Mt Evelyn Football Club History

The Mt Evelyn Football Club first commenced in 1931, joining the Mountain Districts Association. Club colours were agreed upon as dark green with a gold monogram on the breast, white shorts (or knickers as they were called in those days), with green socks and yellow tops. Games were held that year against Lilydale, Silvan, Monbulk, Belgrave, Ferny Creek, Boronia, Emerald and Ferntree Gully. However, the Association decreed that the Club had to wear black and white colours with dark shorts. That year saw Mt Evelyn finish up ninth, and in 1932 realized ninth position also.

1933 was a year of discontent at Mt Evelyn, resulting in a breakaway group forming the Mt Evelyn Rovers. The original side withdrew from the MDA, and joined with the Ringwood Association at the start of the 1934 season, leaving the Rovers in the MDA. The Rovers suffered a poor season; whereas the original Mt Evelyn Football Club went on to lose the Second Division grand final to the Lilydale All Stars. 1935 was not quite as good a year in the Ringwood Association, finishing just outside the four.

In 1936, the existing ground was at last graded, and a tender was let to improve the existing tin shed dressing room. The season did not start in those days until well into June, and it was recorded for posterity in one of our old records that light snow fell at Mt Evelyn on the 10th November!!

Teams had to travel a lot further in 1937, the clubs involved being ours, Kilsyth, Ringwood, Mitcham, Doncaster, Silvan and Powelltown. The first known attempt was made that year to play football on a Sunday, but the concept was disallowed by the local Council. They had a poor season, with only ten players left by the end!

1938 was much the same sort of year. Bad enough, in fact, that serious consideration was given to merging with Silvan. This did not eventuate, however, and the only notable event in our history was that new dressing rooms were built on the site of the present brick toilets at the northern end of the ground.

In 1939, the Mt Evelyn & Silvan Clubs merged to ensure their survival. As a consequence of this merging, they joined the Yarra Valley Football Association, and changed their uniform to navy blue with a white cuff and collars. In September of that year, war was declared, and the team disbanded on June 17th, 1940 due to the need for young men in the armed forces.

The team reformed again on March 22, 1946, with the Yarra Valley Football Association. Club colours were black guernseys with a red sash, with red and black hooped socks. Success was hard to come by that year.
Only two wins for 1947, but they went three better in 1948. 1949 was not much better, with four wins. However, this was the first year that Mt Evelyn fielded a second eighteen side, and they were much more successful in making the final four (mind you, there were only four sides in the Reserves competition!).

1950 was a much better year, with the firsts making the four. Our Club used to hold all of their functions in the local town hall, but unfortunately, this burnt down. The team spent their trip away that year at Tooradin, and the locals still talk to this day how the area was fished out for days after their departure!

The Seconds were unable to field a side in 1951. Most of the social activities were held that year at the Do Drop Inn, on the site of the current one at the corner of York and Swansea Roads. The team finished last that year.

On the 3rd of March, 1952, The Club joined the 3rd Division of the Croydon Ferntree Gully Football League. New dressing sheds were completed on the current site of our newer clubrooms.

Our new colours in 1953 became black with a yellow sash, and the end of the home and away games saw us second on the ladder. Unfortunately, they did not go on to win any games in the finals.

Our Club was still short of players in 1953. They lost the first game and the second was called off after the umpire failed to turn up! The team disbanded after that, with a lot of the better players ending up at other local clubs.

The Mt Evelyn Football Club decided to return to the Yarra Valley in 1955. Unfortunately, this was also a bad year for the Club, disbanding through lack of numbers on the 23 April. An Under 16’s side was formed, though, under the banner of the Mt Evelyn Rovers Football Club, which was set up to overcome the financial difficulties of the former club. This team also continued in 1956 after the Club failed to form a senior team. They were the first to wear the maroon colour as we have it today, but they had blue cuffs and collars.

At long last, in 1957, the seniors were able to field a side, again back in the Croydon Ferntree Gully League. In those days there used to be a caretaker’s house at the Recreation Reserve. This was situated near the pine trees on the eastern side of the ground. The firsts finished second last in “B” Grade, and the “D” Section (Under 16’s), finished third last.

