Melbourne has won 12 VFL/AFL Premierships with the first coming in 1900 and most recent occurring in 1964.

Here are Melbourne's 12 Premiership winning teams.

1900

Melbourne 4.10.34 defeated Fitzroy 3.12.30

22 September 1900, East Melbourne Cricket Ground

The Premiers of 1900

Melbourne's first premiership win probably was one of the most fortunate in league history as the Redlegs finished a modest sixth at the completion of the home-and-away season.

However, the league operated a most unusual finals system at that time, with the eight clubs drawn into two groups. Melbourne, after finishing sixth, was grouped with the teams, which finished second, fourth and eighth for the right to challenge for the flag.

Melbourne, after an ordinary season, found form at the right time and won its section, therefore winning the right to challenge the winner of the other group - Essendon. But, because Fitzroy had topped the ladder, the Maroons had the right to challenge the winner of the Melbourne-Essendon match in a grand final. Fitzroy defeated Essendon and became favorites for the flag.

The Redlegs suffered a setback even before play when wingers Arthur Sowden and Eric Gardner were ruled unfit. Fitzroy, on the other hand, was almost at full strength for the big match, played in near-perfect conditions. Melbourne attacked furiously in the opening minutes and it became obvious very early that the Maroons were in for a torrid time.

Melbourne, after an even first half, took control in the third quarter and led by 13 points at the final break. Fitzroy had the wind in the final term, but the Melbourne defense held firm. In fact, Melbourne defenders "Henry" Parkin and Jack Purse repelled countless Fitzroy thrusts to help the Redlegs achieve a shock four-point win over the reigning premier.

The 1900 Premiership Team

B:  Herring, Sholl, Rippon
HB:  Parkin, Purse, McClelland
C:  Gardner, Young, Hay
HF:  Lewis, Leith, Langley
F:  Wardill (c), Geddes, Ryan
R:  Moodie, Cumberland, McGinis

Best: Cumberland, Langley, McGinis, Moodie, Purse, Wardill. 

Goals: Geddes, Leith, Ryan, Wardill. 

Match Attendance:  20,181

1926

Melbourne 17.17. 119 defeated Collingwood 9.8.62

9 October 1926, Melbourne Cricket Ground

The 1926 Melbourne list

Melbourne went through lean times until Bert (later Sir Albert) Chadwick was appointed captain-coach from 1925 and his brilliant leadership lifted the Redlegs to a position of strength almost immediately, with his young team finishing third in his first season in charge.

Melbourne then finished the 1926 home and away season in third position behind the previous year's grand finalists, Geelong and Collingwood. Under the finals system of the time, Melbourne played Collingwood in a semi-final and won by 11 points Collingwood, as top team, had the right of challenge against the Redlegs or Essendon, the winner of the other final.

The Melbourne-Essendon preliminary final was a sensation, with the Redlegs' Bob Corbett felled behind play. His jaw was broken and, because there were no reserves at that time, he played on with his face swathed in bandages. His courage rubbed off on teammates and Melbourne won by three points.

Frank "Pop" Vine was selected to play his first game for Melbourne, while Ivor Warne-Smith was moved into the centre to replace Corbett. Vine kicked a goal early in the match and all Melbourne nerves were settled. There was no way Melbourne was going to fail after Corbett's heroics the previous week. Indeed, Melbourne won in a canter by 57 points, with Bob Johnson kicking 6.7 for the new premier club

The 1926 Premiership Team

B:  Streeter, Coy, Abernethy
HB:  Tymms, Hugh Dunbar, Thomas
C:  Taylor, Warne-Smith, J. Collins
HF: Wittman, R. Johnson Snr., Davidson
F:  Vine, Duff, Moyes
R:  Chadwick (c), Deane, White
Coach:  A. Chadwick

Best: Abernethy, R. Johnson, Moyes, Streeter, Warne-Smith, Wittman.  

Goals: R. Johnson 6, Moyes 3, Wittman 3, Duff 2, Deane, Taylor, Vine.

