Below is a brief club history written in 1997 by club stalwart Laurie Praed. Laurie has kindly agreed to update the history over the next few weeks and we thank Laurie and look forward to his next contribution.
Vol., No., 1st JULY, 1997
FOOTY CLUB HISTORY – BRIEF
By LAURIE PRAED
Now in its 32nd competitive year, the Augusta-Margaret River Districts Football Club is still the “baby” of the South-west League. It began in 1966 but many old-timers would disagree with that, arguing its existence to stem from as far back as 1923. Four Clubs then played in the “Southern Districts National Football Association” – AUGUSTA, ALEXANDRA BRIDGE, KARRIDALE and FOREST GROVE. In 1931 a combined MARGARET RIVER/COWARAMUP Club joined the competition, and this was how it was until the War intervened.
Afterwards, in 1946, football recommenced with six Clubs; MARGARET RIVER and COWARAMUP separating, and ROSA BROOK replacing AUGUSTA. This became known as the “Augusta-Margaret River Football Association”. Many changes took place between 1946 and 1965, including the inclusion of an additional MARGARET RIVER team and even a NANNUP team. Some other Clubs dropped out or in and/or combined – the district population was suffering financially and in numbers.
There were 3 Presidents in the old Association = W.C. SMITH, Bob BLACK (both deceased) and Hubie McDonald. The old guard disbanded after 1965; NANNUP and KARRIDALE joined the Blackwood Association and MARGARET RIVER joined the South-West League, first playing in the 1966 year.
President Ross SMITH guided the new Club for 14 long years, then handed over the Presidency to Ron WATT whose son Gavin immediately won the Club its first Premiership – Reserves 1980. Nelson RODGERS became the next President, followed by John HARTLEY – he achieved two Colts Premierships 1991 and 1992. Gary (Fred) YATES then took the reins for 1994 and 1995 and went one better by achieving three Premierships – League 1994 and 1995, and Reserves 1994. Nelson RODGERS then resumed the Presidency and was rewarded with a Reserves Premiership in 1996.
Everyone feels for Ross SMITH as being the “unlucky” President, but during his time he was rewarded by knowing that it was largely his guiding influence which laid the foundations for the successful Club which we have today. We were the first football club outside the metropolitan area to be granted a full liquor licence, and made a huge gamble to build the licenced premises in 1976 and then extend in 1978. The debts have now been fully repaid – not many can boast that.
Ross presided over the Club’s first entry into the Finals in each grade – Reserves in 1969, League in 1977 and Colts in 1978. And he was there when the League played its first Grand Final in 1979. “Pres” surrounded himself with able and willing people, many of whom have since become leaders within the Club in their own right – he chose wisely and led with an enthusiasm which has rubbed off on all of them.
The Club’s players have won numerous honours since that first season when Mick MERRITT brought home the Hayward Medal; ten years later Ross TYSON won back-to-back Medals, Ritchie LEE emulated that soon after, and Peter IVANOFF (record vote) and Justin COOK also won the coveted award. Rod WHITTLE, Paul PAVLINOVICH and Peter IVANOFF also won Hume Awards.
Our Reserves players have won the Times medal on many occasions – Ernie LEPIDI, Rod WHITTLE, Gary MILLER, Daniel CAMPBELL – and the Colts have figured too, with Collie Mail Medallists John SIMMONDS and Lee SHENSTONE.
Whether President or not at the time, Ross SMITH has observed all of these things with satisfaction. But he was never more proud than on the day when the Hawks hosted the “EAGLES vs. CROWS” match at Gloucester Park in February, 1995. Organisers of this event were his very able “apprentices” Fred YATES and Nelson RODGERS. So long as people like this continue to be involved the Club will continue its success in the future.