Blackburn Football Club (Seniors) History
Juniors History is also below.
There is very little of the club's early history that remains and much is beyond the memory of our oldest members, however it is known that the club held its first official AGM in 1903. It is believed that the club was in existence prior to this and may have started sometime in the early or late 1890's. During the foundation years the club played in the Ringwood Districts Football Association and played on the same oval which is currently used today. Back then there were no fences and the ground was literally a paddock. The local area was mainly bushland with a spattering of farms, orchards and homesteads surrounding the shops alongside the railway line. The mode of transport was steam train, horse & buggy, bicycle or shankes' pony. As the local area grew in numbers so to did the strength of the club. In 1922 the club won its first premiership with the Seniors, a momentous occasion in the area, up there with the electrification of the railway line that same year. The club jumper at the time was black with a red hoop.
The Blackburn area was continuing to grow at a steady rate and some of the more well remembered family names of the area that played during this period were Kiker, Raftis, Henwood, McKirdy, Goodwin, Dashwood, McLellan, Schwab, Rooks, Heppner, Dobson, Collier, Foster and Barrett. These names will conjure up various memories of days long past and it is interesting to note that to this very day some of these names still have an involvement with this club. The highlights of this period were that the club won Senior flags in the RDFA in 1930, 33 and 35. Also winning a Reserves flag in 1936.
Again little is remembered of the history of the club and many memories are clouded by the advent of war and its impact. Many sporting activities were postponed as the young men went off to fight or to work for the war effort. The highlights were that in 1941 the club joined the Eastern Suburbs Football League and were B Grade Premiers that year. The club jumper was black with two vertical stripes as depicted in the team photos but when this change occurred no one can remember or the reasons why. The change-rooms consisted of one large room with a wooden partition and a shower in each section. There was a wood chip heater in the home team rooms and that it was a race to get a hot shower because as soon as the fire went out so did the hot water.
The Blackburn Hotel would donate two bottles of sherry each week, one for the players the other for the sherry thieves, Dick Collier and Butch Schwab. The playing surface on the top oval was gravel and the bottom oval had the first cinder track in Australia. An interesting aside is that East Burwood combined with Blackburn during the early part of this decade due to a shortage of players and reformed in their own right around 1946. Other characters of this time were Mrs Burn who apparently could be heard in Camberwell when anyone went near her son, John. Mrs Yeomans who had a large umbrella and had no hesitation bringing it into use as a weapon, especially if her son Charlie was being unfairly treated.
Back in those times the committee used to select the Best & Fairest Award winner and allegedly the fathers on the committee had many a serious debate about whose son should be the recipient of this most prestigious award.
The club jumper was again black with a red hoop. With no thought of political correctness, this jumper was to endear the club with the nickname the "bloodstained niggers". The senior club played in the ESFL and the juniors played in the Blackburn & Surrounds Football Competition, which was run by the BFC. The club had no proper change rooms and all teams used a tin garden shed, which was roughly 16 x 9 foot. Just enough room to swing a cat!! As Les Millar recalls, after the game if you were muddy you traipsed home in your footy gear carrying your clothes in your bag. Something that even I remember having to do up not so long ago. There were some characters around the club at this time, especially the trainers.
Mr Jones and his "Black Jack" liniment concoction which would burn the skin off you; Dick Collier the sherry thief; Bill Barrett who lived near the roundabout in Railway Road, and if there was a barrel on, it would be at his place; Jeff Charman who was also an ex-player. Other characters of this decade and the next were the canteen ladies, Lorna Paterson, Margaret Matthews, Cath McLellan, Hilda Bruce, Pat Cerche, Marion Peach, Marg Bridgman and Bev Hoskins who set up shop in the grand stand each home game. Blackburn also always had the contract to run the canteen during the finals held at Mitcham, and these ladies worked tirelessly and subsequently contributed so much to the success of the club over these years.
Other football highlights were:
- 1950 ESFL B Grade Premiers
- 1952 ESFL B Grade Premiers
- 1956 ESFL Lightning Premiership
This win was in somewhat bizarre circumstances and for those amongst us who don't know this story, I will read an extract of this as recalled by Bob Hoskins. (refer attachment)
- 1957 BSFC Under 16 Premiers
1957 Club moved into current pavilion, which the club shared with Blackburn United FC who used the bottom oval. Therefore most Saturday's 4 teams occupied these rooms up until the Blackburn United FC disbanded in the late 70's. As you can imagine the wait for the showers after each game would have been a long one.
