When the VAFA asked me to submit a regular column for the website I immediately jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t want to be contributing something to the oldest continuously run metropolitan community football competition in the country?
The problem was what to write about?
At this time of year when there is no football matches to talk about, we are left soley with the posturing of clubs about how 2013 will be their best year yet – or perhaps just their best year in recent times – and the chance to look back over time.
This got me thinking, perhaps many who pull on a jumper to play in the VAFA today are not entirely aware of the history of their own club. This is countered by those playing at a club like Point Cook who were there at the start in 2010, or anyone who pulls on the boots for Northern Blues in round 1, 2013 will know they are creating their club’s history that day.
Collegians celebrate being the only remaining foundation club of the VAFA and rightly so, for it is a magnificent achievement and one that is even more remarkable considering how many clubs have fielded senior teams in the VAFA since it commenced as a competition in 1892. At last count the number is over 200 but if we concentrate on the current crop of 72 senior clubs we get a picture for how new many of them are.
More than three sections or 32 of the current clubs have introduced senior sides to the competition since 1979.
Old Scotch Collegians played for two seasons in 1894-5 but then didn’t reappear in the competition until 1921. The current crop of Old Scotch players wear 1921 on the back of their jumpers to signify this date.
Old Melburnians too are another club to have played a season before the turn of the 20th century. The OM’s played in 1896 for a year only before they returned to the competition for good in 1920. In terms of continuous years in the VAFA Old Melburnians share second spot with Caulfield Grammarians who also joined the league in 1920.
University was one club in the early 1900’s but the Blacks and Blues as we know them today came into recognition in 1928.
Of the district clubs playing today, Kew Football Club hold the title first to have played a season in the league, but unfortunately only had one season in 1900 to their name. Kew rejoined the VAFA in 1949 and have been a constant since.
Ormond beat Hampton Rovers by a season when it comes to the longest continuously running district club in the Association. Both teams face each other in round one next year in Division 1 Section. Ironically this is where they both entered the league in 1932 and 1933 respectively. It didn’t take long for these two great clubs to gain success, Ormond won the Division 1 (D Grade) premiership in 1933 and Hampton Rovers did likewise in 1939.
Elsternwick are one of the great clubs of the Association, however their years in the competition have also been broken. The club joined the competition at the start of World War I in 1914, but had a seven year hiatus during World War II. The Wicks didn’t field a team in 1946 but were given a year’s grace by the Association to rejoin in A Grade in 1947.
Old Brighton Grammarians are in their fourth incarnation, having had spells in the competition from 1921-22, 1924-26, 1932-39 before they joined and have remained since 1957.
For some of the merged sides, the club’s origins are before the merger took place. St Bedes / Mentone Tigers were formed in 1993 but St Bedes had played in the Amateurs since 1972.
So what does all this mean? Who is the oldest who has been the longest running club to continuously field a senior team? To be fair I have created two tables.
The first details where your club sits in terms of age according to their first year in the Amateurs. The second table shows where your club sits amongst those to have fielded a senior team in continuous years in the VAFA.
What does it all mean? This year both the oldest club (Collegians) and the 67th oldest club (South Mornington) won senior premierships. So arguable it means very little. Just keeping a club going from year to year is an achievement in itself. So as we head into Christmas and the New Year, raise a glass to your club and know that what ever happens in 2013, someone will hopefully be writing about them in another hundred years time.