The Beginning

Records available reveal that the 1st football club was formed in Benalla back in the year 1876.

 

Benalla first entered the Ovens & Murray Football League in 1922 with their association continuing until 1930

 

In 1940 Benalla 16. 16-106 defeated Rushworth 11. 16-82 to win their first & only senior GVFL premiership.

1945-46

An attempt to reform the Benalla Football Club in May, 1945 failed because of poor support & lack of players immediately following the cessation of hostilities.

At a later meeting convened by the late Mr Jack Talochino & held at the Memorial Hall, it was decided after a lengthy discussion that the All Blacks Football Club (of the Tatong-Thoona League) be invited to amalgamate with the Benalla Football Club with the view to fielding the strongest possible side in senior football during 1946.

A large & representative gathering was present at a public meeting in the Memorial Hall early in 1946 when it was decided to re-form the Benalla Football Club, the All Blacks having decided to amalgamate.

The Blacks finances & assets were nil, whilst the Benalla club had approximately 8 pounds in the bank.

The club was successful in seeking admission to the Ovens & Murray League for season 1946. The League was made up of seven teams consisting of Wodonga, Wangaratta, Albury, Border United, Rutherglen, Yarrawonga & Benalla.

Office bearers were: President, J Talochino; Vice presidents, A W Roscoe & G I Humphrey; hon. secretary, W Elliott; hon. treasurer, W Hunt; committee, W Roberts, G L Stewart, T A Moore, J W Dennis, F Wallis, L Spitzer, S Harris, L Guppy, B Briggs, L H Howard, H G Smith & W Mason.

Mr I G Humphrey agreed to act as non playing coach and was later replaced by a former All Blacks star, Joe Askew, who returned to the town during the season.

E Guppy was elected captain, J Budd vice captain & players advocate J W Dennis. Club colours were white with a red V collar & cuffs, red & white hooped hose.

Benalla were opposed to Wangaratta in the opening game of the season at the Benalla Showgrounds.

Players to wear the club colours on that great occasion were E Guppy (Capt.), J Budd (vc), I Banfield, K Clover, J Dennis, W Dennis, P Emery, T Hoskin, K Hide, L Lawther, O Mackay, G Ralph, R Roberts, W Roscoe, G Share, N Stephens, B Talochino, F Wallis, 19th man was J Green & 20th man R Spencer.

In their first year back, Benalla made their presence felt by finishing in the final four, but were defeated in the first semi final by Albury. Barry Talochino finished third in the Morris Medal voting with 11 votes.

1947

1947 saw the 1946 Chiltern & District League premiers North Albury admitted to the O & M League, bringing the number of teams to 8.

After what was considered a very successful comeback to the Ovens & Murray League during 1946, it was decided to seek the services of a top league star as coach for 1947.

One of the great personalities of the game, Carlton legend Bob Chitty was appointed to the task.

Winning 10 of the 14 games, Benalla finished 2nd. Albury defeated Benalla 15. 15 (105) to 8. 4 (52) in the 2nd semi final, with the Demons overcoming Corowa in the preliminary final to reach their first O & M grand final. The premiership decider, played at Wangaratta drew a 580 pound gate. Admission fees were 2 shillings a person. The Demons were brave, but Albury, with the legendary Tom Lahiff as captain coach won a grand game by 15 points, 11. 18 (107) to Benalla 10. 9 (69).

The Benalla team was: R Chitty (c), L Doherty, R Spencer, K Bond, C Clark, J Green, B Talochino, R Symes, L Lawther, L Lee, J Roberts, L Kelly, R Judd, T Hoskin, L Robinson, I Banfield, J Flynn, K Hide, & W Dennis.

Best players were Chitty, Doherty, Roberts, Robinson, Lawther & Banfield. Chitty won the league goal kicking with 86 goals ahead of Lahiff who booted 60.

Many expert judges still rank this combination as one of the greatest Benalla teams to ever take the field in the history of the club.

1948

For the 3rd successive season, Benalla made the final four winning nine if the 14 games played.

Traditional rivals, Wangaratta easily won the opening game of the season at Wangaratta, 14. 12 to 10. 14. In the return game at Benalla the tables were turned in no uncertain manner. With Parry Talochino, Bob Chitty, Leo Doherty & Lloyd Robinson the stars, the demons coasted in with the final scores reading 11. 15 to 2. 9.

North Albury defeated Benalla in the 1st semi final, eventually going on to win their 1st O & M flag.

One of the clubs top performances of the season was their score of 24. 10 against Rutherglen, Kevin Gleeson kicking 10 goals to Bob Chitty’s 9.

It was decided to change the club colours from white with a red V collar & cuffs to the more serviceable Guernsey that was worn to 1997, the white & red being reversed.

1949

Competition was keener during the 1949 season with Benalla unable to match the improvement from several of their opponents. Nine games were won in the home & away series and the Demons finished 7th. Mac Holten took over the leadership & led them to 1st of 4 successive flag when they defeated Wodonga in the grand final.

Ross Lighton from Devenish was our star player of the season, winning the clubs best & fairest award in what was Bob Chitty’s final year with the Demons.

