Why was'nt Port Melbourne in the original VFL, and not the VFA?

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skilts

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.When did this behaviour cease with Footscray? Did Footscray’s administration believe it had to end that type of behaviour before they would so much as consider applying to join the VFL?
My earliest recollection of Footscray comes from 1955, my first game of watching VFL footy. My best mate's brother was playing CHB for Fitzroy, which allowed the two of us to go into the rooms after the game, and to the social event for the players after that. We were given loads of soft drinks and we gorged ourselves on sandwiches, sausage rolls and hot dogs. I was amazed how friendly everyone was, especially those who'd played in the game against each other. They had a combined celebration of footy as it used to be. To imagine that happening today, with opposing teams sharing a social event after the game, is impossible.

During the early 70s, i managed to go to the social rooms after another game at Footscray. If anything, the players and supporters of Footscray were even more friendly towards us Fitzroy supporters, even though their team had lost. They would have felt that their club had been disgraced had any of their supporters displayed any animosity towards opposition supporters, who were their guests. They took pride in welcoming the people whom an hour before they had been arguing with and shouting at. Due to these experiences with these true sports men and women, I've always had a soft spot for the Doggies.
 

Sttew

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The kids banging the metal signs behind the goals at the Geelong West ground (complete with velodrome) sticks in my memory though!!
It was a very ordinary ground. I wasn't one of those kids banging the metal signs; I was too busy scoffing down Cornish pasties and marvelling at the talent oozing out of the Roosters - Terry Bright, Mark Browne, Ricky Brown, David Manson, Rex Deeath, Joe Radojevic, 'Darky' Harris (imagine calling someone that nickname today!), Glenn Middlemiss etc
 

Timmy from Thomastown

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It was a very ordinary ground. I wasn't one of those kids banging the metal signs; I was too busy scoffing down Cornish pasties and marvelling at the talent oozing out of the Roosters - Terry Bright, Mark Browne, Ricky Brown, David Manson, Rex Deeath, Joe Radojevic, 'Darky' Harris (imagine calling someone that nickname today!), Glenn Middlemiss etc
Brian Shinners, Kevin Shinners, Pat Flaherty, Ray Orchard Terry Reid Alan Harper and Frosty Miller were some of the big names I recall. A mix of talent and pure thuggery.
 
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Bunk Moreland

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Tbh the question really isn’t why the VFA died, it’s more remarkable that it was successful as it was for as long as it was.

The turning point was always 1896 when pretty much all of the biggest clubs up and left. How do you think the AFL would go today if say, the 8 or 10 biggest clubs left and formed a rival league in competition?

Another big club left in 1908 and three more in 1925.

Probably the only thing that kept the VFA alive was it’s legal monopoly over Sunday footy, and the fact for many decades post-war, the VFL clubs were actually pretty poorly run. They were the dominant league but didn’t convert it to financial dominance and were slow to embrace full professionalism. This allowed the VFA to compete financially and for players right up until the 1970s.

Once the game started to actually become professional (on and off field), the VFL/AFL disappeared over the horizon in the blink on an eye.
 

Established1870

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This topic has always fascinated me and with everything that I've read and heard about it, I get the feeling that if Port Melbourne were in the VFL from the beginning, then they'd be a top 5 club in terms of support now (in Victoria).
 

Black JuJu

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Interesting read lads - really makes you wonder what could have been if we had an actual national competition based on all the state leagues around the country.
 

Bunk Moreland

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This topic has always fascinated me and with everything that I've read and heard about it, I get the feeling that if Port Melbourne were in the VFL from the beginning, then they'd be a top 5 club in terms of support now (in Victoria).
That’s really doubtful. St Kilda and South Melbourne are the most directly comparable examples, and both were probably better placed. Port had a small, working class suburban base, but not an unobstructed wedge out into more populous suburbs which a lot of the bigger clubs had (particularly along a train line). It’s actually a very small suburb bordered by South Melbourne, St Kilda, the CBD and water. A pretty inaccessible place too.

St Kilda is one thing - and they had Moorabbin to move to, South Melbourne was in a worse location, and Port a worse location again. Long term, they’d have battled you’d think.
 

Bojangles17

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You have to remember that for a long while pre first World War 1 the VFA was on a par with the VFL, the big change occurred when the Hawks, Roos and Dogs joined the VFL in 1925. Port Melbourne probably should've joined as they were one of the last of the inner Melbourne suburbs to remain in the VFA. The VFA catered mostly for outer Melbourne suburbs in the days when Oakleigh and Box Hill were considered out in the sticks!
South Melbourne were already in and they were situated just down the road, the VFL already had the congestion of Collingwood, Fitzroy and Carlton all being walking distance to one another with Fitzroy being the strongest of the lot until the 1920's. So, the real surprise for me was Williamstown not joining the VFL, formed in 1864 and well away from the Melbourne inner suburbs, they were so rich that they lured Ron Todd away from Collingwood at his peak for ten times the money. I loved the old VFA.

