Essendon win by 36 points
Last MFC Game
Playing off for the right to go directly to the Grand Final, Melbourne picked the worst time of the year to serve up their poorest performance.
The two sides had conceded the least points in 1948, but Essendon had beaten the Demons twice. As expected the game was a defensive struggle. With the wind barely a factor the match was initially a scramble, Essendon missed chances and Melbourne were unable to breach their defence and were thwarted in the goalsquare three times. The Bombers were the better side but after 15 minutes only three behinds had been scored.
Against the run of play, Essendon got the first major of the game and soon followed with another. Down the other end Melbourne were too conscious of kicking to Norm Smith and that made the job of opposition defenders easy. The Demons managed to level the scores from a quick Craddock snap on the siren. The Bombers had been the better side but didn't have anything to show for it yet.
The second quarter was poor. Melbourne lost Wally Lock to a knee injury and he was stretchered off, and as the quarter went on Essendon gradually took the advantage. Melbourne's mistakes continued to mount, and with centre half forward Leehane on his way to beating three opponents, Essendon opened a 30 point lead at half time. The Demons had gone forward just twice in the whole second quarter, and Melbourne never looked like getting back into the match. There was a moment of tension during the term when a Melbourne defender clashed with an opponent near the press box and a melee broke out, with St John's Ambulance volunteers and club trainers running onto the field.
The forward line found it hard to get any supply with the rucks and midfielders well beaten. Only McGrath and Deans in the Melbourne defence had stopped the Bombers from holding an even more commanding lead - they would be two of their sides best.
A brawl had livened up the match during the second term, after a Melbourne player had 'interfered' with his opponent. Trainers and St. John's Ambulance men attempted to break up the fracas but the umpires took no action.
Melbourne played their best football of the day in the third quarter but barely chipped away at the margin, leaving themselves a huge task going into the last quarter. They didn't have it in them, and they ended the game playing ragged football and were forced into a Preliminary Final showdown with Collingwood the next week.
Best were Cordner, McGrath and Dullard. Lock initially announced his retirement after his knee injury, but returned for four games the next year. Crawley suffered cramp. Bob McKenzie was reported for striking and found guilty. He only received a reprimand and played the next week. Crawley replaced Lock in the second quarter, and was replaced by Scanlan at three quarter time.
Governor of Victoria Sir Winston Dugan was present for the match.
After the game Checker Hughes said he was "astounded at the way we played", and noted that he could sense they were "jittery" when they entered the rooms before the match..
Later, VFL delegates complained that the standard of the footballs used had detracted from the quality of play. They said that inflation and polish departed from the standards set out in the rules.
B: Deans, McGrath, McGowan
HB: McLean, Rule, Lock
C: Spittle, Bickford, Dockett
HF: McKenzie, Arnold, Collins
F: Craddock, Smith, McMahen
R: Cordner, Dullard, Rodda
Herald - 14/09/1948
Sporting Globe - 15/09/1948
Argus - 17/09/1948
Herald - 17/09/1948
Age - 18/09/1948
Sporting Globe - 18/09/1948
Sporting Globe - 18/09/1948
Herald - 18/09/1948
Age - 20/09/1948
Argus - 20/09/1948
Sporting Globe - 22/09/1948
Argus - 25/09/1948
Football Record 1948 Finals
Age - 21/09/1948