History of The Saints.
In May 2004 a group of die-hard AFL supporters met at The Empire Hotel in Inverell to discuss the possibility of forming an AFL team in Inverell. The group then formed a steering committee and through publicity, particularly on local radio and in the local press, we found a ground swell of interest. With the assistance of the AFL's Chris McKinley a development day was held in Inverell in October where 64 people turned up to have a kick and receive some tips on how to play the game.
During the off-season the Saints worked with the Inverell Sports Council and Inverell Shire Council to secure a home ground (Varley Oval) and then went about appointing a coach in the experienced Dick Gleeson and he, in turn, put together a side made of experienced players and players who had never played AFL before. The club had a healthy and competitive side and we looked to consolidate the club in the Tamworth AFL during the 2005 season and we worked hard to achieve success as a club both on and off the field.
The inaugural committee elected were- President- Gerry Taveira, Secretary- Chris Howie (resigned due to a move in work), Josephine Gillespie (resigned due to a move in work), George Holder (June 2005) Treasurer- Katie Howie (resigned due to a move in husbands work), Darrell Benfield, Publicity Officer- Peter Diskon, General Committee- Dick Gleeson, Paul Cocoran, Bernice Corcoran (resigned due to other commitments), Darren Bailey, John Williams, George Holder, Marion Benfield, Darrell Benfield, Scott Wilson, Fraser Hughes, Craig Hallam. Coach- Dick Gleeson.
2005 saw the Saints play the for the first time. We also named our inaugural captain Hugh Stone. With our first home game against the Narrabri Eagles the Saints won by 35 points. We had a very successful first season winning 8 games and finishing the home and away games in fourth place. That saw the Saints travel to the Muswellbrook Cats to play in the elimination final in our first season, a huge effort. Unfortunately we lost this game, but to finish fourth was a great start for the Saints.
We also managed to get several Junior games for the year against the two Tamworth sides. This was a good start towards pushing for a junior competition in 2006.
Award winners for 2005 were: McDonalds Best and Fairest- Luke Selig, Empire Hotel Runner Up- Hugh Stone, Most Consistent- Fraser Hughes & Tony Halloran, Caltex Junction Service Station Leading Goal Kicker 42 goals- Mick Viney, Coach's Award- John Kennedy, Most Games Played- Bruce Wall & Mick Viney, The Inverell Jewellers Player of the Week Pewter- Tony Halloran, Player of the Final- Alex Walker, Junior of The Year- Dan Corcoran, Club Person Of The Year- Darrell "Fridge" Benfield, Coach's Appreciation Award- Dick Gleeson, TAFL Medallions - TAFL Team Of The Year, Hugh Stone - Centre half forward, Fraser Hughes - Centre.
At the AGM the following committee was elected for 2006- President- Gerry Taveira, Vice President- Darren Bailey, Secretary- Marion Benfield, Treasurer- Darrell Benfield, Publicity Officer- Peter Diskon, General Committee- Dick Gleeson, Paul Retallack, Graham McKenzie, Paul Cocoran. Coach 2006- Dick Gleeson. Captain 2006- Fraser Hughes. Juniors Coach 2006- Darren Bailey.
The Saints welcomed on board a new major sponsor in the Imperial Hotel.
The Saints looked forward to a big 2006. Due to outside factors our first three games were all away. Winning our first game against the Narrabri Eagles, we then had back to back trips to Tamworth losing both games. Our first home game made local history being the first game of AFL under lights in Inverell. In a very entertaining game that ended in the Saints loss to the Nomads by 2 points, our season was on the line.
We then travelled to Gunnedah for the first of 3 big wins to get our season back on track and saw us finish third in our second season. In the finals for a second year in a row, the Saints earned a home elimination final against the Tamworth Kangaroos. This was a great game, with the Saints winning by 55 points, putting us into our first Preliminary final. Unfortunately, this was a disaster for the Saints - losing to the eventual premiers, the Tamworth Swans, by 114 points.
The June long weekend saw the Saints host the Inter-league Carnival between the TAFL, Summerland League and AFL North Coast. Although the weather was not kind to us it was a successful weekend for the Saints with the TAFL playing AFL North Coast in the final on Sunday. Unfortunately, we lost the game in the last quarter.
The Junior Saints however, playing in their first season, went from strength to strength. The inaugural captain for our Juniors was Tom Retallack. The only team they had trouble with all year was the Kangaroos. But that all changed in the grand final with the Junior Saints beating the Kangaroos by 73 Points. Joel Fleming was the star with 8 goals from centre half forward. With this win the future of the Saints looks strong.
