Melbourne win by 1 point
Having turned in an encouraging performance and a debacle against the reigning wooden spooner in the first two weeks of the season the Demons travelled to the Western Oval to tackle one of the other strugglers of season 1981 in Footscray.
With regular coach Royce Hart in hospital the Dogs were in the hands of assistant Frank Goode. He was forced to field a side weakened by a spate of early season injuries, but the enthusiasm of his battered side shone through early and carried the Dogs to a three goal lead at the first change. They had been given an opportunity to take a bigger lead with a strong wind, and when the Demons got their chance in the second term they made no such mistake - kicking eight goals.
Back kicking with the wind again in the third the Dogs had learnt their lesson and kicked eight, but inexplicably allowed the Demons four into the strong breeze. Still, they took a three goal lead into the final change. They were as much as 29 points early in the last quarter before Melbourne fought back.
Melbourne chipped away at the lead - Vin Catoggio missed three set shots while kicking two goals - but approaching the 30 minute mark of the final term the Bulldogs were still five points in front and it seemed like the youngsters with an average age of just 22 would hold on to win. Then Shane Zantuck roosted a kick from the half-forward flank to the goalsquare where captain Robert Flower took a big pack mark in the goalsquare and went back to convert the goal and give the Demons victory.
Mark "Jacko" Jackson kicked eight goals in just his third game. Footscray persisted with the same opponent on him until he'd kicked his eighth, a late inclusion for a school PE teacher who'd strained his knee at work the day before.
The joy of the victory was short lived as the Demons would not win another game until Round 2, 1981, 358 days later.
Best were Jackson, Catoggio and Smith
Melbourne 30.14.194 d. Footscray 18.10.118
Goals - McGlashan 9, Hardeman 6, Barham 3, O'Dwyer 3, Battiston 2, Gaunt 2, O'Dwyer 2, Ellingworth 1, Korn 1, McCarthy 1
Best - McGlashan, O'Brien, Barham
Note - the newspaper and Football Records both list O'Dwyer twice. One of the goalkickers may have been O'Brien.
Melbourne 17.19.121 d. Footscray 15.18.108
Goals - Bergman 5, Cordner 3, Howard 3, Withers 2, Bell 1, Fidge 1, Sutcliffe 1, Tossol 1
Best - McKaige, Sutcliffe, Bergman
One Point Games