From ‘scratch matches’ on a vacant block, to grand finals on City Oval (No. 1). From friendly contests to savage rivalry, and from a minor institution to one of Sunraysia’s most respected sporting bodies.
As reported in the first edition of The Mildura Cultivator, (Later known as Sunraysia Daily) on Saturday, May 19, 1888, a football club had been formed following a general meeting on the evening of May 10, at Mrs Weedall’s restaurant.
Office bearers were elected at that first meeting and included president: Mr Charles Trevatt, vice-presidents: Messrs McLaren and McKay, and treasurer: Mr H.B. Williams.
It was arranged to play a ‘scratch match’ the following Saturday, just two days after being formed.
Accordingly the team mustered on Saturday afternoon and after securing a suitable ground to play the game – Mr Matthew’s lot in Deakin Avenue – two sides were picked and a match was played.
Messrs Sharland and Hawker captained the respective sides, and “there was huge fun”.
‘Scratch match’ it was called, and so it proved, The Mildura Cultivator reported.
However, everything was taken in good part, and no ill-feeling was engendered by the numerous “spills.”
A further meeting was held that evening, when Messrs E.Harker and E.C. Sharland were elected to fill the positions of captain and vice-captain respectively.
The members indulged in daily practice, and the team was soon ready to accept a challenge from (as The Mildura Cultivator put it), “anything in the hemisphere.”
And so the Mildura Football Club was formed and firmly entrenched in Sunraysia as a team to be reckoned with.
Since its humble beginnings 113 years ago, Mildura Football Netball Club (as it is now known) has surged forward in leaps and bounds winning premierships along the way, and, with no doubt, many more to come.
Mildura’s greatest era was undoubtedly from 1950-60 when the club played in a phenomenal nine of 11 grand finals and won five flags. Ten players from this era were selected in the club’s team of the century named in 2003, including Bill Lanyon, who was the first Demon to win the league best-and-fairest award in 1960. The Coach of that era, Les Griggs, was coach of the club’s best team. Since that run, however, Mildura has won only two flags.
There was a drought of 22 years after the 1960 Premiership, when in 1982 after losing the previous grand finals to Red Cliffs; Mildura finally broke through to win the grand final game by just one point, to prevent the Tigers gaining a hat trick of premierships.
Mildura struggled so badly through the 1990s that it was close to extinction in 2000. But after going almost 25 years without much to write home about, the club contested the 2006 preliminary final but was beaten by eventual premier Irymple by almost eight goals. The following year, (2007), the Demons again made the finals, finishing behind Imperials on percentage. The club went on to win the flag, but did it the hard way by coming from 12 points down at the last change to win by two goals in what many have described as the best game they had seen in the area. And the fact that the game was against the Demons’ co-tenant and bitter rival, Imperials, made the victory just that little sweeter.
The original colours of the Mildura Football Club in 1888 were solely red and black.
In 1891 however, at the club’s annual general meeting, the colours were changed to a red and black Guernsey with dark blue knickerbockers and hose.
There were various changes in style over the years and in 1924 the club had reverted to red and black only, as the club colours.
Red and black remained until 1979 when Ouyen joined the Sunraysia Football League playing in red and black stripes and being called the bombers.
It was mooted in 1978 that the club change to the Melbourne colours of red and blue with the Demon as the club’s emblem.
Members were given a year to consider the change and at the 1978 annual general meeting; a proposal was passed in favour of the colour change with a clear majority, but with some dissenters.
Since the change, excellent rapports developed with the Melbourne Football Club, who gave permission to use their club song “The Grand Old Flag’, club ties and badges.
Mildura early on also had big help from the Melbourne cheers squad with run throughs, banners, flags and other such equipment.
The club is now generally agreed that the change of colours had been most worthwhile.