Match Attendance:  59,632

1939

Melbourne  21.22.148 defeated Collingwood 14.11.95

30 September 1939, Melbourne Cricket Ground

Melbourne's 1939 senior team

Melbourne, which had embarked on a mammoth recruiting drive in 1937, started the 1939 season as just another mediocre team but, after a string of early wins and a thumping 92-point win over 1938 grand finalist Collingwood, quickly shot to flag favoritism.

Then, after the Redlegs defeated the Magpies by 14 points in the second semi-final, every football critic was convinced Melbourne would win its first flag for 13 years. Then, when Collingwood defeated St Kilda by 29 points in the preliminary final, there seemed to way the Redlegs could fall to the Magpies in the grand final.

Coached by the legendary Frank "Checker" Hughes, Melbourne played fast, aggressive football with the emphasis on discipline. Collingwood coach Jock McHale implored his players to look for star forward Ron Todd (who had kicked 11 goals against St Kilda) at every opportunity and Melbourne was well aware that the Magpie goal kicker represented the bigger obstacle to winning the flag.

Collingwood started well and, in fact, led by 18 points at the first break. However, a freak incident in the second quarter gave the Redlegs time to collect their collective breath. Field umpire Coward injured an elbow and had to be replaced by emergency umpire Blackburn. Melbourne regrouped after this incident to kick three goals in four minutes to close the half-time gap to just four points.

Although Todd was doing well for the Magpies close to goal, Melbourne made sure the ball did not reach him enough for the Magpies to kick a winning score and, in fact, attacked relentlessly to keep the ball at the other end. With Melbourne's Allan La Fontaine containing Collingwood star Marcus Whelan in the centre, the Magpies did not have the drive they needed to stop the Redlegs' run. Melbourne won by 53 points in what eventually was a one-sided grand final.

The 1939 Premiership Team

B:  R. Emselle, Mueller, Fischer
HB:  Hingston, G. Jones, Roberts
C:  Wartman, La Fontaine (c), S. Anderson
HF:  Truscott, Baggott, L. Jones
F:  Ball, Smith, Rodda
R:  Kimberley, Furniss, Beames
Reserve:  O’Keefe
Coach:  FV ‘Checker’ Hughes

Best: Beames, Roberts, Anderson, Rodda, Wartman, Truscott. 

Goals: Beames 4, Rodda 4, L. Jones 3, Ball 2, Mueller 2, Truscott 2, Smith, Wartman, La Fontaine, Baggott.  

Attendance:  78,110

1940

Melbourne 15.17.107 defeated Richmond 10.8.68

28 September 1940, Melbourne Cricket Ground

The 1940 team

Melbourne, not content with a solitary premiership after years of struggle, recruited even harder in the lead-up to the 1940 season and was almost unbackable to land back-to-back flags. The Redlegs finished the home and away season on top of the ladder (two games clear of Richmond) and had a galaxy of stars to stop all challengers.

Melbourne, however, suffered a serious setback to its ambitions when Richmond defeated it by six points in the second semi-final. If Melbourne was to win the flag it would have to do it the hard way, and started by defeating Essendon by just five points in the preliminary final. From being flag favorite a fortnight earlier, Melbourne now was the underdog in the big one against Richmond.

Redleg coach "Checker" Hughes therefore planned his tactics with meticulous care and realised that the Tigers would depend enormously on captain-coach Jack Dyer in the ruck. Hughes therefore asked the under-rated Jack O'Keefe to "tag" the Tiger star. O'Keefe did his job so well he played a pivotal role in Melbourne winning the 1940 flag.

O'Keefe never left Dyer's side, and with their star out of the game, Richmond wilted under the ferocious Melbourne pressure. The game was as good as won when the Redlegs led by 45 points at half time and only poor kicking for goal prevented a much wider margin. Melbourne eventually won by 39 points, with Norm Smith kicking seven goals after being given instructions by Hughes to play an unorthodox role at full-forward by roaming from one side of the forward zone to the other.

