Old Brighton Grammarians Football Club have had a couple of incarnations. They first entered a team as Old Brightonians in the VAFA in 1921-22, before missing the 1923 season. The club was back for 1924-26, before another hiatus until the period of 1932-39, however WWII saw them again disbanded.
The OBGFC as we know it today was formed by Old Brighton Grammarian Nick Walsh and admitted into the VAFA in 1957 into ‘E’ Section and under the coaching of Bill Fitzgerald who had previously been involved with the Old Brightonians pre-war and had come from Collingwood where he had been the reserves Captain. Bruce Robinson was the Captain and Bob McLennan the Vice captain in its inaugural season.
The following year, 1958, under new coach, popular but strict BGS teacher Horrie Webber, the team made the finals. The team had a formidable forward line that year with Doug Ridley and Bruce Robinson combining for 93 goals, and Bob McLennan winning the competition B&F with a staggering 43 ½ votes, which is still a VAFA record tally today. Whilst the club managed to climb out of F Section by virtue of a runners-up finish, a first senior flag took 20 years, the club eventually saluting for the 1977 D Section premiership. A majority of this team were around to be a part of the 1980 C Section flag.
In those early days, the team played their matches on Saturdays on the Crowther Oval, after relentlessly campaigning for permission from then Headmaster – Canon Wilson. Bob recalls that the oval was much the same today as it was then, “small”, but with one major difference – Cramer Walk which today separates the Crowther and Junior Ovals, was then an actual Road ‘Cramer Street’, with cars and buses regular users between New Street and Outer Crescent.
The team also played out of Halifax Street Oval, and the Highett ‘Gas Works’ Oval in the early 60’s before eventually moving to the current home ground, Brighton Baech Oval in 1963 (which cost the club the exorbitant fee of £20 for the year).
The social facilities were non-existent back then and most of the socialising was done at Kyhat’s Hotel or at people’s homes. Kyhat’s served as the basis for the majority of recruiting work done back then, as it was the regular ‘watering hole’ for the Old Boys around the area. Bob also wonders how the team managed to play so well back in the days, considering Friday nights at Kyhats was when the team was assembled for the following day, and most, if not all of the players, rarely left without having conducted a “heavy drinking session”.
Other social gatherings consisted of ‘Pleasant Sunday BBQ’s in the backyard of a player or coaches house, and most famously ‘The Shed’ which was just that, a 5x5x1.5 metre dirt floor shed in the backyard of John Boucher’s McKinnon Road house. Furnished with a trestle at one end and with kegs supplied by Kyhat’s Hotel, this was the regular meeting place for the entire team plus supporters.
OBGFC Seniors have won a total of 5 Premierships:
- Premier B/B-Section 1999, 2013, 2017
- Premier C/C-Section 1980
- D-Section 1977
The clubs highest ever finish in the VAFA was in 2007, where they were runner-up in A-Section. After making the finals last year in William Buck Premier, the club hopes to go one better in 2019.