Reason why Port melbourne did not join the VFL, bare in mind this was probably the toughest and most notorious suburb in Melbourne at the time.
The Borough joined the Victorian Football Association (VFA) in 1886 and has played in every season since then. In the late 1890s, Port Melbourne was touted to join the breakaway VFL competition, but was denied membership. In their place, the St Kilda Football Club joined the VFL, an event still talked about to this day. The reason given was the Borough's reputation for poor behaviour by both its players and supporters.
I thought that was likely the reason, reading history books there was oft a lot of strife reported when Port Melbourne was the visiting team in early 20th century
 

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Bojangles17

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Agreed, but it wasn't us 'Victorians'. It was the AFL that killed it. The AFL isn't representative of anything but themselves. What happened was that the moment that Sth went to Sydney and started playing Sunday games the bells began to ring. Then they took over any other times slot they could. Also they got rid of the reserves, only to co-opt the VFA a couple of years later and then gradually allow stand alone teams to push into the comp until all the older teams were dead, taken over, or - astonishingly - like Port alive but competing with teams that have a multi multi million dollar football budget. It is no different to the SANFL or the WAFL. Maybe in different ways, but the AFL has relegated them all into relative obscurity, and as the last of the rusted on fans die off they will all just be footnotes in a history book.
Well said , the Sunday time slot being dominated by afl meant vfa lost their relevance
 

DrEvil_

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You should ask the same question about Richmond. And it was because, you guessed it, they finished 9th :$
 

harrythetiger

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It's far from the oldest club, from Wikipedia it is the 18th oldest behind Melbourne, University, Geelong, Carlton, Williamstown, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, St Kilda, Essendon and South Melbourne along with 7 other clubs scientifically defined by me (i.e guessed) as local clubs.

I know the VFA held a decent stature, so I guess the club saw no great benefit to joining the VFL, and by the time the VFA began dwindling, adding more Melbourne-based clubs to the VFL was unwise due to expansion. That's pure speculation though.
 

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This topic has always fascinated me and with everything that I've read and heard about it, I get the feeling that if Port Melbourne were in the VFL from the beginning, then they'd be a top 5 club in terms of support now (in Victoria).
If Port Melbourne was in the AFL, they'd make even Collingwood look classy
 

Monkey King

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The equally poorly performing Carlton got in because they promised to provide the competition with a new enclosed oval in Princes Park
In the decade prior to the split, Carlton had been premiers once and runners-up three times. They were struggling at the time of the breakaway, but due to earlier success, they had a pretty solid supporter base, which was attractive to the first breakaway clubs. And the Pies apparently pushed in support for Carlton to join due to the lengths Carlton had gone to in supporting their efforts to join the VFA not all that much earlier.

The Princes Park element related to issues Carlton had in charging admission to their games. The Melbourne City Council forbade the club from doing so and also from erecting any permanent structures around Princes Oval. It was just public parkland, temporarily cordoned off for a football match. It was condition of joining the breakaway that they sort this out and get a home ground where clubs could charge entry.
 

Timmy from Thomastown

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This topic has always fascinated me and with everything that I've read and heard about it, I get the feeling that if Port Melbourne were in the VFL from the beginning, then they'd be a top 5 club in terms of support now (in Victoria).
Just because they have Port in their name doesnt mean they have an connection with your club.

It is what it is. Speculating on what might have occurred 100+ years ago s just nonsense.

That said, the two nearest teams geographically were StKilda and South Melbourne. Both failed to establish a foothold in the area which is quite small, so one moved south to Moorabbin (and later, Seaford) and the other left the state completely. Given that, its only reasonable to assume Port would have also struggled to establish an adequate fan base.
 
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Established1870

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That’s really doubtful. St Kilda and South Melbourne are the most directly comparable examples, and both were probably better placed. Port had a small, working class suburban base, but not an unobstructed wedge out into more populous suburbs which a lot of the bigger clubs had (particularly along a train line). It’s actually a very small suburb bordered by South Melbourne, St Kilda, the CBD and water. A pretty inaccessible place too.

