Mighty Mount Pleasant to celebrate

PROUD HISTORY: Back: Dean White, David McNamara, Nick Harrop and Alan Kennedy. Front: John Tuohey, Barney Nihill and Denis Roney with the commemorative Mount Pleasant jumpers that will be worn this Saturday. The seven are in the club’s social rooms that is adorned with premiership flags. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

PROUD HISTORY: Back: Dean White, David McNamara, Nick Harrop and Alan Kennedy. Front: John Tuohey, Barney Nihill and Denis Roney with the commemorative Mount Pleasant jumpers that will be worn this Saturday. The seven are in the club’s social rooms that is adorned with premiership flags. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

WHEN you hear the name Mount Pleasant, two images immediately spring to mind.

Firstly is those nasty tin shed away changerooms that have long been the bane of visiting teams to Toolleen.

But secondly is the awesome sight of the Mount Pleasant social rooms that are adorned with football and netball premiership flags on the walls and ceiling.

The Blues have been a remarkable football-netball club that throughout its history has won a staggering 75 premierships.

The Heathcote District Football League club will this weekend celebrate its much-revered history with a 125th anniversary reunion.

It’s a history that began in 1889 and on the football field has garnered 23 senior, 15 reserves and one under-16 flag in 1985.

The Blues’ netballers have equally been a dominant force in the Heathcote District Netball Association, winning 10 A-grade, five A-reserve, 13 B-grade, one B-reserve and seven C-grade premierships.

It’s a formidable record, particularly for a club that isn’t based in a town - Toolleen is just a footy ground, a pub and a church.

“The success is testament to the families in the area and the people who have worked so hard for the club over the years,” Blues president David McNamara said on Thursday.

“There’s a wonderful spirit and passion in the small community... they’re so dedicated to ensure the continued survival and success of Mount Pleasant.”

Of the Blues’ 23 senior premierships, 19 have been won in the HDFL - a record for the league.

The Blues joined the HDFL in 1935 after constantly switching leagues in their first 46 years, with competitions they played in including the Elmore District Association, Goornong and District Association and Campaspe Valley Football Association.

The Blues won their first four flags in the Campaspe Valley Football Association - 1923, 1925, 1926 and 1927.

The first of the club’s flags in 1923 was coached by Peter Frawley, with the Blues defeating Colbinabbin by 11 points in the grand final. The rivalry with the Grasshoppers is still as strong today as then.

However, the club endured a challenging entry to the HDFL in 1935 and had to wait 27 years before finally capturing its first senior premiership in 1962 when captain-coach Jack Byrne’s side defeated Heathcote Rovers by 22 points.

“The club did it hard for a long time in the HDFL, and through that period of the 1940s a lot of local clubs in the area folded, but the club was able to survive,” McNamara said.

After that breakthrough senior flag, it was a steady stream of success for the Blues, who won four premierships in the ’60s, two in the ’70s, four in the ’80s, five in the ’90s and four in the 2000s.

But the club - which had former VFL star Roy Cazaly of “Up There Cazaly” fame play one game for in 1920 - has endured a lean patch of late, having not played finals since 2008 and not won a senior flag since 2006.

Before missing the last five finals series, the Blues had only missed the finals five times between 1980 and 2008, but under new coach Derrick Filo, they are well on track finally for a return to September this year.

“The past few years have been tough and it has been different for us,” McNamara said.

“We never took our success for granted, but when you’ve had a few lean years like we have, it really makes you appreciate it more.”

Meanwhile, as for those much talked about away changerooms: “We gave them a bit of love at the start of the year... a bit of paint, new carpet and let a bit more light in,” McNamara said,

“We always keep them clean and tidy and think they’re quite acceptable.”

• The 125th reunion weekend begins at the club’s major sponsor, the Brougham Arms Hotel, on Friday night.

Following Saturday’s Mount Pleasant-Heathcote game at Toolleen, the reunion ball will be held at Truscott Reserve from 7.30pm.

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