The Stirling Amateur Football Club will be celebrating its Centenary this year, as one of its predecessor clubs – the Osborne Park Football Club – was established in 1922.
To celebrate the momentous occasion, the Club will be a organising a special Centenary match during the year, where the original heritage guernseys will be worn.
The Club will also be announcing a Team of The Century to commemorate the occasion. Members and supporters can provide input on their selections for the team here: https://forms.gle/rPxxwJPyASxUn4zd8
Early History – Osborne Park Football Club
The first documented evidence of the Club is the Committee Minutes Book from 1922, which is safely stored in the WA State Library. The first Committee Meeting was held on 10 February 1922, and Mr John Tyler was elected as the first Club President.
The Club played and trained at the Osborne Park Showgrounds (now known as Robinson Reserve), and the inaugural captain was Reg Johns.
The Club first took to the field in the Perth Suburban Football Association and remained in that league until 1924. There were difficulties in fielding a regular side in those early years, and from 1925, informal 'social' games were played against clubs from local metropolitan leagues (including Wanneroo, Wembley and Mt Hawthorn) and nearby country leagues (including Sawyers Valley, Mt Helena, Bindoon and Gin Gin).
Osborne Park 1922
After World War II, the Club was given approval to join the West Australian Amateur Football Association (WAAFA) in 1947. The Club played finals in their first year and steadily progressed through the grades.
Led by former West Perth champion Doug Lind, and with a number of State Amateur representatives in Raymond Okely and Fred Walkerden, the Club won its first premiership in 1954, defeating Claremont-Nedlands in the B-Grade Grand Final by 34 points.
In 1957, the Club left the Amateurs to join the Sunday National Football League (later known as the WA Football Association, or WAFA). During the 1960s and 1970s, the Club established itself as one of the powerhouse metropolitan clubs, and built up a fierce rivalry with Wanneroo (later Kingsway). Games between the two clubs often attracted thousands of spectators to the Osborne Park and Wanneroo Showgrounds.
In 1983, the Club moved away from its home at Robinson Reserve to the newly constructed facilities on Delawney Street at Balcatta Reserve (now known as Richard Guelfi Reserve). The move to new facilities was the culmination of many years of discussions and negotiations with the local Council and fundraising by Club members. The Clubrooms were built with labour and financial contributions provided by Club members.
The Club took another important decision in its football future in 1984, when it joined the newly formed Sunday Football League (SFL). During the late 1980s, the Club once again proved itself to be a powerhouse by winning three flags in five years, firstly under the guidance of former VFL/WAFL player Barry Beecroft and then WAFL premiership player, Ed Blackaby.
Over the years, there have been many notable players and personalities that have played at the Club. Some of the higher profile players include widely respected commentator Dennis Cometti, West Coast Eagles CEO Trevor Nisbett, International Test Cricket Umpire Ric Evans, and former Mayor of Wanneroo then State Member of Parliament, Michael Nanovich.
Early History – Balcatta Amateur Football Club
The former Balcatta Amateur Football Club started life as the AICA Football Club in 1980, competing in the WAAFL’s Sunday Division. The Club recruited Leo Italiano as its League coach in 1981 and went on to win three consecutive flags from 1981 to 1983, including a League and Reserves Premiership double in 1982.
The Club changed its name to Northbridge-AICA in 1984, and following a move from Wordsworth Reserve to Jones Paskin Reserve in Balcatta in 1988, a further name change to Balcatta-AICA was adopted. By 1990, the AICA name was drop to simply being known as Balcatta.
After a number of lean years in the late 1980s, the Club began a resurgence in the 1990s. The Club reached the E-Grade Grand Final in 1992, but unfortunately lost to Redcliffe. A Reserves team was re-introduced in 1993 after a seven-year stint as a single team club. Following the recruitment of Andrew Rottigni as playing coach in 1994, the Club reached another Grand Final in D-Grade, falling short again by just 9 points to Cowan University.
In 1996, the Club appointed former AFL/WAFL champion Kevin Caton as playing coach, which brought immediate success. The Club broke a 13-year premiership drought by defeating Redcliffe in the C-Grade Grand Final by 57 points.
Expansion and growth continued in 1997, and the Club reached its third grand final in four years. In a tough encounter against Mt Lawley, the Club was narrowly defeated in the B-Grade Grand Final by just 4 points.
Merger of Two Clubs
In 1998, the Osborne Park Football Club was seeking to leave the Sunday Football League to join the WAAFL, but they would have been forced to start in a low grade. Balcatta were also seeking to upgrade their facilities in anticipation of becoming a A-Grade club in the near future. As a result, a merger of the two Clubs into one super Club was proposed and agreed by the majority of members, resulting in the birth of the Stirling Amateur Football Club.
The Club competed began in B-Grade and enjoyed immediate success under coach Kevin Caton, winning the B-Grade and B-Reserves premiership double to earn promotion to WAAFL A-Grade.
The Club played between A-Grade and B-Grade between 1999 and 2013, but unfortunately experienced a downturn over the next seven years. Last year, the Club enjoyed a resurgence when both the League and Reserves sides reached the finals, resulting in the Club being awarded the PFL’s Champion Club trophy. The League side reached the Grand Final, but unfortunately went down to Roleystone by just 10 points.
The Club is now playing in C3-Grade and has recently expanded to include a Thirds side. The Club is hopeful of continuing its recent good form with another finals appearance being the aim.