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1895: A celebration of the 125th anniversary of
the first really great moment in Fitzroy Football Club history

By David Leydon 

“The bell ending the game was greeted with wild cheering from the Fitzroy supporters.  The local Mercury newspaper reported that towards the close of the game, Fitzroy supporters were almost beside themselves with excitement”.

The First One Hundred Seasons: Fitzroy Football Club 1883-1983


One of the, often neglected, greatest moments in the long history of the Fitzroy Football Club is our first Premiership which was won way back in 1895 – 125 years ago this month.

Fitzroy Football Club was formed in 1883 and played its first game in 1884 in the old Victorian Football Association (VFA) which was the premier local competition of the day.

Always competitive in our early years in the VFA, Fitzroy finished runner up in 1892 and the signs were there of what was to eventually become more than a decade of dominance in Victorian football.

These were the years in the VFA where there were no finals. The team that finished on top of the ladder at season’s end were declared the Premiers.

Another quirky rule of the day was that, although the scores showed behinds that were kicked, they effectively counted for nothing in the overall result of the game. In other words, the only scores that counted were the goals. A game that had one team kicking 3 goals 5 behinds and the opposition kicking 3 goals 8 behinds was considered a draw based solely on the goals. This explains the end of season ladder which showed Fitzroy recording an astonishing 5 draws.

After a slow start to the 1895 campaign, Fitzroy got on a roll and, with three games to go, were clinging to top spot on the ladder.

The Roys could not afford to drop a game with three other clubs breathing down their neck on the ladder. It just so happened that these last three games were all against highly placed teams Geelong, Essendon and South Melbourne and, to make it more difficult, the Roys had an unusually high number of injuries to key players.

In the first of these late season games, Fitzroy beat second placed Geelong and then drew with Essendon the following week.

That meant everything was riding on the last game of the season.

Fitzroy had to travel down to South Melbourne and either win or draw that game to be Premiers. Second placed Geelong were playing the mid-ladder Port Melbourne and it was widely expected by all the sports writers of the day that, with injuries to key players, Fitzroy would lose and Geelong would get over Port to snatch the Premiership.

The boys from old Fitzroy had other ideas.

After a slow start against South, where the opposition scored two early goals, the Roys gradually threw off their nerves and found their feet in a game marred by a strong wind.

With just minutes left in the final quarter, Fitzroy were a goal behind and the mood in the crowd was sombre.

Enter the legendary Jim Grace.

The Fitzroy City Press perfectly described what happened from here:

"Jim Grace shot out from the ruck, evidently with the intention of having a snap shot – prudence, and an energetic appeal from his brother Mick, caused him to give the latter a mark, with the happiest result. Fitzroy supporters tossing their hats with delight and warmly grasping each other by the hand.

The players on the field also rejoiced. Billy McSpeerin fairly hugging Mick Grace, who was congratulated by all the other players within reach, the back players contenting themselves with turning Catherine wheels and other symptoms of joy.                       
   Jim Grace

When the final bell sounded Fitzroy’s joys knew no bounds – there were ringing cheers, any amount of handshaking, and a longing on the part of hundreds to congratulate one of the players – it didn’t matter which as long as he was a ‘Royite’."

As it turned out Geelong was beaten that same afternoon by Port Melbourne and Fitzroy finished a comfortable 6 points clear on top of the ladder.

The final 1895 ladder (4 points for a win, 2 points for a draw. Percentage was not applicable in these years).
     Billy McSpeerin

TEAM GAMES WON LOST DRAWN POINTS
Fitzroy 18 12 1 5 58
Geelong 18 13 5 0 52
Melbourne 18 13 5 0 52
Collingwood 18 12 4 2 52
South Melbourne 18 9 7 2 40
Essendon 18 8 8 2 36
Port Melbourne 18 7 8 3 34
North Melbourne 18 7 10 1 30
Williamstown 18 6 11 1 26
Footscray 18 6 11 1 26
Carlton 18 5 11 2 24
Richmond 18 4 11 3 22
St.Kilda 18 3 13 2 16

 
The 1895 Premiership win was the start of a golden era for the Roys as they went on to win more flags in the newly formed VFL in 1898, 1899, 1904 and 1905.

Some of the early club greats played in this 1895 team which was Captained by the legendary Tom Banks, who The Australasian described in such glowing tones as “no truer footballer or stouter hearted champion ever trod the turf”.

The records show that other players to represent Fitzroy that year (some without first names recorded) included: Tom Reynolds, Buckley, Sam McMichael, Flynn, Pat Hickey, Brooks, Leckie, Dan Moriarty, Reilly, Jim Grace, Mick Whelan, Carney, E.Staniland, Sumpter, Billy McSpeerin, Tyrell, C.Lamley, Mick Grace and Bill Cleary.

       Tom Banks       On the 125th Anniversary of that stirring victory, we fondly remember and salute each of these wonderful 1895 ‘Royites’.

Just in - new supporter guernseys!

You asked, and we delivered! We get many enquiries at the club about the availability of Fitzroy guernseys for our supporters to wear and now the wait is over!

We have just released a range of brand-new official Fitzroy Football Club guernseys in both the current on-field style, plus a limited run of our FFC heritage style guernsey, and they just look fantastic!

      
                   

The guernseys come in the following Adult sizes: Small, Medium, Large, XL, 2XL, 3XL, 5XL and can be ordered directly from the FFC website.

Children's sizes are also available by special order - email client_relations@fitzroyfc.com.au to inquire about Childrens sizes and pricing

These guernseys are made in the same high quality Bi-Flex material that our players wear on field every week.
 
These limited edition guernseys are just $80.00 each plus postage.

With Christmas fast approaching, these would make the perfect present for all Roys supporters.

Get yours now from our online shop - these won't last long! 

We're looking for a Coaching Director & Senior Women's Assistant Coach


Coaching Director:

The Fitzroy Football Club is looking for someone with the right experience and enthusiasm to join our Club in a newly created role to oversee the ongoing development, education and evaluation of all coaches and the development and support of player leadership groups. 

If you, or someone you know fits the Position Description, initial queries about the position can be referred to Director, Football Operations, Sharon Torney (0415 420 487) or Director, Player Recruitment and Wellbeing, Michael Pickering (0419 849 662).  Click here for the position description.

Senior Women's Assistant Coach:

We are also seeking a Senior Women's Coach to Support and work with the Senior Women's Coach, newly appointed Bronte Ryan, in 2021.

If you, or someone you know fits the position description, initial queries about the position can be referred to Director, Football Operations, Sharon Torney (0415 420 487) or Director, Player Recruitment and Wellbeing, Michael Pickering (0419 849 662).  Click here for the position description.
 

Spread the word - we're on the hunt for Royboys and Roygirls to play for us in 2021




The Fitzroy Football Club is now recruiting experienced players for our senior men's and women's teams!

Do you know someone who is keen to pull on the boots back on after a long 2020 with no footy?

We're keen to make 2021 bigger and better than ever after being away from our community for so long and not being able to have a season. It's been a tough year, but it's only made us more motivated to come back strong in 2021.

If you, or someone you know might be interested in playing, please share our expression of interest link below to help us get the message out that Fitzroy is on the hunt for players and we're excited to get back on track for 2021!

The expression of interest form via Facebook is here and we'll be in touch with more information.

Go Roys!

All the best Brisbane! 

The Fitzroy Football Club wishes the Brisbane Lions all the best as they embark on their 2020 AFL finals campaign tonight, taking on reigning Premiers Richmond.

Go well Lions!

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