In The Beginning
Back in the 1922 the Diamond Valley Football League consisted of six teams, Greensborough, Diamond Creek, Templestowe, Eltham, Warrandyte and Kangaroo Ground. In 1923 Heidelberg and Hurstbridge joined the League and by the end of that year the Captain of Greensborough, Harold Hodgson, decided to give away playing for Greensborough and attempted to form a team from Montmorency.
In early 1924 Harold gathered together all those who were interested and a meeting was held on the property owned by Fred Squire. At this meeting the Montmorency Football Club was officially formed and the inaugural office bearers were: PRESIDENT PETER MCDONALD, SECRETARY LEN REID, TREASURER WALLY SIMONDSON (Snr). Even without a football ground to play on or a place to call "home" the new club had its meetings wherever it could, even reportedly in the shed at the Montmorency train station.
Having found enough players to form a side, the next task was to find a ground to play on. The only nearby vacant ground was the top oval at Greensborough, now known as Memorial Park! The very ground Greensborough now calls home. (Greensborough at that time played down on the river flats at the Riverside Cricket Ground). Montmorency Football Club applied to the council for permission to use the vacant ground and in 1924 permission was granted and so the ground was hired for use in "social" games. As Montmorency Football Club had not yet been admitted to the DVFL, for the 1924 season Montmorency played against the DVFL teams that had a bye.
Meanwhile behind the scenes a lot of work was being done by the ladies to raise money for the club, (has anything changed since 1924!), so as to purchase the first Montmorency Football Club jumpers. Primarily, Mrs.Elsie Hodgson, Mrs. Simondson (Snr) and Mrs. Collard decided to go on a door knock campaign asking for donations. This proved to be very successful, and after walking the Montmorency area in all weather conditions, enough money was raised to purchase the first set of Montmorency Football Club jumpers, a Green and Yellow vertical striped jumper!
In 1925 the club applied to join the DVFL and was admitted, with conditions imposed by the DVFL. At that time in Melbourne all leagues and clubs were zoned as to where the players could come from to play for each team. Montmorency was deemed a neutral zone before the formation of the football club and one of the conditions placed on Montmorency Football Club was that it had to remain a neutral zone. This meant that Eltham and Greensborough could still recruit from Montmorency while Montmorency could not recruit from either Eltham or Greensborough. Also in 1925, Greensborough wanted Memorial Park as their home ground, which they got, meaning Montmorency was now an official DVFL club, but a club without a permanent ground to call home thanks to Greensborough. (The rivalry seems to have started before our first official game!) The new club had to compete for players with Eltham and Greensborough while not having any "home" facilities to sell to potential players and the first Montmorency sides were made up of youngsters and inexperienced players which meant Montmorency was starting with an equivalent of a C Grade side.
At the end of the 1925 season Harold Hodgson set out to do something about obtaining a ground in Montmorency. As captain and coach he realised that to be competitive the club needed a "home" ground. He approached Councillor Jessop, who was an estate agent in the area, and the only suitable land available was a paddock owned by the Thorpe's (Where Oval No 1 now is) for 1050 Pounds and the adjoining paddock owned by the Anderson's which had a 650 Pounds price on it. There was another block further along the river towards Greensborough, but when the owners heard it was to be used as a football ground the price raised from 800 Pounds to 1500 Pounds!
It was decided that the club would try and arrange purchase of the properties at a total price of 1700 Pounds; next problem was raising the funds. After speaking with Councillor Jessop it was decided to draw up a petition asking the rate payers to pay three pence in the Pound on the value of their properties. All bar one resident agreed. The proposal was then submitted to the Montmorency Progress Association, but they wanted nothing to do with it so Harold decided to submit the proposal directly to the Eltham Council.
It was not long after this that Harold received a telegram asking him to meet with Councillors Price and Rutter, and the shire engineer Ben Johnson. At this meeting the suggestion was made that the best place for an oval would be on the property owned by Mr. Petrie, these days called Petrie Park. Harold argued that the property down on the Plenty River would be a better proposition, because it would be much easier and cheaper to excavate. After much haggling and arguing a decision was made to purchase the two adjoining river properties for 1700 Pounds. At last Montmorency Football Club had a home.
The 1926 season saw a young, inexperienced club unfortunately lose every game at its new home ground. By the end of the 1929 season Harold retired from football and the club leaving the club in an improved position in the DVFL compared to the start it had. With the retirement of Harold, a man with passion that helped form the club, the club quickly fell away and by the start of the 1931 season the club was broke and unable to form a side subsequently pulling out of the DVFL.
Fortunately this was not the end. Prior to the 1936 season, Councillor Fred Squire, a well known Montmorency identity with a love for football approached Harold and asked him if he would help re-form the club. Not wishing to see all the initial work done by himself and the original Montmorency Football Club committee go to waste, Harold was more than willing to help get the club started again. With Fred Squire as President, Ted Hooper as Secretary and Wally Simondson (Snr) as Treasurer the club rejoined the DVFL in 1935. Harold came out of retirement as a player and continued playing till 1939.