History

1980. Andrew Jones, Sean Osborne, Stephen Jones and David Bonnici

40 Year History

The journey of the Oakleigh Youth Club Football Club from 1965 to the present has touched all parts of community life.

This story is one of achievement on many levels. At the community level, the club has provided a vehicle for neighbours to engage with each other. At the highest level, the club has produced AFL/VFL champions, including premiership players, an AFL club captain, a Norm Smith Medallist and a leading AFL goal kicker.

The club has been involved in raising the profile of women in football, and through the 2005 Umpires Appreciation Programme, the OYCFC is trying to improve community understanding of umpires.

This historical account celebrates the many twists and turns experienced by the Oakleigh Dragons over our 40 year journey.

Oakleigh Dragons Junior Football Club – 1964-1965 Founding

Oakleigh Youth Club

It is easy for us to think that the Oakleigh of 2005 is a very different place from the Oakleigh of the early 1960’s when the Oakleigh Youth Club Football Club (OYCFC) was formed. However, the issues that surround everyday community life in Oakleigh in the early 1960’s bear an uncanny resemblance to those of 2005.

According to May Keeley, author of “One Hundred Good Years: a story of Oakleigh Council”, in the immediate years prior to the football club’s founding the local councillors were accused of being greedy and likened to “goats”. Warrigal Rd and Prince’s Highway required improvements (still do) and heated debates about opening swimming pools in Clayton and Oakleigh were in the news, not debates about the closing or heating of. The issue of sculptures in public areas was debated, the lack of not the nature of, and in December 1964 the Oakleigh City Library was under bitter attack by the Mayor “for allowing the librarian too much latitude”! (refer footnote-1)

You could argue little has changed except they have finally got the librarian under control. Due to limited documentation and fewer living memories to draw upon the early days of the club still have a degree of mystery about them. Quite rightly the people involved in the OYCFC in the 1960’s as they are today are more concerned with the immediate whether it be next Saturday or sometimes next season rather than 40 years in the future. Some facts however have emerged that at least provide some pieces of the puzzle as to how this club we now know as the Oakleigh Dragons came into being.

The OYCFC had its genesis in the South Oakleigh Methodist Football Club. The South Oakleigh Methodist Football Club used Oakleigh Technical School as its base and a number of players also went to school there. They also used another ground south of the church in Mackie road. The Church was itself located nearby on the corner of Mackie and North roads, which made the Oakleigh Technical School oval a convenient location. They played initially in the South Eastern Churches League and entered an under 17 team in the Melbourne Boys Football League in 1963.

The South Oakleigh Methodists Football Club was undefeated in the 1962 South Eastern Churches League Under 16 competition. As a result they decided to move competitions in the following year to the Melbourne Boys Football League in what was a fairly ambitious move. The Melbourne Boys Football League was essentially the VFL under 17’s or fourths competition and included VFL and VFA clubs such as South Melbourne, Collingwood, St Kilda, Carlton, Richmond, Port Melbourne and Hawthorn among others.

The South Oakleigh Methodists first game in the Melbourne Boys Football League was played at Prahran against Melbourne High School on Saturday 20 April 1964. Amongst the best for South Oakleigh that day were Polglase, Johnson, Farrow and Fairbairn in a final score that saw Oakleigh kick 2 goals 6 behinds to MHS 19.20. (refer footnote-2)

Gordon Mattson, first president of the OYCFC coached the under 17 team and in 1963 Ray Chapman, the first life member and club treasurer for 12 years helped start an under 15’s. Ray Chapman Jnr recalls that his father became involved when neighbour Alf Clark came home one Saturday from the Oakleigh Technical School ground and said to Ray to “ get down there cause they need a hand”. Alf’s son captained South Melbourne at the time and had just seen a struggling South Oakleigh receive another hiding.

Like most sporting grounds, the Oakleigh Technical school oval had its nuances and given what would have been the quality of opposition in the Melbourne Boys Football League every trick in the book would have been needed to win, or most likely save a game. With game quarters going 25 minutes and no time-on this included deliberately kicking the ball into the nearby tennis courts which required about 2 to 3 minutes wasted time in retrieving the ball because of the high fence enclosing the courts. In those days no penalty free kick was awarded for a deliberate kick out of bounds on the full, which at times gave the South Oakleigh boys some respite.

Looking at some of the match results from 1963 opposing teams didn’t need to learn this trick, Collingwood beat them by 64 points, St Kilda by 39 and Hawthorn by a whopping 24 goals.

Another feature of the Oakleigh Technical School Ground was that the lines were marked using sawdust either from the nearby W D & H O Wills Cigarette Factory where Eric Hall worked or from the carpenters’ workshops of Oakleigh Technical school. On muddy and wet days this would have made the boundary line a bit hard to see late in the game. The Oakleigh Technical School ground seemed to be in some demand, as Emmanuel and Clayton Methodists are also known to have used it on occasions.

Like most volunteer sporting bodies, the critical thing is finding the money to put the team on the paddock every week. The catalyst that saw the South Oakleigh Methodist Football Club effectively annexed to the Oakleigh Youth Club was a debt of 30 pounds for footballs and new jumpers, most likely the green with a gold sash design. Although efforts were made to obtain the funds including Ray Chapman and Gordon Mattson conducting door-to-door raffles, probably without a permit, they were in vain. Doreen Chapman even recalls playing Beatles records as a fundraiser through the Youth club to raise money for the footballers, probably also without a permit!

As the South Oakleigh Methodist Football Club was zoned to VFL club Melbourne, Ray put in a request to the Melbourne Football Club for a set of jumpers to help them out of the predicament. Only two were forthcoming which helped no one really. In 1964 a request was eventually made to Cr. Perryman and Oakleigh City Council agreed to take on the debt in return for the two teams being annexed to the Oakleigh Youth Club that wanted to expand its sporting activities.

  1964. South Oakleigh
Methodist team with
Gordon Mattson in hat
& scarf and Eric Hall
next to him

The other key event in the formation of the OYCFC was an official meeting on the 4th of
November 1964 between the South Oakleigh Methodist Football Club and the Oakleigh Youth Club where they agreed to join forces to field teams. Given the close proximity of the Oakleigh Technical School to the Oakleigh Youth Club and the likely involvement in Oakleigh Youth Club activities by many of those involved in the South Oakleigh Methodists, then it would appear that a coming together would be a natural course of action. The Oakleigh Youth Club like all youth clubs of the day was interested in expanding its range of activities and football was growing in popularity.

The Oakleigh Youth Club in 1965 agreed to the proposal from the joint meeting and presumably with Oakleigh City Council support for absorbing the 30 pound financial debt the OYCFC was officially formed initially as a sub committee of the Oakleigh Youth Club.

Related

footnote-1
Keeley, May. One Hundred Good Years: A story of Oakleigh Council. Oakleigh & District Historical Publication Series. Oakleigh. 1991. p 169 -183

footnote-2
Oakleigh and Caulfield Times. Wednesday, April 24, p.11.

Oakleigh Dragons Junior Football Club – 1965-69 Early Years

Mud, Tents and Gumboots

In the year that the OYCFC played its first official game the Oakleigh City Council went on a fact-finding mission to the Hobart Cemetery for ideas on “how to make a lawn cemetery”.  And the burning issue was whether or not “ Mr Whippy” should be allowed to broadcast music in the street which apparently contravened by-law 106 and could lead to prosecution (refer footnote-6).

The newly formed Oakleigh Youth Club Football Club was effectively a sub-committee of the Oakleigh Youth Club and was led by Gordon Mattson with Mr. Ted Rodgers and Mr Les Langridge handling the secretarial side of things (refer footnote-7). The original committee consisted of these three and Mr Finn, Mr A Mattson, Mr Pound, Ray Chapman and Eric Hall.

This committee must have worked very hard to develop a football club with limited resources, even managing to convince Richmond Football Club to donate two footballs in 1965. Although it must be said that Richmond has had the better of the relationship over the years with Jack Malcomson penning the great “We’re from Tigerland” anthem and the OYCFC providing a number of players to Richmond, including David and Gary Miller, Shane Williams, Corey Young and Stuart Maxfield.

In 1966 Richmond also helped support the OYCFC with a joint raffle that raised over 50 pounds – no small amount in 1966. The Richmond Football Club in the same year had also tried to provide a coach for the OYCFC but was unable to do so. The record also suggests that a promise was made to donate a further 6 footballs and it is not clear if these arrived or not – if not an invoice for the 6 footballs with 40 years interest may find its way to Punt Road (refer footnote-8). That makes about 240 brand new Sherrins for season 2006!

The club fielded three teams in its inaugural year, under 13’s, under 15’s and under 17’s. The under 15’s and 17’s continued playing in the Melbourne Boys League and the 13’s appeared in the Southern Junior League, who donated the clubs best and fairest for that age group to the winner Neil Mattson (13’s).  Kerry Finn (15’s) and Doug D’Oliver[1][1] (refer footnote-9) (17’s) won the Best and Fairest trophies in the first year for their respective teams.

In 1965 the Under 13’s were coached by Mr A Mattson, and Gordon Mattson coached the under 15’s to a premiership that year, assisted by Mr Pound as his Team Manager. Coach of the under 17’s was Ray Chapman with his Team Manager being Eric Hall.

Gordon Mattson had an incredibly busy year that year, doubling or rather tripling up as Team Manager for the fledgling under 13’s -not easy combining the roles of President, Premiership Coach and Team Manager. After the under 15’s premiership win Mattson was described in The Acorn as the,   “Happiest man on the ground, probably the weariest and certainly the hardest worked was Coach Gordon Mattson.”
(refer footnote-10)

The winning of the 1965 Under 15 Melbourne Boys League Grand Final was hailed as a huge success for the City of Oakleigh Youth Club Team (refer footnote-11). By beating Balwyn in the Grand Final, whose best player was one B Goudge, the OYCFC team also became champions as they went through the season undefeated. Best players on the day were Richard Allen, Dennis Wright, Trevor Mattson, Wayne Hoskins and Kerry Finn. Final scores were 10.17 to 7.6, and who said bad kicking was bad football?

