23. 1877 - First VFA Premiership

In October, 1877, The Australasian correspondent Peter Pindar penned a descriptive end of season review, which in part dealt with Carlton’s trials and tribulations in respect of ground occupancy, and ended with its historic triumph in what was the first season of VFA competition.

For the record, the VFA was formed at a meeting of the dandies at Oliver’s Cafe in Collins Street East (near Swanston Street) on May 7 of that year. Accordingly, the foundation clubs of the Victorian Football Association were Carlton, Melbourne, Geelong, Albert Park, St Kilda, Essendon, Hotham, Ballarat, Barwon, Beechworth, Castlemaine, Inglewood and Rochester.

“The first important event of the season was the establishment of a Football Association, composed of two delegates from each of the senior clubs, to have the control of all intercolonial matches, and to adjudicate upon and supervise all matters connected with the game, and be the final court of appeal in any disputes that may arise,” Pindar wrote.

“Its first duty was a revision of the rules, and this it did faithfully and well, but no intercolonial matches, strictly speaking, took place, the one contemplated with South Australia having fallen through owing to lukewarmness on part of the latter, or, perhaps to a split in the camp; so its duties in this direction were not very onerous, and its mere existence seems to have settled disputes, as none, I understand, have ever been brought before it.”

Pindar, rather magnanimously concluded;

“And now for the clubs, commencing with the metropolitans. I presume the premier position for 1877 must fairly be adjudged the Carlton, which has well maintained its former prestige playing 21 matches, winning 14, losing 3 (one of them under Rugby rules, which can hardly count) drawing 4, and kicking 56 goals to 11.

“To this club belongs the honour of sending the first football team to try conclusions in another colony - an example which has since been followed by others.”
The 1877 year ranks as one of Carlton’s greatest, for in a year in which John Gardiner captained his team to Grand Final honours, the game’s first star George Coulthard was also adjudged Champion of the Colony – the second of three he would secure in his magnificent playing career.