201Warrandyte Junior Football Club History

The Formative Years

WFC minutes from 1954 show that an under 16 side started in that year. Teams were fielded in this age level until 1968 when an under 17 team was formed instead of under 16. Within two years the EDFL ruled that clubs were required to field under 15 and under 17 sides to be able to part of the competition.

In 1973 Lawrie Sloan became President of the WFC, immediately identifying the need for junior teams. At that time the club only had an under 15 team, the under 17 team had been disbanded in 1971 due to lack of numbers, and was subsequently reinstated to the EDFL in 1973.

In 1974 Lawrie took his idea of forming an under I3s squad to the late John McCartin Snr, who had assisted with the reinstatement of the under 17s the year before. The under 13 team was registered with the EDFL in 1974, and after discussions between Jim Voce and Lawrie in 1975, the Under 9 and Under 11 teams were also formed. This was in keeping with the EDFL’s practice of running uneven numbers at that time.

Lawrie and his advisers approached the fledging Doncaster Junior Football League (DJFL) with a view to joining their competition for the 1975 for the 1975 season. At that time, the League headquarters were contained in a private house in George Street, Doncaster, and after deliberating there for some three hours the DJFL informed Warrandyte that it would be too difficult to accommodate them because the season’s fixtures had already been released. Warrandyte then approached the Nunawading Football League who accepted them into their competition for 1975.

The Warrandyte Junior Football Club (WJFC) was run by a sub-committee of the senior club, and Jim Voce was elected tile first chairman of the WJFC. The remainder of the sub-committee was comprised of June Voce, Barbara Sloan, Beryl Sturesteps and Hazel Gray – true pioneering women!.

In the initial years, the senior club fully equipped the Juniors with guerseneys  socks, etc. and paid all of the junior’s expenses

In 1976, the EDFL started a junior football competition, the Eastern Districts Junior Football League (EDJFL) which the WJFC joined registering two under 9 teams and two under 11 teams. That year the first Lightning Premiership was held at Yarra Glen, alongside the YarraRiver which created huge problems when some of the bovs went swimming in the freezing water!! The Lightning Premiership was never held there again.!!

By 1979, the WJFC was financially secure enough to survive on its own, buying its own equipment and paying its own accounts. During these early years, the WJFC teams were coached by Jim Voce, Tom Hay, Bill Luttick, Brian Williams, David Mitchell, Eddie McLean, Geoff Day and John McCartin Snr. They received a lot of support from Joe Scicluna, Joe Peters, Cheryl Peters, Terry Sloan, John Rollings, Eddie and Joe Morris, Robyn and Allan Dalli. Extensive assistance from Shirley McCartin, the matriarch of the McCartin dynasty, who was Secretary of the club in 1974, ran the canteen for a further 10 to 12 years, and virtually to the time of her sad passing in 2004, remained time-keeper for the senior club at both home and away matches. Shirley’s sons all played Junior football for Warrandyte and progressed through to the senior grades. Shirley proudly stated that the third generation of McCartin’s became involved with the WJFC in the year 2000, thereby continuing the family tradition.

The Middle Years

Thanks to the hard work of those involved in the early years of the WJFC, the early 1980s saw a very strong following for the club with the under 10 and under 12 teams enjoying approximately 60 players in each age group. In 1980 the under 10s won the Lightning Premiership. The under 14 and under 16s teams were also very strongly supported, with coach Ian Clarke developing a large group of players who later joined the senior club. In 1982 WJFC celebrated it’s first ever junior age Premiership with the under 16 team victorious in the Grand Final over FairPark.

Several major developments occurred during 1982 and 1983. Firstly, after extensive and time consuming negotiations with EDFL Management, Warrandyte withdrew the under 10 and under 12 teams from the Lightning Premiership, citing undue hardship on the players who were required to play“six 30 minute matches per day sometimes in atrocious weather conditions.’’ Warrandyte’s actions were the catalyst for major reform of the rules and the way in which the Lightning Premierships were managed in the years following 1983. Instead of participating in the 1982 and 1983 Lightning Premierships, the WJFC held very successful family picnic days!!