1958 was not much better with results on the board, with the firsts finishing sixth in the “C” Grade. In those days, there were no showers to get the dirt and mud off, and many of the older brigade can offer tales of woe in the creek, trying to get themselves reasonably clean!

1959 and 1960 were nothing special in terms of success. However, the team managed to do quite well in their maroon jumpers with a white monogram in 1961, finishing just outside the four.

The Rovers became affiliated with the Eastern Districts Football League for the first time in 1962, competing in the new “B” Section. They moved into the “A” Section in 1963, and finished eighth, after seven wins and seven losses. This was the year when hot showers were introduced for the first time! One hot water system at a cost of six pounds, ten shillings ($13.00 today)!

1964 was not a good year, the Club once again being short of players. Results were nothing special that year either. The firsts ended up slightly better in the following year.

1966 and 1967 were years of halves and halves (wins and losses). But 1968 was a great year for the Club, just losing the Grand Final by three points to Yarra Glen. 1968 was the first time the Club played in a dark red jumper with a white V, collar and cuffs, with hooped socks. Things were looking rosy for the future after this, with a great year in 1969 - a Premiership year! This came from a thirteen point win over North Ringwood. A similar result occurred over Nth Ringwood again in 1970.

1971, both the Firsts and Reserves performed admirably, both going out in the finals. Things were turned around again in 1972, with a great win over Bennettswood. Wayne Burrows kicked 100 goals in the Reserves, plus won the Best & Fairest.

In 1973, Mt Evelyn moved into Second Division. Games were a little harder to win there, and they missed out on reaching the finals. The new pavilion, as we now know it, was completed early that year. The chairs came from Festival Hall. The new rooms became the focal point for the Club’s social activities thereafter.

Mt Evelyn missed the finals again in 1974, under the guidance of Captain Coach, Ian Nicoll (ex Carlton). Mt Evelyn played off for relegation in 1975, and lost, going down to Third Division once again in 1976. The Firsts and the Reserves both made the finals that year, but the Reserves were the only team to go on and win the Grand Final (against Boronia).

In 1977, the Firsts finished on top of the ladder, with the Reserves finishing second. The both went on to lose in “straight sets” in the finals. This was also the year that second oval was formed below our main oval, the intention then to use it for junior games and training.

Both teams did not make the finals in 1978, lost nearly every game in 1979, and were relegated to third Division in 1980. The team shorts were changed in 1979 to maroon with a white stripe on the sides. At the conclusion to the 1980 season, the Firsts were seventh and the Reserves eleventh. The Under 10’s though, won their first ever Premiership in the EDFL. Their opposition was not permitted a goal by this great side!

1981 was an exceptionally wet year. The Firsts finished seventh at the end of the season. However, an influx of some new players in 1982 instilled a new feeling of hope that they would have more success throughout. The Reserves went on to play in the finals, only to be defeated by a very strong Warrandyte team.

The following year was a total contrast to the previous one, weather-wise. Unfortunately, the Club lost a lot of valuable players to other local clubs, and Mt Evelyn struggled all season. The Under 18’s made the finals for the first time in 20 years.

1984 was a year of consolidating their position in Third Division, finishing seventh on the ladder. However, in 1985, Mt Evelyn and Forest Hills fought out the last game for both to avoid relegation to the newly formed Fourth Division in the EDFL. Unfortunately, our Club just lost with a free kick after the siren. This was also the year that the great full forward, John Harrison, kicked over a 100 goals for Mt Evelyn Firsts, and went on to tie with his brother, Norman, for the prestigious Best and Fairest award. A tremendous effort, and once again, a history making first for our Club.

1986 was once again a very wet year. Most of the season was very physical, and this certainly was the case in the finals, which both the Reserves and the Firsts competed in. The Reserves couldn’t quite go on to win, but the Firsts polished off archrivals Lilydale in a very torrid, physical game, played on East Ringwood’s boggy ground. Seven goals to one in the first quarter set up an unassailable lead to ensure their win.

The Firsts ended up in sixth position after the final game in 1987, in Third Division. and struggled in 1988 under a new coach. 1989 was once again a struggle, with many players being frustrated with results, and a lack of discipline resulted in many being reported. This turned around the following year, in 1990, under new coach, Mark Dwyer, who was a local policeman in Mt Evelyn. The Firsts had a 7-11 win/loss position by the end of the season.

