Our sixth Flag
Having won the flag in 1923, Essendon went into the new season full of confidence but struggled early in the season. Gradually, however, the team regained form and edged up the list.
Despite losing the last home and away game to Melbourne they retained top spot.
Essendon had to fight for the flag through a new system of six finals, with all four finalists having to play each other. The premier team was to be that club that had the most wins and highest percentage at the end of the series.
The League finished up with the ridiculous situation where the premiers, Essendon, were easily beaten by Richmond, 9.13 (67) to 6.11 (47) in the last game, Essendon’s percentage being 142.7 to Richmond’s 115.5. This system was thrown out at the end of the series, however the club were still the premier team.
Fans were shocked to learn that following the game in the dressing rooms and later at Carlyon’s Hotel, players blamed each other for the loss and many fists flew. At that stage this was reported as the “blackest time in Essendon’s history”.
The split among the players was again highlighted the week after the finals when VFA premiers, Footscray, challenged Essendon to a charity match. The Dons were initially not keen to play, but agreed after a personal appeal from Dame Nellie Melba who sought the match for the Limbless Soldiers Fund
Footscray won the game easily and opened up the door for them to be included in the VFL competition in 1925.
Fists are said to have again been flying in the Essendon rooms after the game. There were rumours that Essendon players had received sums of money to “take it easy” and one star was said to have returned home to find a new car in his driveway. Unfortunately, club Legend, Tom Fitzmaurice, refused to play with the club again following this loss. He played with Geelong the following year in their Premiership team.
The initial Brownlow Medal was awarded that year to Cargie Greeves of Geelong, however the runner up was George “Tich” Shorten of Essendon.
The team that played Richmond in the final game was:
- Clyde Donaldson
- Roy Laing
- George Shorten
- Frank Maher
- Tom Jenkins
- Sydney Barker
- Fred Baring
- Tom Fitzmaurice
- Charlie May
- Justin McCarthy
- Greg Stockdale
- Norm Beckton
- Harry Hunter
- Charles Farrell
- Jim Sullivan
- Rowley Watt
- Vince Irwin
- Charlie Hardy