In 1983 the WFC Coaching Committee was created, chaired by the then Senior Coach, Kevin McLean, and consisting of all coaches, the club president and the junior committee chairman. This Committee promoted consistency of coaching standards and practices across the whole club and implemented skill testing and certification for the junior players, which was carried out by coaches and senior players. Senior players, Gerry Pierce, Denis O’Brien and Geoff Pullin were all elected to the junior coaching panel, and the under 14, under 16, and under 18’s Presentation Events were held together for the first time.

The most important feature of this period was the much improved and mutually beneficial interaction between the junior and senior sections of the Club. On field success also came to the WJFC in these years. Bill Luttick coached the under 14s in 1985 to a Grand Final victory over South Croydon. In 1986 the under 16s, also under Bill’s stewardship, defeated North Ringwood to take out the Premiership. Many of the players in these premiership sides had progressed from the 1980 under Lightning Premiership team.

It is widely acknowledged that no other individual has expended more time and energy for the cause of the WJFC than Greg Alchin (President 1991 — 1994). In 1986 players had to pay for their own guernseys and $5.00 for team photos. Greg disagreed with this policy and set about raising funds for the club to ensure that any financial burden placed on families and players was eliminated. When Greg was elected President, the WJFC had a bank balance of $90.00. Greg introduced the policy which required the WJFC to hold a full year’s expenditure in advance. Following this policy, at the beginning of the 1995 season the WJFC boasted a bank balance in excess of $8000. This was a credit to Greg and his Committee and highlighted the importance of shrewd planning and fund raising.

One of Greg’s numerous jobs was to supply the club canteen and over a period of approximately ten years he saved the club thousands of dollars. He was also Warrandyte’s long term EDFL delegate and tribunal delegate, and in 1996 became the club’s inaugural Director on the Doncaster and Districts Junior Football League (DDJFL), and also represented Warrandyte on the DDJL’s important Football Committee. Greg showed great dedication and commitment during his time with the WJFC including coaching. In 1998 he coached the WJFC under 17 team to a memorable Premiership. The following year he coached the WFC Under 18 team.

The mid 1980s through to the mid 1990s were challenging years for Greg and those involved in running the WJFC as many other sports’ popularity increased amongst young people. Boys had many more choices and parents often restricted their sons to playing one sport over the winter. During that period others who helped to keep the club running were Alan Bellinger (President for 3 years), Ronda Bellinger (canteen), Neil Riddell (Secretary/Registrar) and Robyn Riddell (canteen). Their dedication assisted in ensuring WJFC’s survival in times where so much choice was being given to potential players.

The Modern Era

In 1995 the club fielded 4 teams in the EDJFL – under 10, under 12, under 14 and under 16 teams. The under 10 team boasted a squad of 32 players in 1994 and 28 players in 1995. The under 12 team had similar numbers. Unfortunately, due to this resurgence of interest in junior football and the resulting oversupply of numbers, it was very difficult to give each player adequate ground time, and a few ripples was beginning to form. It became increasingly obvious that problems lay ahead. Complaints started with parents expressing concerns that their children were not getting enough ground time and might even have to play out of their age group in the upcoming season. And so on.

Consequently, the then President, Malcolm Eyre, approached the EDJFL with the view of forming single aged teams. Although a majority of the clubs in the EDJFL was in favour of the proposal, it was rejected by the league executive. The WJFC was  faced with a crisis — it had an oversupply of players and a mass walk out was imminent. Strong leadership and tough decisions were required, and Malcolm proved to be the right man for the task.

Consulting with former President Greg Alchin about the possibility of joining another league — and with a band of enthusiastic lieutenants such as Tony “Gunna” Morello, Terry Pieper, Huck Bourke, Neil “Nudge” Riddell, Owen Griffiths, Phil Meade and Tony Mirabella — it was decided to again approach the DDJFL with the view of fielding under 11s, the under 13s and possibly the under 15 teams in that competition.

The DDJFL under the presidency of Steve Stephens were very receptive to the WJFC’s requests and promised whatever assistance was necessary to accommodate the Club. In order to achieve their goal,  the WJFC was required to become an incorporated body, as the DDJFL was strictly a junior football competition and senior club control or involvement was not permissible. Malcolm began tackling the vast amount of legal work necessary to accomplish this task. While the Senior Club’s initial reaction was not favourable, they understood the situation and did not stand in the WJFC’s way.

