North Ballarat Football Club
|Full name||North Ballarat Football Club|
|Premierships||Three VFL (2008, 2009, 2010)|
|Ground(s)||Mars Stadium (capacity: 11,000)|
|North Ballarat Number 2 Oval (capacity: 4,000)|
North Ballarat Football Club, nicknamed The Roosters, is an Australian rules football club based at Mars Stadium in Ballarat. The club is locally known as the Roosters, and was most notable for competing in the Victorian Football League (VFL) between 1996 and 2017.
The club was established in 1882, playing in a number of regional competitions before entering Ballarat's "B" grade league as 'North City Football Club' in 1946 where it won its first premiership. In 1952 the club was admitted to the Ballarat Football League (BFL) as 'Ballarat North City' making its first Grand Final appearance in 1959. In 1960 the club played as 'North City – Wendouree' and was renamed 'North Ballarat Football Club' in 1961. The club won its first BFL Premiership (by two points) on its second Grand Final appearance in 1963 against Ballarat Football Club. The 1970s heralded the start of a golden era for the club. In the 27-year period from 1970 until 1996 the club claimed a further 14 BFL Premierships in the period spanning the 1970–1995 seasons (of which they claimed five between 1990–95). The latter feat was no doubt what prompted an invitation to join the re-constructed Victorian Football League (VFL) for the 1996 season.
The team had two unsuccessful VFL Grand Final attempts in 1999 and 2000, and won the 2008 VFL Premiership defeating the Port Melbourne Football Club. In 2009 and 2010 they gained back-to-back Premierships defeating the Northern Bullants at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on both occasions.
The VFL competition has changed significantly since 1996 with ten of the fourteen teams in the present day VFL competition being aligned to (or the full Reserve listed teams of) much larger AFL clubs. The North Ballarat Roosters separated their association with the North Melbourne Football Club at the end of the 2015 season and struggled to transition as a stand-alone team against the AFL backed teams. At the end of the 2017 season, AFL Victoria revoked North Ballarat's VFL licence due to difficulties in the club's governance and on-field performance, citing difficulties at board level and the club's divided attention between its VFL team and its North Ballarat City BFL team, ending the club's stint in the VFL after 22 seasons. The club will have the opportunity to restructure and attempt to regain its licence for the 2019 season. A meeting of the club's board and members in October 2017 drew unanimous support for the board to take all steps necessary to regain the VFL Licence. The Roosters future in the VFL will be determined by how the club re-structures as a new representative team of the Greater Western Victoria region. Recent proposals have included re-branding the team and establishing a separate administration to unlink it from its BFL sister team (North Ballarat City).
Rebranding of the team is considered necessary for re-entry to the VFL as long term antipathy toward the club is said to exist across the wider Ballarat football community due to the club's past unparalleled success when competing in the BFL prior to its admission to the VFL. Throughout its history the club has maintained an excellent junior development program, producing sportsmen of the calibre of Brownlow Medallist Tony Lockett, Collingwood and past West Coast Eagles dual AFL premiership coach Michael Malthouse and Olympic marathon runner Steve Moneghetti. There are also many players past and present who have played Australian football at its highest level.
The North Ballarat Football Club has historically played on ovals contained within the Ballarat Council owned Ballarat Showgrounds precinct. Between 1952 and 1990 the main playing oval was contained within the showgrounds harness-racing and show arena with the clubrooms located in surplus 'P' huts recycled from the former WW2 Ballarat RAAF Base. The original Showgrounds oval was noted for its muddy surface and blustery winds making it an extremely unpopular venue for opposing teams and spectators alike. By 1990 the club had accumilated substantial revenues to fund construction of a new social club and entertainment complex that coincided with the construction of a new all-weather oval on the site of the former harness-racing arena. While the new oval was built on Crown Land, the new clubrooms were established on adjacent freehold title land to the North. The new oval and clubhouse complex was unimaginatively named 'Northern Oval Number 1' with a secondary training oval (Northern Oval Number 2) established nearby. Between 1990 and 2015 the No 1 oval and social club were subsequently expanded and developed in line with the club's inclusion into the VFL. In 2009 the ground adopted the name Eureka Stadium and by that time had capacity for several thousand around its perimeter with limited seating to the front of the social club.
