Tigers celebrated 150 years: 1868 to 2018

By Richard Jones

The Kyneton Football and Netball Club celebrated 150 years of operation two seasons back: in 2018.

Footy in Kyneton started with an organised match played in the 1860s on a playing surface which had one end close to the current railway station and stretched to the present Showgrounds: about 1.5 km in length.

There were 42 players per team and the rival captains acted as the referees or umpires.

The club now known as the Tigers kicked off with two competitions played in the town: a Wednesday competition (a mid-week format similar to the one played in Bendigo in the late 19th and early 20th centuries) and a Saturday senior grade.

The Wednesdays in those heady goldmining days across central Victoria were gazetted half-holidays.

The Kyneton Saturday grade comprised clubs from Malmsbury, Trentham, Lauriston and two others named Rainbows and Collegians.

Kyneton, clearly, played against these five other clubs.

On Wednesdays  the competing ‘junior’ teams were South Stars, CYMS, Half-Holidays, East Trentham, West End and Kyneton Rovers.

This competition was what we’d call the Reserves these days. ‘Juniors’ was a competition name used loosely in the 19th and early 20th centuries to describe either under-18 or under-19 teams or more accurately in today’s terms, the Twos.


By 1877 when the Victorian Football Association was formed with just five senior clubs the new body established a provincial division.

Kyneton was a member of the VFA’s provincial grade along with Ballarat, Ballarat Albion, Sandhurst, Geelong and Barwon, a club formed in Geelong’s industrial southern suburbs.

But it wasn’t until the 1920s that the Kyneton Showgrounds Oval was ready for footy. It was re-constructed in 1931 and the playing surface again re-worked in the late 1980s-early 1990s.

Kyneton joined the Bendigo Football League in 1932, then with war looming left in the late Thirties to contest the Castlemaine District Football League.

They won the 1940 Castlemaine DFL flag, scoring 8.5 to one goal against Castlemaine United in the opening quarter.

Kyneton went into recess in 1942 --- a wartime emergency measure followed by the remaining clubs of the BFL --- with the Japanese army and air force threatening northern Australia by early 1942.

But just as they’d done during the WW1 years the VFL continued to run its competition in Melbourne despite the fact that young men were urgently needed as soldiers, sailors and airmen.

The Tigers re-joined the BFL in 1947 and have been part of the league ever since with just 2013 in recess.

There were some big decades --- none bigger than the Sixties with Clive Philp as captain-coach --– although the Seventies seemed to stretch endlessly.

The Tigers did, however, make the 1976 grand final but went down to Golden Square by seven goals.

Since joining the BFL in 1932 the Tigers have won six flags: 1936, 1960, 1961, 1966 and two in the Nineties: 1995 and 1997.

Philp’s famous rallying cry ‘How Dare We Fail’ served the Tigers brilliantly through their glorious Sixties era.

They’ve had seven members inducted into the BFNL Hall of Fame between 1986-2019: Clive Philp, Shane Muir, Tony Kelly, Kevin Parks, Stan Plowman and last November Steven Reaper and Derrick Filo.

Filo led the Tigers as playing coach when they won the 1995 and 1997 BFNL premierships and finished runners-up in 1996.

Long-serving club secretary Plowman became one of the first non-playing personalities honoured along with Eaglehawk trainer Herb Milburn and central umpires Ron Threlfall and Geoff Millar, although both Plowman and Milburn were players early in their lives.

Players to have topped the league goalkicking table include Philp (75 in 1960) Les Kaine (84 in 1966) and Steven ‘Revenue’ Reaper, twice: in 1998 with 107 and again in 1999 with 100.

Of course ‘Action Attraction’ Reaper went on to top the BFL goalkicking charts in three more seasons although by the early 2000s he was wearing Gisborne colours.

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