The one surviving photograph of Gordon Mattson is in a team photograph from either 1964 or 1965, possibly the 1964 South Oakleigh Methodist Under 16’s team with his hat and scarf. A number of the boys in that team photo including Richard Allen, Wayne Hoskins, Kerry Finn and Greg Pound played in the 1965 premiership. Greg Wells who went on to play with Melbourne and Carlton is also suspected to be in this photograph.

1965 Premiership Trophy 1965 Premiership Trophy

Each member of the premiership team was rewarded with a small trophy as a memento of the win on presentation night that “ about 100 boys and a few keen officials” attended at the Haughton Road rooms. The Under 17’s were also presented with a memento that night, a pen to remind them of the fun and keen competition that they had had over the past few years (refer footnote-12).

On the issue of club colours some people think that the club started with Collingwood colours borrowed from Clayton but this appears to be unlikely as the photograph of the under 16’s of 1964/5 clearly shows the team all wearing the green and gold jumpers. The green and gold were the South Oakleigh Methodists colours. They possibly wore a green jumper with a gold yoke as well. A photo taken in 1962 of the Oakleigh Technical School teachers versus students game features what appears to be a green jumper with a gold vee and an M monogram. It is also known that at some stage one or more of their teams wore St Kilda colours.

The under 13’s also wore the green and gold in 1965 as player Ray Chapman Jnr donated back to the club his green with a gold sashed No. 13 jumper from the original set. Possibly a black and white set was borrowed for a stop gap period or for the under 15’s to start with until a third green and gold set arrived but the intention was always to go with the green and gold. A photograph of the senior boys at training in April 1965 also supports this with green and gold sashed jumpers clearly being worn by most of the boys. A black and white set was lent to the club from Holy Redeemer Primary School to help kick off the under 9 team in 1976.

Ray Chapman in his playing days at Maryborough Ray Chapman in his playing
days at Maryborough.

The most likely origin of the
OYCFC jumper design

Ray Chapman senior is the key to the origin of the jumper. Born and bred in country Victoria, Ray played football in his formative years for Maryborough in central Victoria. The jumper worn by Maryborough coincidently is a green jumper with a gold sash. Ray was a premiership player for the Maryborough under 18 team in 1948. He would have had a big say in the design of the jumper that eventually became the jumper for the OYCFC in 1964.

A move of home grounds away from the Oakleigh Technical school ground, at least for the under 17’s, was also made in 1965. The new home ground for a short period was the ground at Caloola Reserve more commonly known as Cotters with a move to Edwards Street not long after.

In April of 1965 both the under 15’s and under 17’s played their first home games as the OYCFC at Caloola Reserve. Although they used Scammell Reserve as a training ground and probably used it on occasion for official matches, it is unlikely that the club had an official home ground in the first couple of seasons.

Under 17 1965 fixture for the Melbourne Boys League Under 17 1965 fixture
for the Melbourne Boys
League

“The Acorn” in what was effectively the football club’s first annual report stated that the club experienced difficulties throughout the season with the lack of grounds and facilities for their matches and sometimes teams had to play on away grounds regardless of the draw (refer footnote-13).

Access to grounds was also complicated as in many areas football couldn’t be played on Sundays and it took some pressure over the early years of the 1960’s to enable clubs and suburban leagues access to sporting ovals on the Sabbath. No doubt junior clubs would be given second preference by councils in those days.

Season 1965 also saw the first player from the club selected in a representative team. Clive Dunstan was selected to play in the Melbourne Boys League (MBL) under 17 team against Geelong on 19 June. This was no mean feat given the quality of the opposition sides in the Melbourne Boys League.

Another challenge for the club was getting to away games as there were barely enough cars to travel in. At one stage the Youth Club warned that more parents were needed to transport the children as it was unsafe. Doreen Chapman confirms this and said that it wasn’t unusual for 6 children to travel in one car. Ron Howard who was involved in the South Oakleigh Methodists remembers the car seats being covered with Briquette bags so the kids muddy boots wouldn’t make a mess. The bags were empty of course!

The club managed to field three teams in the same age groups in 1966 but could only manage two teams in 1967, under 13’s and 15’s. The remaining years of the 1960’s however saw some growth in the lower age groups with teams for the first time in under 11’s (1968) and under 10’s (1969). It is believed that one of these teams won a premiership but unlike the 1965 under 15’s no record survives.

1968. News clips 1968. News clips

A couple of surviving newspaper clippings from 1968 indicates that the OYCFC was competitive in the late sixties. The under 15 side did play in a lightning premiership held at Waverley in the Waverley and District Junior Football Association that year. They defeated Hillside Syndal but were knocked out in the second round by 4 goals by Tally-Ho (refer footnote-14). A little over 3 three weeks later the tables were reversed with an 18 point victory to the OYCFC but this time not for a flag. (refer footnote-15)

Numbers were quite strong in the under 11’s of 1969 as 27 boys lined up for the team photograph at Edwards Street that clearly shows the railway line in the background. Oakleigh Youth Club jumpers were either limited or some of the boys including a young Steven Miller and Phillip Mitchell had stronger allegiances to other teams like Essendon and Collingwood, given the clubs finances probably the former.

 1969. Under 11's  1969. Under 15's
1969. Under 11’s  1969. Under 15’s

In the 1960’s the club and the teams experienced hardships that these days would have parents and children queuing for miles to complain to the President and anyone else who would listen. Not the least of these was the lack of a club or change rooms at the Edwards Street ground and a tent pitched and cleaned each week by the Lemmens family, among others, formed the make do changing room for some years. On occasions the Parkside Pavilion was shared with the Sacred Heart Football Club but this was not always possible.

Yvonne Lemmens recalls that on some of the more wintry and muddy days the boys were hosed down on the ground to remove as much mud as possible before they entered the “ canvas shed”. Which makes the infamous cold showers at St Kilda’s Moorabbin ground seem like a run under the garden sprinkler in summer!

Most of the grounds played on including Edwards St had poor drainage, if any, which made the wearing of gumboots by most parents and officials almost mandatory. Even in the early seventies Pat Rhys-Jones can recall many supporters still wearing gumboots as the ground was a “mudhole”. Ironically in the late seventies the ground needed to be watered with a more sophisticated watering system than rain. Snowy Rhys-Jones is said to have discovered the underground pipes using divining rods! (refer footnote-16)

 asaa Original under 13
jumper  donated
back to the club
by Ray Chapman
Jnr

As well, the thick woollen jumpers used by the players were a nightmare to wash as the mud became solidly embedded in the thick fibres. Wilma Hall, Yvonne Lemmens and Doreen Chapman, among others all willingly undertook the often-thankless task of washing the jumper sets each week, no doubt assisted marginally by the first hosing down after the game.

Another tent was used for the canteen, however unlike the well-stocked canteens we have become used to, Hot Dogs were the only fare available as there were limited gas bottles and burners.

Physical hardships aside, the club at the close of the sixties was starting to grow into an important part of the Oakleigh community. Looking at the faces of the 1969 trophy winners for the under 11’s, or those around the under 11’s players David Rhys-Jones and Paul Bailey (including the boy on the brand new Malvern Star Dragster) as he burst through the homemade banner you can only detect a group of children enjoying their sport.

 

 1969. Under 11 trophy winners  1969. Under 11
1969. Under 11’s trophy winners
Stuart Marshall, Stuart Lemmens &
Bruce Chapman
 1969. David Rhys-Jones, Paul
Bailey and two other Under 11’s running through the banner

The club had made some strong steps forward from 1965 to 1970, from a club struggling for resources to a structured organisation with strong local community and parent support. It is true that “a number of important decisions were made” (refer footnote-17) during the period 1965 to 1970 and that almost no documentation remains, however the subsequent growth of the club during the seventies is testament to the people who founded and guided the club during the early years.

The last word on this period of the clubs history should really go to Doreen Chapman. Doreen, apart from declaring, “ we must have been mad” when referring to the jumper washing situation, also said that,
“ It was a great investment for boys to be taught to help as a group, to bring them into a happy environment and to respect those around them”.

These principles, established by the founders of the OYCFC, of participation and enjoyment by all, and shared responsibility and rewards, remain embedded in the club today.

 1969. Under 11 Albert Park 1969. Under 11 team before final at Albert Park.

Includes David Rhys-Jones and Phillip Mitchell holding Mr Blanche the poodle!

Related

footnote-6
Keeley, May. One Hundred Good Years: A story of Oakleigh Council. Oakleigh & District Historical Publication Series. Oakleigh. 1991. p 183

footnote-7
The Acorn. Vol.1 No.3. April,1965. p. 27

footnote-8
The Acorn . January. 1966. p. 21

footnote-9
The Honour Board credits K Collins for the 1965 under 17 B&F however “The Acorn “, the journal of the Youth Club gives voting details for all three age groups and records Doug D’Oliver winning with 8 votes from Clive Dunstan on 6. K Collins recorded one vote.

footnote-10
The Acorn. Vol. 2 No. 1. October, 1965. p. 21.

footnote-11
Ibid. p. 21.

footnote-12
The Acorn. Vol. 2 No. 1. October, 1965. p. 22.

footnote-13
The Acorn. Vol. 2 No. 1. October, 1965. p.21

footnote-14
The Standard Times. Wednesday, June 26,1968. P 22.

footnote-15
The Standard Times. Wednesday, July 10, 1968. P.4.

footnote-16
The authors suspect he had access to a map somewhere.

footnote-17
Watson, Cheryl. Oakleigh Youth Club football Club History 1965-1990. OYCFC. Oakleigh. 1991 p. 10

Oakleigh Dragons Junior Football Club – 1974-1979 Tin Sheds

Bad Hair, Flares, Tin Sheds and Football

For the people of Oakleigh and the Oakleigh Youth Club Football Club the prospect of a new decade was to be one of meeting the new challenges of growth. For the Oakleigh City Council these were around issues of planning for growth with the ballooning number of flats, and the sharp rise in transport and traffic issues causing much tension in council chambers. Also the push for late night trading in Melbourne was on the agenda, which the Oakleigh Council didn’t support. Ironic in hindsight now given that the Chadstone shopping centre in Oakleigh’s backyard looms large over the Melbourne retail landscape and is open 24 hours on some occasions during the retail year.

