Grand Final, 1959
Melbourne vs Essendon
Saturday 26 September
Melbourne win by 37 points
Goalkickers: Ron Barassi 4, Alan Rowarth 4, Frank Adams 3, Robert C Johnson 3, Hassa Mann 1, Ian Ridley 1, Geoff Tunbridge 1
Dick Fenton-Smith (also 50 games)
Stung by their loss in the 1958 Grand Final, the Demons struck back to finish on top of the ladder for the fifth straight year. Essendon had been fourth, and when the Demons thrashed Carlton by 44 points in the Semi Final they confirmed themselves as red hot premiership favourites.
Ron Barassi had been the only concern with a thigh injury which had forced him off late in the semi, but he had been passed fit. Peter Brenchley was called up to the team at the expense of Neil Crompton. Don Williams was left on the bench when the club discovered he was negotiating for a move to West Perth. It was his last game for the club until 1964.
The Demons had the advantage of a week off, while Essendon had slogged to a win in the wet against Carlton the previous Saturday. After the disappointment of 1958, Norm Smith warned his side against complacency. "We may be hot favourites to win, but I think the game will be pretty tough. I don't like to think we're home and hosed" he said. He put his side through vigorous training during the week to make sure thye were ready to go.
There was a fitness scare for Ron Barassi, who was knocked to the thigh in the Semi Final, then was hit on it again at training the following week. He came through one of the toughest training sessions of the year ready to take his place. Smith put his players through a 30 minute match practice sessions where there were few punches pulled, with players crashing into each other at full pace.
In front of the biggest Grand Final crowd since the introduction of ticket reservations, the first quarter gave no indication that the Bombers were going to lie down. After winning the toss, they went straight into attack, and used their pace to trouble the Demons. They kicked for good poorly, as did Melbourne, only opening a 13 point lead at the first break. Essendon had clearly been the better side, Melbourne was kept afloat by the dynamic play of Ron Barassi, Robert B Johnson in the ruck, and Ian McLean on a wing.
Norm Smith, realising that his side was in danger of being burnt off by their pacy opponents, instructed his players to hit their opponents hard and often. It took them some time to get on top, but eventually Melbourne's physical superiority and finals experience won out. Four minutes into the second quarter, after Essendon missed another shot, Ron Barassi set up Alan Rowarth to goal with his first kick of the game, cutting the margin back to just over a goal.
With the Bombers leading just minutes before half-time it was Ron Barassi who dragged his side back into the match with three goals. The first was a miracle snap before two goals from strong marks put his side in front at the long break. The momentum had seemingly swung their way. Essendon weren't ready to go away though, they regained the lead early in the third term, and kept Melbourne goalless for 23 minutes. A pair of time-on goals by Bob Johnson gave the Demons a two goal lead approaching the last change, before a late (Essendon)) major cut the gap to one straight kick.
By then Essendon had run themselves into the ground. Smith had gambled on the Bombers fading and had protected John Lord and Bob Johnson for the whole day - with their introduction into the ruck the last quarter was a procession. Dick Fenton-Smith was given the instruction to run himself into the ground with his final spell for the club before giving way to Don Williams, and the play worked to perfection. Essendon collapsed and the Demons were premiers again, going some way to make up for the 1958 debacle.
1959 saw the Premiership Cup introduced for the first time, giving John Beckwith the honour of being the first captain to ever do a lap of honour with the cup.
Best were Barassi, McLean and Johnson. In addition to Fenton-Smith being replaced by Williams, Rowarth (bruised thigh) was replaced by Brenchley in the last quarter.
B: John Beckwith (c), Tassie Johnson, John Lord
HB: Geoff Case, Dennis Jones, Ian Thorogood
C: Ian McLean, Laurie Mithen, Brian Dixon
HF: Geoff Tunbridge, Clyde Laidlaw, Hassa Mann
F: Ron Barassi, Alan Rowarth, Ian Ridley
R: Bob Johnson, Dick Fenton-Smith, Frank Adams
S: Don Williams, Peter Brenchley
Emg: Trevor Johnson, Neil Crompton, Athol Webb
Coach: Norm Smith
Barassi 4.3, R. Johnson 3.1, Tunbridge 1.2, Rowarth 4.1, Adams 3.1, Ridley 1.0, Mann 1.2, Rushed 0.3
Age - 23/09/1959
Sporting Globe - 26/09/1959
Age - 28/09/1959
Age - 28/09/1959
Football Record 1959 Grand Final