65 years of otgafc history
A step back in time covering the road to ‘A Grade’, milestones, club legends, award winners from the present and across the years and much more. Whilst still a work in progress, we acknowledge there may be some pieces of club history missing, so please help up piece it all together to complete the story.
Clink the link below to access a downloadable PDF document.
As we embark on a journey to realise a more complete history of the Club, it’s important to acknowledge the efforts of those that have been instrumental in preserving the achievements of over 1800 men who have pulled on the Gold & Green.
It’s going to be a constant ‘work in progress’ so we beg your forgiveness if we get it wrong sometimes and that there a few missing pieces. But we also invite your contribution. Where there are gaps, help us fill them. Where you can provide a picture, send it to us. Where you can share a story, tell us. We’ll do our best to add your experiences to our shared history.
Reconstructing the history of a football Club from the archives is a task that is both rewarding and not without its challenges.
To add your recollections, stories, photographs or memorabilia, complete the submission form.
OUR HISTORY SO FAR...
We were admitted to the Victorian Metropolitan Amateur Football Association in 1921 and subsequently merged with Old Haileybury in 1928. The merger lapsed in 1935 and we were re-admitted to the re-named Victorian Amateur Football Association in 1954.
And 2013 will be our 60th year in the VAFA.
We have played nigh on 1300 players and won thirteen premierships – seven senior, three reserve and three under 19. And we have been in Premier (formerly A Grade) for eighteen years including thirteen of the last fifteen.
Football clubs are, first and foremost, about people – different people from different backgrounds with different priorities. And, for all manner of reasons, amateur football clubs are especially different, if not unique.
The late John Weatherson was our founder and inaugural captain and our senior best and fairest award perpetuates his memory. The late George Dwyer, who also played, was our inaugural Secretary and a memorial cup is awarded in his honour to the runner-up senior best and fairest. George was a regular attendee at our pre-match luncheons up until 2005 and a very rabid supporter. In 1958, the late James Bellair was seconded to do the financial sums and he stayed six years which was much longer than most of his successors.
The 50s and 60s were obviously difficult but we persisted despite being in lowly E Grade for fifteen years. Laurie Chynoweth coached us for six of the first ten years and was our first captain coach in 1956. Graham Humphreys, who was Secretary from 1961 to 1963 and Treasurer from 1964 to 1967 also captain-coached us in 1964 & 1965 and was the first to play 100 and 150 games. Little wonder he was awarded Life Membership in 1968. Ian Curtis succeeded Humphreys as captain for the next five years, winning our senior B&F twice, and the late Jim Cox won the E Grade goalkicking in 1968 with 71 goals. Our reserves started in 1965 and won the first of three consecutive premierships in 1967. First Don Elmer and then Terry Hense (life-long friends) took centre stage for eight years and somehow Hense managed to coach both seniors (D Grade premiers) and reserves in 1970. Mind you, things were much simpler then – players didn’t interchange or rotate, corridors and flooding meant something else and osteitis pubis was mere gobbledegook (and still is to some!) Following John Weatherson’s death in 1968, Norm Latchford became President and he and then Secretary Roberts Moore formed a wonderful partnership.
Despite losing the C Grade senior and reserve grand finals in 1971, we were at least finally in B Grade. And monolithic Dennis (The Shadow) Stephens (father of Travis circa late 1990’s/early 2000’s) immediately won the B Grade goalkicking in 1972 with 79 goals, allegedly without ever leaving the goalsquare!
In 1974, the much revered Alec Gardiner (ex Footscray and Box Hill) arrived as coach and success was immediate.
Despite our first stint in A Grade being only three years, it was long enough for Chris Hansen to win the VAFA B&F and All Australian honours in 1976. Chris subsequently played 101 games for Fitzroy (1977-1982). Good players abounded, not least the brothers Cohen, Dart, Fellows and Kennedy, and Gary Fletcher, a dual senior B&F and state representative. It is also noteworthy that Bill Peers, a four time state player, was our first A Grade state representative in 1975. Less noteworthy was another change of homeground in 1978 – our sixth in 25 years. Anyone who has been to a 1970’s re-union in the last fifteen years will attest to the extraordinary camaraderie of this era. Success doesn’t happen by chance.
The early 1980’s were entirely forgettable as we plummeted to E Grade. The club was at the crossroads. The redoubtable Norm Latchford, who turned 90 last November, again took on the presidency to ensure our survival. Stuart Stockdale, who captain-coached the reserves in 1981 quickly ascended from Treasurer to President in 1983 and our recovery was underway notwithstanding a lost grand final. Craig Robison was club captain and barely a third of the way through a playing career that would nett him a staggering 307 games and three state representations. We won the D Grade premiership in 1985, club captain Scott Cowley won the VAFA B&F and Chris Brent was leading goalkicker with 106 goals, a club record to this day. Our playing stocks at the beginning of this period were boosted significantly by Dave O’Shaughnessy and Ed Borghesi who, unlike today, managed to escape the clutches of their Old Xaverian fraternity. Both became 200 gamers.
