North Wangaratta FNC - History
Senior Football Competitions - Timeline
- 1914 & 1915 : Ovens & King Football League
- 1916 to 1918: Club in recess. World War One
- 1919 & 1920: Ovens & King Football League
- 1921: Club in recess
- 1922 to 1924: Wangaratta Football Association
- 1925 to 1928: Club in recess
- 1929 to 1933: Ovens & King Football League
- 1934 to 1947: Club in recess
- 1948 to 1950: Murray Valley North East Football League? This league actually folded after the 1947 season & was superseded by the Benalla Tungamah FL in early 1948.
- 1951 & 1952: Benalla Tungamah Football League
- 1953 to 1960: Benalla & District Football League
- 1961 to present day: Ovens & King Football League
Way back in 1847, races were held in North Wangaratta on the "little plain'', at the rear of the Vine Hotel, with visitor's quartered and entertained by Joseph Docker from the Botherambo homstead. The North Wangaratta Football Club (NWFNC) began it's operations before 1893, as it was that year that an advertisement was placed in the Wangaratta Press seeking persons desirious in re-organising the club. Naturally enough the meeting took place at the Vine Hotel.
It entered the Ovens and King Football League (O&KFL) in 1914, playing in blue and white hopped jumpers and socks, and was winless in that initial season. It won one of five games it contested in the war shortened year of 1915, and was in the group of six teams which helped reform the league in 1919, after the war ended. It did not compete in 1921 as most of its players joined up with the strong Eldorado combination, but it was back in harness for the 1922 year, when the Wangaratta Football Association was formed.
It's success rate was not great in those years, and the club went into recessprior to the 1925 season. It rejoined the O&KFL in 1929 and finished second after the home and away games, being defeated in the finals match by Moyhu. In 1930 it again reached the finals, but with the Wangaratta side joining the competition in 1931, it struggled for players again and won only one game. In 1932, two of its players, Stan Bennett and Stan Jones were picked to play for the O&KFL side in which they lost against Hawthorn. North Wangaratta finished 5th in that season. Harry Billman polled 11 votes to finish fourth behind the winner of the O&KFL "Hughes" medal. It then disbanded after the 1933 season, until 1949, when it was admitted into the Benalla Tungamah Football League.
In 1951, the club joined the Benalla - Tungamah Football League where it stopped for two years. As travelling costs were becoming too high, the club accepted an invitation to join the Benalla & District Football League (B&DFL). It's first coach in the B&DFL was Fred Larkin and in 1954 Jim Fisher took over.
It's 1959 and 1960's coach Kevin Allan won the best and fairest in the B&DFL in 1960. On many occasions during those years it sought to be re-admitted into the O&KFL, but as with Glenrowan it was refused permission. In 1960 both it and Glenrowan applied to join the O&KFL, but their clearances were refused the B&DFL. Both club's protested against the deccision and Glenrowan went into temporary disbandment, while North Wangaratta stayed in the B&DFL.
It's re-admission came in 1961 after the O&KFL had played out a full season with a bye, due to Bogong withdrawing after the 1959 season. North Wangaratta's admission came after the President put in his casting vote.
It's initial season saw it win two games, and in 1963, Arthur Schultz, won the Wangaratta Chronicle - Harman Medal. It scored a recruiting coup in 1964, when Wangaratta star Bob Comensoli was appointed captain-coach. Unfortunately he had to resign for business reasons and Bill McKenzie was appointed instead. Neither he nor the following coach, Ron Wales was able to work miracles and the languished near the bottom of the ladder for five years. In the mean time, tireless ruckman, Rex Walter, had begun his career in the mid sixies, finishing third to Rob Comensoli in the 1966 Baker Medal and taking out the 1967 Harman Medal. Walter was to become one of the club's greats and his tireless work in the packs created many opportunities for his small men. There was visible signs of improvement in 1968 under Cliff Hawkins. One of the real personalities was the president in 1968 and 1969, Ray Lee, who was a fervert worker and was completely devoted to sport.
In one of the most significant moves in the club's history, Wangaratta Rovers champion and games record holder, Len Greskie was appointed captain-coach in 1970, after 236 consecutive Ovens and Murray games.
The club showed very steady progress and by 1972 found itself in fourth position after the home and away games. It was a watershed year for North Wangaratta as suddenly players were keen to join the vibrant feeling that existed around Greskie, Eddie and Terry Flynn, Alan Mercer, Archie Snowdon, Maurie White, Colin Younie, and Neville Smedley, as well as the die hards, Rex and Kevin Walter and Frank Ramsay saw the team develop into a formidable combination. A sensational semi final against Greta saw the club lose by just one goal. In the same year, Rex Walter won his fifth club best and fairest award.
In 1973, it was minor premiers, with Eddie Flynn winning the Baker Medal. The premiership win over Chiltern by 27 points stopped the Swans from winning their third successive flag. Coach Len Greskie would have thoroughly enjoyed the performance of his team. In 1974 the club finished runner up under coach, Roly Marklew.
1976 was to be North Wangaratta's second senior football premiership, under the guidance of Des Sheridan, it defeated Beechworth by 95 points. 1979 was to be Rex Walter's final full year and he won his seventh best and fairest award. The years from 1981 to 1991 were lean ones, with the highlights being league best and fairest wins in 1983 by Neale McMonigle and in 1991 by Fred Pane. Fred Dowling won the seconds equivalent in 1985. In that year, the reserves licked an extremely accurate 15.0 - 90 aganist Beechworth.
In 1982 the club financed the purchased of the reserve from the Vine Hotel and passed the ownership of the reserve over to the Wangaratta Council as a public reserve.
A Third's team was established in 1980 and the team was in the finals in 1987 and 1988.
1992 was to be the beginning of a new era for the club with finals appearances every year through to 1999. In 1993 the reserves were runner-up and Mark Johns won the Baker Medal. In 1994 both the seniors and reserves were runners-up.
1995 was another great year for the club, especially with the culmination of three year's preparation and almost 4000 of voluntary labour by 102 people. The opening of the new clubrooms was celebrated in fine style.
1996 saw the Reserves win the flag and the seniors come runner-up, under coach Gary O'Keefe. By 1997 North Wangaratta had a premiership in its sights and duly delivered the day. The reserves went through the season undefeated and Paul Snowdon won the best and fairest award in the league's seconds competition. Without doubt this was a halcyon year in the club's history. One of its players, Todd Stone, kicked twenty goals in one match. This was only one goal off the record set by Wangaratta's Bert Carey in 1931.
Shane Driscoll capped off a fine year in 2000 when he won the Baker Medal. Under coach, Norm Ritchie the club was again in action on the last day of the footballing year and although defeated by Beechworth was far from disgraced.
The club successes in the past decade, both on and off the field are a direct result of the committed playerss and the hard working committee led by Geoff Snowdon as President and Kevin Hogan as secretary. Remarkably, Les Goonan has held the treasurer's position since 1984 and is longest serving executive of the club.
By - Kevin Hill & Kevin Hogan
From - "All Links in the Chain". The Centenary History of the Ovens and KIng Football League, page 151. By Neil Barter, published in 2003.