Playing its first game as Hotham in 1869, North Melbourne is the fourth oldest of the Australian Football League (AFL) clubs. A co-founder of the Victorian Football Association in 1877, the Club went on to win six premierships between 1903 and 1918, two as undefeated champion. The key to the Club's dominance in the latter part of this era was its outstanding ruck combination of Syd Barker, George Rawle and Charlie Hardy. At one stage the team created a record of 49 consecutive wins.
At its third attempt the Club gained entry into the Victorian Football League in 1925, reached the finals in 1945, and adopted the Kangaroo mascot in 1950. With Allen Aylett as president and Ron Joseph as secretary, the Kangaroos put together a team that took off the pennant in 1975 under the astute coaching of Ron Barassi and the strong captaincy of Barry Davis. They repeated this success in 1977 against Collingwood Football Club after a drawn Grand Final.
In 1996, with Ron Casey as president, the Club won the AFL Centenary Premiership under coach Denis Pagan and captain Wayne Carey. Glenn Archer was awarded the Norm Smith Medal for best on ground. Four North players won Brownlow Medals in the 20th century: Noel Teasdale (1965), Keith Greig (1973 and 1974), Malcolm Blight (1978) and Ross Glendinning (1983). Sel Murray was the League's leading goalkicker in 1941, and three others from North Melbourne's ranks have become Coleman Medallists: Doug Wade (1974), Malcolm Blight (1982) and John Longmire (1990).
Playing originally at Royal Park, the Club moved to the North Melbourne Recreation Reserve (popularly known as 'Arden Street') on 29 April 1882. A social club opened there in 1969. The team presently plays its home games at the Docklands stadium.
With variations along the way, North players have worn a royal blue and white striped uniform since 1 May 1886. From 1937 the team's annual champion player has received the Syd Barker Trophy, struck to commemorate its brilliant Association captain who played in four premierships, led the Club to two flags, and returned as coach in 1927.
By 1999, with the old gasometer wing at the Arden Street oval a distant memory, the Club made the decision to play and trade as the Kangaroos and to play select home games in Sydney, and from 2001 in Canberra, in an attempt to broaden its national supporter base. The Kangaroos won their fourth premiership in 1999, with Shannon Grant named Norm Smith Medallist.