1991 was a financially poor year for the Club, not helped by the very wet weather (the wettest on record). Attendances were down, the teams were not winning, and the income simply was not there to meet to expenditure necessary to keep the Club running. The end result was that the Club ended up more in debt than the previous year.

The Under 14’s recorded their first ever Premiership over Coldstream in 1992 under the leadership of coach Keith Pritchett. A new committee, headed up for the first time by Gary Martin as President, started the long process of reducing the large debt owed by the club. Tasman Parish relished the role as senior coach, and succeeded in having both the Firsts and Reserves in the finals in 1993. The foundation was laid by Tasman in 1993 that enabled Mick Henderson to coach the Reserves to a Grand Final win over South Wantirna in 1994. The Under 14’s and Under 16’s both competed in finals that year, but were not able to go that one extra step necessary to win.

The Firsts finished sixth in 1995, but under new captain coach Jason Leeds in 1996, went on to play in the second semi and preliminary finals, only to lose to Waverley. The ground at Boronia was a bog heap, and our players could not cope with the heavy conditions two weeks in a row.

Jason Leeds again coached our Senior Club for 1997, and with an influx of fresh blood, prospects were extremely good to finally achieve the goal of moving onwards and upwards through the Divisions of the EDFL. This was not to be, finishing just outside the final four.

For 1998 we appointed Russell Culwick as Senior Coach, Jason Keating as Assistant Coach, and he in turn shared the coaching role of the Reserves with senior player Greg Knight. We had big numbers at training during the season. Everyone was extremely keen to win a senior flag 1998 and this was finally made possible with a large number of new Firsts players recruited to the Club, or came up from the Under 18’s.

1999 saw us struggle in Third Division, finishing in the bottom half of the ten teams in our section under new coach Mark West, recruited from local club Mooroolbark. 2000 was not much better, and in 2001, we had a much more successful year finishing just outside the final four, prevented in playing in finals by five very ordinary performances at the tail end of the season.

At the end of the 2001 season, we were approached by the Yarra Valley Mountain Districts Football League to join them in their First Division. When the matter was finally put to eligible voting members, it was huge majority who voted for leaving the EFL. We looked forward to an exciting first year in the hills, having been involved with the EFL for the past forty years!

Andy Hayman was appointed Senior Coach for 2002. Andy is a 300 game life member of the Eastern District Football League, having played with Fair Park (now Eastern Lions) and Upper Ferntree Gully. With Andy at the helm, 2002 proved to be an exciting new venture for our seniors and juniors. We managed to have two teams (U18’s & Reserves) at the end of season playing finals – both making the preliminary finals played at Gembrook. Both teams lost close games that they had every chance of winning. The Firsts finished in 6th position, and had the opportunity to make the finals also. However, they lost some games against the bottom sides which, in the end, proved their inconsistency for the season.

Andy Hayman and Jason Clancy continued on in 2003 as senior and reserves coaches. The firsts finished in sixth place, with all three teams playing off in finals. Wendy Thiele and George Anderson were awarded life memberships.

Andy was appointed senior coach again in 2004 with Craig Winter taking over the reserves. The firsts were defeated by Monbulk at Yarra Junction in the preliminary final, with the reserves going all the way into the grand final, leading all day at Woori Yallock and disappointingly, losing it in the final quarter.

Alan Ezard took over the reins in 2005 from Andy with Jason Heffernan coaching the reserves. Derek Kickett assisted Alan as assistant coach. A frustrating year, where players were given the opportunity of determining their own willingness to do what was necessary to improve, with many players failing individually to take up Alan’s challenge. Andrew Giblin and Marcus Baker were awarded life memberships.

Alan could not continue in 2006 for personal reasons, and Derek Kickett took over as senior coach, with Geoff Wighton looking after the reserves. 2006 was our first year of netball, fielding two teams, both of which were extremely competitive and ended up playing in finals. Chris Thiele retired after 18 years as senior secretary. Margaret Farmer and Sue Harty awarded life memberships.

Geoff “Farmer” Wighton was appointed as senior coach in 2007 with Danny Plain coaching the reserves.

Car’n the Mounters!!!