- Fitzroy Football Club
Infobox australian football club | clubname = Fitzroy Football Club
fullname = Fitzroy Football Club
emblem = The Lions
strip = Red with blue yoke and gold FFC monogram
colours = Redcolor box|Red, Goldcolor box|Gold and Bluecolor box|Blue
founded = 1883 (playing operations merged with
Brisbane Bearsin 1996) FFC Ltd continues to this day.
Australian rules football
Australian Football League
firstseason = 1897
Brunswick Street Oval, Princes Park, Junction Oval, Victoria Park, Whitten Oval
song = Sung to the tune of
La Marseillaise. Original was sung to the tune of Far Better Off In A Home
season = 1996
position = 16th (last)
Fitzroy Football Club, most recently nicknamed The Lions, is an
Australian rules footballclub formed in 1883 to represent the inner Melbournesuburb of Fitzroy, Victoriaand was a foundation member club of the Victorian Football League (now the Australian Football League) on its inception in 1897.
The club ran into financial difficulties in the 1980s and was forced to merge its playing operations with the
Brisbane Bearsat the end of the 1996 season to form the Brisbane Lions.
The Fitzroy Football Club Ltd came out of administration after the merger of the playing operations in late 1998 and continues to this day as a non-playing club with several partnerships, formerly with the
Coburg Tigersas the Coburg-Fitzroy Lions in the VFL, the Fitzroy Reds(formerly University Reds) in the Victorian Amateur Football Associationand the [http://www.fitzroyjuniorfc.com.au Fitzroy Junior Football Club] in the [http://www.yarrajfl.org.au Yarra Junior Football League] . The Reds and Juniors both wear the old Fitzroy jumper, play the old theme song, and play from Brunswick Street Oval in the heart of Fitzroy in honour of the historic club.
The Fitzroy Football Club formed at a meeting at the Brunswick Hotel in September 1883, at a time when Melbourne's population was rapidly increasing. The
Victorian Football Association(VFA) made changes to their rules, allowing Fitzroy to be join as the seventh club in 1884, playing in the maroon and blue colours of the local Normandy Junior Football Club. They quickly became one of the most successful clubs, drawing large crowds to their home at the Brunswick Street Ovalin Edinburgh Gardens, and consistently in the top four and winning the VFA premiership in 1895. Their rover Jack Worrallwas twice named Champion of the Colony.
In 1897, Fitzroy were one of the eight clubs who broke away from the VFA to form the
Victorian Football League(VFL). Despite winning only four games and finishing sixth in the first season, the Maroons, as they were then known, won the premiership the following year, winning the VFL's first "Grand Final" against Essendon. Fitzroy was the most successful club in the first 10 years of the VFL, winning four premierships and finishing runners-up on three occasions. Despite internal problems after the 1906 season which led to the players and set the club back for several seasons, the 1913 team won the flag after winning 16 of 18 matches in the home and away season, earning the nickname "Unbeatables". In contrast, the 1916 Fitzroy team only won 2 home and away matches and finished last in a competition reduced by the effects of World War Ito four teams. All four teams qualified for the finals, and Fitzroy won their next three games to win one of the strangest VFL premierships.
Between the wars
The Maroons won their seventh premiership in 1922, a year season which included four very rough games against eventual runners-up Collingwood. However, after this their fortunes waned, and they did not make the finals at all from 1925 to 1942. During this time, highlights for the club were individual achievements of their players, especially
Haydn Bunton, Sr.Originally a source of controversy, lured to Fitzroy with an illegal £222 payment, and subsequently not allowed to play in the 1930 season, Bunton became one of the game's greatest players, winning three Brownlow Medals while at Fitzroy. Brownlow Medals were also won by Wilfred Smallhornand Dinny Ryan, while Jack Moriartyset many goalkicking records. It was during this time that the Maroons became known as the Gorillas.
Football was less affected by
World War IIthan it had been in 1916, and by 1944 was starting to return to its normal level. It was in this year, under captain-coach Fred Hughson, that the Gorillas won their eighth VFL flag against Richmond in front of a capacity crowd at Junction Oval. However, it was also to be their last senior premiership, as the club, which became known as the Lions in 1957 entered one of the least successful periods any VFL club has had. The club finished in the bottom three 11 times in the 60s and 70s, including 3 wooden spoons in 4 years and going completely winless in 1964, but still continued to produce great individual players, including Brownlow Medallists Allan Ruthvenand Kevin Murray. In 1967, Fitzroy moved its home games from Brunswick Street to Princes Park and from then on suffered from a lack of a permanent home. In 1970, they moved to Junction Ovaland had a short lived promising start to the decade, followed by a night premiership win in 1978 and a then League record score of 36.22 (238) and greatest winning margin of 190 points in 1979. However, Fitzroy's most significant post-war success was in the early eighties, when the Lions made the finals four times, culminating in a preliminary final appearance in 1986. This success occurred under the coaching of Robert Wallsand David Parkin, with players such as 1981 Brownlow Medallist Bernie Quinlan, Garry Wilson, Gary Pertand Paul Roos, but still without financial success or a permanent home. The Lions played at Victoria Park in 1985 and 1986 and then moved back to Princes Park.
The merger years
Talk of the death of the club due to financial troubles occurred as early as 1986, and in 1989 the directors agreed to amalgamation with Footscray. Many Footscray supporters did not approve, and made donations which averted the merger. At other times, joining with Melbourne or relocating to
Brisbanewas suggested. As well as trying several fund-raising ventures, the Lions experimented with playing four home matches in Tasmaniain 1991 and 1992, but lost money in the process. In 1994, the club moved its home matches to Western Oval, its fourth home ground in 10 years. While the financial future of the club was uncertain, its on-field performances continued to deteriorate, to the point where the Lions finished last by a long way in 1996.