  1970. Team with coach
1970. Team with coach
Jack Malcomson

For the football club the seventies would see growth in numbers of teams and players, club activities and a growing interest in the sport of football generally across the community. The latter largely fuelled by the development and promotion of the Victorian Football League (VFL). This was both, as a spectator sport through television coverage with shows like Channel Seven’s “League Teams” and  “ World of Sport” (a must watch every Sunday), and as a desirable profession for a young man to take up and “earn a quid from”. A number of OYCFC players emerged in the seventies as real VFL/AFL prospects, most notably David Rhys-Jones and Warwick Capper, and would be blessed with both the talent and drive to succeed.

It should be remembered that junior football in the seventies was also a pathway to the well-regarded Victorian Football Association (VFA) competition and a number of Oakleigh Youth Club footballers distinguished themselves on this stage as well. Oakleigh having a VFA side gave local boys an added impetus to do well at the junior level as it was part and parcel of their community. Among those achieving at that level Stewart Lemmens and Terry Lucas Jnr at Oakleigh, Bruce Chapman (Sandringham), Mark Ryan (Port Melbourne) and Ashley Westaway (Box Hill)

The football club realised that to successfully meet the challenges of growth it had to organise itself better. Perhaps one of the most important decisions taken was to set up a Ladies Committee under the management of Mrs Doreen Chapman as the inaugural President and followed in subsequent years by Yvonne Lemmens, Gwenda Mogg and Beverley Greenwood. Mrs E Thorn was the inaugural Treasurer of the Ladies Committee. This committee was set up initially to assist with fundraising efforts and “the provision of hot meals for players and supporters” (refer footnote-18)

 1970. Team with scoreboard 1970.
Team with
scoreboard

Another new development for the OYCFC in the early seventies was the arrival of a tin shed that was to become the expanded canteen. More food could be on offer and as a result more valuable income for club expenditure could be raised. Another development was the new scoreboard (the numbers for the scoreboard were made by Wal Capper) which we know could barely cope with the score Oakleigh 16. 12. 108 to opposition 1.1. 7. It was a tight fit although scores like these were a rarity.

The first “changing of the guard” also occurred in the early seventies with only Ray and Doreen Chapman staying on the committee from the founding days and providing one of the few links to the actual Oakleigh Youth Club itself.

On the football side of things the club was settling into Edwards Street Reserve, a reserve that had been in existence since 1924. It was named after local identity and cricket stalwart Jack Edwards in 1981 in what he described as an “economical move” by council as the reserve coincidentally flanked Edwards Street (refer footnote-19) . To the council of the day this would have probably represented a saving on signage, although these days we would call that marketing!

1970 seemed to be a happy year especially for the main trophy winners that included a beaming Neil Armstrong winning the first of his two under 10’s best and fairest awards. Bruce Chapman won the first of his three best and fairest awards and David Miller, later to kick six goals on debut for Richmond against the Magpies also chimed in for a trophy.

 1970. OYCFC club trophy winners  1971. Ray Chapman at presentation
1970. OYCFC club trophy winners  1971. Ray Chapman and guests
celebrate presentation dinner

Apart from 1972 when the club lost the under 13 team the remaining years of the seventies saw a pattern of stabilisation and from the end of 1975 onwards growth in the numbers of teams. An under 9’s was added in 1976, under 12’s in 1977, and the club had an under 17’s in 1977 and 1978, for the first time since 1966.

1972. Under 11's. W.Capper & D.Rhys-Jones 1972.
Under 11’s.
Warwick Capper &
David Rhys-Jones

The club also had two under 11 teams in 1971 as well as under 13’s and 15’s. The under 11 “A” team photo features both David Rhys-Jones and Warwick Capper in the front row. After beating Cheltenham in the semi final this team made it through to a preliminary final and were beaten by Edithvale 4.7.31 to 6.3.39.
S Williams scored 3 goals and the best players were Mark and Steve Miller, Philip Mitchell, Philip Greenwood.

Apart from a couple of matches where the under 11 “B” team either failed to score or managed a couple of behinds, the club from results point of view was reasonably competitive. In addition, the under 13 team made it to the semi-finals losing by a couple of goals to East Malvern.

The most significant event of 1972, apart from all teams making the finals and the boys playing good football, was the announcement in October of life memberships to the City of Oakleigh Youth Club for football activities. These went to Ray Chapman and Yvonne Lemmens for work they had done over a long period of time with football. Both received badges from the Victorian Association of Youth Clubs (VAYC) and Mrs Lemmens was presented with a coffee table and Mr Chapman a painting (refer footnote-20).  The painting of autumn trees is still at the Chapman house in Murrumbeena.

 1972. Y.Lemmens & R.Chapman  1972. Life membership badge
1972. Yvonne Lemmens &
Ray Chapman. First Life Members
 1972. Yvonne Lemmens.
Life membership badge

 

1972. Under 15 with Essex Heights 1972.
Under 15’s running out
to meet Essex Heights

One result we do know from 1972 is that Essex Heights put the Oakleigh under 15 team out of the Preliminary Final in a narrow defeat of 9 points.

Whilst narrow defeats in finals are disappointing, and the OYCFC over the years would have many of these, in junior sport they are really a measure of great success as they indicate high levels of competitiveness and commitment.

 1973. OYCFC club trophy winners 1973.
OYCFC Club
trophy winners

The club recognised this at the October Presentation Night held in its Haughton Road rooms.  Although they hadn’t won a flag, 1972 was deemed to be a successful year. By now the seventies had truly arrived as the trophies seemed bigger with more gold and the hair seemed longer! 1973 was also another successful year for the trophy winners.

 

Hope of the club again having an under 17’s team in 1973 was still strong as training nights were set aside for them at the Edwards St. Reserve on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A coach, Mr. R.V.Jackson, was also appointed to the position. Jack Malcomson coached the under 15’s, D Stow the under 13’s and the club expected to have two under 11’s teams coached by Brian Mogg (refer footnote-21).
By using the local papers in 1973 to promote the club and training times, the OYCFC was becoming much more aware of the need for even local junior sporting clubs to market themselves to their communities. This would be both for recruitment purposes and for sponsorship opportunities. Not getting two of the intended teams on the field indicates how difficult it was for clubs to attract new players, especially in the older age brackets.

 1973. Under 13's 1973. Under 13’s coached by Jack Malcomson.

Team included David Rhys-Jones and is that two girls in the front row?

 

  1974. Under 11's
1974. Under 11 A team

Ray Warren completed his third year as president in 1974 and Brian Mogg took over for the 1975 season. Some interesting names began appearing on the best and fairest honour board in this period.  Warwick Capper won the under 11 best and fairest in 1974, a crouching Warwick can be seen at the front of the 1974 team photo that also features a very stern looking Brian Stow as team manager. Bruce Chapman, who went on to play with Melbourne under 19’s and Sandringham, won the under 15 best and fairest the same year. Bruce Nicholas and David Rhys-Jones captured the 1975 best and fairest trophies for the under 11 and under 13 age groups respectively.

Judging from the number of boys and team officials in the team photographs of these years the club must have been more than competitive across these two years.

 1975. Under 15's  1975. Under 13's
1975. Under 15’s 1975. Under 13’s

The addition of an under 9 team in 1976 was important in adding a strong base to the club. For a short time the boys must have been a little confused as they wore the Collingwood colours of black and white, a set of jumpers borrowed from Holy Redeemer primary school. The club has had under 9’s since that year when D Freedman won the inaugural under 9 best and fairest.

The following year was even better in terms of consolidation with the addition of two teams, under 12 and under 17 with John Flynn and J Krikas winning the best and fairest trophies at the presentation and trophy night held at the Youth Club on Sunday August 7,1977. Mid season Chris Heverin took over as under 17 coach from Stewart Weston. Chris also played and captained under 19’s at Richmond and had a successful career at Oakleigh VFA.

The teams of the OYCFC had a reasonable year although it appears none made the finals. John Flynn and Greg Paydon went to Perth as part of the Junior Sunday Football Association (JSFA) under 12 team.

The club was also building off the field in 1977. The Ladies Committee or as the club newsletter refers to them the “Ladies Auxiliary” (refer footnote-22) managed, through cake stalls and canteen, to raise enough money, $180.60, to finally purchase a set of jumpers for the under 9 team. They also raised another $445.00 for sets of jumpers for the under 13 and 17 teams and purchased all medical equipment for all teams including a stretcher for the club.

Socially the club was also strong in 1977 with dinners at the Barren and Beef, Bingo Nights at the Chapman’s in Murrumbeena, two Basket Cabarets at the Youth Club (June and July) and a dinner dance. The end of season trip was to Creswick in early October, which included a trip to Kryall Castle, films on Friday and Saturday, and plenty of fresh air and fun.

 1978. Under 9's 1978. Under 9’s.
Peanut Farm, St Kilda.
First time in green shorts

For the first time the players of the OYCFC played in coloured shorts in 1978, green with gold stripes. They were worn for all games, home and away and the recommended supplier was the Sports Store in Portman Street. A pair could be purchased for the princely sum of $4.50.
The Fred Martin Pavilion was officially opened by the Mayor of Oakleigh, Councillor J B Perryman J.P. on the 9th of April at 2.30 pm. It should be noted that through the new canteen in the Fred Martin Pavilion more stock could be made available for sale. The old tin shed canteen had served the club well but progress had to happen.

Old tin shed Canteen Buying up big
The old tin shed canteen Terry Lucas and John Van Der Wouw buying up big from the new Canteen. Monica Bloy, Ros Kernick and Maureen Van Der Wouw in canteen

A quick glance at the statistical analysis in Appendix 7 clearly shows the impact that new facilities can have on sporting clubs such as the OYCFC.  The income stream improved significantly from 1977 when the canteen took $613, to much higher figures in 1978 ($2,329.71) and 1979 ($1,312.52).

The Ladies Auxiliary continued its hard work, which was the case every year, by raising money for another set of jumpers. This time the lucky team was the under 12’s. The Ladies Auxiliary also managed to furnish the newly opened clubrooms with a range of donated items from tea towels to tables as well as turn the canteen into a valuable source of income for the club. This would prove very important in funding the growth of the eighties just over the horizon.

