Essendon win by 17 points
The defending premiers travelled to Windy Hill full of confidence, but ran into a strong challenge from the home side and became one of three of the top four sides of 1939 to lose on the opening day of the season.
Though Melbourne had superiority in the air Essendon were overall the better side all day. First gamer Fred Fanning was provided a golden opportunity for kick the first goal of the game by Norm Smith but missed nervously. Melbourne ended up getting the first goal of the quarter but found it hard to break through Essendon's defence from then on. The home team kicked five goals in a row before two late majors kept Melbourne hanging on by their fingernails.
The Demons goalled first in the second, and cut the margin to eight at half time with two late goals but Essendon delivered a fatal blow at the start of the third quarter with three quick goals and by three quarter time the margin was 33 points.
The Redlegs never fully recovered from the onslaught, but despite his side being out on their feet Allan La Fontaine inspired his side into a furious last term comeback. Goals from Kimberley, Truscott and Gibb got them back into the game. With three minutes left and the Demons two kicks behind, Ron Kimberley found himself in the forward line with the ball and surrounded by opponents. He threw it on the boot but instead of finding a teammate the ball landed with an opponent who help whisk the ball to the other end when Essendon kicked the sealer.
The result wasn't all bad news for Melbourne, they'd won just two of nine opening day fixtures in recent years and were notoriously slow starters.
Gibb was Melbourne's best, and Fanning was promising on debut before being injured. Roberts was also amongst the better players. 19th man Baxter replaced Fanning (injured leg) in the third quarter.
Essendon 12.13 d. Melbourne 12.8
Goalkickers - Rodda 5, Dullard 2, Baldwin 2
Best - Murnane, Rodda, Daley
Sporting Globe gives the crowd as 15,000