The 1940 Premiership Team

B:  R. Emselle, Roberts, Ball
HB:  C. McLean, G. Jones, HIngston
C:  Wartman, La Fontaine (c), S. Anderson
HF:  Gibb, Baggott, Truscott
F:  Fanning, Smith, Rodda
R:  Mueller, O’Keefe, Beames
Reserve:  R. Barassi Snr.
Coach:  FV ‘Checker’ Hughes

Best: Beames, Smith, Baggott, La Fontaine, Mueller, Ball.

Goals: Smith 7, Baggott 2, Beames 2, O’Keefe 2, Truscott, Fanning.  

Attendance:  70,330

1941

Melbourne 19.13.127 defeated Essendon 13.20.98

27 September 1941, Melbourne Cricket Ground

The 1941 senior team

The 1941 season was an even one, partly because some players were available only between military service. Melbourne finished second on the ladder, behind Carlton on percentage and ahead of Richmond on percentage. With Essendon fourth just one game behind this trio, it was anyone's guess who would win the flag - except that the Redlegs had tremendous finals experience. Then, when Melbourne defeated Carlton by 27 points in the second semi-final, punters found a flag favorite.

Essendon defeated Carlton by 25 points in the preliminary final, so it was to be a Melbourne-Essendon grand final, with the Redlegs severely undermanned because of World War II duties. Essendon virtually was at full strength and no one expected the Redlegs to dominate the first quarter so easily. With control of the ruck, Melbourne raced to a 35-point lead and the premiership was as good as in its hands. Then, at half-time Melbourne led by a massive 57 points - an impossible target for the Dons.

The Dons rallied briefly in the third quarter and, with Gordon "Whoppa" Lane dominant close to goal, there was some slight hope of Essendon making a game of it. However, Melbourne hit back late in the quarter through goals by Jack O'Keefe and Gerry Daly to leave Essendon chasing a 47-point three-quarter time deficit.

Essendon gallantly fought the issue to the bitter end and, inspired by captain-coach Dick Reynolds, kicked seven goals in the final quarter. The final margin was 29 points in Melbourne's favour, a remarkable achievement considering so many experienced players were missing. It was the club's third consecutive flag and arguably the proudest.

The 1941 Premiership Team

B:  R. Emselle, McGrath, Don. Cordner
HB:  C. McLean, T. Cordner, Lock
C:  S. Anderson, La Fontaine (c), Heal
HF:  Gibb, Baggott, Wartman
F:  O’Keefe, Smith, Daly
R:  Mueller, Dullard, Beames
Reserve:  Lewis
Coach:  FV ‘Checker’ Hughes

Best: Beames, Lock, Heal, Mueller, Dullard, La Fontaine. 

Goals: Beames 6, Smith 3, Mueller 3, Wartman 2, Daly, Dullard, O’Keefe, S. Anderson, Gibb. 

Attendance:  79,687

1948

Melbourne 10.9.69 drew with Essendon 7.27.69 (Grand Final)
Melbourne 13.11.89 defeated Essendon 7.8.50 (Grand Final Replay)

2 October 1948, Melbourne Cricket Ground
9 October 1948, Melbourne Cricket Ground (Replay)

The 1948 team

MELBOURNE made the 1946 grand final, only to be thrashed (63 points) by Essendon and had to wait two years to avenge that defeat, in extraordinary circumstances. Essendon topped the 1948 ladder from Melbourne by a whopping 10 match points and, naturally, very few fans would deny the Dons flag favoritism, with Collingwood and Footscray making up the final four. Then, when Essendon defeated Melbourne by 36 points in the second semi-final, the Dons were almost unbackable to land the flag.

Melbourne reached the grand final in style, humiliating Collingwood by 65 points in the preliminary final. Critics rated Melbourne's performance as the best by any side that season and the football public now anticipated the Demons would at least give Essendon a run for its money. Key Melbourne forwards Jack Mueller and Norm Smith showed devastating form against the Magpies and if they again could get among the goals the Demons could upset the Dons.