The Club had been in existence for 15 years by 1979 with one premiership to show for its efforts in the very first year, which no one knew about. The under 9 and the under 13 teams both made the finals in 1979 finishing as runners up. As a reward the committee or parts thereof decided to have a flag made up to commemorate the effort and to make the boys feel like winners when they entered the club rooms. Veronica Stow willing undertook the task and despite the odd wrinkle replicated the real thing convincingly enough so that some recent day members of the club think it’s a real flag presented to the OYCFC by the league!

1979. Under 9's runners up 1979. Trophy winners
1979. Under 9 runners up 1979. Trophy winners. Darren Payet (13’s) & Brendan Hocking (15’s). Both highly regarded players at the club

Veronica’s flag was both a reflection of the previous decade and a portent for things to come. Looking forward it was a sign that the club was determined to achieve success by building on the ethos of good sportsmanship, confidence and high self-esteem. The eighties were to be an explosion of all of these.

Looking back across the seventies the flag represents recognition for all involved who had grown the club and felt the sense of community that comes from sharing what is essentially a family activity. Last word on the seventies really belongs to former player Bruce Nicholas and life members Pat Rhys Jones and Brian Stow. To these three club stalwarts the best thing about the club wasn’t the football but the making and building of lifelong friendships. To them in one sense the sport of weekend junior football was both a vehicle for shared parenting and the teaching of life values as well as an opportunity for them and their families to engage socially with family and friends. Two of the most important bonds that hold communities like Oakleigh together.

Related

footnote-18
Watson, Cheryl. Oakleigh Youth Club football Club History 1965-1990. OYCFC. Oakleigh. 1991.  p. 7.

footnote-19
Edwards, J. McG., Candlelight on Broadway: a journey to a quieter world. Oakleigh & District Historical Society, Oakleigh. 1988. p. 76.

footnote-20
The Standard Times. 3 October 1972.

footnote-21
The Standard Times. March 13. 1973. p.20.

footnote-22
OYCFC Club Newsletter. June 1977.

Oakleigh Dragons Junior Football Club – 1980-1989 Dragon

Led by Terry Lucas, who was elected President at the 20th of August 1979 AGM, and supported by an enthusiastic committee 1980 proved to be a watershed year for the OYCFC. This was the year that the club would stamp its identity indelibly upon the Oakleigh landscape and take on the mantle of “the” junior football club for all others to envy.

To achieve this aim a number of key initiatives were introduced to the club in 1980. These centered on the adoption or rather “ the birth” of the OYCFC Dragon emblem, which was sourced from a book in the Monash University Library.

1980. Dragon emplem 1980. Dragon patch
1980. Dragon Emblem held by Roger Bonnici, Jim Jenkins, Harry Osborne and Daryl Jones 1980. Dragon patch that was sewn onto jumpers
Wrought iron OYCFC
Glen Hepburn in front of wrought iron OYCFC

The honour boards for best and fairest winners, and for club officials going back to 1965 were made up from highly polished teak with lettering in 23-carat gold leaf.  A metal replica of the Dragon emblem was made and painted in club colours. A flagpole was obtained and installed at the front of the clubrooms to display the newly acquired 6’ by 4’ flag bearing the Dragon emblem. The emblem with the slogan “The O.Y.C.F.C. DYNAMIC DRAGONS” was etched onto a framed 24” by 24” piece of copper and installed in the clubrooms. A wrought iron sign bearing the letters OYCFC was professionally hand made from half-inch wrought iron and finished in club colours. The logo would also appear on a range of stationery items such as letterhead and envelopes that Brian Stow as secretary would use.

For the players a set of 8 goal post pads were purchased, each boy received a manilla folder with a range of detailed club information including the newly commissioned club theme song composed by Jack Malcomson and Brian Stow. The Clayton School Band recorded the song. As well the coaches were given a green and gold tracksuit to keep.

1980. Under 16's OYCFC players training
1980. Under 16’s. Team manager Roy Greenwood & Gary Hocking in coaches tracksuit OYCFC players training

Also for the players 1980 was the year that the club confirmed its commitment to rewarding all players with an end of season trophy. The trophy recognises the efforts of every individual player and the OYCFC has continued this tradition every year since. The cost of doing this alone in 1980 was over $1300 and remains one of the clubs most significant, but most pleasurable, annual financial commitments. A colour team photograph for each team was also produced and given to each player on presentation day.

On the merchandise side of things, button badges were made up with the dragon logo and an iron-on transfer was produced for ironing on to tee shirts and the like. The badges sold for a dollar and the transfer for $1.50 if you were an adult, $1 if you were a child. A total of 180 plastic mugs with club logos were bought for the kids and the dragon logo was sewn onto every jumper. These sewn on badges cost $2.50 if anyone wanted to purchase one.

1980. Dragon Button Badge 1980. Dragon Membership Medallion
1980. Dragon Button Badge 1980. Dragon Membership Medallion

The club also had over 1000 metal membership medallions featuring the emblem and finished in enamel in club colours. They were sold for $5.00 each and an initiative was set up to formally record membership. The club was also keen that people across the club communicated well and the first step in doing this is being aware of each other’s names. The committee wanted all involved in the club and especially new parents to feel welcome at club events and games.  To this end parents were encouraged to wear name badges at all functions and were supplied with a card in club colours and a plastic cover with a pin or clip. Officials, coaches and team managers didn’t get off lightly either. They were given a green and gold metal bar identifying their role in the club, which made it easy to identify the right official to complain to!

1980. Dragon Club Name Tags Treasurers Name Badge
1980. Dragon Club Name Tags Treasurers Name Badge

On another front the club embarked on a massive recruitment drive, making up posters and placing them in shop windows all over the area. The concept of a registration day that was a major event was born with a whole range of fun activities and attractions set up for the March 2 registration day at Edwards Street. The committee was also aware of the value of newspaper coverage of the club and its activities and tried to maximize this where possible.

All of this cost an immense amount of money but in short the club had decided to invest significantly both to build on the foundation of the 15 years previous, and also to mark a coming of age for the OYCFC. The combined turnover of the ladies and the general committees for 1980 was over $15,000, a figure that would have frightened many at the start of the season. The Terry Lucas led committee had adopted an attitude of “can do” and approached every barrier as merely something to be got over.

One of the interesting factors to observe as a byproduct of this unprecedented investment in 1980 was that the amount of donations and volunteer commitment seems to rise proportionate to the amount spent. That is the more they spent and the more the vision of the Oakleigh Dragons was articulated, the more was returned to the club via donation. This excluded the bottle of Teachers Scotch whisky won by Jock Hepburn at the first monthly lucky medallion draw which apparently in, what was deemed as “true (Scottish) style”, Jock refused to share.

Fundraising was vitally important in 1980 as well as the immediate years following and a number of fundraising activities took place. These ranged from street stalls in Eaton Mall selling plants and cakes to the pleasant Sunday mornings at Faye and Mick Westaway’s house. Raffles became important and chooks arrived in a uniform fashion each week for the raffle courtesy of Brian Stow.

The two key events in 1980 were the Annual Dinner Dance and the “OYCFC special effort annual raffle”. Guest artist Lorraine Paydon performed with the Dalton Family Band at the dinner dance which for $20 a head included sherries and a nice “meal’ which started with soup being served at 8.30 sharp. The night also featured a lucky medallion draw and none other than Jock Hepburn won the bottle of Scotch.

On the field the club had teams in three different football associations, the Waverley District Junior Football Association (WDJFA), the Junior Sunday Football Association (JSFA) and the NDJFL, presumably the Nunawading and District Junior Football League. Roger Bonnici (coach) and John Perna (Team Manager) steered the under 9’s through the season undefeated. The younger age groups didn’t have ladders or game points awarded. The under 10’s, 11’s and 12’s all made the finals with the under 10’s successfully winning a flag and the 11’s also made the grand final finishing second.

1980. Under 11 team 1980. Under 9 team
1980. Greg Flynn (coach) and Under 11 team 1980. Roger Bonnici (coach) and the Under 9 team

1980 was also notable for a couple of other events. On the sadder side of things former President Mike Carter passed away on January 12. Mike had been President for seasons 1978 and 1979. On the brighter side former player David Rhys-Jones was reported in the club newsletter as having debuted for South Melbourne firsts on May 4 at the tender age of 17 and kicked 2 goals.

1980 ended with the end of season trip to Creswick, which needed two buses to get the boys there and a chicken and champagne breakfast at the park near the corner of Ferntree Gully and Huntingdale roads. Truly a good year had by all!

The teams that performed well in 1980 continued on in 1981, the under 10’s and 12’s made the finals and another flag was won by the under 11’s coached by Jim Jenkins. This in fact gave them two seasons without a defeat.

1980. Under 10 team 1981. Under 11 team
1980. Back to Back Jim Jenkins and the Under 10 premiership team 1981. Jim Jenkins and the Under 11 premiership team

League best and fairest counting also saw the club perform well. Glen Hepburn won the under 12’s, C Milverton the under 11’s and A Friend the under 9’s.

Sunny Mt Evelyn was the site for the 1981 end of season trip with the all-inclusive cost for adults of $30. The marketing push, which started in 1980 continued with the sale of football gear bags, emblazoned with the dragon emblem sold for $10 and a digital quartz wristwatch in club colours could be obtained for $15.

 1981. Under 14's 1981. Terry Lucas and Snowy Rhys-Jones with the Under 14 team

With free fairy floss, icy poles, lollies and drinks the 1982 season kicked off with a registration day that was billed as a gala family activity.  March was a busy time for the club; Terry Lucas took on the Presidency again when Randy Hill tendered his resignation due to business and family commitments, Snowy Rhys-Jones had his aluminum stepladder “borrowed” from the clubrooms and Ray Chapman turned 51 on March the 1st.

On the coaching front Jack Malcomson was overheard saying that this would be his last year, a statement he had made for the previous five seasons and Jim Browne came across from Oakleigh Juniors.