In 1996, the Warrandyte Junior Football Club became incorporated and joined the DDJFL while still fielding teams in the EDJFL. The Club fielded an Under 11 and Under 13 team. The Under 11’s were comprised of the top age group of the previous year’s under 10 team and were dubbed the “Rampaging Baby Bloods” in honour of their “Mother’s Day Massacre” in the 1995 Lightning Premiership where they won all of their games, conceding only one goal and one behind, while scoring a total of 14 goals and 28 behinds. Although this talented team was not defeated for over two seasons, they were unable to secure the prestigious 1995 Division One flag in the very tough DDJFL competition, going down valiantly to arch rival BeverleyHills.

In 1997 the WJFC fielded 8 teams in the DDJFL competition, and an under 16 team in the EDJFL. This created coordination difficulties and an unnecessarily heavy workload liaising with two separate leagues, and it was decided in season 1998 that all ties should be severed with the EDJFL. All teams, except an under 14 side which was short of numbers, were fielded in the now Yarra Junior Football (YJFL), which was formed after the amalgamation of the DDJFL and the Hawthorn and Districts Junior Football in 1997.

1998 proved to be a magnificent season for the WJFC. The Club now boasted 9 teams in the YJFL, an increase of 5 teams from 1995 which the EDJFL could not cater for. Four teams reached the finals that year, 2 of which made the grand final. The under 11 team, under coaching supremo Mathew Matheou landed the first premiership for Warrandyte defeating Beverley Hills by a massive 56 points. The under 17 Colts, the pride of the WJFC also made the 1998 Grand Final. They were a motley crew of footballers, comprised of players of notable skill, such as Aiden Davey and Luke Naughtin, centre line dynamo, Liam Mulcahy, class ruckman, Harvey “The Enforcer’ Brown, aerialist Craig Dick, nonchalant full forward Brad Greer and other brilliant performers such as Sean Irvine and Rick Templeton.

Under the guidance of Greg Alchin, former President and larrikin coach, and long time Warrandyte doyen of coaching Eric Houghton, these boys provided an exhibition of Grand Final football that delighted the spectators. When the final siren sounded the scores were Warrandyte 11.11.77 and Park Orchards 4.4.28. The Colts had won the second premiership for Warrandyte and with the under 11s team had broken a 12 year drought (the last premiership having been won by the under 16 team in 1986). Classy centreman Liam Mulcahy was the best on ground. Eric Houghton lost his voice barking instructions and tactics from the boundary line and required half an hour to compose himself such was his joy and pride in these boys.Many of these players are now making their mark in the senior Warrandyte Football Club.
The WJFC had started to flex its muscles, and Terry Pieper had presided over two flags in his first year at the helm. In a short period, the club had come of age in the powerful YJFL competition.

The New Millenium

The Junior Football Club had become a significant player within the Yarra Junior Football League. The club had been built on the energies of a limited number of people who shared a common vision and desire to build the Club for the benefit of the Warrandyte community. Many of these people who had built the club were moving on as their children also moved on in life. As this transition was occurring the demands of the football competition and of the broader community were changing. The workload was increasing and the community was being more demanding in relation to the care of their children.

The Club was fortunate that a leadership group came together and would guide the Club to a professional level. This group consisted of, among others, Mathew Mathoeu (President 2000-2004), Kevin O’Mara (Committee Member since 1997 and Secretary 2002-05, Dennis J. Hoiberg (Secretary 1998 – 2001, Media Relations 2002-2005, President 2006), Brad Curtis (Registrar 1998-2005), Jim Pasinsis, (Treasurer 2000-02) and Steve Blakey (Committee Member since 2000, Treasurer 2003-04 and President 2005).

The focus of this group was to make our Club one of the best in the league, thus identifying the following as key areas of attention,
•    Player care,
•    Skills development,
•    A caring and supportive culture,
•    Strong relationships with the broader community,
•    A strong financial base,
•    A high level of engagement with the parents and supporters of the Club.

A deliberate strategy was put in place to achieve each of these areas. To address these strategies, the Committee restructured itself adopting a portfolio format allowing for a real focus across these key areas.

A player care strategy was a focus. The club would be known as one where parents could send their children and be assured they would be looked after and cared for. To meet this need, the Club took a number of actions. The Club was one of the first Clubs within the league to introduce a Club Policy Manual which clearly outlined all club policies – all designed to benefit the player.