The Demons shocked the football world by naming amateur champion Denis Cordner at centre halfback for only his second game - five years after his debut. The first quarter was even, but poor kicking for goal by Essendon gave the Demons a 12-point lead. Then, in the second quarter, Essendon strayed even more off-line, with just two goals and nine behinds. And that was the way it continued, with the Dons kicking themselves out of a premiership. They finally kicked 7.27 to Melbourne's far more accurate 10.9. Smith had two chances to break the deadlock in the final minutes but missed both opportunities and the match ended in a draw - the first in a grand final.

Although Essendon retained favoritism for the replay, it lost Wally Buttsworth and Harold Lambert to injuries and, besides, conditions turned nasty. Melbourne handled the heavy conditions far better than Essendon and opened a 35-point break by quarter-time. Essendon could not claw its way back into the match, especially as veteran Mueller, brought back from the reserves for the finals, was at his best with six grand final goals. Melbourne won by 39 points.

The 1948 Premiership Team

Melbourne made one change from the first Grand Final, adding Bob McKenzie to the side in place of Doug Heywood.

B:  Deans, McGrath, Rule
HB:  McLean, Denis Cordner, G. Collins
C:  Spittle, Bickford, Dockett
HF:  McKenzie, Arnold, McMahen
F:  Mueller, Smith, Craddock
R:  Don. Cordner (c), Dullard, Rodda
Reserves:  Bowman, Jackson
Coach:  FV ‘Checker’ Hughes

Best: Mueller, Smith, McGrath, Spittle, Bickford, Arnold. 

Goals: Mueller 6, Arnold 2, Rodda 2, Smith, Dullard, McMahen

Attendances: 52,226 (Replay)

1955

Melbourne 8.16.64 defeated Collingwood 5.6.36

17 September 1955, Melbourne Cricket Ground

Melbourne's team of 1955

The glorious Demon era of the '50s really started in 1954 when Footscray defeated a young Melbourne side in the grand final. It was the perfect grooming for future success under legendary coach Norm Smith, a master tactician who ruled with absolute discipline. Smith guided his young team to top position on the ladder in 1955, one game clear of Collingwood, with Geelong and Essendon making up the final four.

Almost every football fan expected a Melbourne-Collingwood grand final and were delighted when these two teams slugged it out in wet conditions in the second semi-final. Melbourne defeated the Magpies by 11 points in a dour struggle to march straight into the grand final, while Collingwood had to struggle to defeat a gallant Geelong by 12 points in the preliminary final. Football fans got their wish, with the two best teams in the competition set to play off.

The MCG was still wet for the grand final and, as expected, there were plenty of physical encounters. Melbourne's Noel McMahen shirtfronted Collingwood star Bob Rose early and this set the tempo for the match, with the Demons willing to crash through packs and risk life and limb for the cause. The tactics were only partly successful as the Demons led by just one point at the first break after dominating for long periods.

Melbourne grabbed they believed was a winning break halfway through the third quarter, only for Rose and Ken Smale to reply to leave the Demons' three-quarter time margin at just seven points. Collingwood crept to within a point of Melbourne early in the final quarter, with Melbourne steadying with four goals. Then, in the dying minutes, Melbourne reserve Frank "Bluey" Adams was so excited at taking the field that he accidentally collided with Collingwood winger Des Healey. The Magpie was knocked unconscious in one of the most sensational incidents in grand final history. However, it made no difference to the result, with Melbourne defeating Collingwood by 28 points.

The 1955 Premiership Team

B:  Beckwith, Marquis, Trevor Johnson
HB:  Williams, McGivern, McMahen (c)
C:  McLean, Melville, Case
HF:  Mithen, Laidlaw, McKenzie
F:  R. Johnson, Clarke, Ridley
R:  Denis Cordner, R. Barassi, Spencer
Reserves:  Gleeson, Adams
Coach:  N. Smith

Best: Denis Cordner, R. Barassi, Melville, McLean, McMahen, Marquis. 

Goals: Clarke 3, Ridley 3, McKenzie, Laidlaw. 