Award winners for 2006 were:
Juniors: Seaton Tollis Memorial Saints Junior Best & Fairest- Joe Kimmence, Bill Sutton InsuranceManagement Runner Up- Alex Dasey, Most Consistent- Mick Corcoran, Goal Kicking- Joe Kimmence 22 goals, Coaches Award- Tem Cavanagh, Encouragement Award- Kye Bailey, Player of the Finals- Peter Saunders, Player of the Grand Final- Joel Fleming.
Seniors: McDonalds Best and Fairest- Fraser Hughes, Wade Street Meats Runner Up- Jono Elphick, Connery Cycles & SportsPower Most Consistent- Dave Kent, Caltex Junction Service Station Leading Goal Kicker 57 goals- Mick Viney, Coach's Award- Adam "Roons" Rooney, Most Games Played- Bruce Wall, Mick Viney, Matt Harrison & Gary Hadland, The Inverell Jewellers Player of the Week Pewter- Jono Elphick, Player of the Finals- Dick Gleeson, Club Person Of The Year- Scott "Wilso" Wilson, TAFL Medallions - TAFL Team Of The Year, Jono Elphick- Centre half forward, Shaun Mansbridge- Half Forward Flank, Mick Viney- Full Forward, Dave Kent- Interchange Bench, Gary Hadland- Interchange Bench & Joel Fleming- Interchange Bench.
At the AGM the following committee was elected 2007- President- Gerry Taveira, Vice President- Darren Bailey, Secretary- Marion Benfield, Treasurer- Graham McKenzie (resigned), (Replaced by) Darrell Benfield, Publicity Officer- Peter Diskon, General Committee- Dick Gleeson, Paul Retallack, Scott Wilson, Matt Harrison. Coach 2007- Dick Gleeson. Captain 2007- Jason Gobbert.
The Saints were determined to make 2007 a great year from the start and put the Preliminary Final, 114 point loss to the Tamworth Swans, of 2006 behind them. We opened season the season against the 2006 Premiers, the Tamworth Swans, in Tamworth. Still feeling the pain of our last game against them, we defeated them by 39 points.
We then played Gunnedah in our first home game of the season, under lights.This game set new heights for the Saints, kicking their highest score ever 30-22-202 and greatest winning margin 163 points.
Our next 2 games were against the Tamworth Kangaroos, in Tamworth, and the New England Nomads, under lights in Inverell. We won these games by 40 and 55 points respectively.
The next game of the season saw us take on the Muswellbrook Cats.These games against them are always good ones and this one certainly didn't disappoint.It was a very windy day and kicking goals was more of an art form and the Saints fought out their closest win of the season.
The final game of the first round saw us travel to Narrabri and take yet another win, this time by 122 points which meant we were so far undefeated and had kicked more than 100 points in every game as well.
The second round of the season saw us remain undefeated with two games won by forfeits.We again kicked over 100 points in every game with the game against the Swans won by 112 points, even though the game was cut short due to a gas leak at the Inverell Pool.We also won in Muswellbrook for the first time by a whopping 91 points.
Our final 3 games of the Home and Away season saw us beat the Swans in Tamworth by 154 points, the Kangaroos at home by 111 points and the Nomads in Armidale by 34 points.The Nomads game was actually a lot closer than it looked. The Nomads were in front at half time and kept the Saints to 93 points and was the only time that the Saints kicked less than 100 for the year.
In the Major Semi we hosted the Cats and knowing that finals are a whole new ball game we were expecting a very hard, physical game and we were not mistaken. The Cats were leading by 10 points at half time and coach Dick Gleeson gave his players a good old fashioned spray for the first time in 3 seasons.It worked, and the Saints won by 38 points.The Cats kicked an astounding 11 goals straight.
Now we were in our first Grand Final and hosting it as well.This was a great day with a record crowd for a TAFL Grand Final - about 2500 people.The Saints jumped out of the blocks in the first quarter and led by 24 points at the end of it.Every time the Saints looked to kick away in the second quarter the Kangaroos would fight back and in the end won it by a point, going in at half time down by 23 points.The Roos kept coming at the Saints in the third quarter and cut the margin to less than 2 goals before the Saints steadied and finished the quarter 12 points in front.The last quarter was our most exciting all year, with the Roos hitting the front for the first time at the 10 minute mark.Then our inspirational captain, Jason Gobbert, stood up kicking a goal just when it was needed despite playing injured with a torn groin muscle.And the work that Best on Ground, Tony Halloran, put in and his 4 goals sealed the game for us and our perfect, undefeated season was complete.
