top of page

It took 10 years of arguments and lobbying but once it was introduced it was the change that left no club untouched. Hawthorn’s golden era, the Colliwobbles; St Kilda’s lost dynasty; the Blues bounce-back; the Bombers grounded; the Demons’ long drought; the Kangaroos’ first flags; they all owe something to the change in recruiting rules introduced in 1967.


It started in 1957 with the League administrators frustrated with their one-sided competition dominated by the Magpies, Bombers and Demons. 


Ian Munro set out to understand what pitched the Demons into decades of mediocrity and uncovered the decision that changed the destiny of every Victorian club. Country zoning was supposed to make the competition more even. It failed, lifting a few clubs to greatness while condemning more to hopelessness. In ‘Between the Flags’ its impact is fully analysed for the first time.


“Collingwood and Richmond have every right to be filthy on it. They got Mildura and the Western Border League. It was an uneven playing field and it was made even worse with all the travel. St Kilda went to Moorabbin to get the southern country. The other clubs worked out St Kilda’s plan of heading south and into south-west Gippsland (through) Cranbourne.” 


Stuart Trott, 159 games St Kilda, 41 games Hawthorn


“Ian Munro’s work is a magnificent review of all the trials and tribulations at Melbourne in the 57 years between premierships, culminating in the 2021 flag."


Mike Sheahan, journalist 

"Between The Flags" tracks the Melbourne Demon’s demise from a once-dominant powerhouse in the VFL competition to a straggler merely making up the numbers, while also plotting the club’s attempts to restore its fortunes ahead of their 2021 drought breaking premiership.


The result of hours of painstaking research and interviews with dozens of former Melbourne players and officials, as well as Victorian football identities from other clubs, the book recalls the club’s golden era and reveals the changes that brought Melbourne undone.


That includes an unprecedented analysis of how the zoning of country districts in 1967 helped to transform the VFL competition, advantaging some clubs at the expense of others.

“Norm was thumping the table saying that Melbourne had to change their stance on the recruitment of players.”


Hassa Mann, captain 1965-68. 


“Finally there was joy and relief in 2021 for Demons supporters after a wait of 57 years. Ian Munro takes us on a fascinating, forensically researched journey to understand how they got there and why it took so long."


Peter Wilmoth, journalist and third generation Melbourne supporter.


"Between The Flags" was born of the author’s wish to understand how the dominant Melbourne Football Club he grew up with was pitched into decades of failure and frustration. 


The club’s struggles through the 1970s and 1980s are related through interviews with former players and officials including Ray Biffin, Paul Callery, Frank Davis, Steven Smith, Dick Seddon, Cameron Schwab and Bob Skilton.


But the book also pays tribute to the club’s revival along the way, recording the wild charge back into finals contention in the late-1980s, the near misses that followed under coaches John Northey and Neale Daniher, and the very real, but thwarted promise of Neil Balme’s 1994 team. Former football manager for Neale Daniher, Danny Corcoran outlines the unique challenges the team faced.

“We were just a group of guys who were coached by a hard, hungry coach who wanted to get the best out of his teams, and he had a group of players who would scratch and fight to win as well”

Todd Viney on the John Northey era.


A focus on the failed merger with Hawthorn in 1996 reveals the inside story of the Demon Alternative anti-merger faction’s fight for the club’s independence, how it grew from a meeting of two dozen people in a suburban office to a chanting throng at the Dallas Brooks Hall.


“I had no remorse for the booing and the words that came out of my mouth.

They expected people to sit there and to listen politely.”


Harry Laumets, lifelong fan, on the merger meeting.


The account of former president Jim Stynes’ attempt to rebuild the club carries the story forward to the appointment of Paul Roos as coach. Former players Bernie Vince and Daniel Cross offer fresh insight into how Roos’ impacted the playing group and how the club managed the transition to Roos’ successor, Simon Goodwin.

"Between The Flags" concludes with an account of the triumphant 2021 season which ended the Melbourne Football Club’s wilderness years.


"It had Melbourne supporters thinking they were going to lose, and all of a sudden that excitement as they took that initiative back and won in fine fashion. It's a little bit unique in that respect. I am just pleased the spell is broken."


Four time premiership player (1955-6 & 1959-60) Clyde Laidlaw on the 2021 Grand Final


“After 57 years of pain, it’s coming home!”

Max Gawn, premiership captain.

Sales from this website are temporarily suspended.

We expect to resume taking orders for supply of
'Between The Flags' in June.

In the meantime, 'Between The Flags' is available for purchase from the retail outlets listed below.

Online price includes postage & handling Australia-wide

For postage-free bulk or group purchases

or media or any other enquires...

Payment Methods 

Paypal • Stripe



The Demon Shop (Brunton Avenue, MCG)

The Avenue Bookstore (Albert Park, Elsternwick, Richmond)

Readings (Carlton, Hawthorn, Emporium etc)

Ulysses Bookstore (1/498 Hampton Street, Hampton)

Beaumaris Books (South Concourse, Beaumaris)

Ashburton Cards & Lotto (243 High Street, Ashburton)

Dymocks Tooronga Village (766 Toorak Road, Glen Iris)



Bookish (358 Hargreaves Street, Bendigo)

Collins Booksellers: 
(262 Maude Street, Shepparton; 159 Liebig Street, Warrnambool; 6/27 Evans Street, Sunbury)


Dillons Bookshop (160-166 The Parade, Norwood)


"Ian Munro provides a fascinating insight into the red and blue world, as well as how the machinations of assorted governing bodies have influenced all clubs throughout the game’s existence. His love for the Melbourne Football Club
is, of course, a significant bonus."

Dr Lynda Carroll, Melbourne Football Club historian

DOWNLOAD PDF OF FULL BOOK REVIEW in the MCC 'The Yorker' magazine


About the Author


Ian Munro is a writer with more than thirty years experience in journalism with The Herald and Weekly Times (Sun News-Pictorial) and Fairfax (The Sunday Age and The Age). He is a former New York correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald and was press secretary to the Premier of Victoria (1989-92). He is the co-author, with Gary Tippet, of two true crime volumes - Writing On Gravestones (Harper Collins 2001) and Lives Of Crime (Harper Collins 2008) and a contributor to Footy In The 1960s (Hardie Grant 2003). He is a lifelong supporter of the Melbourne Football Club, with the psychological scars to prove it.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this book, except where otherwise assigned, are those of the author alone and do not reflect the views, opinions or policies of the Melbourne Football Club or its current officers or employees.

bottom of page