The earliest days and information regarding the Keilor Football Club date back to 1877. Please see below a wonderful extract from DJ Williams Art that depicts the very early years and the formation, of the Keilor Football Cub.
The Keilor Football Club was formed at a meeting at Mr Eagling’s Waggoner’s Arms Hotel in May 1877. Thirty members of the Cricket Club were enrolled to elect a committee and George Dodd was chosen as the club’s first President. The first point of business was to select the club colours, for which it was decided would be black & white stripes…
The first match at the Keilor ground was against the Bellevue club on the Thursday Queen’s Birthday holiday on 24 May 1877 – the result of this match is yet to be uncovered. Other teams to play at Keilor in 1877 were the Carlton second twenty, Victoria Railways, Victoria United, Hotham Hill, Hotham and the Melbourne second twenty. The first season was deemed a success with the undoubted highlight being the win against the formidable senior club, Hotham, in the return match at Royal Park – Hotham went on to finish the inaugural Victorian Football Association season in third place behind Carlton and Melbourne.
In 1880, a decision was made to update the club’s uniform which many felt looked rather dull. When the Keilor captain, Patrick Mc Shane, now led the players onto the ground they would be wearing a blue & white striped jersey with a red sash. The original black & white stripes would be retained in the colour of the players’ caps. Mc Shane was Keilor’s great champion in both football and cricket and was not always available to captain the club. He was now also an important part of the Essendon football team – a club that was going from strength to strength in the senior VFA competition.
The three men pictured here in this 1908 portrait are from left, Bernard McGarry, Alex Wardill and Arthur Cave. Little is currently known of Wardill except that like McGarry and Cave, he lived in Footscray and played his football with both Keilor and the Footscray junior team.
McGarry played as a follower and his name often appears in lists of best players as part of an invaluable pairing with Cave in the ruck. A relationship between the two Footscray men was fostered when Cave married McGarry’s sister and it appears to have flowed onto the football field. When McGarry then settled in Keilor, a link with the football club was forever forged.
Arthur Cave is clearly the most accomplished of the trio. He was born in Ballarat in 1880 and 22 years later was playing for Footscray in the VFA competition. After just one year in the seniors he left to play for the Footscray juniors where he went on to become a mainstay at the club. Cave’s style of play was described as cool and confident. He played as a tall follower and was equally effective when placed forward.
In 1905 his football future was under threat after a riveting machine he was working on malfunctioned and badly crushed his hand. Cave recovered fully over the summer months and mid-way through the 1906 season was chosen as captain of the combined VJFL team to take on a combined team from Ballarat.
Whenever Cave was not required by the Footscray juniors to take the field he would make himself available to the Keilor club. Arthur Cave’s daughter, Kath Borrell, has provided an account of what it took for her father to play at Keilor. She explained that he would catch a Cobb & co. coach from a depot in Ballarat Road that would take him through to the top of Green gully hill. From there, the coach would make a tentative descent to the bottom of the hill where the occupants would disembark in order to lighten the load. They would then walk in the coach’s tracks as it climbed the other side, and on days when conditions were less than favourable, passengers were asked to help push the coach the final few yards to the top.
In 1908, a room in the back of the Waggoner’s Arms Hotel in Eagling Street would serve as the club’s main dressing rooms. Once the players from both teams had changed into their uniforms they would make their way down the lane behind the shops to the ground. After the game the players, committee members and supporters would all meet back at the hotel – or across the way at the Keilor Hotel – where they would partake in food and beverages into the late hours of the night. Cave was often required to leave the festivities early for he yet had a long way to travel on foot before he was home. The trip would take him in the dead of night across the paddocks and through the creeks of where Keilor East and Avondale heights now stand until he reached his destination in Footscray.
The playing of football by a Keilor team dates back to at least the 18th of June 1894, when Keilor played Essendon Juniors at Keilor.
In the period 1894 – 1925 Keilor played matches against various sides from the city hotel social clubs, along with teams from nearby towns. Keilor’s first competition matches were played in the Keilor and Broadmeadows Football Association, which was formed in 1926. Playing against neighbouring towns, Keilor featured in a number of Grand Finals, being successful in 1926 and 1928.
Keilor became an affiliate club in 1932 with the Essendon District Football League (EDFL) formed in 1930. Keilor struggled in its early years of EDFL competition as most of the residential growth took place in the Essendon area.
In it’s first 60 years Keilor fielded predominantly senior teams, with occasional junior matches dating back to at least 1927. The first junior team fielded with the EDFL was the under 17’s in 1957. In later years further junior teams were established: under 13 – 1967; under 15 – 1968; under 11 and 9 – 1973.
A B Grade premiership in 1968 was followed by it’s first A-Grade premiership in 1973, and again in the years 1985, 1988, three in a row 1995, 1996, 1997, and back to back in 2000 and 2001. In more recent years, Keilor FC triumphed over previously undefeated Greenvale to win the 2008 A-Grade Premiership at Windy Hill. This day also saw our Reserves win the premiership, defeating West Coburg and our U18 side falling short – A feat which saw all 3 sides appear on Grand Final Day!
In 2016 Mick McGuane lead Keilor to his 2nd flag in charge, defeating Aberfeldie 13.13.91 v 9.8.62 at Windy Hill, on Saturday 10th September.
The victory was setup thanks to a first quarter ambush – Kicking 8 goals to 3 in the opening term and blowing the opposition away.
Like in 2008, our Reserves also won the Premiership thanks to a mighty game of football against Greenvale – Making it a Premiership double for our Senior Men’s sides in 2016.
This was the first Premiership Keilor had won in the competition restructure to 3 grades, and makes it the 10th A-Grade/Premier Division Premiership for KeilorFC.
The 2020 EDFL Premier Division season was an outstanding year for the Senior side, as they capped off the P-E-R-F-E-C-T season, a 20-0 record after defeating Aberfeldie on Grand Final Day, Saturday September 21st.
Keilor led the whole day, and despite a last quarter fightback from Aberfeldie, Keilor were able to hold on to complete the clubs first ever Premiers & Champions status, never been done before in over 140 years of history.
Captain Kane Barbuto, lead the team with a perfect season of his own, collecting; Club Best & Fairest, League Medal Best & Fairest, EDFL Team of the Year Captain, Best on Ground in Premier Division Grand Final, Premiership Captain.
Keilor 11.9.75 defeated Aberfeldie 10.7.67
Goal Kickers: D. Galea 4, K. Barbuto 3, J. Papalia, J. Sadler, M. Clark, T. Stevenson
Best Players: K. Barbuto, T. Stevenson, D. Joyce, M. Rogerson, S. Radovanovic, B. Xavier
In 2017 – KeilorFC fielded our first ever Senior Women’s side, which competed in the EDFL/WRFL Senior Women’s Competition.
It was an extremely successful season, as our Keilor girls did not lose a game all season, running out Premiers in the Grand Final by a whopping 75 points over Manor Lakes.