June 28, 1996, the NauruInsurance Company, a creditor of the Fitzroy Football Club, appointed Michael Brennan to administer the affairs of the Fitzroy Football Club in order to ensure a loan of AU$1.25million was to be repaid. The AFL guaranteed funds to allow Fitzroy to continue in the competition for the remainder of 1996.
During this time the Fitzroy Football Club had been in merger discussions with the
North Melbourne Football Clubto become the Fitzroy-North Melbourne Kangaroos Football Club, with negotiations for elements such as club colours, guernsey and song well underway. The AFL Commission met with the remainder of the AFL clubs to discuss the merger. Fearful that a merger between Fitzroy and the then-dominant North Melbourne Football Club would result in a superteam, the clubs opposed the proposal. Instead, they approved a last-minute approach from the lowly Brisbane Bears. In just a few years the newly formed Brisbane Lionswould rise to the top of the league and become the dominant superteam the other clubs had feared the Fitzroy-North Melbourne Kangaroos would become.
July 4 1996, the Fitzroy Football Club merged with the Brisbane Bears, to be based in Brisbaneat the Brisbane Cricket Ground(often referred to as the Gabba) - an arrangement ensuring all creditors were repaid. At least eight Fitzroy players were to be selected by the Brisbane Lionsbefore the 1996 National Draft and three Fitzroy representatives were to be on the new club's 11-member board.
September 1 1996, Fitzroy played their final AFL game against Fremantle at Subiaco Ovalin Perth. They lost by 86 points, although they "won" the last quarter by 2 points, with their last ever goal kicked by Simon Atkins. Scores were, Fitzroy 10.11 71 v Fremantle 24.13 157
The original Fitzroy Football Club came out of administration after the merger of the playing operations in late 1998. The shareholders voted to continue the club, and Fitzroy then developed a partnership with Coburg, a club playing in the VFL. Coburg were known as the Coburg-Fitzroy Lions for one season in the VFL, however when Coburg entered into an alliance with Richmond the Fitzroy connection was abandoned.
Fitzroy FC now sponsors the
Fitzroy Reds(formerly University Reds) in the Victorian Amateur Football Associationand the [http://www.fitzroyjuniorfc.com.au Fitzroy Junior Football Club] in the [http://www.yarrajfl.org.au Yarra Junior Football League] . Both wear the old Fitzroy jumper, play the old theme song, and play from Brunswick Street Oval in the heart of Fitzroy.
Fitzroy FC Ltd has also improved its relationship with the Brisbane Lions dramatically in the last 5 years. Brisbane agreed to use the BB-FFC logo on the back of the new club's guernseys from 2002, the Fitzroy Reds played the curtain-raiser at the MCG when the Brisbane Lions met Collingwood in the
AFL Heritage Roundof 2003 and Brisbane wear the old Fitzroy jumper every two years in the Heritage Round. With the dominance of the Brisbane Lions from 2001-2004, this led to some degree of reconciliation between the old diehards and those who accepted the merger.
*VFL: 1898 1899 1904 1905 1913 1916"*" 1922 1944
*Night Premierships: 1959 1978
* The 1916 premiership came in a year when the club also won the wooden spoon. Only four teams contested the premiership that year, and at the end of the home and away rounds all teams made the finals. Fitzroy finished last at the end of the home-and-away season but finished strongly in the finals to complete a stunning form reversal.
Brownlow Medal winners
Haydn Bunton, Sr.- 1931, 1932, 1935
* Wilfred 'Chicken' Smallhorn - 1933
Dinny Ryan- 1936
Allan Ruthven- 1950
* Kevin Murray - 1969
Bernie Quinlan- 1981 (co-winner with Barry Round)
Coleman Medal / Leading Goal Kicker
Jimmy Freake- 1915
Jack Moriarty- 1924
Bernie Quinlan- 1983, 1984
Leigh Matthews Trophy winners
* Paul Roos (1986)
Norm Smith medallists
Best and Fairest winners
Fitzroy FC honour rollfor list of winners 1884-1996.
Note: Fitzroy also played home matches at
North Hobart Ovaland Canberra Stadium.
*The Maroons 1883-1938
Team of the Century
Aussie rules team | title = Fitzroy Team of the Century
halfbackflank1 = Kevin Murray (Captain)
centrehalfback = Paul Roos
wing1 = Wilfred Smallhorn
centre = John Murphy
Haydn Bunton, Sr.
coach = Len Smith
Fitzroy FC honour roll- for coaches, captains, leading goalkickers and team position.
List of Fitzroy Football Club coaches- for a list of coaches and their career records.
Notable Fitzroy players
Fitzroy-North Melbourne Kangaroos Football Club
* [http://www.fitzroyfc.com.au/ Official Website of the Fitzroy Football Club]
* [http://www.fullpointsfooty.net/fitzroy_(1).htm Fitzroy history]
* [http://www.aroundthegrounds.bellestorie.com/brunswick/brunswick.html "Around the Grounds" - Web Documentary - Brunswick Street]
*cite book | author=Lovett, M. (ed.)
title=AFL Record Guide to Season 2005
location=Melbourne | publisher=AFL Publishing
*cite book | author=Holmesby, R.; Main, J.
title=The Encyclopaedia of AFL Footballers: Every Brisbane and Fitzroy AFL Player Ever
location=Melbourne | publisher=BAS Publishing
*cite book | author=Hutchinson, G.; Lang, R.; Ross, J.
title=Roar of the Lions
location=Port Melbourne | publisher=Lothian Books
*cite book | author= Piesse, K.| title=The Complete Guide to Australian Football | publisher =Pan Macmillan Australia | year=1995 | id=ISBN 0-330-35712-3
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.