1950

For the 3rd successive season, Benalla made the final four winning nine if the 14 games played.

Traditional rivals, Wangaratta easily won the opening game of the season at Wangaratta, 14. 12 to 10. 14. In the return game at Benalla the tables were turned in no uncertain manner. With Parry Talochino, Bob Chitty, Leo Doherty & Lloyd Robinson the stars, the demons coasted in with the final scores reading 11. 15 to 2. 9.

North Albury defeated Benalla in the 1st semi final, eventually going on to win their 1st O & M flag.

One of the clubs top performances of the season was their score of 24. 10 against Rutherglen, Kevin Gleeson kicking 10 goals to Bob Chitty’s 9.

It was decided to change the club colours from white with a red V collar & cuffs to the more serviceable Guernsey that was worn to 1997, the white & red being reversed.

1951

Many new faces were among those who appeared in the 1951 season. A name that was later to become famous, Ian Currie was one of the several promising youngsters who made their 1st appearance in the senior ranks. John Brady was now a real star & was keenly sought after by several VFL clubs. The club lost the services of Kevin Bond who transferred to Melbourne.

Jack Andrews headed the clubs voting in the Morris Medal award & was adjudged as best & fairest for the Demons. Kevin Gleeson was in brilliant form at full forward & finished the season with 61 goals, one of his best efforts being 7 goals against Yarrawonga.

The Ladies Committee conducted a fair at the Memorial Hall, raising 160 pounds for club funds.

Max Carson & Kevin Gleeson played their 50th games for the Demons against Rutherglen.

At the end of the season, Coach Ken Walker announced his retirement, & Sid Tate of Geelong was approached, bur later accepted a better offer elsewhere.

1952

Reg Featherby was the new leader, & after an indifferent start the club opened their account with a good win against North Albury. As usual the hoodoo of the Wangaratta ground was too great & the red & whites again suffered severely at the hands of their old rivals, the Magpies.

At the end of the home & away series the club occupied fifth position with 6 wins & 12 defeats. Wangaratta won their 4th flag in a row by defeating Rutherglen in the Grand Final. Kevin Gleeson now with Rutherglen kicked 100 goals for the season.

The 2nd 18 won another premiership in the B-T League, defeating Violet Town in the grand final, the scores at the final bell being 13. 12 to 11. 10. Kevin Hide led the premiers whilst former demon Bill Pinder was skipper of Violet Town. Fred Exton was chief goal kicker for the winners with 4 goals.

1953

In an evenly contested season, Wangaratta, with 4 successive premierships to their credit, again finished on top of the ladder with 60 points, followed by Albury, Benalla & Myrtleford. The Myrtleford Saints made the 4 on percentage over Rutherglen. Benalla came out & toppled Myrtleford 15. 12 (102) to 10. 16 (76) in the 1st semi final & then showed enormous character to defeat Wangaratta 13. 7 (95) to 11. 10 (76) in the preliminary final.

After trailing for 3 quarters, Benalla displaying great courage & speed, amazed a crowd of 12,000 at Barkly Park, Rutherglen, on September 19 1953.

In a breath taking finish the demons wore down the Tigers from Albury to win their 1st flag by the margin of 7 points. Unwinding a magnificent burst the Demons gained the ascendancy within a few minutes of the bell. Benalla thoroughly deserved their success & the clever planning & tactics of captain coach Norman Minns paid full dividends.

At the first change Albury lead 2. 5 to Benalla’s 1. 1. When the players left the field for the long interval the difference was 9 points, still in favour of the Tigers, the scoreboard reading; Albury 4. 7 to Benalla 3. 4.

In the 3rd term, Albury were off the target to add 7 behinds, whilst the red & whites added 2. 2 with the position of the game at the commencement of the final term being Albury, 4. 14 to Benalla 5. 6. At the final bell the board read BENALLA 8. 10 (58) to ALBURY 6. 15 (51).

Goal kickers: Benalla – Kearney 2, Minns, Goonan, Hurley, Hyland, Morrison & Jacobs 1 each. Albury – Power 3, Mathews 2, Stoney 1.

Best players: The Benalla side so capably lead by Norm Minns had many fine players on this wonderful occasion, our best being Tony Mathieson. Others to shine were Kevin Goonan, Kevin Hurley, John Dodd, Alan Hyland, Kevin Morrison (our president secretary), Barry Kearney, that dynamic pocket size pivot; Jack Spriggs & Norm Minns himself.

The Premiership side was made up of the following: N Minns (c & c), E Briggs (vc), I Currie, T Mathieson, J Dodd, B Bambridge, M Carson, J Spriggs, L O’Donnell, R. Jacobs, N Hanlon, G Goonan, R Roscoe, A Hyland, K Lakeman, B Kearney, K Morrison, J Nicholson (19th man), N McQualter (20th man). Emgs; P Hickey, F Goodman & R Reardon.

The match was a personal triumph for Benalla coach Norm Minns, who was playing in his 5th premiership team in successive years. Having played the previous 4 with Wangaratta, Minns was in his 1st year as a coach when he led the Demons to the holy grail.

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