St Kilda is one thing - and they had Moorabbin to move to, South Melbourne was in a worse location, and Port a worse location again. Long term, they’d have battled you’d think.
I would wager that neither South or St Kilda had strong support at the time due to the lack of success (in St Kilda's case, no success whatsoever) that both clubs went through. Port meanwhile were a fairly successful club in a period when the VFL and VFA were on equal footing and I do remember reading that more people in the area would have supported Port over the Swans or Saints at the time (00's to 50's). However, I do know that FFC dominated in the VFA before being admitted and their history post-1925 doesn't make for good reading if you're a Dogs fan so it wouldn't have been a guarantee that Port would have been successful in the VFL.

At the end of the day, it's an interesting hypothetical and I do find this topic genuinely interesting.

Just because they have Port in their name doesnt mean they have an connection with your club.

It is what it is. Speculating on what might have occurred 100+ years ago s just nonsense.
1) I've never said our clubs were connected. Anyone who does think we're connected because Ports are idiots.
2) Stuff like this is actually fun to learn about for people who aren't from Victoria and don't know about the history of football in this state (well for me it is anyway).
3) This could have changed the whole complexion of football so I wouldn't say that it's nonsense at all discussing it. A bit like if the VFL never expanded in 1908 or 1925 or if University kept their place in the league.

That said, the two nearest teams geographically were StKilda and South Melbourne. Both failed to establish a foothold in the area which is quite small, so one moved south to Moorabbin (and later, Seaford) and the other left the state completely. Given that, its only reasonable to assume Port would have also struggled to establish an adequate fan base.
As I said before, neither of those two clubs were successful. Port in the VFA were successful. Put PMFC in the VFL and if they maintain that success then it's entirely reasonable to state that they would have a stronger supporter base then those two.
 

Timmy from Thomastown

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As I said before, neither of those two clubs were successful. Port in the VFA were successful. Put PMFC in the VFL and if they maintain that success then it's entirely reasonable to state that they would have a stronger supporter base then those two.

Thats a very long bow to draw. The suburb was tiny, bordered by the bay to the west and the river to the north, the city to the East and two other football club suburbs to the south, and it had bugger all public transport. You could just as easily say Williamstown or Preston or Dandenong or Prahran or Brunswick or Sandringham would have made a success of being in the VFL. Its entirely possible but pretty pointless to speculate upon.

Out of interest over what time frame are you saying Port were successful? Back when these clubs joined the competition 100 years ago?

Intruiged as to why the VFA is so interesting to South Australians. It was always our second competition and as already mentioned it was gifted a monopoly of Sunday football for decades that artificially kept it alive.
 
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Bunk Moreland

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I would wager that neither South or St Kilda had strong support at the time due to the lack of success (in St Kilda's case, no success whatsoever) that both clubs went through. Port meanwhile were a fairly successful club in a period when the VFL and VFA were on equal footing and I do remember reading that more people in the area would have supported Port over the Swans or Saints at the time (00's to 50's). However, I do know that FFC dominated in the VFA before being admitted and their history post-1925 doesn't make for good reading if you're a Dogs fan so it wouldn't have been a guarantee that Port would have been successful in the VFL.

At the end of the day, it's an interesting hypothetical and I do find this topic genuinely interesting.
That’s true, though geographic factors were significant over the coming 80 years or so when it came to building support.

South were actually very successful early - 8 flags by the early 1930s - and it didn’t help them.

Port really is in a poor spot and while I think they’d have had fierce local support (like they do anyway), they’d have struggled as the really big clubs moved out into the suburbs in terms of popularity.

There really is no catchment for them. St Kilda had to basically relocate to Moorabbin in order to grow.
 

mianfei

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No trams in Footscray until 1921 – end of story why the VFL didn’t admit a team from that part of Melbourne in 1897. The St Kilda ground with a direct tram route to Flinders St. Station was a much more attractive proposition. It is however also possible that the “amateur” and perceived “sportsmen-like” attitude of the St Kilda club was an added attraction to what was after all a proclaimed amateur competition in 1897.

Also the discussion is about decisions in regards to which clubs were admitted to the VFL not the relative success of those clubs admitted. Note too that p. 107 of Up Where Cazaly refers to the “depression” era of the 1930s when the VFL was officially semi-professional.
The fact that Geelong were admitted when connected to the other clubs only on a single-track railway is something I had failed to remember yesterday! Given that Footscray were on the very same railway line (when was it electrified to Williamstown?) it is again hypocrisy unmasked. If Geelong could be admitted to the League with the transport available, then ipso facto there existed no reason transport-wise to not admit Footscray whether a tram existed or not.

Although this is slightly off-topic, reading yesterday about the early history of the SANFL I discovered that in South Australia there apparently was even in the 1890s large-scale dependence of successful clubs upon patronage from the rich.

