In the first match played by both these teams as seniors, North and St Kilda played out a 1-1 draw at Royal Park, where North played most of their home games. The ground was slippery from recent rain and North won the toss and had first use of the wind. H.Thurgarland kicked a goal for North after ten minutes, but StKilda levelled the score in the second half. Best for North were Fuhrhop, Mclean, Dellit and Robertson. Constant crowd invasion was a problem.
2. Melbourne (30 May)
North met the Melbourne team for the first time ever at Richmond Paddock, where Melbourne played their home games. It had been raining in the morning and the ground apparently was in a deplorable state. The match did not start until 3.30, Melbourne being the cause of the delay, apparently waiting for two of their players to arrive. One of them did half an hour later and Melbourne played with nineteen men. North played badly at the start, their kicking and marking wretched, and not keeping their positions. But some players improved as the game went on. Melbourne managed to score a goal before half-time. North had a chance soon after but missed. In the second half it was all Melbourne, but good defensive work by Dobson and Dellit, and the slippery state of the ground, prevented more goals. A second goal by Melbourne was disallowed as it was kicked after time was called. Best for North were Robertson, McLean, Pattison and Dellitt. “Scrimmage”, sports writer for the North Melbourne Advertiser, said that Melbourne would be wanting sadly in manliness it they insisted on playing the return match, which was scheduled in another four weeks, at their ground again. Why North agreed to this when the fixture was made is a mystery.
3. East Melbourne (6 June)
North played junior team East Melbourne at the Royal Park. Some of East’s players did not turn up and the teams agreed to play seventeen a side, although some accounts report it was 18-16 in favour of North. It was another wet and windy day. Fuhrhop won the toss and elected to give East Melbourne the wind advantage in the first half. North were clearly the better team, but East Melbourne put up a plucky performance. No goals were scored until late in the second half when Thompson, one of North’s smallest men, marked a few yards out and kicked the only one.
North’s best were Fuhrhop, McLean, Dellit, Robertson and Hassett.
On the same day, the second twenty played StKilda’s second twenty at StKilda. North had scored a goal in the first half with the wind. Just as halftime was called, there was a heavy downpour of rain and the North Melbourne captain refused to continue the game. StKilda protested saying that the match between StKilda and Carlton first twenties on the adjacent ground had not been stopped. But the North captain, I. Paterson, was not moved and the team left the ground.
4. Brunswick (13 June)
North met the newly formed Brunswick team, who played with twenty-three men, at the Brunswick end of the Royal Park. The North Melbourne Advertiser reporter blasted the club for their slow start to matches and failing to heed their captain’s instructions and keep their places. Despite this North obtained a goal before half-time through Sutcliffe, and missed several other chances. Best players were James “Tiger” Gardiner, Pattison, Thompson, Fuhrhop and McLean.
North were scheduled to play its return match against Melbourne this round, but declined to play because they wished the match to be played at Royal Park as the first match had been played at Melbourne’s ground. The condition of the Melbourne ground may have been a factor. North quickly arranged a game with Carlton, who were unaware that North had refused to play Melbourne and said later they would not have agreed to play had they known.
Both teams arrived a few players short. Healey, Raper and Thurgarland did not turn up for North and substitutes had to be found. Carlton were also short of players and played two or three short. Carlton, undefeated at this stage, were heavily favoured to win, but did not perform as well as expected and North put in an improved performance to hold them to a draw. The North players marked and held their feet on the slippery ground better than their opponents. The match was marred by spectators continually encroaching on the playing area. Best for North were Robertson, McLean, Fuhrhop, Dellit, Sutcliffe and Gillman.
6. St Kilda (4 July)
North traveled to StKilda for the return match against them. StKilda had first use of the light wind and two tries for goal were stopped by North defender Power. North then had a good deal of the game but could not score. In the second half, North took the ball down to the StKilda goal where, after some resistance, Sutcliffe managed to mark and goal. Two further shots by Thomson and Robertson were not successful. North held their advantage until the end. Best for North were Hassett, Byrne, McGibbon and Gardiner.
