the Kangaroos: Australian Rules
team, in the Australian Football League
1925 (Joined as North Melbourne. Dropped the 'North Melbourne' name in 1998, and are now known simply as 'the Kangaroos')
Blue and White
Home Ground: Melbourne Cricket Ground
(Formerly Arden Oval)
History:The North Melbourne Kangaroos have always struggled to gain supporters, even in times of success. No one is quite sure why, but it may have something to do with how geographically small an area North Melbourne is. Whatever the case, this lack of a large supporter base limits their financial security, forcing them to be more willing to experiment with new ideas than other clubs. At the moment, the Kangaroos are somewhat of a laughing stock because of some of their 'experiments'.
North Melbourne were a late addition to the VFL. They were one of three clubs to shift from the VFA in 1925, along with Hawthorn and the Bulldogs. The 'Shinboners', as they were originally called before adopting the less rediculous Kangaroo emblem, struggled for quite a while. For almost 50 years, North Melbourne merely made up the numbers, making the finals very infrequently, if at all.
This all changed in 1973, when the legendary Ron Barassi took over as coach, bringing about a rapid change in fortunes. The very next year, North Melbourne made the first of 5 consecutive Grand Finals. They went down to Richmond in 1974, and in 1975 they broke through to win their first flag. 1976 saw the Kangaroos lose to Hawthorn. 1977's Grand Final was the famous drawn grand final. In the replay, the Kangaroos ran out winners over Collingwood. 1978 was another Grand Final loss for North Melbourne, again at the hands of Hawthorn.
The 80s was a time of transition for North Melbourne. They went through 4 coaches in that decade. the Kangaroos of the eighties were consistant, but not spectacular, making the finals 5 times.
In 1993, Dennis Pagan took over as coach of the team, leading his Kangaroos to the finals in his first year. North Melbourne, under the captaincy of Wayne Carey won the 1996 premiership over Sydney. This was a special year, the AFL's centennary year. The trophy was gold for this year, instead of the traditional silver. The 'Roos made the Grand Final again in 1998, and dispite being red-hot favourites, inaccuracy cost them, and the Crows ran out winners. The Kangaroos didn't have to wait long for more premiership success though, and racked up their fourth flag the very next year, against Carlton. The Kangaroos of the nineties were arguably as successful as the "Team of the Nineties", the West Coast Eagles.
In recent years, the Kangaroos began an ultimately ill-fated attempt to gain a following in Sydney. This was a spectacular failure. Sydney fans made up the majority of the crowd, and it only seemed to intensify the growing rivalry between the two clubs. The venture was poorly executed, and only succeeded in alienating the Sydney public. In 2001, the Kangaroos sold their Sydney home game to the Swans for some fast cash. This basically made the game a Swans home game, and Swans fans were invited to 'Boo a Roo'. The 'Roos are now looking to Canberra as a new market, where there is no established team to compete with.
2001 saw the Kangaroos miss the finals for the first time since 1992. Some say that the Kangaroos are doomed. this is a little extreme, but there are worrying signs. They're in a rather precarious financial situation, and their onfield form is dissappearing. Their best players are aging rapidly, and they're just not drawing big enough crowds in Melbourne any more. Tough times are ahead for the Kangaroos, assuming they survive.