ABOUT OUR CLUB
JOINING THE HAMPDEN FOOTBALL LEAGUE
At the end of 1960, the club forwarded a submission to the Hampden Football League to join as the 10th club for the 1961 season. The move was essential as Koroit had been unable to continue in the Western District Football League after being unable to field a reserves or U19 side in the previous season.
The move to join the Hampden League would bring about many advantages for Koroit, such as greater playing lists, further financial security through local sponsorship and most importantly, a team that would now compete, with minimal travel, in what was regarded as the strongest football competition in South West Victoria. While the players and supporters of the club harboured strong desires to join the Hampden League it was the external factor of the Coragulac Football Club also seeking membership that allowed for Koroit’s inclusion in 1961.
The Hampden Football League was keen to welcome Coragulac into the eight team league, but not at the expense of introducing a weekly bye. Koroit’s submission solved that dilemma and a 5/8ths majority vote at a League hearing saw Koroit given the green light to join the Hampden ranks. Needless to say, the football executive, players, members and supporters were thrilled with the result. With the new league came many new changes and over the coming years it was decided that the team would now wear a red, white & black, tri-striped jumper, and adopt the moniker of 'The Saints'.
THE FIRST HAMPDEN FLAG
It was a tumultuous introduction to top flight football however, and for ten years the club laboured to achieve premiership glory at the senior level. In 1971 playing coach Les Cameron, led Koroit to its very first Hampden League premiership (above) at the hands of arch-rival, Port Fairy, in a monumental match that many spectators say Koroit 'stole' from Port Fairy's grasp. Two seasons later and history repeated with Cameron’s brother, Gary, coaching the side to its second senior premiership against Colac at Warrnambool’s Reid Oval. In 1978 the Reserve Football side claimed their first premiership but this would however it would be a long time before the club would taste that success again.
With seldom few finals appearances throughout the late '70’s, the club went through an era of decline with very little on field success being achieved for many years. The 80’s and early 90’s saw the Saints linger around the bottom of the ladder, constantly flirting around the 'wooden spoon'. Despite the lack of on field results, the community rallied behind their team and they still turned out to support their Saints. Financial difficulties threatened the future of the organisation in the early 90's and it was clear to the club executive that a more professional approach to football and club operations would be needed if the club was to ever hold a premiership cup aloft again.
Administrators and volunteers such as Terry Quinlan, Tommy Brooks, Maureen Keane and many, many more worked tirelessly to erase the club's sizeable debts and bring quality operators to the club in an effort to turn the fate of the organisation around. Their efforts saved the club from certain disaster and a new era of prosperity at Victoria Park was beginning.
A NEW DIRECTION
With the appointment of coaches such as Noel Mugavin and Jason Mifsud in the late 90's, the momentum of club began to shift. David Henderson coached the Reserves to their second flag in 1997 and in 2000 the club made its first senior grand final appearance in 27 years, losing to Camperdown at the Reid Oval. In 2003, playing coach Mifsud (right), not only took his side to another grand final but he kicked 8 goals straight (7 in the second half) and brought Koroit back from a 48 point, half-time deficit to record the club’s third senior premiership against Camperdown. The euphoria, relief and overwhelming joy displayed by the community is now something of folklore. The emotional outpouring of congratulations was so unbelievable that locals even took time off work to celebrate long and hard over the following weeks.
Since 2001 the senior football side has finished no lower than fifth place and has been brought through the 2000’s decade with an impeccable playing record. In 2007, Andrew Foster led the team to its fourth flag and two years later Joe McLaren coached Koroit to cup number five. In 2010, Chris 'Crowbar' Keane coached the Reserves to their third premiership with a team fondly dubbed 'Dad's Army' by the local papers due to the high number of players that were over the age of 27.
The club went on to appointed celebrated local coach, Adam Dowie, to the senior coaching position in 2013, prompting a record number of young recruits with the club. In his first year as coach the team made the grand final after a great home and away season only to be beaten by Warrnambool. In 2014 Adam and the side turned the tables and recorded one of the biggest upsets in HFNL history when they defeated the Blues by 16 points in an inspiring four quarter effort. The 2015 side were beaten in round one by the Blues but went through the remainder of the season without recording a loss and defeated the Blues by 41 points in the decider. Under Adam the club achieved its first ever hat trick of premierships when we defeated North Warrnambool by 33 points in season 2016. In 2017 the club appointed Koroit stalwart and legend Chris McLaren who also played his 300th game for the club during the season. Despite losing two of the first three games the senior team was claimed the minor premiership. Despite going down in the 2nd semi-final against Port Fairy the boys defeated Cobden convincingly the following week to advance to their fifth straight grand final and create an opportunity to equal Warrnambool’s record of four consecutive HFNL Premierships. On grand final day the boys lead by five points at three quarter time before winning by 21 points. Coach McLaren will be remembered for his comments, “Too old? Too slow? To that I say too good!”
THE NETBALL REVOLUTION
The club’s football renaissance has also coincided with Koroit’s emergence as a netball force claiming senior flags in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014. When the sport was first introduced to the Hampden League in 1987 there was a major push by the Koroit administration to support the new netball structure as it only served to further strengthen family ties within the club.