Award winners for 2007 were:
Seniors: Best and Fairest- Tony Halloran, Runner Up- Stewart Walker, Most Consistent- Joe Kimmince, Leading Goal Kicker 44 goals- Alex Walker, Coach's Award- Nathan Cox, The Player of the Week Pewter- Tony Halloran and Stewart Walker, Player of the Finals- Tony Halloran, Club Person Of The Year- Marion Benfield, The Roons Award (Most Determined)- Cory Borthwick TAFL Representative Players- Alex Walker, Nathan Munro, Alex Dasey, Joe Kimmince, Peter Dunlop, Fraser Hughes, Coach Dick Gleeson and Trainer Darrell Benfield.Seaton Tollis Award (Junior Best and Fairest)- Alex Dasey, Junior Runner Up- Sam Kimmince
At the AGM the following committee was elected 2008- President- Gerry Taveira, Vice President- Darren Bailey, Secretary- Marion Benfield, Treasurer- Irene Dasey, Publicity Officer- Peter Diskon, General Committee- Dick Gleeson, Scott Wilson, Matt Harrison, Darrell Benfield. Coach 2008- Dick Gleeson & Shaun Mansbridge. Captain 2008- Jason Gobbert.
The Inverell Saints of 2008 started the season with the foreign concept of being the hunted, not the hunter. After the amazing success of 2007, confidence was high and winning had become a habit. This was never more evident than at the start of the season at the Tablelands Cup in the pre-season, where the Saints took a young, vastly understrength side and went within a whisker of taking the title off the Nomads.
The season proper started with a bang, with a good win over the Swans, however the game all the players were looking forward to was a Grand Final rematch under lights at Varley. The match proved a huge success, and in front of a big crowd the Saints made it two from two and were away for season 2008. Wins against the Nomads and Cats saw the Saints make it 23 wins on the trot, before coming crashing down to earth in bizarre circumstances at Gunnedah, losing by 1 point to the Dogs. Injuries and suspensions threatened to derail the campaign, but the Saints held firm, losing only one more match for the season, a 3 point thriller to the Roos at Tamworth. The Saints earnt the right to host the Major Semi, finishing top on percentage, but went into game with little match practice and were sorely underdone, beaten comprehensively by the Roos by 53 points. Facing the prospect of going straight out of the finals, and with several injury and illness concerns, the Saints produced one of their finest games in the short history of the club to take down the Nomads to earn another tilt at the Roos in the Grand Final.
The match lived up to the billing, and despite being 6 goals down half way through the second quarter, the Saints rallied and took the lead mid way through the last and looked headed towards consecutive championships. However, as has been with all the clashes between these teams in the last 2 seasons, another turn in momentum saw the Roos come all over the top of the Saints and claim the premiership.
The pain on all the players face was evident, and will provide the motivation for years to come. Despite the loss, it was another successful season for a club still in it's infancy stages.
The annual presentation night saw many worthy award winners, and also another piece of history for the club. The best and fairest award went right down to the wire, before being eventually declared as a tie between captain Jono Elphick and Chris Whitton. Alex Dasey finished runner up in the voting, with Darren Pithers awarded the Most Consistent player. Mick Viney was once again the top goal scorer and Dick Gleeson awarded club person of the year. There was also a special presentation to the players who have reached 50 games for the club; Mick Viney, Gary Hadland, Shaun Mansbridge, Peter Dunlop, Bruce Wall and Matt Harrison.
The Saints had the memory of the Grand Final defeat to push them through the 2009 season, however the club struggled to make an early impact in the TAFl competition. Despite a strong outfit, the Saints fell to their worst start at 4 wins and 3 losses after a close loss in Gunnedah against the Bulldogs and the season was on the line early. At the conclusion of the match, coach Darren Bailey resigned his post and was replaced by Peter Heath, who bought with him plenty of experience and knowledge. The Saints turned their year around and were able to finish in second place behind the Roos, but a courageous win in the Major Semi saw the Saints host their second TAFL Grand Final against the Tamworth Swans.
Another thrilling match ensued, with the Swans taking a commanding lead early, only for the Saints to fight back and get within a straight kick in the last quarter. However the Swans had too many answers and took the title leaving the Saints to finish second again.
Beau Ryan capped a fantastic season taking out the Saints Best and Fairest with Peter Heath the runner up.
It was a vastly different side that took to the field in 2010 for the Saints. Under new coach Nick Baird, the Saints saw 10 different players make their debut, but the mix of youth and experience was a success for the Saints as they went through the regular season with just one loss, in Tamworth to the Roos. This meant the Saints sealed their third minor premiership, but it all meant nothing if they couldn't convert it on the big day. But first they had to get over the Roos in the Major Semi Final and the match was yet another thriller, with the Saints getting out to a five goal lead in the last quarter, only for the Roos to come back hard, getting within a kick with less than 2 minutes to play. A late goal from Jason Gobbert sealed the win and the Saints were in their 4th consecutive GF.
The big day was a warm sunny one, but inches of rain in the days previous made Varley Oval very wet and slippery under foot. The Saints put together some of their best patches of football for the year, and despite a slip up in the second quarter, the Saints never relinquished the lead in the match and ran out 22 point winners. It was a long night of celebration as the Saints put to rest two years of disappointment and claimed their second premiership flag.
