On the 24th of April, 1964, The Old Ivanhoe Grammarians Football Club took to the field for the first time in the VAFA. The team had been allowed to join the amateurs in the F Grade competition and did not have a Reserves team until 1966.
In our first game we played St Patricks at the Herbert Onley Reserve at Yarra Bend. We started well; John Dawson kicked the first goal for the game and the club. However, St Patricks then took over. The final score was:
Old Ivanhoe 1.0.6 to St Patrick’s 12.19.91
The history-making original team consisted of the following 20 players:
Terry Brennan, Ross Christie, Geoff Cohen, John Dawson, Warwick Farnclough, Neville Frost, Ross Gillies, Peter Greve, Andy Harris (C), Geoff Jones, Michael Love, Reg Mort, Colin Perry, Steve Sayer, Jeff Stagg, Jack Stennett, Ken Strickland, Andy Turnbull, Graeme Ulrick, Ken Wright – Coach Andy Harris.
The team went on to win 5 games for the year and finished 6th out of 8 teams.
In just its 2nd year, in 1965, the Club played off in its first Grand Final against Reservoir Old Boys, and although narrowly beaten, earned promotion to E-Grade. The 1966 season ended with the Club reaching the Grand Final only to lose to AJAX.
With promotion to D-Grade in 1967 came tougher competition and relegation back to E-Grade. As a result of VAFA restructuring, the club was demoted to F-Grade for season 1971. Kevin McLean was appointed senior coach and with a strong batch of boys recruited from the school, the Club looked to the future with optimism.
In 1971 we lost the grand final to Marcellin but gained promotion to E-Grade for the second time. In 1972 we were again defeated by Marcellin, this time in the preliminary final. In that year the Reserves became the first team to win a VAFA premiership for the club.
D-Grade in 1973 was a stellar year for the club; both the seniors and reserves won premierships. The seniors came from behind at the last change to beat Old Camberwell and take home the Club’s first senior flag.
In 1974 we narrowly missed back to back premierships losing a tough and controversial Grand Final to Brunswick.
Promoted to C-Grade for the first time in the Club’s history we made the finals only to lose a tight preliminary final to St Kilda CBC.
In five short years under senior coach Kevin Mclean, the club had moved from F grade in 1971 to the C-Grade Preliminary Final in 1975. During this period the reserves played in four consecutive grand finals, winning consecutive premierships in 1972 and 1973.
From 1973 to 1993 the Club remained in either C or D-Grade. In 1982 the Club surprisingly lost the preliminary final to St Pius following a dominant home-and-away season. The highlight during this period was a magnificent victory in a high scoring grand final against St Kevins in 1987 to register the Club’s second senior premiership.
In 1994 the Committee, players and members sat down and set a goal named “Destination A-Grade”. Within the space of only five years this goal had been achieved.
In 1994 and 1995 the Club won back to back premierships, again under senior coach Kevin Mclean. In 1994 we beat St Kevin’s to win the D-Grade premiership and in the following year defeated Ivanhoe to win the C grade premiership.
The club was promoted to B-Grade for the first time in its history.
Although the Club was competitive in B-Grade, a finals appearance did not eventuate until 1998. Under senior coach Stuart Glascott, the Club finished the season in 2nd place but unfortunately lost the 2nd semi-final to arch rival Marcellin. In the preliminary final against Trinity, and with a place in A-Grade at stake, we seized the momentum in the second half of the game to run out winners.
After 34 years in the VAFA, the club was in A-Grade for the first time in its history.
The 1999 season in A-Grade was a tale of two halves. At the mid-point of the year, the club was facing relegation. However, a fantastic latter half, including an away win against powerhouse club, Xavier saw us reach the finals in our debut season at the highest level. Although we lost the 1st Semi Final to St Kevins, this was a remarkable achievement.
Despite starting season 2000 with a one point win over Scotch we were relegated to B grade ending the season with a one point loss to Trinity.
Season 2001 in B-Grade was a complete turnaround. Gerard Sholly was appointed senior coach and the playing list strengthened. After holding top position for most of the year we were defeated in the 2nd Semi Final against De La Salle. A wonderful Preliminary Final victory over Old Melburnians saw the club promoted to A-Grade for the second time. After a slow start, an eight goal third quarter saw the team record a strong win over De La Salle in the Grand Final to record our 5th senior flag.
