After showing marked improvement in 1903 under the league's first full-time coach, Jack Worrall, Carlton would start the 1904 season as one of the favourites for the flag. Worrall’s stern discipline and unrelenting search for new talent continued to strengthen the side, although there was a major disruption in mid-year when he was stood down by the club committee over accounting irregularities in his role as Carlton Secretary.
While there were no allegations of dishonesty involved, various members of the club’s committee - and some players - resented Worrall’s authoritarian manner, and saw the situation as an opportunity to remove him. The matter dragged on for some weeks, before an extraordinary Annual General Meeting was called to resolve the situation, and an overwhelming majority of members (and players) supported Worrall’s reinstatement.
Throughout those weeks of dissension, Carlton played consistently good football, losing just three matches and drawing one during the 14-round home and away season. Two of these losses were by one goal or less. Despite two more defeats in the Sectionals (rounds 15-17), the Blues finished second on the ladder, and then made history by edging out Essendon by 3 points in a desperately close Semi Final.
Then, on Saturday, September 17, 1904 at the MCG, Carlton met Fitzroy in the Navy Blues’ first-ever Grand Final. After a spirited and skilful contest, the Maroons took control in the final term, and ran out winners by 24 points. This was Fitzroy's third flag, with another to come in 1905.
But Carlton, too, was now firmly established in the top echelon of the competition, and our glory days were drawing ever closer.
Carl; 0.0 1.0 1.1 2.3.15
Port: 1.6 2.8 3.9 4.14.38
Goals; O'Sullivan, Snell
Best; Stewart, Flinn/Flynn, Hince, O'Sullivan
Carlton team; 18 players named.
New players; Kennedy (Essendon), Croft (Port Melbourne), Hardiman (Geelong), Cullen and West.
Backs; Newbound, Hince, McNamara
Half backs; Cullen, Scott, O'Connor
Centre; West, Lithgow, Kennedy
Half forwards; Tough, Hogg, Sullivan
Forwards; Crowe, Croft, Webber
Followers; Walsh, Hardiman, Elliott
Scores to three quarter time.
Carl; 4.4 5.8 8.12 --
NM: 1.0 1.4 2.6 --
No further details
Cullen and Hardiman (Port Melbourne) "are spoken of highly." did not play.
Boundary umpires were trialled.
Backs; McNulty, Hince, Robertson
Half backs; White, McNamara, Newbound
Centre; Ryan, Jones, Kennedy
Half forwards; McShane, Foley, O'Donohoo
Forwards; Crowe Croft, Webber
Followers; Eastman, O'Connor
Carlton won by 56 points
Carl; 2.1 3.3 8.4 11.5.71
F.J; 1.0 1.0 1.1 2.3.15
Goals; Crowe 4, Pitt3, O'Connor 2, Eastman, Marron
Backs; O'Connor, Hince, McNamara
Half backs; Newbound, H. McShane, Trimm
Centres; Stewart, Flynn, Kennedy
Half forwards; Marrow, Scott, Lithgow
Forwards; Crowe, Gough, Webber
Followers; Hardiman, Elliott
Carlton won by 88 points
Carl; 2.4 7.10 -- 15.20.110
W.M 2.1 2.1 -- 3.4.22
Goals; Scott 6 (report said he scored 6 times)
Best; Scott, Elliott, Flynn, Kennedy, Stewart (North Melbourne), Marron (St.Xavier College), Hardiman (Port Melbourne), Lithgow, Hince, Trimm, Snell, Rolands (second half)
Norwood were the 1904 South Australian premiers. This was the first meeting between the two clubs for 16 years.
There was some controversy with the South Australian Football Association refusing its patronage, while the Victorian Football League sanctioned Carlton's visit. The S.A.F.A had passed a resolution earlier this year that no matches shall be played on the Adelaide Oval. Norwood was later reprimanded over its action, with the Association regretting that it could not inflict severe punishment on Norwood.
J. McShane, H. Chase, W. McNamara, were mentioned in the 20 man squad in Saturday's Register newspaper.
Carlton team (18);
J. Flynn, J. Newbound, H. Hince, W. Leeds, W. Payne, C. Roland, G. Bruce, R. Boyle, E. Kennedy, G. Topping, M. Grace, W. Prescott, P. Pitt, C. Ross, C. O'Connor, F. Elliott, A. Snell, R. Bradley.
Carl; 1.3 4.9 8.10 11.13.79
Norw; 4.0 6.2 7.7 8.8.56
Goals; Grace 4, Pitt 2, Flynn, Topping, Roland, Hince, Bradley
Best; Topping, Roland, Flynn, Elliott, Leeds, Kennedy, Boyle, Newbound, Grace.
Players mentioned; (12) Flynn, Grace, Pitt, Roland, Bruce, Boyle, Kennedy, Topping, Bradley, Hince, Leeds, Newbound.
Coach: Jack Worrall
Leading Goal-kicker: Mick Grace - 26 goals
Billy Payne, Ernie Ashton, Eddie Prescott, Albert Gourlay, Sam Marron, Bob Boyle, Pat Pelly, Jimmy Gaynor, Rupe Bradley, Percy Pitt, Henry Newbound, Henry Whight, Arthur Ryan, Jim Cullen, Ted Kennedy