THE BASIN FOOTBALL CLUB – 1947 – 1996
In Victoria, no town is complete without an Australian Rules Football Club. From 1946 the young men of The Basin has been represented in this field. To the credit of many staunch workers, the club, after a modest beginning, has grown to a formidable club. Its growth has been in spite of the fact that little local support was forthcoming in the early days and great reliance was placed upon the efforts of officials and the ladies auxiliary for sorely needed funds.
Before the days of The Basin Football Club the Bayswater team had Basin boys W. Jackson, H. Collier, A. Collier, A. Turner and Gib and Alan Chandler playing with it. Consequently the football club dance was well patronised by Basin lads and lasses. A wonderful supper was included in the entry price of four shillings.
The club’s inaugural meeting was held at the home of Mr. Jack Martin late in 1946. Arthur Cooper was elected President, R. Peck Treasurer and F. Byford Secretary. Committee members included A. Collett, C. Whitworth, and A. J. Stephens. In 1947, a side was fielded in the Croydon Mail Football League. Having no home ground, the side was drawn to play away continuously and consequently were beaten by huge margins. Players and loyal supporters were transported by Thompson’s buses.
In 1948 the club combined with the Colchester-Basin Cricket Club and commenced playing at Batterham Reserve after the proposed site of Wicks Reserve proved unsuitable. South West of the lower oval (beside the dam from which the football was frequently retrieved) was a bark and paling hut built by a working bee. This supplemented by an army tent supplied by Arthur Cooper.
The army tent was used as a change room until 1949 when a temporary dressing shed was built. In 1950, the club joined the Croydon Ferntree Gully Football League, staying with them until 1961. In 1953 Clifton Pugh, well known artist, was president and in l955, because of insufficient players, the club was temporarily suspended. In those early days it seems that the team used to be selected at “Vassos’s” Hotel (later known as the Club hotel) on Saturday morning (there was no training in those days) and they could always pick two or three drinkers when short.
In 1957 the club reformed with Alf Petrie President, A. Cooper Treasurer and J. Stephens Secretary with their home at Batterham. Anyone involved with the re-birth of The Basin Football Club would scarcely believe the changes made to Batterham Reserve in the intervening years as a result of the continued presence of the Football Club and later the Cricket and Tennis Clubs. In 1957, the club was using the lower oval and played on a surface which still bore signs of the drainage furrows from the days when the ground was part of Rowley Batterham’s apple orchard.
The club had many working bees to develop the grounds. Saplings were cut down at The Ravine for point and goal posts and power poles were erected to obtain electric power.
An “Ugly Man’s Competition” raised enough money to buy timber and galvanised iron toproudly build a 24 x 48 foot unlined “tin shed” – the first in the district with a 1000 gallon water tank that served for a couple of years for showers and other water supplies.
A briquette hot water service and wire netting were added later. Working bees laid the first water pipes from Arcadia Avenue.
Dinny Lewer was appointed coach in 1957 but the team finished last. Dinny was involved in a memorable event in late July 1957. The club had only a single win at this stage and were playing Yarra Glen at home. The forty-seven year old non-playing coach decided to play in the team and show them how it should be done. The side did well, without much help from Dinny. In the dying moments of the last quarter with The Basin three points down, Dinny took a mark thirty yards from goal. Rather than go with convention, the coach decided on a place kick to win the game – probably the first place kick in the district since the war. Dinny
kicked a point and The Basin went on to lose.
All year the club had struggled to attract more than seven or eight players to training, but the coach’s place kick was responsible for the full nineteen players attending an emergency team meeting at the club the following Sunday morning. After much debate, Dinny managed to hold on to the coach’s position by the narrowest margin. That place kick will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it.
The club’s first success came in 1958 when the side made the semi-finals. Wally Lindsay took over as coach in 1959 and the side finished about the middle of the list. In 1960 Noel Harman was coach and an under 16 side, with Max Norton coach, was fielded. In 1962, the club joined the EDFL, which later became the EFL Continuing as coach, Harman was
rewarded in 1962 when the senior side won its first premiership by one point. Officials that year were J. Wallace (President), A. Cooper (Treasurer), and R. Williams (Secretary). Star players included John Wright, Norm Parkinson, Morrie Cook, Kevin McDonagh and Ron Williams.
In 1963 a 2nd XVIII was fielded and justified its existence by playing in the grand final. From 1957 to 1965 the club owed a lot to the work of the ladies committee. Stalwarts among them being Mesdames Swanson, Petrie, Norton, Murray, Scanlon and Harrod. Until about 1962, all improvements at Batterham were jointly funded by the Park
Committee and the Football Club. On many occasions, the club loaned money to the Park Committee for improvements in lieu of future rentals. Over the years the facilities have been improved and upgraded.
The ground is now considered by many one of the best in Melbourne. On the playing field the club has had mixed fortunes since that 1962 premiership, but it is now flourishing. Of note was the first premiership win in 1977 by the under 15’s. The club is winning their share of games and enjoying financial stability – all finances being self generated. A supporters group meet monthly and have been responsible for many improvements to the club rooms and grounds. The group is credited with starting the highly popular Country and Western Day that was held in February for many years.
The Club is fully licensed and runs a well ordered bar. Discipline was established some years back when a handful of individuals were banned for behaviour unbecoming to the club. Members are aware of the value of the facilities and take pride in them. Visitors are also made welcome. The stability of the club and the esteem in which it is held by its players was highlighted by senior coach, John Ruffles, when he observed in June 1992 that the senior side which beat Templestowe by ten goals the previous week contained only two players who did not play their junior football at The Basin. To Commemorate 50 years of football at the Club, the Legends Teams was announced at a gala function at The York on Lilydale on the 29th June 1996.
Croydon Mail FL 1947-49
Croydon Ferntree Gully FL 1950-61
Eastern District FL 1962 to present (EFL)
41.29 275 versus Rowville Division 3 round 16 1969
4 points versus Montrose Division 3 round 13 1980
Longest time in a Division:
18 years Division 3 (1968-1985)
Players to AFL (VFL)
Angelo Petraglia North Melbourne 5 games, Footscray 49 games
John Holt North Melbourne 71 games
Jason Daniltchenko North Melbourne 39 games
Liam Shiels Hawthorn (current)