7. Albert Park (17 July)
North had played Albert Park the previous year as a junior team, thus having twenty men to their opponent’s eighteen, and lost by a goal. Now they faced them on even terms at Royal Park. The ground as usual was wet, but around two thousand turned up to see how North would go. North had two shots for goal in the first half, but did not allow enough for the wind. In the second half, North kept the ball near the Albert Park goal until, about fifteen minutes from the end, Sutcliffe got the ball from a scrimmage and put it through. North kept the ball in attack until the end.
7a. Kardinia (8 August)
After three weeks without a senior match, North sent a mixed team down to Geelong to play the local Kardinia team. Under the leadership of Patterson, North, playing with only nineteen men, won the toss and had first use of a slight wind. According to the local Geelong Advertiser, the ground consisted of sand hummocks and miniature lakes and here and there dangerous looking chasms. Why such a piece of ground had been chosen was incomprehensible and did not help the players. There was a much better ground nearby.
Unexpectedly, the Kardinians dominated the game for the first forty five minutes, after which a rush by North gave Sutcliffe a chance to score, but the ball was swept away again and kept at the other end until half-time. Kardinia dominated again in the second half until, after fifty minutes, North refused to continue the game, saying that five o’clock was the agreed time to finish. The locals were upset at this and had the right to claim the match, although it did not count in North’s official matches.
8. East Melbourne (15 August)
North played their second match against East Melbourne at the Melbourne ground in front of a large number of spectators. Although only twelve of their players turned up, East had the better of the game in the first half but could not score. Then, just before half-time, North worked the ball close to their opponents goal and scored. East Melbourne equalised after missing several chances. But Sutcliffe scored again for North to win the match. Best for North were Fuhrhop, Sutcliffe and Hassett.
9. Brunswick (22 August)
North had an easy win over Brunswick at Royal Park scoring two goals to none. Byrne and Gillman were the goalkickers.
North seconds played West Melbourne seconds and, although the match was reported as a draw, North claimed that they had kicked a goal. West claimed it was scored after time had expired, but North claimed it was kicked a minute before. The final decision is not known.
10. St Kilda (29 August)
For the third time of the season, these two teams met, this time at the Royal Park. The first match was a draw, the second a hard-earned win to North. But this one was a clear cut win to North. Having the wind in the first half, many easy chances were missed by North and no goals were scored. In the second half, however, two goals were kicked by James Robertson. Sutcliffe, the goal sneak did not play or there may have been more goals. Hassett, Fuhrhop, Patterson and Mclean were North’s best.
The match against Carlton at the Royal Park ended after twenty minutes. North had drawn the previous encounter and was confident of doing well again against the undefeated Carlton. But both teams brought much jealousy and animosity into the game. This had existed between the two for years, being adjacent to each other and recruiting their players from the same area. And it quickly surfaced in the rough way both teams played.
After twenty minutes of butchery, a dispute arose between Carlton player Blanchard and North player Traynor. The umpire, seeing that his decisions were no longer respected, walked off the ground. The Carlton team followed suit, called off by their captain Donovan, who feared there would be an all-in brawl between players and spectators. Whilst most blamed North Melbourne for the abandonment, Carlton were notoriously sore losers and no doubt contributed.
On the same day, a fight ended the StKilda-Albert Park match at half-time, and junior teams Carlton Imperial and West Melbourne brought their match to an end over some disputed point.
Carlton announced that they would not play North again, and would request the other senior teams not to.
12. Albert Park (12 Sep)
The match at the Albert Park ground resulted in a win for Albert Park, who managed to score a goal. The match from beginning to end was played in a very friendly manner, with not one single altercation.
This was the last match played by the senior team for the year. They played a scratch match the following week, Then the week after that the second twenty had arranged to play Kardinia at Royal Park, but the Geelong-based side failed to turn up, possibly as a result of their previous match against North being terminated early.
North finished fourth of the five metropolitan senior clubs. Their leading goalkicker was R. Sutcliffe with four. Carlton did not follow through on their threat not to play North again, but Melbourne did. Taking exception to a letter sent by North’s secretary at the end of the season, Melbourne wrote to North at the beginning of 1875 as fixtures were being arranged asking North to retract certain statements made. North refused.
In 1875 there would be further ill-feeling with Carlton and Carlton Imperial and their reputation and that of their fans was not good. With three senior teams now refusing to play them, their position was difficult. This and other factors led to an amalgamation with Albert Park in 1876.