- 1959 ESFL C Grade Premiers
According to the records, this was the club's most successful decade to date and with this period came much change. The club was quickly growing in strength commensurate with the local community. The senior and junior teams were very competitive and there was some outstanding talent coming through the ranks. Such notables from this period were players such as Bryan Wood, Rod Appleton, Ian Scrimshaw and Ray McMahon who all played VFL football. Other local legends such as Les Millar, George Kane, John Burn, Ron Wood, Keith Sturgeon, Alan Peach, The Cullen boys, the Tierneys too name but a few were emerging and starting out on long careers with the club. The change-room and ground conditions were poor compared to today's standards. The change-rooms became social rooms after the senior game and the old kitchen was the bar and players often served beers still wearing their footy gear. The rooms had to be cleaned and the ladies had to wait out in the cold until all was ready. The club fielded junior sides in both the EDFL and the Blackburn & Districts Football League (old B&SFC) during this decade.
1962 The club joined the Eastern Districts Football League (nee Croydon & FTG Football League) which is now known as the Eastern Football League.
1963 The club changed its strip from the black jumper with the red hoop to the current red and black vertical stripe. The club theme song changed from "Cheer Boys, Cheers we are from Blackburn" to the present day song.
1968 During the 60's the club had requested that a canteen be built by the local council similar to those built at Mitcham and Vermont, which was refused. The club then undertook to build its own canteen and thanks to the efforts of the late George Kane this was completed in 1968.
1969 The club changed its emblem from the "Robins" to the "Panthers". The old Robins emblem is depicted on the club blazer pocket, which is on display along with the club's earlier jumpers, in the trophy cabinet.
The other highlights of this era which give credence to the competitiveness of the club were:
- Juniors - U/17's were runners up in 1969
- U/16's were premiers in 1963, 1966 and 1967
- U/15's were premiers in 1967 & 1969
Reserves played in six grand finals in succession winning in 1965, 66, 69
Seniors - played in 1968 & 1969 grand finals being beaten by East Burwood & Vermont respectively. The Club won the 1st Division Champion Club trophy and from this hoped that the 70's would bring some long overdue senior pemiership success.
The 70's saw the club reach the pinnacle without the success it had cherished and slip down the other side. In 1975 the seniors were poised to win their first ever senior premiership in the EDFL but were denied this opportunity by Mitcham. This began a roller coaster ride for the club over the remainder of the 70's. In 1976 the wheels fell off and the club was demoted to 2nd Division. In 1977 the club managed to win a premiership to regain a berth in 1st Division only to win the wooden spoon again in 1978 to go back into 2nd Division. As previously mentioned the canteen ladies were significant in the success of the club. It would be remiss of me to not acknowledge the contribution of two exceptional ladies, Mary Medson and Aileen Jackson, who took over the reins from the old brigade in the early 70's and are still running the canteen to this very day. Other highlights were:
- 1970 Under 17 premiers, Reserves Runners Up
- 1977 Seniors 2nd Division Premiers
This period started off with a premiership in 1980 and saw the club try to consolidate their position in 1st Division. This was maintained until 1988 when the wooden spoon again ventured to Blackburn and a long residence within 2nd division began. This period also spelled the demise of the juniors and this was to have a profound effect on the club's fortunes. The club rooms and ground conditions were no better than the 60's but with the BUFC disbanding there was scope to utilise the middle change-rooms for social rooms and therefore the mad rush to get showered and to clean the rooms was greatly diminished. The ladies, kids and other supporters no longer had to stand out in the cold and a permanent bar was set up. Sharing the toilets with the players was not a concern for the males but this caused much angst amongst the females and was a constant problem for the club.
The major highlights of this era were the premiership and Champion Club awards in 1980. Another was the scoreboard, which was constructed in 1982, by a group of players and supporters who had volunteered their services.
The club was committed to being competitive in 2nd Division and again return to 1st Division. With some great work by the committee the junior sides again graced the park and the resurgence of younger families in the Blackburn area helped with this program.
The club realised that without the youth coming through and with the extra financial burden of recruiting players and ever increasing costs the future would not be rosy. The establishment of the under 18's was integral to future senior teams and this was highlighted by the commitment of many older players to play reserves football and give the young blokes some guidance and confidence to continue their football careers. The fruits of this were delivered with the Reserves winning back to back premierships in 1995 & 1996. The junior club had continued to grow over the years since its reformation, which culminated in them winning the 1999 Junior Champion Club award. The juniors now boast teams in age groups from under 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 16. Another fine achievement of the club was the number of players who went on to play over 300 EFL games with Blackburn. These guys began their junior football careers in the 70's and 80's and went on to play another 18 odd years in the seniors.
