Our long and rich history began in 1961 when the Old Haileybury Amateur Football Club was established.
Under coach Ross Venn, the first modern Old Haileyburians team took the field on Saturday 22 April 1961 at Albert Park Oval Number Ten, the Haileyburians’ first footballing home. The first team to take the field against Old Trinity was:
Backs: Brian Henderson, Morris Brown, David Child Half-backs: John MacFarlane, David McLean, Robin Boag Centres: Keith MacFarlane, Andrew Home (captain), Don Thomson Half-forwards: David Schaffter, Russell Hare, Robert Gyngell Forwards: John Davies, Duncan Sutherland, Lindsay Worledge Followers: Rod Home, David Robertson Rover: Peter MacFarlane Reserves: Dennis Mills, Tony Clarke
The Bloods won their first game 13.12 (90) to 7.7 (40)
Three significant events mark the Old Haileyburians’ 1963 season; the formation of a reserves team, the move to the Halifax and William Streets Reserve in Brighton, and their first premiership in their inaugural D Grade season.
Captain-coach Peter Davies and Andy Home led the way on the field along with prolific goal-kicker Peter Bowring. Off the field the efforts of Tom Fisher, Tony Kellock, Graham Harwood and Murray Ponsford kept the club ticking over.
The Bloods spent the next several years struggling in C Grade narrowly avoiding relegation more than once. Most famously in 1964 when they won a replayed match by a point, the winning goal kicked by Graham Currie nursing a broken arm.
The Reserves won the club's second premiership in 1968 against AJAX at Albert Park, captained and coached by champion rover David Young. The next decade would see a far more competitive OHAFC, boosted by champions from increasingly successful school teams such as Langford-Jones, Mason, Gadsden, Williams and Pollock.
Twist of Fate
The story of the 1969 second semi-final was not complete with the final siren. Assumption ruckman and future VFL star and media identity Peter "Crackers" Keenan, had played a wonderful game. But over an after-match beer with his Bloods opponent blurted out how much he had also enjoyed his footy “up the bush” in Yarrawonga that year. Of all the people to confess his sins to, he chose a very attentive Zeke Davies. A protest was lodged, upheld and Assumption forfeited the match for playing the unregistered ruckman. Zeke’s detective work had seen Old Haileyburians through to the Grand Final.
A fortnight later the Bloods faced Assumption again in the Grand Final, and naturally tensions were high given the drama following the semi. Coming away with the win and the premiership closed off a tumultuous decade in the best way possible.
Kings of Keysborough
In 1973 the Bloods moved out to Haileybury's Keysborough campus and the Fisher Oval, named after the club's first Life Member. "Augie's Boys" took out that year's Reserves premiership and the following year the Seniors made it to the Grand Final and gained promotion to B Grade for the first time.
Club legend Roger Paul made his debut in 1974 and along with All-Australian Amateur ruckman John Houghton frequently carried the Bloods' playing fortunes. The arrival of former Hawthorn strongman Michael Porter as coach was also a significant boost to the club.
Under Ken Allison's presidency, the club's first under-19 team took the field in 1978. Their interesting year included an abandoned game, a record score of 41.31 (277) in the final round to steal second place on percentage, and a hard fought premiership.
Two years later Philip Kingston captained the U19s to a one-point Grand Final win to take out the premier junior VAFA competition, as well as winning the Section Best and Fairest.
Decade of Struggle
The mid-1980s followed the pattern of the mid-1960s. A move to a new home, the McKinnon Reserve, and an almost perennial struggle to avoid relegation from C Grade. Although off the field the club boomed and led some to claim, "If they played like they partied they would be in A Grade".
The likes of Roger Paul, Neville Schmidt and Roger Gerny led the way on the field while Don McQueen and Andrew Langford-Jones remained stalwarts off it. The arrival of former VFL players Wayne Shand and then Phil Stevens as coaches along with the recruitment of a large group of talented school leavers gave hope for the future.
1988 marked the Bloods first appearance in finals at senior level for a decade. Under coach Simon Meehan and captain Darren Seccull they followed this with thumping Grand Final wins over Banyule in 1989 and Old Melburnians in 1990 in C and B Grade respectively, thus entering A Grade for the first time.
Many champions graced the field for the Bloods in the 1990s including Garry and Wayne Phillips, Glenn Tanner, David Connell, Chris McKenzie and Andrew Walden. At their best the Bloods were the match of any team in the competition. Despite some ups and downs over the decade, another B Grade flag followed under Neville Taylor in 1995.
Aiming for the Top
Dennis Smith took over the reigns as President in 1997 for what turned out to be a record term of 8 years. Many of the great players of the 1990s retired towards the end of the decade so under new coach Mick Dwyer and extensive recruiting program took place over the next few years. It bore fruit in the form of the Corrigan brothers Paul and Mark, man-mountain forward Brett O'Farrell, Jeremy Bourke, Kynan Ford and eventually St Kilda legend Stewart Loewe, probably the biggest name ever to have played VAFA football to that time.
A particularly bright spot was the durable Matthew Armstrong reaching the 300 game milestone, the first OHAFC player to do so. As was the premiership of Andrew Bonwick's 2001 reserves, blessed with the goal-kicking genius of the "Foo", bulky full-forward Chris Efstathiou.
It all came together in 2006 as coach Peter Nicholson ensured that the McKinnon "Badlands" became the most feared venue in amateur football. The Bloods defeated one of the great amateur dynasties Old Xaverians four times during the season, including the Grand Final to secure their first A Grade premiership. At 38, the ageless Mark Seccull starred with four goals while ruckman Andrew Jenke took out the Section Best and Fairest. Also amongst all the stars of the win were former players' sons Sam Langford-Jones and David Mason.
School leaver, ruckman Stefan Martin, returned to football after a five year break, was best on ground in seven of his eight U19 games, made the strong senior team, and was drafted at the end of the year in a meteoric rise.
Back to B and Beyond
Many players retired or left after the A Grade triumph and the Bloods were relegated the following year. They enjoyed a brief return to A under coach David Lappage, and a series of virtuoso performances by the amazing Brett Voss along with help from the likes of Tony Brown, Hamish McLaughlin, Peter Gleadhill and goalsneak Travis Ridgway. But a slow decline eventually led to relegation to C Grade for the first time in over 25 years.
President Andrew Hicks worked hard to keep the club afloat and scored a major coup by securing tenancy of Princes Park in South Caulfield from 2013. Finally the seniors enjoyed success with a barnstorming Grand Final last quarter against Monash to take off the 2015 flag.
Here Come the Hearts - and More Flags
The Seniors' win in 2015 was the first of four flags for the club in four years; they were followed by the Under-19s coached by Mick Constable, then another Senior flag under Daniel Ward in 2017, and finally the Hearts in only their second year coached by Danny "Spud" Frawley. The establishment of the Hearts had been a welcome and significant boost to the club.
In most recent years captain James Paul and ruckman Lachie Treverton have led the men's teams in great style, as have Chelsea Frawley and Jordan Shanks for the Hearts. The 2020 season was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.