The question is then whether the VFL could in 1896 have perceived that St. Kilda’s location precluded the existence of such wealthy patrons for that club? It is not unfair to say that lack of rich supporters is an extremely important reason why St. Kilda has been exceptionally unsuccessful for most of its history. As for South Melbourne, they only briefly with Archie Croft gained any significant patronage from the wealthy, while Footscray’s extant backing when the Tricolours were the VFA’s power club was to prove quite inadequate in the League.

Port Melbourne
did have the advantage of being even closer to key industrial centres than South or Footscray, so there is the possibility it would have fared better in gaining wealthy patrons had it been admitted before 1915. In that case, Port Melbourne as a VFL club could have gained as a support base Altona and Werribee (zoned to a decrepit South Melbourne when they began to suburbanise) and with support form those areas competed well with the “big five” – likely better than St. Kilda was competing in its brief apogee of the middle 1960s.
 

MISFITS

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The fact that Geelong were admitted when connected to the other clubs only on a single-track railway is something I had failed to remember yesterday! Given that Footscray were on the very same railway line (when was it electrified to Williamstown?) it is again hypocrisy unmasked. If Geelong could be admitted to the League with the transport available, then ipso facto there existed no reason transport-wise to not admit Footscray whether a tram existed or not.

Although this is slightly off-topic, reading yesterday about the early history of the SANFL I discovered that in South Australia there apparently was even in the 1890s large-scale dependence of successful clubs upon patronage from the rich.

The question is then whether the VFL could in 1896 have perceived that St. Kilda’s location precluded the existence of such wealthy patrons for that club? It is not unfair to say that lack of rich supporters is an extremely important reason why St. Kilda has been exceptionally unsuccessful for most of its history. As for South Melbourne, they only briefly with Archie Croft gained any significant patronage from the wealthy, while Footscray’s extant backing when the Tricolours were the VFA’s power club was to prove quite inadequate in the League.

Port Melbourne
did have the advantage of being even closer to key industrial centres than South or Footscray, so there is the possibility it would have fared better in gaining wealthy patrons had it been admitted before 1915. In that case, Port Melbourne as a VFL club could have gained as a support base Altona and Werribee (zoned to a decrepit South Melbourne when they began to suburbanise) and with support form those areas competed well with the “big five” – likely better than St. Kilda was competing in its brief apogee of the middle 1960s.
Well said.
It was all accounted to money and benefactors.
St Kilda had the Junction Oval.
I think that there was a train line back then too.
Luckily as the original St.Kilda model dissolved a couple of times.
Footscray always struck me as remarkably unsuccessful given the large recruiting catchment that they occupied.
Geelong of course had a decisive advantage with its larger catchment and regional benefactors I would imagine.
Souths had a brief period in the 1930s when they were flush with money and attracted interstate players.
But sadly brief as they would start to struggle again to pay their players come the end of the 1930s.
Port Melbourne entering the VFL would have ended South Melbourne you would think akin to creating another Fitzroy.
 

MISFITS

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Tbh the question really isn’t why the VFA died, it’s more remarkable that it was successful as it was for as long as it was.

The turning point was always 1896 when pretty much all of the biggest clubs up and left. How do you think the AFL would go today if say, the 8 or 10 biggest clubs left and formed a rival league in competition?

Another big club left in 1908 and three more in 1925.

Probably the only thing that kept the VFA alive was it’s legal monopoly over Sunday footy, and the fact for many decades post-war, the VFL clubs were actually pretty poorly run. They were the dominant league but didn’t convert it to financial dominance and were slow to embrace full professionalism. This allowed the VFA to compete financially and for players right up until the 1970s.

Once the game started to actually become professional (on and off field), the VFL/AFL disappeared over the horizon in the blink on an eye.
Thats a very long bow to draw. The suburb was tiny, bordered by the bay to the west and the river to the north, the city to the East and two other football club suburbs to the south, and it had bugger all public transport. You could just as easily say Williamstown or Preston or Dandenong or Prahran or Brunswick or Sandringham would have made a success of being in the VFL. Its entirely possible but pretty pointless to speculate upon.

Out of interest over what time frame are you saying Port were successful? Back when these clubs joined the competition 100 years ago?

Intruiged as to why the VFA is so interesting to South Australians. It was always our second competition and as already mentioned it was gifted a monopoly of Sunday football for decades that artificially kept it alive.
Football wasn't always just governed by catchments.
Collingwood initial catchment was small.
Memberships were always the largest.
2000 members by 1894.
So money dictated some successes, especially with luring country and interstate players.
As said, Port Melbourne access to industry support would have hurt South Melbourne.
The friendly relationship between Souths and Port would have ended.
No collaboration.
Just business.
 
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