Attendance:  88,053

1956

Melbourne 17.19.121 defeated Collingwood 6.12.48

15 September 1956, Melbourne Cricket Ground

The 1956 senior team

Melbourne was the power team of the '50s and it was no surprise to see the Demons finish the 1956 season on top of the ladder. The Demons finished three games clear of Collingwood, with Geelong and Footscray making up the final four. Significantly, the Demons were defeated only twice during the season - by Footscray at the MCG in Round 14 and by Geelong by two points at Kardinia Park in Round 16. Naturally, the Demons were almost unbackable for the flag.

The Demons, however, had a struggle in defeating Collingwood by 16 points in the preliminary final, with the Magpies even leading by a point at the final change. Then, in the preliminary final, Collingwood defeated Footscray by 39 points to win another crack at the Demons. It was to be a second consecutive Melbourne-Collingwood grand final, and little wonder there was a record attendance of 115,802 at the MCG.

Collingwood, desperate to avenge the previous year's grand final defeat, started brilliantly with a goal to Bill Serong in the opening minutes. Melbourne eventually settled, but Collingwood looked the better side over the first quarter and led by five points at the first break. However, the Demons took control in the second quarter through the hard work of Denis Cordner in the ruck and the brilliant ground play of utility Laurie Mithen. Melbourne by 20 points at half time.

Melbourne dominated the second half and, in fact, had the premiership in its keeping with a 40-point lead at the final break. Collingwood just could not handle the pace of the Melbourne small men, particularly Stuart Spencer and Frank Adams. With Athol Webb kicking three quick goals for Melbourne in the final quarter, Collingwood found it impossible to get back into the match. The Demons by a mammoth 73 points after kicking 11 goals to just two over the second half.

The 1956 Premiership Team

B:  Beckwith, Marquis, Trevor Johnson
HB:  Williams, McMahen (c), Carroll
C:  Adams, Melville, Dixon
HF:  Sandral, Laidlaw, Mithen
F:  R. Johnson, Webb, Ridley
R:  Denis Cordner, R. Barassi, Spencer
Reserves:  Gleeson, Lane
Coach:  N. Smith

Best: Spencer, R. Barassi, Adams, Denis Cordner, Beckwith, Melville.  

Goals: Spencer 5, Webb 5, R. Johnson 3, R. Barassi 3, Ridley. 

Attendance: 115,802

Members of the 1956 team celebrate the 50 year anniversary in Round 11, 2006 (Photo: AFL Photos)

1957

Melbourne 17.14.116 defeated Essendon 7.13.55

21 September 1957, Melbourne Cricket Ground

The 1957 team

Melbourne was not so dominant in the 1957 home and away season, being defeated five times and drawing another match. However, it was still good enough for the Demons to top the ladder, ahead of (in order) Essendon, Hawthorn (making the finals for the first time) and Carlton. Melbourne, naturally, was the flag favorite, but all the other finalists had claims to the premiership.

Melbourne's remarkable run of finals victories ended when Essendon defeated the Demons by 16 points. It was suggested - and probably with good reason - that the Demons went into the match over-confident, paying a hefty penalty. If there was complacency in the Melbourne camp it certainly was not evident the following week when the Demons thrashed Hawthorn by 68 points to challenge Essendon for the flag.

If Melbourne had been cocky in the semi-final, it was super-determined in the grand final. In fact, Melbourne scored the opening goal - through Ron Barassi - in the opening seconds. It was a message to the Bombers that Melbourne meant business and would defend its premier status to the very last breath. Melbourne's frenzy continued throughout the first half and, with a 35-point break, the job had been done.

Melbourne coach Norm Smith had instructed his forwards to stay wide and to break up the game with short, sharp handball. The Demons followed their coach's instructions to the letter, even though restricted by injuries. Melbourne had gone into the match with several injury problems and Keith Carroll (thigh) was replaced by Ian Thorogood in the second quarter. The Demons shrugged these problems aside to defeat Essendon by 61 points to land a third consecutive flag for the second time in the club's history.

