South Melbourne started the 1918 season brilliantly, with big wins over Geelong, Fitzroy and Collingwood before falling to St Kilda by just five points at the Junction Oval in round four. It was South’s only defeat of the season and it topped the ladder three games clear of Collingwood, with Carlton and St Kilda making up the final four.
Although South was the raging premiership favourite, it struggled to defeat Carlton in their semi-final two weeks after Collingwood had defeated St Kilda in the other semi-final. A tremendous downpour caused a week’s postponement of the South-Carlton semi-final. South squeezed home by five points, thanks to late goals by Tom O’Halloran and Jack (sometimes referred to as ‘Jock’) Doherty. O’Halloran was South’s hero as he also denied Carlton the chance of a late match-winning goal.
South therefore played Collingwood in the final, with the Southeners having the right of challenge if it lost. The red and white looked nervous over the first half and despite looking the better side, trailed by 16 points at the main break. South still trailed by nine points at the final break and switched Vic Belcher into the ruck for the final quarter. His dominance of the packs lifted teammates and South full-forward Gerald Ryan levelled scores with a late goal. Collingwood scrambled a behind to take the lead and, just when it appeared the Magpies would win, South forward pocket Chris Laird lashed at the ball and kicked the winning goal of the ground with less than a minute to play. South won by five points and with no challenge needed, the red and white had won its second VFL premiership.
The South annual report noted: “In annexing the premiership of 1918, your team have been congratulated from all quarters, and more particularly by their opponents on the field”.
1918 Grand Final, at MCG, September 7
|South Melbourne||2.5||2.5||6.6||9.8 (62)|
|Goals: Laird 3, Ryan 3, Robertson 2, Barber|
|B:||Jack Graham||Samuel ‘Chip’ Turner||Vic Belcher|
|HB:||Arthur Rademacher||Aloysius ‘Alan’ O’Donoghue||Bill Daly|
|C:||Mark Tandy||Tammy Hynes||Artie Wood|
|HF:||Jim Caldwell (Capt.)||Tom O’Halloran||Harold Robertson|
|F:||Ernie Barber||Gerald Ryan||Chris Laird|
|Foll:||Jack Howell||Phil Skehan||Jack Doherty|
|Coach:||Henry Elms/Herb Howson|
|Mark Tandy's 1918 premiership cap|