Above: 2012 - Northern Oval Number 1 in its original configuration during the annual Ballarat Show
Between September 2015 to July 2017 both ovals were completely re-built with new grandstands, lighting and video scoreboard established at the Mars Stadium site. In April 2017 the Ballarat Council commenced the process to compulsorily acquire the North Ballarat Social Club and carparks to centralise management of the redeveloped stadium and social club as one entity.
Between 2006 and 2015, North Ballarat was in a partial reserves affiliation with the AFL's North Melbourne Football Club. Under the arrangement, half of the players not selected in the North Melbourne senior team were allocated to play with North Ballarat; the other half played with Tasmania between 2006 and 2007, and with Werribee between 2008 and 2015. The arrangement ended after the 2015 season leaving North Ballarat as a stand-alone and sole regional VFL team.
North Ballarat have had many versions of their club song in the past. All versions have contained the same lyrics, but the rhythm and tune has varied over the years to keep the song contemporary. The lyrics and tune, written for North Adelaide Roosters by well known Australian singer/songwriter Johnny Mac, are the only completely original written in the league, as all the other clubs have written lyrics to well known tunes. The most recent version was brought in during the early 2000s, but all versions were recorded onto a club song CD at that time for posterity.
North Ballarat City
A consequence of having joined the VFL was that the club's juniors no longer had a local-level senior representative team in the BFL; this forced junior players to move to other senior BFL clubs (once they were of mature age) and impacted the North Ballarat Club with players losing long built connections with the club. To overcome this, the club established a new local BFL senior representative team under the clubs original name "North Ballarat City" in 2006. The club initially applied to enter the new team into the Ballarat Football League, however the remaining BFL clubs vetoed the proposal forcing North Ballarat City to initially join the Bendigo Football League. In their first year in the Bendigo competition they were win-less but improved to win five games in 2007.
In 2008, the BFL admitted North Ballarat City to its senior competition under strict terms that limit the club's recruitment and payment of players as well as the sponsorship that it can receive from the North Ballarat Sports Club to just $33,500 per-annum. Between 2008-2010 the team won four games each season but improved significantly in 2011 advancing through to the Preliminary Final before being knocked out. North Ballarat City won their first BFL premiership in 2013, defeating Sunbury. The North Ballarat City (Under 18.5) team also won a premiership in 2013, defeating Melton South. The following year the senior team won the 2014 BFL Grand Final defeating Ballarat Football Club at Ballarat's Eastern Oval.
North Ballarat also have a women's team that play in the VWFL North West division. They finished the 2009 season 2nd on the ladder but were unable to make the finals. 2009 saw the team with little experience, with an average age of 17. The women's team unlike their male counterparts is called the 'Eagles'.
Ballarat Football League:
- Seniors: (16)
North Ballarat Football Club - 1946 1963 1970 1973 1978 1979 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1991 1992 1994 1995 1996 2013 2014
- Reserves: (10)
1971 1987 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 2010
- Under 18s: (12)
1963 1970 1972 1973 1974 1975 1982 1983 1990 1994 1995 2012 2013 2014 2018
Victorian Football League:
- Seniors: (3)
2008 2009 2010
- Reserves: (2)
- Senior: 19
- Reserves: 12
- Under 18s: 12
- Club Premierships: 43
Other Division 1 Awards
- Runners-Up: (2)
- Minor Premierships: (1)
- Wooden Spoons: (2)
- Paul Amy (14 September 2017). "AFL Victoria hopes booted Roosters can re-emerge in VFL in 2019". Leader. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
- VFL – Official AFL Website of the Kangaroos
- Glenn McFarline (21 November 2014). "North Melbourne is set to end its partnership with Ballarat as Western Bulldogs move in". Herald Sun. Melbourne, VIC. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
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