With less than four weeks to go before the start of the 1973 football season, the then Geelong & District Football League passed a motion requiring affiliated clubs to field teams in all the main sections (Seniors, Reserves, Under 18’s and Under 16’s). This affected two clubs – St Joseph’s and YMCA because they only fielded junior teams.
YMCA decided to disband its juniors while St Joseph’s opted to field two senior teams. Within four weeks the fledgling club had to find a ground, a coach, a committee, forty plus players and all the things necessary to keep a club afloat. Martin Bourke was appointed coach and Drew Reserve was obtained as our home ground.
The old clubrooms had been an old army hut converted into four change rooms at the south end of Drew Reserve, with the addition of showers and a canteen. St. Peters F.C. had the use of half this building. After the game, when the players had waded out of the water-filled showers, the change room was turned into a bar with the simple addition of a trestle and a barrel. Later when St. Peters built their new rooms, we were able to take over the remainder of the building as our social area. A lot of work was done making these as convivial as possible. However by the time the huge, ancient temprite fell through the old floorboards, it had been decided that new rooms on the other side of the oval were required.
These were opened in 1977 and were later named after our inaugural President, Allan Russell. Without Allan Russell, Clinton Price, Ken Moorfoot and Brother John O’Neill, the club would not have even got off the ground. All four men contributed an enormous amount of time and energy to making sure the club would survive and prosper. Among many other things, Allan Russell had the large light tower moved to its present location next to our rooms after having previously having it constructed and erected next to our old rooms. He also supplied the two coach’s boxes. For the first year we had relied on a few cars around the boundary line to provide illumination for training.
It wasn’t until nearly half way through 1974, that the Seniors finally recorded their first win. The Reserves had managed one or two wins in 1973. After obtaining the services of Tony Mathieson from St. Marys as Senior Coach and having to pay to get a clearance for Allan Collins from St. Marys, we set our sights on beating their former teammates. It was a good game of football at West Kardinia oval that saw a long bomb from Greg Anderson score a goal after the 3/4 time siren. This left us 5 goals up but St. Marys gradually wore us down and at the final siren we we a solitary goal up. A free kick to St. Marys after the siren resulted in a behind and the party started. The euphoria lasted only two weeks when, after a bye, we fronted up to Thomson F.C who hadn’t won a game that year, and they thrashed us by over twenty goals.
1977 was Peter Pianto’s first year as coach and we made the Grand Final in the Second Division after being relegated the previous year. We went down to Grovedale who had been the benchmark all season. This remains Grovedale’s only flag. The multi-goal thrashings weren’t all one way, against Meredith in their last year we were victors by over 50 goals. Large wins were also posted against Bell Post Hill and Corio.
St Joseph’s Football Club was an amateur club for its first few years with only the coaches receiving any money. This was in accordance with GDFL rules (although many other clubs openly flouted these rules), and a decision by the club’s committee and economic necessity. In addition to paying membership players had to pay 50c per week to help cover costs. There were however, some incentives for the players, usually in the form of goods donated to the club.
Our current playing jumper came about by accident. The original jumper had a central gold stripe flanked by red stripes. A new set of jumpers arrived a week or so before the start of the season in the current format and it was too late to send them back and so the design stayed.
Allen Fowler was the first player to play 200 games.
Dominic Podbury in 1999 became the first player to play 300 games and he also stands as our only player to have played in all the winning Grand Final sides for St Josephs.
Coach Ben Ingleton (1998-2000) had a significant impact upon the senior football ranks around this time, culminating in seniors and reserves playing off in the 1999 GFL Grand Final. The reserves were successful registering their first GFL Grand Final whilst the seniors were well beaten to notch up their third runners-up medal.
St Joseph’s has developed into a sporting club that is enjoying an era of success due mainly to the development of “Home Grown Players”. The club has, over tha past 20 years, enjoyed the support of St Joseph’s College with many players making the transition to the elite levels of AFL via the college and the football club. There have been 10 Premierships achieved in the U/18 ranks since 1985.
This development commenced in the early 1990’s. The strength and depth of the junior teams is evident by the numerous Permieships that they have won to date. Ex Geelong player and successful BFL coach Mark Neeld coached in the 2004 season and this led to one of the club’s favourite sons, Aaron Greaves, taking over the reigns as coach for a 3 year period before he announced playing retirement. Former Modewarre and South Barwon student of the game – Mark Hovey, coached the club from 2008 to 2010 with the Senior team reaching the Grand Final in 2009 – unfortunately they were defeated by South Barwon. In 2011 the club appointed Russell Robertson,former Melbourne Football Club player, as coach. Under Robertson our senior team reached the Preliminary final in 2011 and 2012. In 2012 our Reserves team, coached by Josh Bell were Premiers.
In 2013 the Club appointed Heath Jamieson as Senior Coach for two years.
NETBALL – As result of Football Geelong’s initiative, Netball was introduced into the league structure in 2000.
Despite a C Grade Premiership in 2002, the senior netball side made many Grand Final appearances before their oustanding Premiership win finally came in 2008 under coach Vicki Madden. Junior teams have been quite prominent in the final series, with the last flag won by the 13 and Under girls team in 2003. A strong junior program and friendly club atmosphere saw many girls wishing to play for Joey’s each season the numbers have increased dramatically to over 100 playing Club members. Extra junior teams in each age group were entered in other competitions around Geelong.
In 2014 the club appointed former Joey’s netballer Sandi Demasi as Senior Netball Coach..