The season was described as a bit of a “lull’ by Terry Lucas in his President’s report to the August Annual General meeting. Results on the field dropped off but it should be taken into account that most of the OYCFC teams had risen to higher grades in the JSFA and the competition was better. This made the season a bit of a tough one for some of the parents but Terry reminded them that going to a higher grade should be taken as a compliment and essentially a measure of the clubs successful maturity.

The August AGM also considered whether the OYCFC should start its own cricket club so there must have been a lot of positive thoughts going on around the club despite the quieter year. Thoughts were also being given to a merger with the Oakleigh Juniors club who were beginning to struggle in these years.

1983. Under 11 1983. Warrawee Park.
Brian Stow & Daryl Otter
cheering the Under 11
team

Roger Bonnicci and Jim Browne both coached two teams in 1983. Finals were also again on the agenda of the OYCFC with the under 11 team competing in a grand final. Success again came the way of Roger Bonnici with a win over Ajax.

Another flag was added to the trophy cabinet in 1984, this time by the under 12 side who beat St Kilda City in a convincing display of football. Some may still argue that playing the final at Edwards Street gave Oakleigh an unfair advantage but given the final score was OYCFC (13.11.89) to St Kilda City (2.3.15) it would be an argument difficult to sustain. Sadly the under 11 team were defeated by Ajax. However it is always a good effort for any team to make an appearance in the last game of the season. The under 10’s and under 15’s also made the semi finals in 1984.

 1984. Dinner dance ticket 1984. Dinner dance ticket
1985. 150 Game mark
1985. Ashley Westaway (150 games),
Greg Rhys-Jones (100 games) and
Dean Van Der Wouw (150 games)

The milestone 20th anniversary year of 1985 produced some of the club’s greatest highs. On the field the club had great success. Most notable was the fielding of teams in every age group for the first time, with three premiership flags being won (11’s, 12’s, and 13’s) as well as a preliminary final appearance by the under 10 team coached by Terry Harvey. Three players broke the 150 game mark, Ashley Westaway, Glenn Hepburn and Dean Van Der Wouw. Ashley Westaway and Scott Hepburn becoming the first players to play right through the age groups from under 9’s to under 17’s. There was also some success at the league level with Adam McDonald (13’s) and Harry Akritidis (14’s) winning the best and fairest trophies.

Off the field the club was humming along. The main social feature of the year was the “20th Anniversary Special Dinner Dance” held at the Clayton Town Hall on Saturday 13 July. Entrance was at a cost of $17.50 per head. It was a BYO function with main entertainment featuring Andrew Dudley as guest artist, billed as recently winner of the Grand Final of Channel 9’s New Faces.

 1985. Dinner dance ticket 1985. Dinner dance ticket
1985. Gold medallion 1985. Gold medallion
to celebrate 20 years
of the OYCFC

The club also had a gold medallion struck to celebrate the 20 years. 280 medallions were struck with the front having the dragon emblem in the centre surrounded by the words “Oakleigh Youth Club Football Club – The Dynamic Dragons”.  On the reverse the words “1985 20th Year” appear in the centre surrounded by “OYCFC – Through Football Better Citizens”

“Dragons Alive Forever” was the club catch cry in 1986 and was evident with teams all the way through from under 9’s to under 16’s.

Roger Bonnici (coach) and John Perna (team manager) were put in charge of the WJFA under 13 interleague team and Corey Young, later to play for Richmond and the West Coast represented the club in the under 15 VMFL interleague match in May winning the award for best on the ground.

The under 14 team coached by Ken Brentwood and the under 15 boys coached by Roger Bonnici tasted success in grand finals. The under 14 team (15.15.105) had a massive victory over Mt Waverley (6.5.41). Best players on the day were Love, Kelly, Isted and Karagorgiou. Meanwhile Roger’s team, the 15’s (16.13.109), had an impressive win over Melbourne High (3.3.21) with Corey Young, Pat Heverin, David Bonnici, Harry Akritidis and G Stearne playing well. To the naked eye these would appear to officially be deemed “shellackings”.

1986. Under 14's 1986. Under 15's
1986. Kent Brentwood & the Under 14 premiership team 1986. Roger Bonnicci & the Under 15  premiership team

“Let’s work together throughout ’87” was the motto for 1987. This was the year that the club became an incorporated body with the official name being  “Oakleigh Youth Club Football Club Incorporated.”

1987. Dinner dance ticket 1987. Dinner dance ticket

The club again fielded over 190 children from under 9’s through to under 16 level which was impressive given the fact that neighbouring club Oakleigh Juniors folded as a club. As well Oakleigh Districts had fewer teams than usual. More options for children to take up other sports and leisure activities such as basketball could possibly be the reason for this drop off in numbers.  It is unlikely that OYCFC benefited much from the demise of the other two Oakleigh junior clubs. The OYCFC President, Lou Lasani made comment in the June/July newsletter that the OYCFC was saddened and alarmed by the folding of Oakleigh juniors and the weakening of Oakleigh Districts.

1987. Under 16 1987. Flying the flag.
Roger Bonnicci and the Under 16’s

Towards the end of the season under 15 player, Stuart Maxfield was selected to play for the Victorian Schoolboys State Sports Council (VSSSC) in Perth and the club contributed $60 towards his expenses.

President Hugh McLeod welcomed the new OYCFC 1988 committee at the general meeting on February 10 stressing his wish for full commitment from each person. In the February newsletter Hugh also reminded everyone of the club’s aim to give the boys/girls an education in Australian Rules football, mateship, team spirit and to be proud of performance regardless of result. The club had also adopted the motto of “ Work together and receive the pleasure” for 1988.

The 1988 season was a bit of a struggle on the field generally, starting with plans for under 15’s and 16’s being shelved due to difficulties recruiting enough players. No doubt disappointing to Trevor Powell and Neil Busacca who had been appointed coaches. Hugh McLeod acknowledged in July that although the club hadn’t had quite as good a season as they had hoped, they were still achieving what the had set out to.

The club put 6 teams on the field in 1988 with under 9’s through to under 14’s. Wins and losses for all teams after round eight were leaning more towards the debit side and teams were struggling for numbers. Boys were often playing an extra game in a higher age group just to ensure that the OYCFC were able to field a side. On occasions boys from St Peters filled the interchange bench. The under 9’s had their first win in late July which was celebrated by free Twisties provided by Robert Garth after the match!

The 1988 interleague games were held at Edwards Street on Sunday June 12 against the Diamond Valley football League. Coach of the under 13 team, Dave Crosher was appointed WJFA under 13 coach along with his team manager Chris Jakovincic who Dave claimed he wouldn’t have known what he would have done without.

While the club was doing it fairly tough on the field, socially they were as strong as ever with trivia nights, Sunday night dinners, a Rock and Roll night, and an end of season outing to Luna Park.

The annual dinner dance held at the Clayton Hall on Friday July 29 was the main event .The “Bobby James Syndicate” again fronted up as the main entertainment, which was a BYO affair with $20 per head entry and the catering by Vic Potter. A profit of $192 .85.  was made with expenses coming to $2,587 and revenue being $2,780.

The most serious injury for the 1988 season appeared to be Life Member Jack Malcomson who entered hospital to have a knee operated on. The club sent best wishes messages for a speedy recovery. Perhaps taking the club motto for 1988 a bit too literally, the April club newsletter also sent a congratulatory message to the Brentwood family as Carmel, wife of under 9’s coach Ken Brentwood, had just given birth to Steven.

John Van Der Helm was elected president for the 1989 season and encouraged everyone to go out and enjoy 1989. The social functions, which included a “back to the sixties” dinner dance, were deemed a success and again generated valuable income for the club. The club was in a very strong financial position at the end of 1989.

One of the key questions that the 1988 committee faced was whether or not OYCFC was playing in the right league. The 1989 committee took a decision to move from the WJFL to the Dandenong and District Junior Football League (DDJFL) as they felt it offered “closer competition through divisional structuring” (refer footnote-23). This proved to be a good decision and yielded immediate results with OYCFC under 12’s and 14’s winning best club awards and two players winning DDJFL best and fairest awards.  Damien Foster (10’s) and Ashleigh Crosher (14’s) were successful and Marcus Wood (11’s) came 3rd in his age group for the league. The under 11 team also made a grand final just getting beaten by St Gerards who kicked 4 goals 1 point in the first quarter and finished with 4.2.26. Oakleigh (2.7.19) had more scoring shots so unlike 1965 maybe bad kicking is bad football.

The on field challenges of the 1988 and 1989 seasons and the switch of leagues reveal one of the great issues facing any junior sport which is how to meet the balance between winning and playing for fun. It is very difficult to develop a sense of self-esteem and encourage participation and enjoyment of sport if you are getting thrashed every week.

The eighties really were a golden time for the club, starting with an explosion of energy, enthusiasm and success in 1980 and continuing with premierships, league best and fairest and a vibrant club social life right through the eighties. In hindsight that explosion of energy, centered on the adoption of the dragon emblem, allowed the club to weather the downturn in local football that began towards the mid to late eighties.

The club in 1980 did what few sporting clubs are able to do, which is to develop a longer-term vision of where the club needs to go. To do this clubs have to take risks, be prepared to fail and have a sense of humour. In the early eighties president Terry Lucas, to reassure committee and club members at times, was heard to say jokingly “ we’ve only promised the front half of the house this week!”

1984. Under 12 Premiers 1984. Under 12 Premiers
1985. Under 11 Premiers 1985. Under 11 Premiers
1983. Under 11 Premiers 1983. Under 11 Premiers

Related

footnote-23
Presidents Report  August 29 1989.

Oakleigh Dragons Junior Football Club – 1990-1999 Merger

On The Move, Merger or Coming Home

The theme for life for most of the 1990’s seemed to be “ change and more change” and if that didn’t work “ lets try some more change!”  The Council that endorsed a book celebrating 100 years of Oakleigh Council, as well as the disposal of 27 asbestos-lined train carriages to the South Clayton tip in 1990, would not exist four years later due to local government restructures. Ironically by the end of the 1990’s the Kennett Liberal government that drove such drastic change across Victoria would also be disposed of – presumably the people of Victoria felt it was time to take the Kennett train to the political tip!

