Fitzroy Football Club

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 Bears in 1996) FFC Ltd continues to this day.
sport = Australian rules football
league = Australian Football League
firstseason = 1897
ground = Brunswick Street Oval, Princes Park, Junction Oval, Victoria Park, Whitten Oval
capacity =
song = Sung to the tune of La Marseillaise. Original was sung to the tune of Far Better Off In A Home
president =
captain =
coach =
season = 1996
topgoalkicker = Anthony Mellington
bestandfairest = Martin Pike
position = 16th (last)

Fitzroy Football Club, most recently nicknamed The Lions, is an Australian rules football club formed in 1883 to represent the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, Victoria and 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 Bears at 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 Tigers as the Coburg-Fitzroy Lions in the VFL, the Fitzroy Reds (formerly University Reds) in the Victorian Amateur Football Association and the [ Fitzroy Junior Football Club] in the [ 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.


Early years

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 Oval in Edinburgh Gardens, and consistently in the top four and winning the VFA premiership in 1895. Their rover Jack Worrall was 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 I to 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 Smallhorn and Dinny Ryan, while Jack Moriarty set many goalkicking records. It was during this time that the Maroons became known as the Gorillas.


Football was less affected by World War II than 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 Ruthven and 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 Oval and 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 Walls and David Parkin, with players such as 1981 Brownlow Medallist Bernie Quinlan, Garry Wilson, Gary Pert and 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 Brisbane was suggested. As well as trying several fund-raising ventures, the Lions experimented with playing four home matches in Tasmania in 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.

On Friday, June 28, 1996, the Nauru Insurance 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 Club to 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 Lions would rise to the top of the league and become the dominant superteam the other clubs had feared the Fitzroy-North Melbourne Kangaroos would become.

On July 4 1996, the Fitzroy Football Club merged with the Brisbane Bears, to be based in Brisbane at 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 Lions before the 1996 National Draft and three Fitzroy representatives were to be on the new club's 11-member board.

On September 1 1996, Fitzroy played their final AFL game against Fremantle at Subiaco Oval in 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 Association and the [ Fitzroy Junior Football Club] in the [ 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 Round of 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.

Club facts


*VFA: 1895
*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

See Fitzroy FC honour roll for list of winners 1884-1996.

Home venues

* 1884-1966 Brunswick Street Oval
* 1967-1969 Princes Park
* 1970-1984 Junction Oval
* 1985-1986 Victoria Park
* 1987-1993 Princes Park
* 1994-1996 Whitten Oval

Note: Fitzroy also played home matches at North Hobart Oval and Canberra Stadium.

Former nicknames

*The Maroons 1883-1938
*The Gorillas 1938-1957
*The Lions 1957-1996

Club records

Team of the Century

Aussie rules team | title = Fitzroy Team of the Century
backpocket1 = Bill Stephen
fullback = Fred Hughson
backpocket2 = Frank Curcio
halfbackflank1 = Kevin Murray (Captain)
centrehalfback = Paul Roos
halfbackflank2 = Gary Pert
wing1 = Wilfred Smallhorn
centre = John Murphy
wing2 = Warwick Irwin
halfforwardflank1 = Owen Abrahams
centrehalfforward = Bernie Quinlan
halfforwardflank2 = Garry Wilson
forwardpocket1 = Allan Ruthven
fullforward = Jack Moriarty
forwardpocket2 = Norm Brown
ruck = Alan Gale
ruckrover = Norm Johnstone
rover = Haydn Bunton, Sr.
interchange1 = Michael Conlan
interchange2 = Alastair Lynch
interchange3 = Harvey Merrigan
interchange4 = Richard Osborne
interchange5 = Percy Parratt
interchange6 = Percy Trotter
coach = Len Smith

ee also

* 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

External links

* [ Official Website of the Fitzroy Football Club]
* [ Fitzroy history]
* [ "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
id=ISBN 0-9580300-6-5

*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
id=ISBN 1-920910-09-3

*cite book | author=Hutchinson, G.; Lang, R.; Ross, J.
title=Roar of the Lions
location=Port Melbourne | publisher=Lothian Books
id=ISBN 0-85091-880-4

*cite book | author= Piesse, K.| title=The Complete Guide to Australian Football | publisher =Pan Macmillan Australia | year=1995 | id=ISBN 0-330-35712-3

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