The Black Rock Football Club was born in 1908 and the ensuing 109 seasons have seen the club endure the heights of success and the depths of despair. Known as Black Rock & Sandringham District and wearing navy blue with a red “V” in the early days, the club moved to the Federal Football Association in 1912 where it lost its first game to Cheltenham by 45 points.
The club began its climb up the ladder in 1919, the year football resumed after World War I, when it finished in the top two for the first time as runner-up to Sandringham. Black Rock was runners-up again in 1921 and 1923, falling short of Brighton and Mordialloc respectively. The club withdrew from the Federal League in 1927 and re-joined in 1932.
After another finals appearance in 1934, Black Rock went all the way in 1935 to take out their first premiership flag. Losing only one game for the season to finish in top place, the Rocks cruised through the finals, defeating East Burwood by four goals in the big one.
The premiership line-up was: L.Williams, J.Bryer, H.Bartley, L.Coles, S.Coles, J.Edwards, D.Fricker, H.Geddes, R.Glew, T.Harrington, E.LeNepvue, E. McGain, E.MacKenzie, L.Phelan, J.Rowley, E.Reickman, A.Rowan, N.Spencer and Percy Witchell, the 1938 Federal Best & Fairest winner. The club made it two flags in a row in 1936, defeating Darling by nine points after losing to them by a point in the second semi-final.
In 1948, Black Rock took the unusual step of fielding two senior teams in the top grade. Chelsea kicked a record score of 41-38-284 against their second team, while Caulfield almost matched that with their score of 41-27-273 against the same side.
Their next premiership, which proved to be their last in the Federal League, came with an 11-pt victory over Dandenong, in 1954. Some of the well-known names of that era include popular captain Bill Wood and Les “Bluey” Falkingham, a veteran of 317 senior games for the Rocks.
Black Rock also proved to be a breeding ground for first class administrators. Wally Beckwith served as Federal President for 15 years and later Darrell Molloy was secretary for 18 years, becoming President in 1980. The club also produced a few handy players along the way, including Wally’s son John, a five time Melbourne premiership player (and duel premiership captain) who was a member of Melbourne’s team of the century.
Black Rock reached the finals only twice during the 1960s, in 1962 and 1964, despite some exceptional talent in its ranks including former St Kilda full-forward Bill Young, and John Ward, a tear-through centre-half-back who later starred for Sandringham and played cricket for Victoria as an opening bowler.
By the time the 1970s arrived, the club was struggling for support and the conclusion of the 1972 season saw the club forced to close its door. After 65 eventful years Black Rock’s marvellous history came to a sudden halt for the second time, however thanks to the dedication of a few hard workers, the club re-formed in 1976 and entered the YCW competition.
After a few seasons the Rockers moved on to the ESCFA and enjoyed immediate success in 1980 with premierships in seniors and reserves. Another senior flag came in 1984, with the reserves completing four in a row in 1982.
In 1986 Black Rock joined the SESFL (which became the SFL in the 1990s) and after a period of sporadically making finals, the club has experienced a spike in success from the early 2000s through to the present day. Under the leadership of playing coach Neil Hassell the Rockers broke a finals drought in 2001, before falling short on grand final day against Hampton and Canterbury in 2002 and 2003. Gary Rohan took the reins as senior coach in 2004, and led the club to a successful year with both seniors and reserves qualifying for the grand final. In torrential conditions the reserves fell short by four points, however despite trailing for most of the day the senior side tasted premiership glory over Moorabbin with a courageous and hard fought nine point victory.
Black Rock’s next premiership was won in spectacular fashion in 2007, with playing coach Steve Anderson leading the side in one of the all-time great local grand finals. On a sunny day at Mordialloc in perfect conditions, Black Rock and Mount Waverley fought out a spectacular contest which resulted in a drawn game after four quarters. Extra time was bruising and intense, with the pressure from both sides resulting in Black Rock scoring a solitary point versus Mount Waverley’s zero, bringing the cup home in a thriller.
2008 saw Black Rock celebrate the centenary season after being founded in 1908, and the year saw many tribute functions along with some old faces returning to Donald McDonald reserve. The crowning glory being the centenary dinner held at our major sponsor Doyle’s Hotel in Mordialloc, as the night celebrated everything Black Rock and saw 250+ people celebrate the club’s rich history and reminisce about their time at the Rockers (pictures available for view in the gallery).
The next few years produced mixed results with some challenging times on and off the field. With the footy department and playing list in need of a rebuild John Burke was appointed as senior coach in 2013, and after struggling for success in the first half of the season, the hard work and positive leadership started showing signs of success with a number wins late in the season. That momentum continued to build through preseason and the season proper in 2014, resulting in the first finals appearance since the 2007 premiership. By 2015 Black Rock was a force once again, with both the seniors and reserves qualifying for Grand Final Day for the first time since 2004. As with 2004 the reserves lost a close encounter on the day, however with the senior team once again matched up against old foe Mount Waverley, the Jets proved too good winning their eighth premiership flag.
Some of the notable personalities during the club’s modern era include:
Trevor Wood, a player from the Federal days, who also played and served as Treasurer from 1977-1988.
Wally Pratt was the architect of Black Rock’s success in the early 1980s. He was able to secure fundraising through Bingo and recruited several talented players to the dub.
Tom Raftery has been a key contributor during the modern era, serving on the committee for over 20 years with 11 of them as secretary. A veteran of 160 games, Tom was the driving force in keeping the club going. Always at training, Tom has barely missed a game in his four decades at Black Rock, and still contributes in a number of roles including registration officer today (2017). Currently the Tom Raftery Perpetual Shield is awarded annually to an individual who contributes above and beyond at Black Rock.
Bill Costello, whose father was a trainer for Black Rock in the 1950s and 1960s was a trainer from 1980-1996, and also served the club as secretary and president. Billy still serves the club he loves in volunteer roles, and once again in 2017 is cheering the Rockers on during every game.
Mick Bowe, who played and coached at Black Rock from 1977-92, also had a family link to the “previous” Black Rock. Mick’s brother Peter was a legendary Rock player in the 50s and 60s and served as President from 1980-82.
Leo O’Keefe is another dedicated clubman who played in the Federal days and also in the reformed club. Leo was at Black Rock for 35 years serving on the committee and as secretary, and is still a familiar face around the club to the present day.
Kevin Handley played in the four consecutive reserves premiership sides, and became president of Black Rock from 1996-2005. Kev was a larger than life character, and a dedicated and hands-on style president who would often be seen giving rub downs before games and during the breaks. Much loved by all at our club, our mate Kev tragically passed away in 2016 and is truly missed.
Nick “Burger” MacMillan took over from Kevin Handley in 2006 and continued Kev’s work as president for 9 of the following 11 years. A former full-forward for the Rockers, Nick’s commitment and dedication to the club sees him as a well-known figure all across the league. In 2017 Nick stepped back from the presidency, yet is still a key figure at Black Rock working on a number of initiatives building the future of the club,
Rick Watkins, Kevin Mitchell, Laurie Howes, Michael Lithgow, Brent Ward, David ‘Wilbur’ Perry, Robert Scott, Tim Sim, Bradley Nopper and Dean Brostek, are the most recent players to join the Jets’ elite “200-games” club.