Source: Website: Australian Football: Celebrating the history of the great Australian game, Tatura, as viewed 27 March 2018, https://australianfootball.com/clubs/stats/Tatura/1580/
Tatura has the distinction of being the Goulburn Valley Football League’s longest serving club. Indeed, other than war time recession, it has missed only one season, that of 1940 when, because of the loss of so many young men from the area to military service, it was unable to raise a team.
The Tatura Football Club was established in 1894 with the specific aim of giving the town a presence in the newly formed Goulburn Valley District Football Association, direct precursor of today’s GVFL. The side was competitive right from the outset, and won its first premiership in 1898. Over the ensuing seven seasons it proved to be by some measure the fledgling competition’s most potent force, winning no fewer than five further flags. In the century plus since, Tatura has never quite managed to recapture that degree of pre-eminence, although the club’s contribution to Goulburn Valley football has been significant in other ways.
On the individual playing front, for example, there have been a number of noteworthy achievements. ‘Freddo’ McMahon was a fine all round footballer who topped the league’s goal kicking list in 1966 with 63 goals, but arguably his greatest accomplishment was becoming the first ever GVFL player to amass in excess of 300 senior games.
One of McMahon’s team mates for some of that career was John Greenwood, widely acknowledged as one of the finest and most crowd-pleasing players to grace the competition since world war two. Greenwood, who could play in most positions on the field, and was renowned for his spectacular high marking, arrived at Tatura as a twenty-five year old in 1969 having played previously with Footscray, Castlemaine, Daylesford and South Melbourne. His consistent brilliance both that year and the next earned him successive Morrison Medals.
Tatura has produced a number of players who later embarked on successful stints in one or other of the major state competitions. The earliest of these was Archie Wilson, whose promising Carlton career was short-circuited by the advent of the Great War, while others have included Bill Pritchard (Tatura’s 1947 Morrison Medallist, who played with Geelong before returning to help his home town club to the 1952 and 1953 premierships), Peter Warburton (Carlton), Bruce Baker (Fitzroy), and Adrian Battiston (Melbourne, Sydney, Glenelg).
Tatura’s 1953 premiership win was one of the most dramatic in GVFL history. Needing to beat Kyabram in their last minor round match of the season in order to qualify for the finals, the Bulldogs were anything but impressive in edging home by the barest of margins. Against all the odds they then managed to overturn the form book in both the first semi final and the preliminary final to scrape their way through to a grand final clash with City United. Yet again Tatura were rank underdogs, but they produced another fine display in an enthralling match which produced the first - and so far only - drawn grand final in GVFL history. The Bulldogs’ tails were now up, and the replay saw them producing some of their best football of the season to secure their second successive flag.
After the 1953 premiership success Tatura went almost four decades without even contesting a grand final. That particular drought was eventually broken in 1992, but Rochester snatched victory by a point. Three years later, however, the wait for a flag finally came to an end when, under the highly disciplined coaching of former Collingwood and Sydney utility Paul Hawke, the Bulldogs proved conclusively that they were the best team in the competition after convincing wins over Echuca in both the second semi final and the grand final. Tatura won the latter match by 76 points, 23.13 (151) to 10.15 (75), after leading at every change by 15, 33 and 39 points. Emphasising the fact that sport in the country is often very much a family affair, the Stevens siblings, Gary and Cate, playing on the same day for Tatura’s senior football and netball teams, were both voted best afield in their respective grand finals. Completing the Bulldogs’ dominance of the 1995 season was their former Richmond ruckman Ty Esler’s win in the Morrison Medal.
Since 1995 Tatura have achieved three further flag triumphs, thrashing Rochester by 53 points in the 1998 grand final, accounting for Echuca by 50 points five years later, and downing Seymour by 28 points in 2012.