Co-ordinators and administrators such as Barb Daly, Kelli Keane and Tania Waterson, along with coaches such as Gaye Batt, Kate Dobson, Kate Foster and Stacey O’Sullivan, worked tirelessly with countless club volunteers over 20 years to foster success across all levels and age groups of the Hampden netball landscape. An amazing dynasty has emerged within the past ten years and Koroit has been blessed with an enormous amount of local and recruited netball talent.
In 2011 the club secured long-time rival coach, Jacqui Bowman, from the Warrnambool FNC to help lead the team to their 6th flag in 10 years. The 2011 grand-final against Camperdown, a replay from 2010, was a nerve racking affair with the Koroit side coming back from a 7 goal deficit late in the third quarter to snatch victory on the day. 12 months later Koroit secured the 'Three-Peat', ousting Warrnambool to claim their 7th premiership victory. After the 2017 grand final victory in a season where the team lost just one game against Camperdown, the club now holds the most premierships with nine passing Warrnambool who have eight.
In 2016 the club claimed the Division 1 title defeating the Hamilton Kangaroos 35 to 33 under the leagues new netball structure.
While the Koroit Football Netball Club has always prided itself on being a team orientated organisation, there have been some outstanding individual contributions over the years. The club has produced six Maskell Medallists (senior football league best and fairest winners), Anthony Mahony (1996), Jason Mifsud (1997), Joe McLaren (2005), Simon O’Keefe (2007 & 2011), Ben Goodall (2013) and Isaac Templeton (2014 & 2015). In the senior netball, the league best and fairest has been won by Sarah McCorkell (nee Hearn) in 2007, Kate Dobson three times in 1998, 2004, 2009 and Emily Batt (2014). Coincidently, the club senior games record is held by Damian Dobson (360 games), husband of Kate and younger brother of club champion and second highest games record holder Brendan Dobson (323 games).
In reserves football, John Gleeson won the Lew Kelly Medal (reserves league best and fairest) in 1972 while John Anscombe, Anthony Mahony and Ben Livingstone won their league awards in 1975, 2000 and 2004 respectively. Drew O’Grady collected the award in 2015. Frank Bowman was awarded a retrospective Lew Kelly medal for the 1977 season which he had lost on a countback. In the U'18s football, the Judd Cup (U'18 league best and fairest) Steven Brooks claimed the award in 1999 and George Swarbrick in 2015.
The Koroit A1/Division 1 netball sides have also had league best and fairest winners with Monique Smith winning the honour twice (2001 & 2003), Kylie Grayland winning in 2010, Emily Dwyer taking the silverware in 2011 and Kate Dobson in 2015. Kylie Grayland's career has also been punctuated by six A2/Division 2 netball league best & fairests in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2017 and 2019. Monique Smith also won the A2 prize in 2006 and Jenna Gleeson was the recipient in 2007.
Off the field, the club has also had many key identities who have significantly contributed to the rich history and culture of the organisation. Koroit legend, Jack Keane, was not only a brilliant footballer for the Koroit Football Club during the early days of our association with the Port Fairy and District Football League but his influence on the club was monumental. His love for the KFNC and the game itself was passed on to his family, with each of his sons and grandchildren playing for the club at some point over the next 50 years.
Between 1961 and 1988 there were 13 members of the Keane family on Koroit's playing lists. The club has now honoured Jack's memory by commemorating the club senior best and fairest trophy with his name - 'The Jack Keane Medal'.
Along with the Keanes, the Dobson family have also left a tremendous legacy, with brothers, Brendan (323 games), Phillip, Terry, Neale and Damien (360 games & HFNL Record) all wearing the red, white and black along with Brendan’s sons Sam and Ben, for a combined total of over 1100 games for Koroit. The family was honoured in 2008 by having the grandstand at Victoria Park named in their honour.
Administratively, the club was fortunate enough to have the legendary, J.M. "Jack" Russell, serve as club president from 1963 - 1975. Jack held many executive roles over the decades but his 12 year tenure in the president's role is still a record at Koroit.
The club’s longest serving secretary, Tim McNally, filled the position for over 20 years after taking over from Bob Hyland, who also held the secretary role down for the best part of a decade. McNally's enormous contribution to local football was recognised in 2011 when the Hampden Football Netball League presented Tim with life membership for his exemplary services.
SENIOR FOOTBALL PREMIERSHIPS: 1971, 1973, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
MASKELL MEDALLISTS: Anthony Mahony (1996), Jason Mifsud (1997), Joe McLaren (2005), Simon O'Keefe (2007 & 2011) Ben Goodall (2013), Isaac Templeton (2014 & 2015)
A GRADE/OPEN NETBALL PREMIERSHIPS: 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2017, 2018
NETBALL LEAGUE B&F: Kate Dobson (1998, 2004 & 2009), Sarah Hearn (2007), Emily Batt (2014)
Jess O’Connor (2017)
HFNL MVP: Nell Mitchell (2016)
We are the Saints from old Koroit
We wear the colours red white & black
We will always fight for victory
We will always see it through
Win or lose, do or die
On the field we’ll always try
Koroit, Koroit, the team we love so dear
Premiers we’ll be this year