WJFC was the first to introduce compulsory police checks on all aspiring and existing coaches. This idea has been adopted by all other clubs within the League and now is standard practice and official policy of the Yarra Junior Football League.
To enhance player skills development within the Club, all coaches were sponsored to attend the Level 1 coaching certificate. Mathew Matheou conducted in house Coach Development Sessions which were enthusiastically embraced by Coaches. These sessions have undoubtedly raised the coaching standard within the Club with on field success following.

This leadership group over this period of time worked hard on securing the financial base and sought innovation sponsorship. The Sydney Swans were approached (as they shared the “Red and White” colours) to provide some sponsorship. A business plan was submitted and while not accepted, the Club received compliments for “the professionalism shown by a junior football club”. While no money was received, the Club gratefully received signed footballs, team posters, a signed football and a Swans jumper, which was auctioned off as a fund raising activity.

Another more successful sponsorship was with the Dunlop Sports, at that time, part of the Pacific Dunlop Group. As before, a business plan was submitted and this time, the Club achieved their requests – a complete refit of the football jumpers. The jumpers that were being worn were the original woolen Guernseys. With Dunlop Sports help, the Club was able to completely replace them with AFL quality jumpers. This was a major coup for the club saving at least $6000. This was the first time that Dunlop Sports had ever provided such sponsorship to the community club. Dunlop has since taken this model to other community based clubs

An underpinning plank of the Club financial strategy has been the securing of sponsorships from the local community and local businesses. Under the energetic leadership of Wayne Moore and now Shane Newman, the club has an impressive sponsorship book that both reflect its standing in the community and commitment to being an active member in that community.

WJFC has been keen on building a strong positive culture where the players can influence its activities. The Club has always felt that playing football is only part of the “Club experience”. The opportunity to gain skills, develop fitness, develop strong, potentially life long bonds with other players who come from other schools and learn team skills was what was part of the “Club experience”. Membership of the Warrandyte Junior Football Club should be rich experience in the child’s life journey. The Club has always encouraged its players to become leaders and take leadership roles – both on and off the field.

The Club Captaincy concept was an idea put forward by one of the committee members in the late 90s. The idea was that while each team had a captain, there was no player who was the club leader from the playing group perspective. Someone who could be a link between the administration and the players. And so, the position was created for the first time in the year 2000. This was expanded to include a Club vice captain in subsequent years. It was decided that the position of Club Captain warranted a Perpetual Trophy to be handed each year to the person chosen as the club’s leader. To that end, the Ben McKellar Memorial Shield was created. Each year the new club captain’s name would be engraved on the shield, thus keeping a record of those chosen.

Ben McKellar Perpetual Shiel

The successful 1998 Colts’ team was captained by Ben. He was an outstanding leader, both on and off the field, as well as being an outstanding footballer. He was also a very talented basketballer. His leadership skills were wonderful for someone of such a young age. Unfortunately Ben was diagnosed with leukaemia during the season and passed away in 1999. I will always have a picture in my mind of walking out to hear the three quarter time address by coach Greg Alchin, at the Colts’ Grand Final in 1998. Young Ben was also walking out to the huddle. He was too ill to play and wasn’t able to lead his team to the first Colts’ premiership in 22 years. A day of mixed emotions for all of us at the club, and a moment I will never forget. The Ben McKellar Memorial Shield honours a wonderful young man, who was a role model to others at WJFC and the Warrandyte community, and was taken from us too soon.

An example of encouraging player leadership was the creation of a Club Captain role, allocated to a Colts player. This role was essentially to be the link between the Committee and players. Again, WJFC was the first to create such a role which many other Clubs following our lead. The Club has been fortunate is having many strong leaders as Club Captains. They have been:

2000  Andrew Gordon
2001  Piers Brown
2002  Michael Morello
2003  Paul O’Mara
2004  Dylan Matheou
2005  Dion Mullet Treloar
2006  Pat Nichol
2007  Z. Boyce
2008  T. Valentino
2009  L. Champman
2010  Sam Tansley
2011  Jarrod Buzzini
2012  Ryan Tester
2013  Astan Ure
2014  Jack Poole
2015  J. Sproule-Carroll
2016  Jake Trewella
2017  Ben Dickson