The other highlight of this period was the commitment to upgrading the sporting facilities at Morton Park by the WCC. This enabled the horrendous playing conditions of the past to be mere recollections as necessary funds were granted to install new drainage and to resurface the oval. Also during this decade the Council had provided funds for new lights and new perimeter fencing which no doubt brought Morton Park on par with the other ovals in the municipality.
This period is still in its infancy but a special mention should be given to those that were involved in the redevelopment of the social rooms and change rooms. These have and will continue to provide a first class facility for all players, members and supporters of the BFC to enjoy and cherish for decades to come.
Other highlights of recent times are the continued improvements shown by all teams both junior and senior within the EFL competition and by the respective committees in the administration and the advancement of aussie rules football within the local community.
I would like to acknowledge the contributions of Ron Eade, Bob Hoskins and Les Millar in helping me with the writing of this brief history. Thanks gentlemen.
In closing, to all those unsung heroes and heroines of the past, be it players, coaches, trainers, supporters, committee members, canteen ladies, gatekeepers, team managers, timekeepers, goal umpires, boundary umpires, whatever, thank you for your commitment to ensuring the continued existence and prosperity of this great football club. To those currently taking up the challenge and those who will in the future, again thank you, congratulations on your wonderful work and hopefully your hard yakka will eventually lead to some more silverware, flags and most of all fond memories.
In 2002, the Club had a wonderful year culminating in the winning of both the Reserves and Senior premierships. This enabled the Club to return to the premier division of the Eastern Football League being First Division.
Over the past three seasons the Seniors have had limited success but the Reserves and Under 18s have generally been very competitive.
Blackburn Football Club - Juniors History
To make the Blackburn Football Club Juniors the preferred place for the children of Blackburn and adjoining suburbs to develop their football skills and play football in an environment that encourages the involvement of their families
Blackburn Football Club has a history of almost 100 years involvement in senior football but its participation in junior football has been a little less solid. This has been due to the changing demographics of the area and the shortage of volunteers, which adversely affects so many community organisations.
The resurgence of junior football at Blackburn Football Club in the 1990's has had much to do with the parents of the children attending St Thomas the Apostle Primary School. In 1990, a group of dedicated parents lead by Gary Bartling and including Paul Dillon, Tony Dickinson, Steve Jarvis, Trevor Foster, Pat Crowe and John Cousland, wanted to provide an opportunity for their children to continue playing football in the local area. The children had initially started their footballing careers during their time at St Thomas' and wished to continue playing after they left grade 6. The Parents approached Blackburn Football Club and were provided with jumpers and facilities in order to be able to field an under 13 team in the Knox Junior Football League. This one team progressed through the age groups in the League. An under 14 team was initiated in the eastern Football League in 1993 and an under16 team the following year. Under 12 and 10 teams followed in 1996. In 1999 it was realised that an under 9 team was required to ensure that children could start their careers at Blackburn Football Club in the same way as occurs in other strong EFL clubs. An under 11 team was commenced in 2000 and an under 13 team in 2002 as a result of the influx of younger age players.
The club now has approximately 220 children playing football in under 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 teams on Sunday mornings. The club also runs the Auskick Program for approx 100 children on Sunday mornings.
In 2004 the Juniors won their first premiership in the modern era when the Under 12B and Under 14B teams both won their Grand Finals. In 2005 these teams spearheaded the club into A Grade and the Under 13A Team went all the way again for the club's first A Grade Premiership. In 2006 for the first time the U16s played in the top A grade and did well enough to go down in the first semi final to Wantirna Sth. Both the 12A and 14A teams played off for the premiership - the 12A team going down in extra time after the match was level at full time to the Rowville Hawks. The 14A team had to get to the GF the tough way from 4th but lost a hard fought Grand Final to arch rivals North Ringwood who were too strong on the day. Still two Premierships and a Runners Up is a great haul over three years from this team.
Blackburn Juniors again won "The Gordon Parker Award" for the Best Conducted Junior Club in the EFL in 2005. This follows on from the 1999 Award.
The future of the Juniors looks positive provided the stamina of the volunteers keeps up with the current demographics which are providing many children with a strong interest in playing football with Blackburn.