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Reference_ 1947 VFL R6 North Melbourne v Essendon – 44 Points down at Three Quarter Time

Matches



Introduction

On the 24th of May 1947 at Arden Street North Melbourne staged one of the greatest comebacks in League history. Achieved against one of the strongest teams in the competition, it was an occasion where one player inspired a team to find something special.

The losers..well....they probably remember 1947 as the year they lost the Grand Final by a single point. But North, who were third bottom on the ladder at the end of the season could themselves remember a fantastic moment of football history.

Lead up

After Round 5, 1947, Essendon 6th on the ladder play North Melbourne bottom of the ladder at Arden Street. Essendon, the reigning premiers would have looked forward to an easy win. But unlike many that season, this was not their day.

In the two preceding matches, North Melbourne had lost badly (Round 4 v Fitzroy – lost by 101 points and Round 5 v Footscray lost by 41 points.). In both games North had not scored a goal until the final quarter The reigning premiers must have looked forward to an easy victory.

Teams

Essendon were led by Australian Football Hall of Fame legend Dick Reynolds and included a second Hall of Fame legend Bill Hutchison. They were a strong team evidenced by the fact they were reigning premiers and would end the home and away season in second place (14 wins) and go on to a tight Grand Final against strong Carlton side where they would go down by a single point.


North Melbourne

At North Melbourne, although a group of young players were coming through the seconds and thirds that would change North’s fortunes in the next few seasons, in 1947, North Melbourne struggled on the ladder and ended of the season in 10th with 4 wins. Keith McKenzie would win the club’s 1947 Best and Fairest and Sid Dyer finished as leading Goal kicker for the second season running with 47 goals.

Card 013 - Kevin Dynon - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 013 - Kevin Dynon - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 019 - Les Foote - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 019 - Les Foote - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards


B:Jack LyonsJock McCorkellNeville Stibbard
HB:Les ReevesKevin DynonGeorge Kokkin
C:Jim MaloneSyd DyerReg Ryan
HF:Don CondonLes FooteTed Jarrard
F:Alf CrumpChris CarrollDick Molloy
Foll:Terry WalshGeorge Kennedy
Rov:Harry Somerville
Res:Harold WinbergDon Coulton
Coach:Bob McCaskill


Les Foote

For many people at the time, the best player in the North side was Les Foote. An Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee. Foote had played for the Shinboners since 1941 and was an experienced player. He had already won North’s best and fairest in 1945 and would win again in 1949 and 1950.
Foote was injured a number of times through the 1947 season. Newspapers record at least two concussions and another bad injury:
  • “Les Foote, of North Melbourne, is in bed with concussion, which he suffered on Saturday, but it is not serious, and he should be available this week.” – Argus 7-May-1947 p.9
  • “Les Foote, who was carried off the North ground on Saturday, was taken to hospital, but returned home at midnight. He was thought to have bruised kidneys, but has only bruised ribs and chest. He may be available again this week.” – Argus 16-Jun-1947 p14
  • “Les Foote, North Melbourne player in the carnival side, cannot play with his team tomorrow because he is still suffering from the face injury he sustained in Hobart.” – Argus 15-Aug-1947 p.17

Essendon

Essendon were led by Australian Football Hall of Fame legend Dick Reynolds and included a second Hall of Fame legend Bill Hutchison. They were a strong team evidenced by the fact they were reigning premiers and would end the home and away season in second place (14 wins) and go on to a tight Grand Final against strong Carlton side where they would go down by a single point.

Card 003 - Dick Reynolds - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 003 - Dick Reynolds - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 010 - Percy Bushby - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 010 - Percy Bushby - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 027 - Bill Hutchison - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 027 - Bill Hutchison - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 033 - Bob McClure - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 033 - Bob McClure - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards


Final Positions not known: Friday Team Shown Below.
B:Herbie TonkesCec RuddellBob McClure
HB:Norm McDonaldWally ButtsworthHarold Lambert
C:Bert HarperBill PearsonKeith Rawle
HF:Bill BrittinghamGordon LaneDick Reynolds
F:Jack JohnsonTed LeehaneIvan Goodingham
Foll:Harry EquidPercy Bushby
Rov:Bill Hutchison
Res:Jack JonesRay Bower
Coach:Dick Reynolds


Additions According to AFL tables, Essendon's final squad added Laurie Dearle and Russell Hill and Gordon Lane and Jack Johnson who were selected on Friday did not play.

Ref Football teams chosen LEAGUE. (1947, May 23). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 12. Retrieved April 13, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22428101


The Game

24-May-1947 - Round: 6
Arden Street (North Melbourne)

TeamQ1Q2Q3Final
North Melbourne2.2 (14)4.7 (31)7.8 (50)15.12 (102)
Essendon6.4 (40)9.8 (62)14.10 (94)14.10 (94)
ES by 26ES by 31ES by 44NM by 8


http://afltables.com/afl/stats/games/1947/051219470524.html

The game started predictably, Essendon extended their lead each quarter for the first three quarters, Argus Football writer Percy Taylor wrote that “North were 44 points behind at the start of the last quarter, and had shown little opposition to Essen don's methodical play. They had been defeated on the wings, their forwards were slow moving and stolid, and the defence weak.” (Argus 26-May-1947 p.14)

Essendon had a 44 Point lead at Three Quarter Time


At three Quarter Time Essendon led 14.10 (94) to 7.8. (50) a strong 44 point lead and North would have to double their score for the first three quarters in the final quarter even to have a chance. But this is what they did.

A snippet in the Argus hints at the what happened, “Les Foote, centre half-forward, was North's best. He was fast and clever, marking and kicking well. Then, in the vital last quarter, he was flung into the ruck.” (Argus 26-May-1947 p.14)....and Foote lifted the side

Argus 26-May-1947 p.14
Argus 26-May-1947 p.14
Percy Taylor continued, “North then showed brilliant, concerted play that carried everything before them. They passed with precision, out marked opponents, and kicked accurately. Essendon cannot account for the fadeout. They thought they had the game in their keeping, and packed the defence. The pace and brilliance of North in that last quarter, however, were breathtaking, and swamped the opposition.” (Argus 26-May-1947 p.14)

North Melbourne kicked 8.4 (52) to zero for the quarter


Foote’s ruck work single handedly changed the game and inspired the team, there was no high wind or gale to blame, North who had scored 50 points in the first three quarters kicked 8.4 (52) to zero for the quarter in an astounding and memorable comeback.

An unknown writer on Wikipedia adds “ to get some perspective of Foote's astonishing performance as a ruckman on that day, at 182 cm he was dominating the four ruckmen Essendon had selected to play that day; namely, Ivan Goodingham (191 cm), Perc Bushby (189 cm), Bob McClure (188 cm), and Jack Cassin (183 cm ).

Aftermath

At the time this was a record in the VFL for final quarter comebacks. It was not until the Brisbane Bears turned around a 45 point margin to Hawthorn in 1995 that the record was broken. Today North’s effort is still the second highest in 110 years of League football.

Within a few years, a new group of young North players under Foote’s captaincy would reach the VFL Grand Final...the first time the club had reached a VFL Grand Final since moving from the VFA in 1925.

But on this day, a group of players, beaten hard for weeks before did not give up and found something special to give and achieved something great.



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