We returned to B Grade in 1987 captained by O’Shaughnessy who was already a three time senior B&F and state representative. Our under 19s debuted in Section 3 in 1989 and immediately won the premiership. And, amongst a host of very good players, Rob Phillips, former TGS 1st XVIII captain, was emergent.
The 1990’s were exhilarating yet frustrating and various home-ground changes (four, from memory) did not help. Rob Stanley, our longest serving President, was very entrepreneurial and a recruiting whiz but to no ultimate avail. B Grade was pretty much a doddle but A Grade was always something else. Twice B Grade premiership coach Alan Johnson, a former Melbourne legend, tried everything in his four year tenure, including playing, but we could not stay up.
1995 senior B&F Simon Dalrymple, as personable as he was tough, captain-coached us to another B Grade flag in 1996. But again, A Grade was a stretch. Perhaps De La Salle icon Bernie Dunn, senior coach in 1997 & 1998 was right – we had more ability than most but an inferior work ethic. Nevertheless, there were many things to savour, including the sublimely skilled Andrew Allibon (five times club captain, four times senior B&F (including 1983), VAFA B Grade B&F in 1991, twice leading club goalkicker and dual state representative), the omnipresent Trevor Norman (three times senior B&F), the relentless Dave Rogers (twice club captain and VAFA B Grade B&F in 1992) and the frighteningly competitive but incredibly fair Rob Phillips. And who could forget that wonderful marriage up-forward of those shrinking violets, Jamie Stickland and Rod Heath? Stickland (five times) and Heath (twice) dominated the clubs goalkicking and Heath also won the A Grade award in 1993. Our under 19s had a purple patch in the late 1990’s winning the 1997 Section 2 premiership under current TGS 1st XVIII coach Steve Maus. Mark Passador kicked 102 goals but, heaven forbid, an Old Scotch player outdid him. Adam Andrews, Scott Dann, Andrew Hine, Lachlan Kennedy and Colin Phillips represented the state in under-age grades and all graduated very successfully to senior football with Andrews winning the senior B&F in 1999.
We had an abundance of quality players and as improbable as it sounds today, and to President Andrew Kennedy’s great chagrin, Andrew Ramsden and Mark Passador played off the bench in the 1998 B Grade preliminary final at Sandringham which we just lost to Old Ivanhoe despite Allibon’s unbelievable last quarter in his 262nd and final game. Heresay has it that Kennedy actually confronted the coaches just before half time in an uncharacteristic fit of apoplexy!
In October 1998, Box Hill (VFL) wanted Leigh Carlson (ex Collingwood and Fitzroy) as senior coach. And so did we. Thankfully, he chose us. And like Alec Gardiner, success was immediate. Carlson had previously coached Collegians to A Grade premierships in 1993 & 1994 and as club stalwart Graeme Alford will remember on that very sunny day in the Cohen Room in late November, Carlson told some of us very bluntly what we needed to do to stay in A Grade. And no-one demurred. Thereafter, the 1999 B Grade premiership always seemed a given though in reality it was never quite that easy.
2000 to 2004, overseen by Carlson, Phil Gaut (assistant coach) and Ray Dean (team manager), has been our most successful period in A Grade by a long shot, winning 50 games, drawing two and losing 40. And the subsequent recruitment of Brian Kays as Head Trainer was an extra bonus as Dean and Kays (both ex Melbourne) knew more about metropolitan and country Victorian footballers than the rest of us put together. Following the lead of all other A Grade clubs, we reintroduced a Club XVIII in 2000 having disbanded it after one year in 1995. And courtesy of Gaut, we established a very strong relationship with Loyola College which provided us with some excellent under 19 players, most of whom progressed very successfully to senior football. Forever dismissed as a one-year wonder’s, we recruited a wealth of talent from the School and elsewhere. We narrowly missed the finals in 2000 and 2001 but were spruiked by all and sundry for a top two finish in 2002. And given our playing list, the spruik was well founded. In addition to the usual suspects including Rob Phillips, David Burrows, Jeremy Sutcliffe, Travis Stephens, Chris Frost, Matt Greig, Matt Collins, Gabe Deane-Johns and Glenn Hatfield (four times state representative), we recruited Steve Brown (ex Horsham), Paul Gnatt (ex TGS and Oakleigh Chargers), Nathan Pirouet (ex OMs courtesy of Adam Andrews), Adam Contessa (Clint Hillas’ cousin ex Footscray, North Melbourne and Glenelg), Adam Gorman (ex Kyabram), Lucien Deane-Johns (ex Old Xaverians) and that very introverted couple, Anthony Parkin (dual premiership player ex Collegians) and Old Geelong Grammarian, Lincoln Reynolds (ex Footscray, OMs and AAFC Team of the Year representative 2003). Phil Stevens, then VAFA CEO, had a very significant hand in Reynolds recruitment but that’s another story for another time. And Dave Rogers returned from a long stint with Monash Blues. But as so often happens, we did not live up to expectations because egos ran absolutely rampant, However we did manage to fittingly farewell Phillips (six years club captain), Rogers and Parkin in round 18 with a one point win over Uni Blues at home.
