Carlton lost to Fitzroy by 33 points in its VFL debut match - Brunswick Street Oval.

Round 1, 1897

Carlton 0.3 3 1.3 9 2.3 15 2.4 16
Fitzroy 0.5 5 0.11 11 5.13 43 6.13 49
Venue: Brunswick Street Oval
Date: Saturday 8 May 1897
Result: Loss by 33 points
Crowd: 3,000
Goalkickers: W.O'Cock and W.Weir 1.
Umpire: Hood
Best: T.Blake, J.Aitken, E.Walton, B.Hannah, J.Reekie, W.Woodhouse, W.Casey, W.O'Cock and A.Cummins.

Game Review

The Fitzroy City Press (May 06 p3) in it's match preview hinted at the reason for the exclusion of Footscray, North Melbourne, Port Melbourne, Richmond and Williamstown from the VFL.
"As will be seen from this list the team (Fitzroy) is likely to be very strong, and with those teams eliminated who showed a tendency to play the man instead of the ball, the football loving public should be the gainers, and the matches be productive of more interest than shown for many seasons, whilst the play should be better and more enjoyable for the participators."

Friday's Herald (p3) Carlton team will be selected from the following; (30 named)
Aitken, Armstrong, Burns, Blake, Buck, Casey, Cameron, Dunn, Finley, Gray, Giles, Hannah, Howard, Johnson, Heffernan, Maerae/Macrae?, O'Hearn/Ahern?, O'Cock, Patterson, Patterson, Paton, Reekie, Sweatman, Walton, Weir, Woodhouse, McPetrie, Hewitt, Postim, Cummings.

The first half of the game was very scrappy, and while Carlton managed to kick the only goal of the first half, Fitzroy had plenty of opportunities and led by two points at the long break, after kicking 11 behinds to the Blues' 1 goal 3.

Bill Weir was the first player to score a goal for Carlton and the first player to score a goal at the Brunswick Street Oval in League Football.

According to The Age, Fitzroy established their second half superiority through "...great superiority in pace, weight, high marking and long kicking". Five third term goals would kill the game as a contest and give Fitzroy an unassailable three quarter time lead.

The Carlton players were gallant in the last quarter, and managed to prevent the better Fitzroy side from overwhelming them. The Blues had relied on too few players throughout the day, whilst Fitzroy fielded an even side that all performed at a consistent level. Carlton's best piece of play for the day was a dash around the right wing, which led to the ball being carried from end to end resulting in a goal to Wally Ocock.

Fitzroy would eventually run out 33 point winners in Carlton's first ever VFL game. Before the match Jimmy Aitken was elected as captain, a surprise given that Tom Blake, the captain of the previous year, was still playing for the club. Fitzroy's side included Mick Grace who played in the ruck and would later play for Carlton between 1903 and 1907. This was Carlton's first game when behinds were counted in the final scores. In the VFA, behinds had been recorded but not included in the score.

At the end of this historic first round, Carlton were in 8th spot on the ladder with a percentage of 32.7.

The Fitzroy City Press' report (May 13 p2) of the match said there was some confusion with the abolition of the "little mark" especially among the Fitzroy players, which according to the new rule, required the ball to be kicked a minimum of 10 yards for a mark to be awarded.


B: Charlie Sweatman Bill Weir George Johnston
HB: Bill Casey Jack Reekie Ernie Walton (vc)
C: Brook Hannah Jimmy Aitken (c) Bob Armstrong
HF: Otto Buck Henry Dunne Henry McPetrie
F: Arthur Cummins Wally Ocock Ted Heffernan
Rucks: Tom Blake Bill Woodhouse Joe Paton
Bob Cameron
Rover: Bill Ahern
Coach: No coach and the captain directed the side
Note: 4 Rucks, 20 players on the ground and no interchange.


Inception Blues: This was our first VFL/AFL Game, the VFL being established in 1897. As such, it was the official Carlton VFL debut of all players, although a number of them had represented the Blues in the VFA. This is discussed further here.
Debut and only game: Bill Ahern and George Johnston
Records: This is, of course, the first match played between these 2 Clubs
Interesting Fact: In an auspicious start, This game would commence a run of 116 games played by the Blues before our next / first Final, a record that would not be broken for almost a century.
Footnote: Although this was the first VFL meeting between these clubs, Carlton and Fitzroy actually first played in 1884 in the VFA. Prior to the end of 1896, they had met 26 times, with the Blues winning 10, losing 13, and drawing 3 games. (See Pre VFL).

1897 | Round 2
Contributors to this page: blueycarlton , Jarusa , WillowBlue , PatsFitztrick , Bombasheldon , molsey , steve , true_blue24 and admin .
Page last modified on Wednesday 26 of July, 2023 10:27:43 AEST by blueycarlton.

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