A restructure of metropolitan football at the senior level in the early 1990’s was the catalyst for quite drastic change closer to home with the OYCFC. A move of home ground to Scammell Reserve and the uncertainty about the formal relationship with the Oakleigh Amateur Football Club (OAFC) created some issues for the club. As a result much of the nineties was in stark contrast to the success of the eighties reaching its lowest ebb in 1991, 1996 and 1997 when the club could only manage to field four teams.

The Oakleigh Amateur Football Club was born out of a merger between two local clubs, the Sacred Heart Football Club whose home was Edwards Street and the Emmanuel Football Club who played at what would become the new home, Scammell Reserve on Guest Road. Sacred Heart and Emmanuel had developed a bitter rivalry over time that made the growth and development of the newly OAFC a somewhat complex task.

The decision for the OYCFC to join the newly formed senior club, the Oakleigh Amateur Football Club, as co-tenant at Scammell Reserve on Guest Road was taken in late 1991. Scammell Reserve had been the first base of the OYCFC when they used it for training on Wednesday and Thursday nights in 1965. Ray Chapman Jnr can also recall playing games there around that time, getting changed in a nearby garage. This would appear likely as the club had some trouble in the early years securing access to ovals and often had to play home games at rival grounds. Perhaps the great irony of this move for the Dragons was that they were moving home – and no one knew it!!

The nineties started on a positive note for the club with 1990 being a year of celebration with the OYCFC celebrating 25 years of junior football. Another medallion was struck to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of the club. It was identical to the 1985 medallion but this time in silver. 25th Anniversary carafes and wine glasses were also produced. The club had also adopted the catch cry, “ The Mighty Dragons are alive in 1990”

 1990. Silver medallion - 25 years of the OYCFC 1990. Silver medallion struck to celebrate 25 years of the OYCFC

The club had an extremely active social calendar in 1990. The main celebration event was the Silver Anniversary Dinner Dance held at Clayton Hall on July 28. A special birthday party for the club was also held on April 22 after the first game.

1990 also saw two important additions to the fabric of the club. Club Treasurer Cheryl Watson commenced the onerous task of compiling a club history from 1965 to 1990 and the club had decided to honour the memory of club stalwart, Jock Hepburn by awarding the Jock Hepburn Memorial Trophy for the person voted as best club person.

1990. Executive Committee - 25th year Dinner Dance Cheryl Watson
1990. Executive Committee.
25th year Dinner Dance
Cheryl Watson

On the field the club had little to report for 1990. None of the five teams made finals. Dale Perdikomatis won the under 12 best and fairest and his team represented Oakleigh VFA in the 1990 Quit Cup.

Hugh McLeod was elected unopposed as President at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the 29 of August 1989 for the season 1990. At the 1990 Annual General Meeting Shaun Pearce was also elected unopposed to the position of President. The club had from 1989 to 1996 had seven different Presidents, a new one each year. They had had only 13 in total from 1965 to 1988.

General business at the 1990 Annual General Meeting gives the first indication of some of the major issues confronting the leaders of the OYCFC in the immediate years to come.  On record is a request from Sacred Heart Football Club for a meeting with the OYCFC with a view to Sacred Heart becoming the Dragons senior club.  It was anticipated that this would involve a change of names that suited both clubs (refer footnote-24).

The general feel from the meeting was to treat this approach with caution and that any major decision regarding, in this case a merger with, Sacred Heart Football Club be put to a special general meeting of the OYCFC. It is not recorded whether the meeting with Sacred Heart Football Club took place. Nor is the name or the proposed nature of the new club recorded.

The club had a bad run over a couple of years, losing life members Jock Hepburn in 1989 and Ray Chapman in 1991. Popular Life member Graham “Sarge” Morna lost his mother and mother in law, all this within days of becoming a father. As well the much-respected Pauline Taylor passed away.

Jock Hepburn with wife Jan and family Ray Chapman Ray Chapman
Jock Hepburn surrounded by wife Jan and family

Of the four teams that the club fielded in 1991 three of them made the finals. The under 16’s and 11’s finished third having both reached preliminary finals. The under 13’s coached by Craig Hutson, who took a mid season break to the USA, finished runners up to Mossgiel Park.  They also won the leagues award for the best conducted club. Damien Foster added to that by winning the under 13 league best and fairest.  Two other league best and fairest were won.  Paul Heather won the under 11’s and Ashley Crosher the under 16 best and fairest.

The next mention of possible merger of OYCFC came at the General Committee meeting of August 21 1991. The committee of the OYCFC had had an approach via letter from representatives from Emmanuel and Sacred Heart Football Clubs concerning a move to Guest Road. Representatives from both clubs were in attendance at the meeting. Again general feeling from the OYCFC committee was one of caution but the OYCFC committee felt the move to Scammell Reserve would be beneficial for football in the area and make the club stronger (refer footnote-25).

That letter from the two clubs was a result of an earlier meting attended by Shaun Pierce, Jan McLeod and Rob Brien. The Emmanuel and Sacred Heart Football Clubs had met on August 7 to discuss their proposed amalgamation. The minutes of that meeting focus almost entirely on the issues confronting the two senior clubs. Only item 5 deals specifically with the OYCFC and in essence says that if the OYCFC want to join the amalgamation they could but the reasons for them do so must be made clear (refer footnote-26).  Other items that mention the junior football club are about co-location at Scammell and not amalgamation. From this meeting it would appear that the two senior clubs were open to amalgamation but were either in no position to or didn’t particularly want to pursue the matter with any vigour.

Issues of concern were that the OYCFC wanted to keep its own colours and name, have financial assistance from the senior club, honour boards displayed in the new rooms and life members recognised. Some of the OYCFC committee wanted to resolve that matter immediately and others wanted to wait. The second had to be the option as both senior clubs were yet to hold their Annual General Meetings, as was the OYCFC.

The next mention of possible merger for the OYCFC came two minutes later at the Annual General meeting of August 21 1991. The general meeting had concluded at 9.20 pm and the AGM commenced two minutes later at 9.22 pm.  Rob Brien was elected president of the OYCFC.  The following motion was moved by John Van der Helm, seconded by Hugh McLeod and carried with a majority vote.

“That Oakleigh Youth Club Football Club joins in with a possible merger of Oakleigh Sacred Heart Football Club and Emmanuel Football Club in sharing the Guest Road, Scammal (sic) Reserve.

Guidelines to be followed:

1. Keep our own colours – green and gold
2. Keep our name O.Y.C.F.C
3. Keep our emblem – The Dynamic Dragon
4. Keep our song
5. Our Honour boards would get equal space as the two senior clubs.
6. Would have our own committee with 2 members on the senior committee
7. Support from senior club with regards to onfield and financial arrangements
8. Life members would be recognised with the New Senior Club.”

By the end of 1991 season the Emmanuel and Sacred Heart football Clubs had formally agreed to merge, and held their inaugural meeting on Wednesday the 20th of November at their new home at Scammell reserve. Paul Callery was announced as the new coach of what was now the Oakleigh Amateur Football Club. He unfortunately couldn’t take up this position due to family ill health.

The previous evening the OYCFC held its general meeting at the new clubrooms with comments from the committee being favourable to the new home. Barry Alexander representing the OAFC welcomed the committee as the “ Junior Club to the New Oakleigh Amateurs” and item 5 on the agenda recorded that three senior players would be the allocated to each junior side to help with coaching (refer footnote-27).

The move whilst being viewed by the committee as an important strategic move, beneficial for the OYCFC was causing some disquiet among youth club members. A letter was to be sent to life members of the OYCFC explaining rights and privileges at the new clubrooms and the Jan/Feb newsletter of 1992 reiterates the essence of the motion passed at the Dragons AGM in August. President Rob Brien strongly urged OYCFC members not to listen to rumours or idle chitchat. Rob was to be among a number of resignations from the committee during the season for various reasons.

Registration day on the 23 February 1992 incorporated the official launch of the Oakleigh Amateur Football Club and featured a spit roast. The OYCFC had announced its catch cry for 1992 as, “Remember: For OYCFC. Second wont do in ‘92’”

On the field the 1992 season saw 5 teams compete under the Oakleigh Dragon banner, although the under 10 team coached by Craig Taylor was a combined team with Clayton. The under 9’s competed in a lighting premiership at Parkmore Football Ground on the 9th of August and although they didn’t win the commitment couldn’t be faulted.  Craig’s team and the under 12 team both made the finals. The undermanned under 12 team lost to St Gerards in the 1st semi final with four players out. Cameron Apelgren was awarded best player on the ground.

One more move would happen in 1992. The club received a clearance from the Dandenong and District Junior Football League to play in the Moorabbin Saints Junior Football League. Although the club was pleased and considered the clearance an early Christmas present, it was another unsettling event. New and more paperwork to be done, new systems had to be learnt, new relationships made and built and a whole new set of opposition teams had to be met. Situations that co-tenant the Oakleigh Amateur Football Club also had to deal with. Both clubs met many times both formally and informally to work out and work on the arrangements for sharing the new facilities at Scammell Reserve, with a clear commitment to make the new arrangements work for both. This in itself was a time-consuming exercise.

In hindsight the move was important for the OYCFC as it located the club in a much more visible location. Strategically it was important to remain linked to the new senior club for support and growth reasons.  It was also in a better location for recruiting, as Scammell Reserve was located between two of the areas’ main primary schools, Sacred Heart and Oakleigh South Primary. It was also closer to Oakleigh South High School, another potential recruiting ground. The only real downside of the move was the loss of two ovals that Edwards Street offered.

For the OYCFC the issue of adopting formal rules for the running of the club under the requirements of the then Department of Corporate Affairs occupied a lot of time and debate at the committee table of 1993. Aligned with this was a proposed restructure of the club.

Five teams represented the OYCFC in 1993. General manager of the OAFC Jim Podesta took up the role of under 15’s coach, and another senior player Craig Taylor took on the under 11 team in his second year as a junior coach. Again it was an Oakleigh team merged with a group of boys from another club, this time with the Moorabbin Bears. The 9’s and 10’s didn’t win a game in their respective Lightning Premierships.

