At the start of 1948, it was widely agreed – by supporters of 11 of the 12 VFL teams – that something had to be done about those arrogant Essendon supporters. Their recently acquired nickname of the “Bombers” (thanks to the aerodrome located in their suburb), the lofty heights of Windy Hill (boasting the highest elevation of any club ground in the competition) and on-field success had made them pretty bloody close to insufferable. Worse than Collingwood supporters in 1930, even, and that’s a benchmark few annoying bastards ever reach.
So, surreptitiously, a place to move them all to was sought. The League had been looking to expand eastward for years (Hawthorn was the easternmost team – and their home ground was less than five miles from the city as the hawk flies), so they were on board with the scheme. It simply remained to find a place to put the team, and wait for their supporters to follow. Several candidates were considered, but in the end, a large tract of land beyond Templestowe was chosen. In preparation for its new role, it was renamed Donvale (with multiple puns attendant in those seven letters), although publicly, the story was that the name simply referred to neighbouring Doncaster.
All was in preparation for the announcement to be made shortly after the 1948 Grand Final, which the Bombers were odds on favourites to win. It was even planned that the move would be presented as a reward. But in the end, it proved unnecessary. Events (and the Melbourne Demons) conspired to teach Essendon a lesson in humility. On October 2, 1948, Melbourne kicked 10.9.69 to Essendon’s 7.27.69, the first time the VFL Grand Final had ever been a tie. In the replay the following week, a resurgent Melbourne thumped Essendon by 39 points, clinching the premiership. Never before had any team been so embarrassed in defeat, tormented by the knowledge that any of 27 kicks could have won the game the first time around, had they just been straight and true. Essendon was so humiliated that the colours of black and red almost entirely disappeared from the suburbs, and under the circumstances, it was decided to be gracious in victory. The Dons would remain at Windy Hill, but Donvale’s name was now set in stone.
Suburbs near Donvale: