Ben Marsh kicks foward

Football had certainly been played in Garfield well before the Garfield Stars Football Club was formed, and joined the West Gippsland Football Association, in 1935. As early as 1895 a team representing the town engaged in a match against Berwick, and during the early part of the twentieth century a Garfield Football Club competed for a time in an earlier incarnation of the West Gippsland Football Association. The club was eventually barred from the competition for fielding unregistered players.

As far as the Stars are concerned, success was quick in arriving as they defeated Nar Nar Goon in the grand final in their second season. Three years later, they again contested the grand final, but lost to Bunyip. Over the next couple of decades the Stars developed an unfortunate habit of fighting their way through to the ultimate match of the season, only to lose. They did this in 1944, 1952, 1960 and 1962 before breaking through for their second flag in 1963. They actually contested five grand finals in a row between 1962 and 1966, winning in 1963 against Pakenham, 1964 against Nar Nar Goon, and 1966 versus Drouin. The Garfield teams of this era were renowned for their toughness, passion for the club, and tremendous team spirit, and were strongly instrumental in forging the club’s unique and proud character.

After struggling for most of the 1970s the Stars re-emerged as a force at the beginning of the next decade, contesting consecutive preliminary finals in 1980 and 1981 before claiming a long overdue premiership in 1983, at the expense of Drouin.

Garfield’s sides of the early 1990s were among the best to have represented the club and reached three consecutive grand finals from 1992 to 1994, winning the last two. The Stars again contested a grand final in 2001, the WGFL’s last season, but lost to Beaconsfield by 58 points.

In 2002 the WGFL merged with the Gippsland-Latrobe Football League, and the West Gippsland Latrobe Football League was born. Between 2002 and 2004 the competition was split into Premier and Western Divisions, with the Stars competing in the latter. In 2004, they won the premiership of this division.

In 2005 the WGFL was restructured as a nine club single division league with Garfield finishing sixth that year, seventh in 2006, third in 2007, and sixth in 2008.

The 2010 season saw Garfield moving on to pastures new in the shape of the Ellinbank and District Football League where they have contested three grand finals and twice enjoyed premiership success. In 2011 they accounted for Neerim Neerim South in the grand final by 31 points, 8.11 (59) to 3.10 (28). The following season saw the boot firmly on the other foot as Garfield succumbed to Bunyip on grand final day by 29 points. In 2013 the Stars made it three grand final appearances in succession and made amends for the previous season’s disappointment by overcoming Bunyip by 10 points, 10.12 (72) to 8.14 (62). Since then their fortunes have declined somewhat, and in 2016 they missed the finals for the first time.

John Devaney – Full Points Publications

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