In 1993 the focus of the club was clearly off the field. Another mention of a possible merger emerged when Ian Storey and Allan Wood at the 14 July meeting moved that a joint working party be established with the OAFC to investigate the possibility of amalgamation (refer footnote-28). The motion was defeated, however it does reveal that the issue of moving in as a co-tenant of Scammell Reserve was beginning to blur into an issue of possible or perceived amalgamation.

Pat Torpey Assistant General Manager of the OAFC addressed the August 4 general meeting of the OYCFC and discussed among other things the issue of possible amalgamation of the OAFC and the OYCFC. It is clear from the minutes of that meeting that both clubs realised that the relationship was important and that amalgamation could be beneficial. It is also clear that there was much confusion about how, if they were to amalgamate, they would achieve this (refer footnote-29).  Pat, as a representative of the OAFC, did speak about a long-term process that involved joint committees working together over a period of a few years with a view to eventually amalgamate.

The debate for the OYCFC began to reach its zenith not long after the October 6 1993 Annual General meeting of the club. A motion was moved and seconded by Brian Moulang and Neil Nicholas respectively stating the following:

“That the O.Y.C.F.C Inc. as a matter of urgency makes arrangements to:

A) Change the club colours to match Oakleigh Amateurs Football Club following confirmation and approval of the Moorabbin Saints Junior Football League and the O.A.F.C.

B) Initiates a special summer fund raising program to raise the necessary finance to ensure that new jumpers are available for the 1994 season.

C) Participates in a joint working party with the O.A.F.C. to discuss future joint arrangements for the mutual benefits of both clubs.”  (refer footnote-30)

The minutes of that Annual General Meeting record that a lengthy debate ensued, and the decision was taken for the newly installed committee of the OYCFC to hold a special general meeting as soon as possible, so that all members of the Dragons would have sufficient opportunity to air their opinions.

It is interesting to ponder how the amalgamation issue had moved from an evolutionary process for the OAFC to a matter of urgency for the OYCFC. One interpretation of the push to amalgamate is that it was coming largely from within the junior football club and not the OAFC, and that at this time the junior club had been sufficiently unsettled by the move to have momentarily lost a sense of its own purpose.

The minutes of the AGM meeting support this view and reveal just how unsettled the club was. The positions of President, Secretary, Treasurer and the two Vice Presidents were all contested and decided by election. In a stable club with clear direction it is rare for any position to be contested. For the top five positions that year to be contested, indicates that the club was having some real identity issues.

The Special General Meeting was held on 24 November 1993 and commenced at 7:50 pm. It took just over an hour for everyone to conclude that the meeting couldn’t vote on the motion (which hadn’t changed from the AGM) as there was lack of clarity around who exactly could vote.  Newly elected President Neil Nicholas decided to defer this meeting and refer the matters to the next committee meeting. The issue of amalgamation effectively moved into the background.

In reality both clubs were struggling with the issue of what sort of relationship they should have, should they become one, should they stay separate, was there some hybrid model that could work, did it in fact matter either way. While this debate raised tempers in some, it caused others to contemplate what the future might be like and excited possibilities in the rest. It is obvious that all involved had the best intentions at heart – which is how to make football in Oakleigh successful. Looking back it has been a vital and important debate for both clubs to partake in.

The focus in 1994 began to move slowly back to the players and the teams of the OYCFC. The half way report from the June newsletter gives an indication that the teams were struggling. The under 10’s had won three games and the under 9’s two. Jamie Briggs winning play of the day in the second win over Hampton Rovers by kicking the winning goal.

The fun had at the 1994 trivia night was mentioned in the June round up next, and a few pages later the news that Matthew Cash, Simon Conway and Robert Jenkins were playing well for the 11’s who hadn’t won a game.  The 14’s and 16’s were faring much worse, copping some big losses.  The under 14’s had losses to Hampton by 34 goals, Ormond (12 goals), Bentleigh (16 goals) and 18 goals against Cheltenham.  Leigh Head, Mark Lanagan, Sean Mortimer, Adam Wood formed the nucleus of a team that one week had only 11 players and had to field four under 12 players to avoid forfeiture.  On the up side, Mark Lanagan and Leigh Head made the interleague squad with Mark getting a game against South Australia Central Districts and Leigh playing against the Knox league.

The under 16 team had it even worse. Losing to Bayside by 42 goals, Ajax by 26 goals, St Bedes by 17 goals and Cheltenham by 30. They unfortunately went through the season without a win, while the under 14’s managed only one win, beating Bayside by 3 points.

Brian Moulang was elected President for 1995 and set about trying to build the club, which in 1995 would have five teams playing. In his report to the members on Presentation Day he did indicate that the road ahead was uncertain (refer footnote-31).  Brian remained President for three years.  While the team numbers did drop for 1996 and 1997 to four teams, each year saw the club regain its a sense of identity.  The committee had new members, new jumpers and safety headgear was introduced to the under 9 and 10 age groups as well as new jackets in green and gold. David Rhys-Jones returned to the club to help with the launch in 1997.

The club had six teams in 1996, 9’s through to 12’s and under 14’s and 16’s. Scott Maddocks and Marcus Wood both passed the magic 150 game mark and Matthew Schilling made it to 100.Highlights of 1996 included Jamie Maddocks winning the 1996 MSJFL under 11 best and fairest, and Jack Malcomson passing the 400 game mark as a coach.

Marcus Wood (150 Games), Matthew Schilling (100 Games), Scott Maddocks (150 Games) 1996. Jack Malcomson, coach of the Under 10 team
Marcus Wood (150 Games), Matthew Schilling (100 Games), Scott Maddocks (150 Games) 1996. Jack Malcomson, coach of the Under 10 team

The Dragons were on the up in 1997 as the under 12 team coached by OAFC senior player Graeme Redford with Shane Kitts as Assistant Coach made the Grand Final. They went down to Bayside 13 points on a wet and windy day, one of those days that was just a bit too wet for good football and clearly a washout day for cricket. They got to within two points of Bayside in the last quarter but couldn’t get that vital goal. Jamie Maddocks won the MSJFL medal for Oakleigh’s best player with Stephen Insall, Michael Jordan, Gino Torcasio and Caolan Vaughan being named as best players.  Jon Bredyk kicked two goals with Jordan and Dean Jones kicking one apiece.

 1997. Graeme Redford (coach) and Shane Kitts (Assistant Coach) with the Under 12 runners up 1997. Graeme Redford (coach) and Shane Kitts (Assistant Coach) with the Under 12 runners up.

The under 10 team of 1997, it shouldn’t be forgotten, had an undefeated home and away record but couldn’t keep that record intact on Lightning Premiership day.  The under 14’s coached by former Hawthorn player Rob Osborne made the finals as well.

Other highlights for 1997 included Stephen Insall as runner up in the league best and fairest for the under 12’s and James Chapple leading the voting for the Dragons in the under 11 league best and fairest.  Peter and David Ciavarella and Christopher West past the 100 games mark.

 1999. Kim Wooderson and Committee With John Barnes at the launch of the new jackets 1999. Kim Wooderson and Committee With John Barnes at the launch of the new jackets.

Kim Wooderson took over as President in 1998 and concentrated on trying to build up the numbers of players. Kim was also keen to develop a strong relationship with the Auskick group that used the ground on Saturday mornings. The club fielded 6 teams in 1998 and although flags weren’t on the agenda, a growing player list was.

Grant Pitts won the under 15 best and fairest and Robin Nahas finished third in the under 11 league best and fairest.  Adam Ciavarella joined his brothers as a 100 game player.

The club lost secretary Irene Bourke in 1998 and immediately introduced an award in her honour to recognise the person who is involved and committed to the club but not on committee.  Greg Doyle was the first recipient.

 Irene Bourke Irene Bourke.

1999 saw much of the same with five teams (9’s, 10’s, 11’s, 12’s and 14’s) playing strictly under the Oakleigh Dragons banner and another two (15’s and 16’s) as combined teams.

This growth was significant with the need to build new change rooms, or at least add on another two and an umpire’s room as an extension to the Scammell Reserves’ rooms.

The under 11 team made a Grand Final going down by three points to East Sandy, Joel Costigan, Matthew Tunik and David Forsyth providing the goal kicking highlights. Christian Anderson-Blundy won the MSJFL medal for best player in a game where Oakleigh got off to a slow start.

1999. Under 12 Finalists coached by Adam Moulang 1999. Under 11 Runners Up coached by Marc Blundy
1999. Under 12 Finalists coached by Adam Moulang. 1999. Under 11 Runners Up coached by Marc Blundy.

Other highlights included Michael Doyle, Sean Earl, Stephen White and Robert Whitehouse all passing 100 games played for the club. The list of boys playing 50 including Darcy and Jackson Bray, Matthew Bell, Paul West, Ricky Watts and Tom Ristevski.  Robin Nahas won the league best and fairest for the under 12’s with 32 votes while Michael Jordan, also with 32 votes, managed to come 4th in the under 14’s. Wayne Plaukovits represented the club at league level in Adelaide in the under 15 MSJFL inter league team in June.

By the close of the decade the club was on an upward growth curve again. The leaders of the club and the OAFC for that matter had negotiated some very difficult times.  With incorporation and formal rules, formal facilities management arrangements and finance and resource sharing agreements, both clubs had successfully and effectively transformed into small business operations.

Perhaps the most difficult issue for both clubs to deal with in the nineties was that of identity. Brian President for three of those years, felt the move to Scammell Reserve needed five years to settle and that expectations from both clubs were much higher than they should have been.

The OYCFC/OAFC relationship was in fact the best thing to come out of the nineties for the junior club. A number of OYCFC former players such as Pat Heverin, Ali Khodr, Bruce Nicholas, Simon Kilner, Leigh Head, Rowan and Konrad Marshall performed at the highest level for the club. While the OYCFC had no flags to show for the 1990’s the OAFC to their great credit had, with these players involved, managed to win a number of premierships during this period which both clubs took some joy in celebrating.