Season 2001 also saw our “Dad’s Army” win its first Club XVIII flag and the Under 19’s finished a creditable third.
The return to A grade in 2002 was similar to 1999, with a poor first half followed by a 7/9 win ratio in the second half of the season. The penultimate must win game against St Bernards at the “snake pit” saw us defeated by six points, with Old Scotch coming from behind to snatch a win over Old Trinity to deny us a finals berth by two points. What might have been….
Despite being competitive for most of season 2003 the Club never achieved the heights of the previous year and were relegated to B-Grade.
If ever there was a season of highs and lows 2004 was it. Decimated by injuries for most of the year the players displayed enormous courage and determination to win “unwinnable games”. With the return of many senior players towards the end of the season we won seven consecutive games, only to be cruelly denied promotion to A-Grade when we lost the Preliminary Final in extra time to Collegians in arctic conditions at Elsternwick Park.
Following some strong recruiting and the return of a number senior players, the players list was as strong as it had ever been. 2005 started well with three strong wins. We lost 2 of the next three games, but after regrouping, the team went undefeated in the last 12 games.
In the 2nd semi-final we played De La Salle who were the other standout team during the year. After an excellent start we led until the last quarter. Our opponents were, however too strong and ultimately ran out convincing winners by 27 points. We played Old Brighton in the preliminary final and after a slow start, a dominant second half saw us win by 43 points, thus earning promotion to A-Grade for the 3rd time. The Reserves also reached the Grand Final. In bleak conditions, however, also against De La Salle they went down narrowly. The Seniors fared better and played great football in the wet and windy conditions. It was close all day, but we controlled play at the crucial moments and ran out victors by 17 points. Premiership number six for the club.
In 2006 we lost two Life Members of the Club, with the retirements of George Haros and Scott Kent. Poor form in the practice matches and some serious injuries in those games did not bode well. We lost easily in the first game at St Bernards, with more injuries incurred. Then the season turned around. A six goal comeback against Trinity in game two led to three straight wins and after 10 rounds we were 7 and 3. After dominating against Trinity in Round 11, our opposition took control and we went down by 24 points. In the next seven games we only one two games, with four losses in a row, all by less than 3 goals. We finished 9 and 9 – a creditable 6th, but for all involved – a little disappointing.
In 2007 the club’s stocks were weakened considerably with the loss of seven 100-game players but recruited Allister Keel from the Western Districts, Tim Hosking from Old Scotch and Hayden Heta from the Country. Peter Love assumed the presidency with Richard Dalpos was recruited from the Ivanhoe Junior Football Club for the Under 19’s and Dirk Jones was back at the club coaching the Reserves.
The season started badly with a loss at Brighton who would prove to be grand finalists, then a good win at home versus Collegians and away against Old Scotch. A tight loss in Round 4 to St Bernards was to typify the year – close games. During the middle section of the year we won 4 games by less than a goal which set us up for finals footy. We played Uni Blues in the first semi and were comfortably beaten. We had achieved the finals in A Grade for the first time since 1999, and with few departures expected for 2008, we had high hopes for the coming season. The Under 19 side won the club’s first premiership in this division, in Section 3. Hayden Heta was awarded Woodrow Medal as the A-section best and fairest.
2008 saw a changing of the guard, Dan Winkel was appointed senior coach and Brad Thompson named captain. After a slow start to the season we finished as the in-form side of the competition winning 8 of the last 10 games including, defeating the eventual premiers, St Bedes/Mentone, away in the final round of the season. We narrowly missed the finals after winning 11 games and went into the 2009 season with great optimism. The U/19’s were narrowly defeated in the grand final.
Despite a convincing win against Marcellin in Round 1 we would lose the next 14 games due to injuries and indifferent form which was compounded by the retirement of two club legends in Sjouke Price and Marcus Toovey. Brad Thompson was appointed Captain/Coach with 5 rounds to play and a young side managed to win 2 out of the last 3 for the season although that was not enough to avoid relegation to B-section for the 2010 season. On a positive note 2009 saw the club XVIII mark their return to the competition with a grand final appearance.