Corey Wheeler completed the league and club best and fairest double, proving himself to be one of the best pick ups in Saints history. Jono Elphick was rewarded with runner up in the B&F whilst Captain Chris Whitton received the Most Consistent award. Mick Viney was once again top goal kicker, whilst Mitch Hall was elected Best First Year player.
Saints would go into season without 2010 B&F Corey Wheeler but saw the debut of many players including Russell Brien, Toby Tollis, Hamish Bird and Mitch Black.
The season would start well but would end in sadness with the Saints making yet another Grand Final, only to be beaten comprehensively by their arch nemesis the Tamworth Kangaroos at No 1 oval.
The defeat would end the reign of Coach Nick Baird and Captain Chris Whitton.
A new Coach and captain brought an air of freshness to the Saints looking to rebound after the previous years' Grand Final.
Coach Jason Gobbert enforced a strong fitness campaign which seemed to help the Saints in the early rounds of the 2012 season. Add Justin Pay as Captain and a 6'5 ruckman from down south to the mix , the Saints would rattle minor premiers the New England Nomads in the major semi to once again host the TAFL Grand Final.
The GF was one to bottle as both teams gave their all for three quarters with one point separating the teams into the last break. Unfortunately, the Nomads finished full of running and would claim the premiership.
This season would take on a familiar tale. The Saints would struggle against the New England Nomads who quickly became their bogie side. Along the way, the Saints had some memorable wins including the come from behind win against the Gunnedah Bulldogs in Narrabri where they were down by five goals at the last break to come home with a wind in their sails to win.
The year saw the coming of age of youngsters Hamish Bird, Toby Tollis and Mitch Hall. The Club would welcome Hayden Chappell, an accomplished and talented midfielder from Victoria.
Once again, The Saints qualified for the Grand Final and a meeting against the Nomads in Armidale. After kicking the first goal of the game, injuries took their toll on the team and the Nomads ran riot to belt the Saints in a record winning margin. The heavy loss saw Coach Jason Gobbert step down.
Hamish Bird was rewarded for his stellar season by winning the Dick Gleeson medal.
After a year as umpire, Nick Baird returned to coach the Saints. Renewed vigor and intensity brought a healthy confidence the Club would once again make finals.
2014 was also the Clubs 10th Anniversary. Former players, committee and sponsors gathered at the RSM Club in August to celebrate the occasion.
The Club was keen to restore its pride after the 2012 Grand Final and started the year well. Their focus for the year was a plan to bring about the downfall of the Nomads. They came close in Armidale in atrocius conditions where the Saints led by four goals during the game but would give up the lead late and lose a close one.
Their resolve would be rewarded a few weeks later when they downed the reigning premier at Varley Oval by 3 points.
Confidence grew as the finals began. The Saints would go down to the Nomads in the Major semi, win the Prelim Final against the Roos and once again meet the Nomads in the G.F in Armidale.
The game was close with the Saints jumping out to a small lead at the first break before the Nomads turned the game on its head, totally outscoring the Saints, leading by around five goals at the main break. The game see sawed during the third and final quarters but the game was stopped when Saints mid Darren Pithers was felled. An all in brawl erupted which saw a number of Saints players put on report. Some members of the crowd were also involved in the brawl.
Umpires called the game off after a period of time due to time constraints and declared the Nomads, who were up by 6 goals at the time of the incident, the Premiers.
Hamish Bird would score back to back wins of the Dick Gleeson medal while Coach Nick Baird stepped down at the Club's Presentation Night. Hayden Chappell was installed the new coach.
After a number of years as President, Dick Gleeson handed the Presidency role to former Club Captain and coach Jason Gobbert
The season started with the Saints travelling to tackle the newcomers Moree Suns and came away with a huge 212 point win over the Suns, giving new coach Hayden Chappell a wonderful coaching debut.
But it was evident the Saints would have to do more if they were to match reigning premiers New England Nomads and the Tamworth Kangaroos. The Saints couldn't beat either of those teams during the home & away season and a shock loss to the Narrabri Eagles would keep Inverell fighting for a finals berth.
The Saints would prevail for yet another finals campaign but would have to battle it out with the Narrabri Eagles for a home final, which would be decided in the final home and away game of the year.
The Saints trounced the Eagles by 103 points and set up a home elimination semi final against them the following week.
A meeting with the Tanmworth Kangaroos at No 1 Oval would be the Saints final appearance for the year as they would lose the game and miss out on another Grand Final appearance
In some good news for the club, Hayden Chappell would be rewarded for his stellar year by winning the TAFL's Best and Fairest award, Tony Gillies Medal. Chappell would announce at the end of the year that he would leave the Club and return back to Victoria.
The Saints announce that Dick Gleeson would return as coach for the season after the departure of Hayden Chappell.