The 1957 Premiership Team

B:  Beckwith (c), Marquis, Fenton-Smith
HB:  Williams, Lord, Carroll
C:  I. McLean, Mithen, Dixon
HF:  Tunbridge, Trevor Johnson, Case
F:  R. Barassi, Webb, Ridley
R:  R. Johnson, Wilson, Adams
Reserves:  Thorogood, Brenchley
Coach:  N. Smith

Best:  Melbourne – R. Barassi, R. Johnson, Fenton-Smith, Lord, Williams, Ridley. 

Goals:  Melbourne – R. Barassi 5, Ridley 4, Webb 3, R. Johnson 2, Tunbridge 2, Case. 

Attendance:  100,324

1959

Melbourne 17.13.115 defeated Essendon 11.12.78

26 September 1959, Melbourne Cricket Ground

Melbourne's team of 1959

The disappointment of 1958, when Collingwood denied Melbourne a fourth consecutive flag, rankled with the Demons and they were determined to bounce back in 1959. For the fifth consecutive season, Melbourne finished on top of the ladder, this time half a game ahead of Carlton, with Collingwood third and Essendon fourth. Melbourne, naturally, was the hot flag favorite, especially after its 44-point thumping of Carlton in the second semi-final.

Essendon, which had made the finals just half a game ahead of Fitzroy, defeated Collingwood by 38 points in the first semi-final and then surprised the football world in defeating Carlton by seven points in the preliminary final. Melbourne therefore was almost unbackable for the flag as the Dons were considered a little better than average side, whereas Melbourne had star players on every line.

The Bombers reveled in their underdog status and took the game right up to Melbourne in the first quarter, deliberately using their pace in an effort to burn off the opposition. The tactics worked, except that poor shooting for goal left Essendon with just a 13-point buffer after so much exertion. Melbourne coach Norm Smith, realising he had to something about Essendon's pace, instructed his players to hit hard and often. And the Demons had the perfect man to set the example in Ron Barassi, who ran tagger Hugh Mitchell off his feet in causing mayhem. Melbourne led by three points at half time and the pendulum had swung its way.

Essendon kept troubling Melbourne over the third quarter, but a late lapse in concentration allowed Demon forward Bob Johnson to kick two time-on goals. Melbourne led by just six points at the final change, but its ferocious tackling took its toll on Essendon over the final quarter. The Demons cruised home by 37 points to win their fourth flag in five years.

The 1959 Premiership Team

B:  Beckwith (c), Tas. Johnson, Lord
HB:  Case, Jones, Thorogood
C:  I. McLean, MIthen, Dixon
HF:  Tunbridge, Laidlaw, H. Mann
F:  R. Barassi, Rowarth, Ridley
R:  R. Johnson, Fenton-Smith, Adams
Reserves:  Williams, Brenchley
Coach:  N. Smith

Best: R. Barassi, McLean, R. Johnson, Dixon, Jones, Beckwith.

Goals: R. Barassi 4, Rowarth 4, Adams 3, R. Johnson 3, H. Mann, Tunbridge, Ridley. 

Attendance:  103, 506

1960

Melbourne 8.14.62 defeated Collingwood 2.2.14

24 September 1960, Melbourne Cricket Ground

The 1960 team

The Melbourne juggernaut rolled on in 1960, the Demons again finishing on top of the ladder, this time ahead of Fitzroy (coached by Len Smith, brother of Demon coach Norm), Essendon and Collingwood. Melbourne again was the flag favourite, but there was no doubt Fitzroy was the sentimental favorite as it had not been in a grand final since winning in 1944.

However, the Demons obviously did not believe in sentiment and thrashed the Lions by 62 points in the second semi-final. Then, in the preliminary final, Collingwood pipped Fitzroy by five points. It was to be yet another Melbourne-Collingwood grand final. This time, however, the Magpies were given only an outside chance of upsetting the power team of the competition, especially as Collingwood had to contend with very heavy conditions in the preliminary final. Melbourne, on the other hand, was fresh from a week's rest.

