In 1969, the VFL competition consisted of twelve teams of 18 on-the-field players each, plus two substitute players, known as the 19th man and the 20th 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; rounds 12 to 20 were the "home-and-away reverse" of rounds 1 to 11.
Once the 20 round home-and-away season had finished, the 1969 VFL Premiers were determined by the specific format and conventions of the Page-McIntyre System.
The reserves premiership was won by Melbourne. Melbourne 12.16 (88) defeated Carlton 8.12 (60) in the Grand Final, held as a curtain-raiser to the seniors Grand Final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 27 September.
The VFL introduced a rule awarding a free kick against a player if he kicked the ball out of bounds on the full. The rule is considered to be a major contributor to an increase in scoring, and an increased prominence of full forwards, by forcing teams to play more direct football – a trend which had also seen under the out-of-bounds rules which were in place during the 1930s. Three full-forwards kicked large hauls of goals in 1969: Doug Wade of Geelong with 127 goals, Peter Hudson of Hawthorn with 120 goals (including 16.1 in Round 5), and Peter McKenna of Collingwood with 98 goals (including 16.4 in Round 19). The VFL was reprimanded for introducing the rule change without the approval of the Australian National Football Council, but there was no further penalty and the rule was soon agreed to at ANFC level.
Prior to the season, Geoff Bryant of Victorian Football Association club Box Hill was cleared to the North Melbourne Football Club. Under a rule that the VFA had introduced in 1967, a transfer fee of $2,000 was set for Bryant's clearance; but, under the Coulter Laws, VFL clubs were forbidden from paying any sort of transfer fee. The VFA formally approved Bryant's clearance, and it initially appeared that it had done so without the transfer fee being paid; but VFA secretary Fred Hill then reported to the press that North Melbourne had indeed secretly paid the transfer fee in defiance of the VFL's rules – and, in fact, Box Hill president Reg Shineberg claimed to have received the fee in cash, under cover of darkness, from a man he did not know. North Melbourne was required to face the VFL arbitrators over the allegations, but charges against the club were dropped when the VFA did not provide any written corroborating evidence. Whether or not the illegal transfer fee was actually paid was never proven.
In Round 2, Carlton set the record for highest score in a game, scoring 30.30 (210) against Hawthorn. This beat Richmond's 38-year-old record, set in the 1931 VFL season, by eleven points. This Carlton record stood for another 9 years, remained unbeaten until the 1978 VFL season.
The lowest score of the season was a record high 6.9 (45). The previous record high lowest score was 42 points in 1943.
In Round 4, Carlton and Collingwood played a tough, spiteful, and vicious match with many brawls at Princes Park. "Percy" Jones of Carlton was reported for striking both Terry Waters and "Jerker" Jenkin of Collingwood during the first quarter; Carlton's Ricky McLean was reported for striking Collingwood's Len Thompson during the first quarter and for striking Collingwood's Brian McKenzie during the last quarter; Ted Potter was reported for striking Carlton's John Nicholls during the last quarter (Nicholls had to leave the field with an eye injury); Len Thompson was reported for striking Carlton's Vin Waite (Carlton's 19th man, who substituted for the injured Nicholls) during the last quarter. Whilst the field umpire (Ray Sleeth) was writing out the match reports he had an extended, heated clash with Carlton president George Harris; the reason for this extended clash was later evident when all of the charges against all of the players were dismissed on a technicality: the umpires had taken too long to inform the club officials of the charges after the final siren had sounded.
In Round 8, Michael Patterson was hit in the face with a football by Carlton trainer, Ron Vincent. The event was immortalised in Mike Brady's football anthem "Up There Cazaly".
On 27 July 1969, Ted Whitten turned 36. The Round 16 Footscray team of twenty contained ten players who had not even been born when Whitten played his first game for Footscray in 1951.
In the First Semi-Final Richmond thrashed Geelong by a VFL semi-final record margin, 25.17 (167) to 7.7 (49) in front of a record crowd of 101,233 spectators.
In the 1969 Grand Final, Ian Owen's Richmond guernsey carried the number 52. There is no record of any Grand Final player carrying a larger number. (Owen played the entire match with a depressed fracture of the cheekbone that he had sustained in the Preliminary Final against Collingwood a week earlier.)
^"Win worth waiting for". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. 29 September 1969. p. 23.
^Stephen Rodgers (1992), Every Game Ever Played (3rd ed.), Viking O'Neil, p. 514
^Scot Palmer (17 March 1970). "Permits: VFA is expelled". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 62.
^Rex Pullen (9 April 1969). "$2000 paid for North star". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. pp. 67–68.
^Kevin Hogan (19 April 1969). "North, secretary to face charges". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 52.
^Bob Crimeen (29 April 1969). "Joseph, club get all clear". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. pp. 55–56.
Hogan, P., The Tigers Of Old, The Richmond Football Club, (Richmond), 1996. ISBN0-646-18748-1
Maplestone, M., Flying Higher: History of the Essendon Football Club 1872-1996, Essendon Football Club, (Melbourne), 1996. ISBN0-9591740-2-8
Rogers, S. & Brown, A., Every Game Ever Played: VFL/AFL Results 1897-1997 (Sixth Edition), Viking Books, (Ringwood), 1998. ISBN0-670-90809-6
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. ISBN0-670-86814-0