The Mulgrave Football Club has an extremely long history that is rich with success.
Formed in 1925, it is the oldest football club in the area and was a founding member of what is now the Eastern Football League, in 1962.
The Mulgrave Football Club was founded in 1925 by a group of local farmers. While now a suburb, at the time the Shire of Mulgrave covered the entire area later proclaimed as the City of Waverley, which now forms a large part of the City of Monash. The club was formed to represent this region against others.
A foundation member of the club, Charles Baker, was the inaugural president. Another foundation member was Tom Baines, for whom the Senior Best and Fairest Trophy was named. Five generations of Baines’ family have been involved in the club as players, sponsors or administrators.
The original football ground was located in Police Road. The club later relocated to its current home in Garnett Road, in what is now Wheelers Hill.
Affiliated with the Berwick District Football Association, success came immediately with a grand final appearance in the club’s first season. The team was defeated by Berwick FC, but would go one step further and deliver the club’s first premiership in 1927, just its third season.
Finals followed again in 1929, but unfortunately the success would not last. After battling tough economic times and dwindling player numbers, the club was placed into indefinite recess after a winless 1935 season. It would remain as such until after World War II.
In late 1947 a group of determined locals came together in a bid to get the club back on the field. Support was strong and the club re-entered the league (now called the Dandenong District Football Association) in B Grade for the 1948 season. Once again, success came quickly. The club played finals every year from 1949 to 1953, reaching two grand finals and winning the premiership in 1952.
The demise of the DDFA in 1953 meant the search for a new football home, with the club looking to the eastern districts and joining the Croydon-Ferntree Gully Football League for 1954. It would prove a successful move with the club winning the B Grade premiership in its first season in the east, and following up with further flags in 1956 and 1960. Narrow grand final losses in 1961 (11 points to Bayswater) and 1962 (12 points to Scoresby) left the club just short of yet more silverware.
In 1962 the CFGFL had become the Eastern Districts Football League, with Mulgrave a founding member. The rest of the 1960s was a leaner period, with no finals appearances in the second half of the decade. However a reserves team was established in 1968, giving greater depth to the playing list, and relegation to Division 3 in 1969 allowed the team to rebuild in a more competitive environment.
The rebuild was swift. After the reserves claimed their maiden premiership in 1970, the seniors would win the 1971 Division 3 premiership with a stunning undefeated season. This would prove to be the springboard for a highly successful decade. The seniors would play Division 2 finals in 1973, and reach the Grand Final in 1975. An eight-point loss to Kilsyth in a high-scoring affair would, unfortunately, be a preview of things to come. It was the first of a remarkable four grand final losses in four seasons for the seniors from 1975 to 1978.
The group pressed on for the elusive senior premiership and the run of grand final outs was finally broken in 1979, in the club's fifth consecutive senior grand final appearance. Under the coaching of former VFL and VFA player Ray Ball, Mulgrave defeated Bayswater by 24 points to claim the Division 2 flag. Meanwhile the reserves had claimed four straight premierships from 1976 to 1979 and the Colts saluted in 1976 and 1979, making it a golden era for the club as a whole.
Promotion to EDFL Division 1 in 1980 brought a new challenge and the club responded immediately with a strong season, finishing third on the ladder. In just ten years the club had progressed from Division 3 to Division 1 finals – the culmination of a remarkable and sustained period of success. Since emerging from recess in the DDFA in 1948, the club had played finals in 21 of 33 seasons, reached 12 senior grand finals for six premierships, established a reserves team which won five premierships of its own, and was now an EDFL Division 1 finalist.
Hawthorn premiership player Ian Bremner arrived as senior coach in 1981, and under the tutelage of he and others the club would spend the 1980s in Division 1, with further finals appearances coming in 1983 and 1984. The standout individual of the decade was undoubtedly Darren Linkins, a local junior who returned to the club after a stint in the VFL with Carlton. Linkins won six senior best and fairest awards in eight seasons between 1982 and 1989, and coached the club from 1987 to 1989.
Diminishing results culminated in relegation to Division 2 for the 1991 season, but it wasn’t long before the club’s fortunes were looking up again. 1995 saw the arrival of former Frankston VFA player Gerrard Boonkkamp, whose impact would be both immediate and long-lasting. ‘Boomer’ would eclipse Linkins’ remarkable record, winning seven senior best and fairest awards in the next nine seasons.
Meanwhile, a new generation of local players was strengthening the club. The Under 18 team won premierships in 1996, 1997 and 2000, while the reserves collected three consecutive flags from 1999 to 2001 and the seniors returned to the finals in 1999. The arrival of Noble Park champion Peter Reece as playing coach in 2001 saw further improvement, with the seniors finishing on top of the ladder and reaching the Division 2 Grand Final, only to be defeated by Donvale. The strong results continued, however 2003 brought another senior grand final defeat, this time by just 11 points to Lilydale.
Despite the disappointing grand final results, the strong and growing nucleus of young players meant the club was well placed for the second half of the 2000s. Hayden Stanton arrived as senior coach in 2007, immediately delivering finals action. Unfortunately for the seniors, more grand final pain was to come. The club suffered defeat to Wantirna South in the 2008 decider, though premiership wins to both the reserves and colts illustrated the strong state of the club overall. 2009 saw the seniors again defeated in the grand final, this time to South Croydon by just nine points.
However, much like the senior team of the late 1970s, resilience was a trademark of the group. In 2010, reaching their third consecutive Division 2 grand final and fifth of the decade, the seniors broke the 31-year premiership drought and delivered the club's eighth senior flag. Under the leadership of Stanton and captain Brad Fowler, Mulgrave overcame Bayswater by 25 points in the decider.
2014 would be the high point of the new decade on the field, with the seniors reaching the preliminary final and the colts winning the premiership. 2014 would also be the first year of another remarkable individual run in the senior best and fairest, with Dean Siakoulis claiming the first of an amazing six consecutive wins.
Meanwhile the Eastern Football League introduced a netball competition, with Mulgrave teams first taking part in 2016. The club would claim it’s first netball premiership in 2018, with Mulgrave Red defeating Whitehorse Pioneers by a single goal in a thrilling Division 3 grand final.