Each of these people, while different in style has all fulfilled this role with gusto and pride and the Club is a better place for having them as our Captain. A perpetual shield is given to each Club Captain to hold for the year of their captaincy. It was struck in honour of Ben McKellar who was Captain of the Colts team in 1998, but sadly contracted leukemia and was unable to play out the season. He was an excellent leader and role model to all players at the Club. He passed away the following year. The Ben McKellar Memorial Shield is a lasting testament to a fine young person whose life was cut short.
The Committee decided to develop a stronger relationship with the community and implemented a strategy for lifting the profile through co-operation with the Warrandyte Diary. Over recent years the Club progressively has increased its exposure. The monthly inserts are keenly looked forward to by the players and parents.

Internal communication was also identified as a priority for the Club. The Junior Bloods Diary had been a regular form of communication that is still highly valued within the Club. The Newsletter was initially prepared by a local parent, Bernie Bowen who spent hours on a weekly basis gathering, translating, formatting, publishing, photocopying and distributing the newsletter. The Junior Diary was then authored by Dennis J. Hoiberg (2003), Phil Ashfield (2004) and Paul Van De Zant (2005-6). Each has contributed to ensuring this Junior Bloods Diary become part of the folklore of the Club.

Increased parental involvement was also another deliberate strategy of the Club. We have been fortunate so many good people have eagerly volunteered for jobs ranging from ground marking, to scoring to preparation of banners. This strategy has lead to a remarkable community feel which makes the Club a wonderful place to be around. This feel is most evident around the regular social occasions such as the happy hours, B-B-Ques and annual dinner dances.

A feature of this parental involvement has been the number of mothers who have taken leadership roles within the Club. These women have taken leadership roles in team management, canteen management and developing a line of sort after club apparel. Again the Club is a better place for their presence. Marie Moore, Sharen Vaughan, Kerrie Stafford, Christine Wintle, Kathy Edwards and Andrea Brown are among the “ladies” who have contributed to lifting the standards of the Junior Club over recent years.

All this off-field strategies have been about creating a safe and enjoyable environment for our players. These strategies have also translated to increasing on field success. In 1998, the destiny of success started to surface with the Under 11s and Colts taking home premiership flags. In 1999 the Under 11s were premiers. In 2001, six of a possible seven teams played in the finals. In that year, three teams made it through to the grand finals and the Under 11s taking the premiership. In 2003, the Under 11s and 13s took home flags in tough competitions.

In 2005, WJFC saw a record 5 teams make Grand Finals.  Although only the Colts, coached by the ever popular Shaun Wilson, were successful against the previously undefeated Doncaster, the Under 11’s in the premier Gold Division went down by less than a goal, while the Under 13’s were defeated by a similar margin. The Under 10’s & Under 15’s had outstanding years and were competitive although going down to better teams on the day.

As important as these premierships is the fact that an increasing number of our junior players were being selected for representative teams and development squads with coaches being invited to coach interleague teams. The Club is now well established within the League.

The Junior Club has already bred a number of AFL drafted players over the years in Jon Hassall (Collingwood/Hawthorn), Tim Finocchiaro (Geelong) and more recently Joel Macdonald (Brisbane Lions).

While continuing to focus on the future, WJFC has never lost its links with the past and has always taken the opportunity to honour and respect its elders. This honouring of the past also is captured in our Life Members who, as at the season 2005 consists of

  • Eric Houghton
  • Shirley McCartin
  • Neil “Nudge” Riddell
  • Malcolm Eyre
  • Greg Alchin
  • Mathew Matheou,
  • David Clifton

The Future Challenges

The challenge for the Club will continue to be how to innovative – to develop strategies where players want to play with the Club and most importantly where parents are happy for their children to go to.

Providing a path for players will also be a challenge. Part of developing this ‘path” is the challenge of developing an appropriate relationship with the Seniors. The opportunity should exist for a player to join the football community at the Under 9s and continue to play until they retire, through the Juniors, the Under 18s and then the Seniors.

The Warrandyte Junior Football Club has been based on the dreams of passionate parents who have only ever wanted to create a sporting environment for their children. It has weathered some tough times but due to these dreams and the energy of those who nurtured them is now well positioned to continue to be a vital member of the Warrandyte community.

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