2003, however, was altogether different. We had a fairly untried young lot which we affectionately termed the no names side. And after two initial thrashings things looked pretty grim and we were readying ourselves yet again for relegation. All of a sudden, the football universe turned on its head and we won 11 of the next 16 games, missing the finals by half a game, Many, including Carlson, believe this was our most satisfying year in A Grade notwithstanding what was to follow. Joel Aitken, under 19 captain and B&F was also a VAFA B&F medallist.
And 2004 was definitely different. Slow starts in the previous three seasons had been very costly but thumping practice match wins against Old Xaverians and Old Scotch indicated we were ready to go and we were. Despite a mid season lapse, we snared fourth spot despite giving bottom side De La Salle a 23 point start at three quarter time in the last home-and-away game. Thank God for Lachlan Kennedy and Andy Cultrera who was recruited from Aquinas OC (Division 1) in 2003, courtesy of Dave Rogers. Despite the assurances of others, Cultrera was not entirely confident he could play at the top level. And how misguided was he? In seven years he amassed 365 goals, represented the state in six of those years, won the A Grade goalkicking in 2006 and 2007, was club captain in 2008 and four times leading club goalkicker. But alas, things went a bit awry in the finals. Senior B&F Abe Williams, far and away the competition’s best centreman, injured his knee in a snowboarding accident before the first semi. And Paul Gnatt, the best rover in the competition had already buggered his knee at Elsternwick Park near season’s end against Old Haileybury. In any event, despite a dreadful win/loss record against Marcellin, we belted them in the first semi at Sandringham with a ten goals to two second half. And Trinity people came from far and wide which happens when you smell success. Anyone who was at our three quarter time huddle that day will never forget a very hoarse Carlson (then Deputy Principal of Marcellin College) extolling us to bury them. For the record, our better players included Andrew Ramsden (again!), Toby Van der Venne, Lachlan and Sam Kennedy, Alister Neville (first year out of TGS and AAFC Team of the Year representative) and Lucien Deane-Johns. Although our reserves lost their first semi to Old Scotch and our Club XVIII (3) were runners-up to an undefeated Uni Blues, both reinforced the historical truth of depth in A Grade. Despite leading St Bernards at half time in the preliminary final, several of our wretched long-time nemeses, notably Daniel Byrne and Dan Jordan, went mad in Q3. We lost but were extraordinarily gallant, reducing the deficit to 13 points at the halfway mark of Q4 but a few things went against us in the last ten minutes and that was that. Kristian Butler, despite going surfing in WA or thereabouts for the last month of the season, was an Under 19 VAFA B&F medallist and Jed Burgess likewise in Club XVIII (3).
Since 2005, A Grade pickings have been pretty lean save for a little flurry in 2006 (won eight, including six in a row). An under 19 premiership in 2008, runners-up in B Grade in 2009 and some individual honours are all well and good. But there is absolutely nothing like A Grade success as Old Xaverians well know.
Our Club XVIII (now known as Third XVIII) has become an intrinsic part of this club with several finals appearances, including the side’s first premiership in 2016. Jenny Cade and her late husband, Mike, have been its guardian angels since inception and sons, Stuart, Tim & Jono, all life members of the club, have gone on to play in excess of 670 games, in all grades, with the majority of these games with this team – a family record, to be sure.
But, above all else, there has been one constant over the last 20 years – Andrew Ramsden. No-one can so easily thrill or infuriate within the space of 30 seconds or sometimes less. His credits are well documented and, deservedly, he now sits atop this club with 348 games with the promise of more. The word champion has been demeaned these days through overuse but in his case it is a perfect fit.
Our current captain, Brendan Iezzi, is racking up his own list of imposing credits including three senior B&Fs, an A and B Grade VAFA B&F and numerous state representations including All Australian Under 23 in 2008. And any coaches (and supporters) dream player, Luke Pacconi (ex Parade College and another Gaut get), isn’t doing half badly with three state representations in the last four years including last year’s Under 23 Carnival side in Adelaide.
Written by Ian Jervis, 2013