Related

footnote-24
OYCFC Minute Book.  AGM 14/8/90.

footnote-25
OYCFC Minute Book. General meeting 21 August 1991.

footnote-26
Minutes of Proposed Amalgamation between Emmanuel FC and Sacred Heart FC. 7 August 1991.

footnote-27
OYCFC Minute Book. General meeting 19 November 1991.

footnote-28
OYCFC Minute Book. General Meeting 14 July 1993.

footnote-29
OYCFC Minute Book. General Meeting 4 August 1993.

footnote-30
OYCFC Minute Book. Annual General Meeting. 6 October 1993.

footnote-31
Oakleigh Youth Club Football Club. Presentation Day Booklet. 17 September 1995

Oakleigh Dragons Junior Football Club – 2000-2005 Growth

Growth, Expansion and Success

2000 saw the whole of Australia and the world fall in love with Sydney and the Olympic games. Which were deemed to be a “great success as a spectacle and for the spirit in which the games was held” (refer footnote-32) Queen Elizabeth toured Australia for the 13th time in March, the same month as Alan Bond was set free. Neither visited Oakleigh in that time, at least its not recorded whether they did or not!

President Kim Wooderson saw the club enter the 21st Century in good shape. In his Presidents’ report of the 2000/2001 combined yearbook Kim noted that the Committee was working hard on running the club and that the effort of the numerous volunteers was appreciated greatly.

From 2000 onwards, the club experienced an astonishing growth in players, teams, sponsors, volunteers and the number of families involved. Each new year, from 2000 onwards, has seen the OYCFC introduce new initiatives. These have included better marketing and promotion, more interaction with the community and local schools, building of stronger relationships with the OAFC, Oakleigh Auskick and the MSJFL, and enhancement of the necessary internal structures needed for a growing club to function efficiently.

Results on the field in the period 2000 –2005 has also seen growth, starting with the grand final appearance in 2000 by the under 11 team coached by Ken Brentwood. With ever-reliable Rod Lee as Team manager, the Oakleigh under 11’s lost by 10 points to Elsternwick. Final scores Elsternwick 3.5.23 to Oakleigh 1.7.13 were disappointing as bad kicking was a problem that cost Oakleigh the match. Tim Blackburn the only player to score a goal.

 2000. Under 11's 2000. Under 11 team coached
by Ken Brentwood

Ken in his Grand Final match report forewarned of the success looming in 2001 when he finished with the words, “ beware the Dragon in 2001”. Unfortunately for Ken, the 2001 under 12 team couldn’t go one step further. Not only did the under 10 team coached by Peter Tunik get over the line for a 1 point Grand Final victory but the under 17 combined team and the under 13 team made their respective Grand Finals.

In addition, two new coaches Jamie Connellan and Rocky Calderone, under 14’s and under 9’s respectively, led their teams to the finals. Although they were only down by 8 points at half time in the preliminary final against St Pauls, the 14’s were soundly beaten both on the scoreboard and in the injury stakes with 6 players unable to complete the game. Robin Nahas and Mick Doyle the worst with Robin in hospital for a cut on his arm that exposed the bone, he wanted to go back on, and Mick Doyle tearing his hamstring with the first kick of the match that was a goal.

Rocky’s team had an equally heart breaking 4 point loss to Bentleigh in the 2001 under 9 west semi final. Lucas Walmsley kicked the only goal and was among the best along with Mitchell Bengough, Gabby Irons, Phillip Falvo and Tom Surace.

The Bentleigh/St Peters/Oakleigh (8.8.56) combined team was beaten by South Melbourne Districts (10.10.70) by 14 points which was a great effort given that two years previously as under 15’s they hadn’t won a game. Sean Earl kicked two goals and was in the best with Robert Whitehouse, Joe Sayers, Andrew Taranto and Chris Lamb.

 2001 Under 11 runners up 2001. Under 11 runners up. Bentleigh/St Peters/ Oakleigh combined

The under 13 team (3.5.23) was well beaten by East Sandringham (7.9.51) with Troy Raglus kicking two of Oakleighs’ three goals. Stefan Krull (MSJFL medal for best Oakleigh player) Fabian Melican and William Katopau led the best players which included Matthew Tunik who was runner up in the 2001 League best and fairest for that age group. Matthew won the 2000 League best and fairest for the under 12 East Division.

In the under 10 premiership win of season 2001 Jake Pappon was best on the ground. Jake, Kyle Harber and Danny Tunik scored the goals in the 1 point win over Murrumbeena in the final of the Lightning Premiership held at King George Reserve in East Bentleigh.

 2001. Under 10 premiership  team 2001. Under 10 premiership team coached by Peter Tunik

The club in 2002 had under 9’s through to under 15’s with most lists being quite strong. The under 14’s made it to the semi final and suffered at the hands of Ajax (8.17.65) by 20 points.  Ricky Watts kicked 2 goals for Oakleigh. Best players were Tunik, Fermanis, Rea and Tyler Price. Coach Marc Blundy, who was awarded the 2002 coaching award, pointed out that they had had to win every game against the top teams in a sustained run of five weeks to remain in finals contention. The effort took its toll in the end but a great effort non-the less.

In League honours in 2002, Tim Scott won the under 12 South Division with 22 votes and Matthew Tunik (14’s) and Robin Nahas (15’s) were runners up. Matthew was also captain of the under 14 MSJFL interleague team which included Paul Fermanis, William Katapau and Matthew Wilkie. They played the Central Districts team from Adelaide.  Robin Nahas, Josh Derks-Revere, Tom Risevski and Ben Wooderson made the under 15 team. Bad luck befell both Ben (broken elbow) and Matthew Wilkie (broken bone in the hand) and they had to withdraw from their respective teams.

Framed Jumper with Dragon Logo
Framed Jumper with Dragon Logo on front

After seven years on the committee and with five as President, Kim Wooderson handed the reins over to Peter Tunik at the end of 2002. Kim oversaw a period where the club strengthened and stabilized. The club formalised its requirements for coaching and appointed a coaches coordinator, introduced the dragon logo onto the jumper, and the Scammell Reserve building was extended to incorporate two new change rooms.

Other developments in 2002 saw the introduction of hot food into the canteen on training nights, and the OYCFC recognising Oakleigh Auskick by sponsoring trophies for Auskick.

In 2003 another 38 new players and 32 new families came to the OYCFC and an eighth team was added. Another solid year on the field saw the under 10’s, 11’s, 14’s and 16’s teams all making the finals. Tim Scott won the MSJFL best and fairest for the under 13 South Division and Robin Nahas was runner up in the under 16 competition. Yiani Rhodes (12’s) and Gabby Irons (11’s) received medals of excellence for finishing in the top four of their respective age groups.

The real highlight of 2003, apart from Sue Harber’s sterling effort in raising enough money ($703) for the purchase of a new BBQ (ironically via a meat raffle every Sunday), was the introduction of a range of gear featuring the Oakleigh Dragon logo.  Bags and baseball style caps were presented to the players and a new membership card and bumper sticker were produced. The clubs sponsors such as Watts Fencing and Better Torque Automotive supported much of this initiative.

2003. Dragon Membership Card 2003. Dragon Bumber Sticker
2003. Dragon Membership Card 2003. Dragon Bumber Sticker

President Ken Brentwood hosted a Back to the Dragons day on Sunday August 1 2004. Ken was keen to recognise the efforts of parents in keeping community football alive with this day for the past players of the club and their parents. Over 50 people attended, some of whom hadn’t been to the club for some time, convincing the committee that it was important to hold this event annually.

The 2004 season finished on a high and was described as the most successful since 1987. The Under 12 team coached by Rocky Calderone won a premiership, defeating East Brighton by 37 points. A team effort was credited on the day with Gabby Irons (3) and Dean Balassis (2) the major goalkickers. James Morris was awarded the MSJFL medal for best on the ground on the day, having just missed out on the League best and fairest by 3 votes.

The club also fought out Grand Finals in the under 13 and 15 grades as well as a Preliminary Final appearance in the under 17 competition.

Two of the clubs’ favorite sons, Robin Nahas (Oakleigh Chargers) and Tim Edwards (Sandringham Dragons) performed well in the elite TAC cup competition with Robin finishing 12th in the Morrish medal.

Leo Lucas took over the helm as Club President in 2005 with a drive to focus on improving sportsmanship in the club and to continue the building of club participation both by players and parents.

Perhaps one of the most significant events of 2005 was the launch of the Umpires Appreciation Programme. Developed in consultation with Bill Dellar, CEO from the AFL Umpires Association, and supported by the Moorabbin Saints Junior Football League, the programme sets out to change the attitude of players towards umpires. Bill Dellar stated at the launch that he would “love to see this initiative taken up at every club and league in Australia”. Such an endorsement scheme would not be dissimilar to the concept of the Heart Foundation tick for healthy food.

The Umpires Appreciation Programme was launched officially at the Scammell Reserve clubrooms on April 5 with assistance from AFL St Kilda player Nick Dal Santo and AFL umpire Hayden Kennedy (refer footnote-33).  The programme is a pilot, which sees the players and coaches from each team setting targets for behavioural improvements towards umpires. The real power of this initiative according to Bill Dellar is that the change comes from within clubs.

On a much more practical level time for parents and families spent in a junior sporting environment is too precious to be wasted on abuse of officials and umpires, most of whom are volunteers and at least for junior football are also trying to learn and improve.

 2005. Umpires Appreciation Programme launch 2005. Umpires Appreciation Programme launch

2005 has also seen the club providing more players to the TAC competition with Tim Edwards continuing with the Sandringham Dragons and Matthew Tunik and Paul Fermanis joining Robin Nahas in the final Oakleigh Chargers squads. Robin made it all the way through to the Victorian Metropolitan TAC under 18 team.

The club also held its second past parents, life members and players day on 29 May which was another success capped off by the under 16 and 17 team both producing solid wins and the 17’s singing a rousing version of the club song afterwards in the social rooms for the life members and past players. Sydney Swans and former OYCFC player Stuart Maxfield addressed both teams before their respective games.

If the growth and excitement generated in the first fours years of this decade continues in 2005 and beyond we can expect many more successes.

Related

footnote-32
Keesing’s Record of World Events Vol. 46. No. 9. p 43754

footnote-33
AFL Record. Round 3. April 8-10, 2005. P19