WITH two divisions in place 35 years ago the league had rostered the second tier to start their finals during August’s last weekend while the top level clubs fought out the concluding home and away round.
YCW was listed to take on Kennington-Strathdale in the Bendigo Golden City League’s 1982 Division Two first semi with the last three home and away clashes scheduled for Division One.
Kennington didn’t go into the knockout semi-final on a bad note.
They’d just booted a club record 43.33 (291) against wooden spooner Provincial in the last round.
But the leading four clubs in Div. 2 had finished a long way ahead of the other three clubs.
Northern United, North Bendigo and Kennington all finished on 64 premiership points. YCW had garnered 60.
White Hills, Marong and Provincial were all a long way off the pace with the Hillies (5th) a clear 20 premiership points behind the fourth-placed Eagles: on 40.
And sixth-placed Marong was another two games adrift of White Hills.
In Division One it was shaping up as a Sandhurst-South Bendigo first semi-final although the Bloods were matched up against second-placed Square in the last round with Sandhurst rostered to meet Kangaroo Flat at Dower Park.
Kyneton, the Flat and cellar dweller Castlemaine were all out of Div. 1 finals calculations.
Raging hot premiership favourite Eaglehawk had collected 76 premiership points with second-placed Square a long way adrift on 56 points.
THE scribe in the ’82 BGCFL Footballer, the 1980s weekly guide, had taken a swipe at critics of the league’s two-divisional structure.
“The Division 2 season was far more interesting than many predicted.
“With a weekly bye situation some pundits predicted a lack-lustre roster of games. But the home-and-away games finished up a promoter’s dream.
“The top three clubs all finished with equal points (64) and YCW was only four premiership points behind them.”
To top off an exciting last round Northern United proved their traditional finals strength by downing flag favourites North Bendigo by 14 points, he noted.
Now I don’t think the BGCFL writer was taking aim at me personally as the Advertiser’s chief footy writer of the time.
I think he might have been having a pot shot at Lee Howard, the Addy’s BGCFL Division 2 scribe of that period.
Not to worry as it’s now three-and-a-half decades back, shrouded in the dim mists of time.
The editorial went on to note YCW full-forward Colin Grenfell had finished the season with eight goals in the last regular season game against White Hills.
Grenfell‘s bag took him to 105 goals for the 1982 season.
LOOKING back at the second last round in Division 1 the editorial noted that Eaglehawk had suffered their only defeat for 1982 to date at the hands of Golden Square.
“Only two weeks ago it appeared to be Eaglehawk for the Division One flag by a country mile.
“Down went the Hawks to Golden Square and brought back huge interest in the fight for the major pennant,” he wrote.
“And the competition was thrown even wider open when South Bendigo downed potential second semi-finalists Sandhurst in a top clash on the QEO.”
The editorial writer mentioned that the Bloods boasted a top crop of players.
Des Charles, Mark Mackinder, Barry Tippett, Gary Cowling and Dennis Byrne were all class key position players, he wrote.
Square had belted Kyneton by 122 points as the Tigers bowed out of ’82 finals contention “without a whimper after being potential finalists only a fortnight earlier,” the writer asserted.
“Their biggest minus was lack of form away from the Kyneton Showgrounds although at home they turned in strong showings against all sides,” the writer stated.
And Kangaroo Flat attracted strong praise.
“Their record of five wins was five more than many sceptics predicted back in March. Without much aid and with plenty of enthusiasm the Roos established their club as a valuable member of Division One in just four months: many had suggested it would take five years.”
AND then attention turned to the VFL’s (soon to be AFL’s) zoning scheme --- and its pitfalls.
“Without being anti-Carlton who have given our area a 100 per cent improved relationship since Stephen Gough was appointed local promotions and development officer, why don’t we feature some of our local Bendigo footy heroes at the many promotions which are carried out throughout our region.
“We must try and create a local ‘star’ system,” he boomed.
“The more promotion and exposure our local champions receive the better will be our gate takings.
“No one will go to watch some unknowns playing each other. People love to watch the champions --- they always have.”
The focus then switched to the most pressing problem of the early 1980s: the structure and make-up of the BGCFL, or the BFL as most followers preferred to call it.
The editorial writer pleaded with club delegates and senior officials to put the interests of Bendigo footy first.
“Let’s hope that directors put football first and club interests second, for one of the few times this season, as we work out the structures for 1983.
“Parochial club interests have stifled the growth of footy in our region. As this column has stated often --- we must get out and promote our game far more than we do.
“We must continue to organise bigger and better schoolboy competitions to give our youth the opportunities to learn the great skills of our code.”
ANOTHER interesting feature in the BGCFL Footballer from the early Eighties was its Personality page.
Featured at the end of August was then North Bendigo playing coach Peter Young, father of Square senior players of the 2000s: Dale and Shaun.
He’d come from north-west Victoria to study at the then Bendigo College of Advanced Education and qualify as a teacher. After graduation Young became a member of staff at the Peter Harcourt Centre.
All of Peter’s uncles plus his father had lined up in the Irymple side which won the Sunraysia F.L. grand final in 1958.
Young’s Dad Gordon was the centre half-back, totalling more than 200 games for Irymple. When Peter made the Irymple seniors legendary coach the late Alan “Bull” Richardson, the father of Richmond star Matthew, was in charge.
And because they were in Richmond territory Peter played against many soon-to-be VFL Tigers in Mark Lee, Alan Edwards and Dale ‘Flea’ Weightman.
He recalls Lee as being 6 feet 8 inches (203 cm) but just 10 stone (63.5 kg) when he knew the giant ruckman.
Young was snared by Golden Square guru Neville Strauch when he first lobbed at the BCAE, but played in two losing Bulldog grand final sides. Sandhurst won both the 1977 and 1978 BFL flags against the Square.
Peter moved to North Bendigo with Terry Stacey in 1979 and then the Atkins Street Dogs lost the 1980 flag to White Hills after going through all the rest of that season undefeated.
Young spent the 1981 season in the Loddon Valley F.L. as coach at now defunct Yarrawalla with the Hawks scoring just the six wins. Peter made the LVFL inter-league side which played the Central Highlands in a drawn-out 1981 series.
INCIDENTALLY, Eaglehawk rounded out a massive 1982 season --- they went on to win the Division 1 flag 18.19 (127) to Square’s 6.12 (48) --- with a thumping final round win over wooden spooner Castlemaine.
Daryl Gilmore booted 17 goals to take his 1982 total to 101 after starting the day on 84 majors.
Captain-coach Phil Byrne nailed five goals as the Hawks steamed home in a shoot-out: 27.15 (177) to the Maine’s 15.10 (100).
There’s some famous names (and, indeed, BFNL Hall of Famers) in those team lists back in the day: Peter Fyffe, Ronnie Cawthan, Dale ‘the Enforcer’ Williams, Peter Strange, John Jefferies, the late Stan Camov, BFNL senior coach and VCFL life member Brett Fitzpatrick, Lennie Watson and prolific spearhead Wayne Crosbie were all in Magpie colours.
‘Ninga’ O’Connell, Danny Slater, ‘Bruiser’ Williams, Dennis Higgins, Steve McDougall, Peter Rogerson, ‘Darby’ Monro, Adam Metherell, ‘Herbie’ Keane, Gerard Geary and recent Flat president Paul Brooks all ran out for the Two Blues.
And, of course not to forget the Golden Greek: Fotius Delikatzis!
Richard’s tips for BFNL Rd. 18: Strath Storm, Square, South Bendigo (at Harry Trott), Eaglehawk and Sandhurst.
By Richard Jones