, H. Gavin, C. Campbell, G. Cockrane, A. Cleghorn, G. Vautin, H. Wright, E. Kinnear, C. Forbes, E. Croft, P. O’Loughlin, E. Barry, G. Martin, G. Stuckey and J. Groves.
The best players were; C. Forbes, A. Sykes, A. Cleghorn, G. Officer, J. Anderson, E. Barry and H. Wright.
The Captain of the team, George Stuckey, brilliantly lead the team, finishing off a great year for him as he had won the Stawell Gift earlier in the year.