Conditions for the grand final were atrocious. Rain had pelted down for 48 hours and, ironically, this raised Magpie spirits as the bog at the MCG undoubtedly was a leveler. However, Melbourne dominated from the start, diving on the ball at every opportunity to create packs and generally playing perfect wet-weather football. Melbourne kicked four goals to nil in the opening quarter and even the most optimistic Collingwood fan could not envisage a fightback.

In fact, Collingwood kicked just two goals - the first from a Ray Gabelich toe-kick from just five metres early in the second quarter and the second from a John Henderson set-shot from 40 metres in the third quarter. Melbourne cruised home by 48 points. It was the Demons' sixth flag in seven years - a phenomenal effort underlining that this indeed was the club's golden era.

The 1960 Premiership Team

B:  Beckwith, Tas. Johnson, Trevor Johnson
HB:  Case, Lord, Thorogood
C:  Dixon, MIthen, Kenneally
HF:  Tunbridge, Laidlaw, H. Mann
F:  R. Johnson, Rowarth, Adams
R:  L. Mann, R. Barassi (c), Ridley
Reserves:  Leahy, Nilsson
Coach:  N. Smith

Best: Mithen, Lord, L. Mann, R. Johnson, Tunbridge, Dixon. 

Goals: R. Johnson 2, Adams 2, H. Mann 2, Tunbridge, Rowarth.

Attendance:  97,457

The 1960 team celebrates the 50 year Premiership anniversary prior to Melbourne's Round 12 clash with Collingwood in 2010 (Photo: AFL Photos)

1964

Melbourne 8.16.64 defeated Collingwood 8.12.60

19 September 1964, Melbourne Cricket Ground

Melbourne's senior team of 1964

Melbourne's great premiership run to 1960 ended when Footscray defeated the Demons in the 1961 preliminary final and although the navy blue and red made the finals each year from 1961-63, just could not reach the big one. All that changed, however, in 1964 when it again finished on top of the ladder, half a game clear of Collingwood, Essendon and Geelong in one of the tightest final fours in football history. Indeed, Hawthorn missed the finals altogether but was just one game adrift of Melbourne.

Then, when Melbourne thrashed Collingwood by 89 points in the second semi-final, Demon fans dreamed of yet another premiership. The Magpies might have fought back with a four-point preliminary final win over Geelong, but how on earth could they turn the tables on Melbourne, brilliantly led by the game's most ferocious competitor, Ron Barassi. Fans were not to know they were about to experience one of the great grand finals.

Collingwood might have been undermanned, but its spirit was exemplary and the Magpies tackled Melbourne with every fragment of energy. They ran hard at the ball and did not allow the Demons to get their free-flowing game going. Collingwood led by two points at half time and there was more than a hint of an upset in the air, even though Melbourne bounced back to lead by 11 points at the final change.

The final quarter was a thriller and, when Ray Gabelich bounced, bounced and bounced his way to a goal to give Collingwood the lead late in the match, Magpie fans believed the flag would be unfurled at Victoria Park. However, a fortunate bounce off a pack landed favorably for Melbourne. The ball went straight into the hands of back pocket Neil Crompton, who had wandered 100 metres out of position to follow his opponent. Crompton kicked a goal and the Demons won by just four points.

The 1964 Premiership Team

B:  Crompton, Massey, Tas. Johnson
HB:  Tony Anderson, Roet, Davis
C:  Dixon, Williams, Adams
HF:  Kenneally, Jacobs, Vagg
F:  Lord, Bourke, Townsend
R:  Wise, R. Barassi (c), H. Mann
Reserves:  P. McLean, K. Emselle
Coach:  N. Smith

Best: Adams, Dixon, Tas. Johnson, Wise, H. Mann, Williams. 

Goals: Townsend 3, Lord 2, H. Mann, Bourke, Crompton. 

Attendance:  102,469

The team of 1964 celebrate 50 years since the flag in Round 12, 2014 (Photo: Michael Willson)