The 1945 VFL season was the 49th season of the Victorian Football League (VFL), the highest level senior Australian rules football competition in Victoria. The season featured twelve clubs, ran from 21 April until 29 September, and comprised a 20-game home-and-away season followed by a finals series featuring the top four clubs.
|1945 VFL Premiership season|
|Minor premiers||South Melbourne|
(6th minor premiership)
|Leading Goalkicker Medallist||Fred Fanning (Melbourne)|
|Brownlow Medallist||Not awarded|
In 1945, the VFL competition consisted of twelve teams of 18 on-the-field players each, plus one substitute player, known as the 19th man. A player could be substituted for any reason; however, once substituted, a player could not return to the field of play under any circumstances.
Teams played each other in a home-and-away season of 20 rounds; matches 12 to 20 were the "home-and-way reverse" of matches 1 to 9.
The determination of the 1945 season's fixtures were greatly complicated by the fact that both the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Lake Oval were appropriated for military use and, because of this, Melbourne shared the Punt Road Oval with Richmond as their home ground, and South Melbourne shared the Junction Oval with St Kilda as their home ground.
Once the 20 round home-and-away season had finished, the 1945 VFL Premiers were determined by the specific format and conventions of the Page–McIntyre system.
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) percentage; 3) number of points for.
- The 1945 VFL Premiership team was Carlton.
- The VFL's leading goalkicker was Fred Fanning of Melbourne with 67 goals.
- No Brownlow Medal was awarded in 1945.
- St Kilda took the "wooden spoon" in 1945.
- The seconds premiership was won by Footscray. Footscray 9.16 (70) defeated Fitzroy 9.3 (57) in the Grand Final, played as a stand-alone match on Saturday 22 September at Victoria Park before a crowd of 6,000.
- The home-and-away season was expanded to 20 rounds.
- The VFL adopted the "downfield free kick" rule, such that if a player is fouled after disposing of the ball, the free kick is taken at the spot where the ball lands by the nearest team-mate, not at the spot of the foul.
- St Kilda changed its nickname from Seagulls to Panthers in the 1945 season, after a supporter had presented the club with an oil painting of a panther to be hung in the club rooms. The change never truly caught on, and fell out of common use relatively quickly.
- South Melbourne's captain and Brownlow Medal winner Herbie Matthews and South Melbourne forward Keith Smith were dropped from the Round 13 match by their club for refusing to play in the positions they were directed to play in.
- After its Round 14 loss to Essendon, Carlton won its next nine consecutive matches (including the Grand Final).
- North Melbourne made the finals for the first time since entering the VFL in 1925. Of the three clubs to enter the league in 1925, only Hawthorn had not yet made the Finals, and would not do so until 1957.
- The 1945 Second Semi-Final was South Melbourne's last finals win as "South Melbourne". The club did not play finals again until 1970, and did not win another final until 1996, after it had moved to Sydney – a fifty-one-year gap.
- Carlton's 1945 premiership win was the first time since the Page–McIntyre system had been adopted in 1931 that a team from fourth place on the home-and-away ladder won the Grand Final.
- The Grand Final was held at Princes Park for the last time. It has been held at the MCG every year since, except 1991 and 2020.
- The Grand Final, played in extremely wet, muddy conditions, is remembered as "the Bloodbath" for its overall continuous violence (on the field and amongst the fans), and its plethora of crude king hits and brawls (many of which were broken up with the assistance of team officials and the police). The Melbourne tabloid newspaper, The Truth, called it "the most repugnant spectacle League football has ever known", with ten players reported for a total of sixteen offences.
- "Footscray's premiership". The Argus. Melbourne. 24 September 1945. p. 15.
- "League seconds Grand Final". The Argus. Melbourne. 21 September 1945. p. 12.
- "Five years' penalty for VFL players". The Argus. Melbourne. 1 March 1945. p. 12.
- "Hawthorn has MM Winner". The Argus. Melbourne. 16 March 1945. p. 13.
- Rogers, S. & Brown, A., Every Game Ever Played: VFL/AFL Results 1897–1997 (Sixth Edition), Viking Books, (Ringwood), 1998. ISBN 0-670-90809-6
- Ross, J. (ed), 100 Years of Australian Football 1897–1996: The Complete Story of the AFL, All the Big Stories, All the Great Pictures, All the Champions, Every AFL Season Reported, Viking, (Ringwood), 1996. ISBN 0-670-86814-0