TWELVE seasons ago the Kyneton Football and Netball Club celebrated a special day in their history.
It was early June 2005 and 10 years on the Tigers were celebrating their win over South Bendigo in the 1995 grand final.
Star player and BFNL Hall of Famer Tony Kelly and premiership year president Shane Feely recalled the highs of the momentous season, decided a decade earlier.
What 1995 really did was not only cement Kyneton as a power club of the mid to late Nineties --- they were runners-up in 1996 and premiers once again in 1997 --- but signalled an end to South Bendigo’s stranglehold on the senior premiership.
And the Tigers didn’t just scrape home in September 1995.
They belted the Bloods by 45 points and in so doing snapped their own 29-year premiership drought.
The headlines and lead paragraphs in the Monday Addy two days later said it all: “After 29 years in the wilderness Kyneton today stands out as the pride of the BFL.”
Star on-baller and playmaker Kelly recalled the grand final win on that June day 10 years later as if it had been the previous weekend.
He’d played his first senior season with the Tigers in 1979 and also racked up 10 VFL (the AFL as we know it today) games with Collingwood: 1983-85.
“As a group of players we’d been at the Kyneton club for quite a long time without much success. It sure was a big deal for us,” said the then 43-year-old.
“We were really hungry for it and we believed it was time for a changing of the guard.
“As it turned out, early in the game we could sense it was going to be ours. We had a bunch of really close blokes and from the start of the season we all really gelled and bonded together,” Kelly recalled.
FEELY recalled how emotional he’d been at the QEO that September Saturday as the final siren sounded.
“For all the work the boys had put in, it was a just reward,” he said.
“As it turned out we were to play in the next two BFL grand finals but who was to know that at the time.”
The former president recalled that Kelly, ruckman-forward Terry Mangan and first rover Shane Muir were all over 30.
“So we knew there weren’t all that many chances left for them.”
Running through the list of his premiership teammates Kelly remembers well Mangan, fellow ruckman Nick Heath (who later had a gallop with Eaglehawk), playing coach Derrick Filo, inspirational captain Muir and wingman Leigh Trethowan.
The younger brigade was led by future Michelsen medallist Simon ‘Harry’ Elsum, multiple Ron Best Medal-winning full forward Steven Reaper, Daniel Schmidt who went on to play almost 90 VFL games and key defender Dean Simon who later played with Doutta Stars in the Essendon D.F.L.
“We basically all knew what our jobs were and as soldiers (of the Kyneton club) we went out and did those jobs,” Kelly said.
The Tigers knew they could more than match it with South. The Bloods only loss in that 1995 home and away season had been a 37-point defeat at the Kyneton Showgrounds in round five, although they did reverse that result three months later.
South won the round 14 clash at the QEO by 35 points.
THE Bloods had finished on top of the 1995 ladder with 17 wins and just the one loss to Kyneton while the Tigers went into September in second position with a 15—3 record.
The Peter Curran-coached South Bendigo went into the Big Dance with 12 players who’d played in either the Bloods’ 1993 or ’94 grand final wins while Kyneton coach Filo was the only Tiger who had lined up on the QEO in the BFL’s biggest day previously.
While the Bloods were aiming to win three premierships in a row for the third time in the club’s history --- remember their domination of the 1950s with Alan “The Fox” McDonald at the helm -– they also had the chance to join old rivals Sandhurst and Eaglehawk on 25 flags as the most successful BFL clubs.
But it wasn’t to be as Filo’s well-drilled Kyneton overcame a slow start to halt the Bloods.
“We were of the opinion we could beat any side in the competition,” Kelly remembers.
“There was a firm belief among our group that no side was going to intimidate us and no side was any better than us.
“In previous years we might have accepted certain sides were going to beat us, but for a period of time (from 1995) we had a group of blokes who were used to winning.”
“As I’ve said we all basically knew what our roles were.”
KYNETON had advanced straight into the grand final after a comfortable second semi-final victory over South.
They took the game by 49 points, the biggest margin in the three 1995 meeting between the clubs that season.
Kyneton took control of the second semi in the second term, booting five goals to one after scores had been locked on 4.3 apiece at quarter-time.
And the Tigers repeated the dose in the grand final two weeks later.
After the Bloods had run out to a 5.4 to 2.4 lead at the first change, Filo’s charges refused to buckle.
“There were no panic stations at all at quarter-time but they certainly had jumped us,” Kelly recalled.
“We just worked our way through it and back into the game and stayed focussed.”
In a blistering 30 minutes of footy in the second stanza, the Tigers turned the 18-point deficit into a 34-point lead by the long break.
They’d slammed on eight goals at the Barnard Street end with Filo and Muir nailing two fine goals apiece.
The Tiger backline held the Bloods scoreless in the second quarter.
PRIME movers Filo and Muir were the key players behind the turn-around collecting 21 possessions between them in that pivotal second term.
“I remember a number of passages of play where we would kick a goal and the hairs would stand up on the back of your neck. That was because the whole team was with it,” Kelly said.
“It was a big adrenaline rush and while we’d always had a big belief once we’d kicked a couple of goals we started thinking: ‘these South Bendigo blokes are going to go down.’
“Once that feeling started halfway through the second quarter it was the finish of the ball game.”
“South was a team which had been the king of the competition for two or three years and no side had probably done that to them over that period.
“Once you get a group of blokes together who all get that same feeling on a big occasion it’s a hard snowball to stop and that snowball started rolling in the second quarter.”
Statistics show that the momentum stayed with the Tigers in the second half as they booted another eight goals, holding the Bloods to six.
The Tigers ran out winners 18.13 (121) to South’s 11.10 (76) in front of a crowd which paid $22,921 at the gate.
Best-on-ground Shane Muir (a BFNL Hall of Famer) kicked four goals and won the Nalder Medal. He racked up 35 possessions.
Reaper kicked four goals from nine shots, defender Paul Cass had 17 possessions, Filo 31 and nine marks, Kelly 19, Dale Power 16 possessions and speedy ‘Lenny’ Schmidt 18.
Kelly later ended his career on 265 games with the Tigers.
A NUMBER of famous Kyneton footballers and Tiger identities have been recognised by the Bendigo Football Netball League: formerly known just as the BFL.
Hall of Fame members: Clive Philp (inducted 1986); Shane Muir (1996); Tony Kelly (2010); Stan Plowman (2014) and Kevin Parks (2014).
League medal winners (Michelsen Medal from the early 1950s onwards & still today): Bill Spurling (1936), Frank Halloran (1938), Elder Anderson (1939), Cliff Deacon (1958), Clive Philp (1959), Kevin Parks (1960), Ian Burt (1964), Graham Clark (1977), John Watts (1980) and Shane Muir (1985).
Notable past players --- Horrie Mason (St. Kilda best and fairest winner 1926); Leo Westcott (Collingwood premiership player 1927 and 1929), Jimmy Buckley (Carlton premiership player 1979, 1981 and 1982); Nathan Thompson (North Melbourne and Hawthorn senior player).
BFL premierships won by the Tigers (6): 1936, 1960, 1961, 1966, 1995 and 1997.
And Kel still bobs back up from time to time. Last season as I took a break during a Bendigo-Melbourne midweek road trip there he was in the Malmsbury coffee shop.
A few days later, TAB ID card around his neck, Tony was at the G where we Cats’ fans were on tenterhooks hoping Geelong could sneak past the Hawks in a major AFL final. And they did. Just!
Round 7 tips: Golden Square, Kyneton, Gisborne, Strathfieldsaye and Sandhurst.
By Richard Jones