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50 years on: The Queen at the VFL, the day Sunday footy was born

John Northey is not a romantic type.

Premiership player for the Tigers, revered former coach of Melbourne who also had stints at Sydney, Richmond and Brisbane, “Swooper” was a hard man in his hey day.

Queen Elizabeth meets Fitzroy players during the first VFL match played on a Sunday, on April 5, 1970.

Queen Elizabeth meets Fitzroy players during the first VFL match played on a Sunday, on April 5, 1970.Credit:The Age

But the football great is quick to chuckle when asked about the first Sunday game in VFL/AFL history – a match scheduled on the day of rest to accommodate a royal visit – that has its 50-year anniversary on Sunday.

The round one match played on April 5, 1970 had a 40-minute half-time break while Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne had a cavalcade, were introduced to the players from Richmond and Fitzroy on the ground one by one and the Tigers unfurled their 1969 premiership flag.

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