EDITION five of the series looking back on the 50 most dominant premiership seasons across the Bendigo, Heathcote District and Loddon Valley leagues since 1990.
Coach - Wayne Bell
Record - 16-2
Percentage - 194.1%
Average for - 121
Average against - 62
Points differential - +59
def Elmore 115-83
def Mount Pleasant 153-50
def Huntly 179-62
def Broadford 92-68
def Rushworth 83-62
def Colbinabbin 84-83
def White Hills 167-61
def Stanhope 137-39
def Elmore 126-50
lt Mount Pleasant 87-114
def Huntly 180-57
def Broadford 116-41
def Rushworth 157-25
lt Colbinabbin 64-119
def White Hills 88-52
def Stanhope 163-45
def Colbinabbin 87-47
def Mount Pleasant 104-66
SUMMARY - Heathcote's 1992 premiership was one of two Heathcote District league flags the Saints won from seven-straight grand final appearances between 1989 and 1995.
Coached by Wayne Bell and captained by Mick Tobin, the Saints of 1992 won 16 of 18 games and had some massive victories along the journey - six of their winning margins were by more than 100 points.
One of those triple figure margins was a 103-point shellacking in round two of Mount Pleasant, who the Saints would later meet in what would be the first of four straight grand finals against the Blues.
"We only had one player from out of the district that year and that was Ross Forman from Kyneton," Bell said.
"Ross had a family connection to the club with his brother-in-law being Peter French, so I thought it was a really good effort that basically the entire team in 1992 was from the district.
"And I remember we couldn't play any home games that season because our ground was being done up... I'm pretty sure we used Mount Pleasant as our home ground that year.
"We had to train down at the Heathcote Showgrounds under one floodlight, which brought us all even closer together."
The Saints won their first nine games of the season by an average of 64 points, before suffering the first of their two losses when Mount Pleasant atoned for its dismal showing earlier in the year to win by 27 points.
The only other team to knock over the Saints was reigning premier Colbinabbin, which won by 55 points in round 15.
But come the finals the Saints comfortably had the measure of both Colbinabbin and Mount Pleasant, beating the Grasshoppers by 40 points in the second semi and a fortnight later defeating the Blues by 38 points in the grand final.
"I remember we started the year off well, then backed it off a bit in the middle of the season and built up again ready for a good run into the finals and, fortunately, it all panned out well for us as we'd planned," Bell said.
THE TEAM - Cameron Edge, Phillip Pickering, Jamie Sesto, John McCarthy, Tim Moloney, Brendan Baker, David Holden, Ross Forman, Des Gilmore, Terry French, Mick McCarthy, Phil Watts, Mick Tobin, Shane Cox, Steve Cox, Andrew Conforti, Dennis McCarthy, Brad Morgan, Peter Conforti, Steve Lawson.
SIGN UP FOR BEST ON GROUND, THE AFL NEWSLETTER YOU CAN'T MISS: Straight into your mailbox every Thursday before the first bounce
Coach - David Collins
Record - 17-2
Percentage - 151.8%
Average for - 112
Average against - 74
Points differential - +38
def Golden Square 128-114
def Kangaroo Flat 138-58
def Kyneton 160-76
def South Bendigo 159-62
def Maryborough 136-58
lt Gisborne 62-153
def Castlemaine 140-72
def Eaglehawk 55-44
lt Golden Square 82-100
def Kangaroo Flat 210-84
def Kyneton 128-43
def South Bendigo 71-31
def Maryborough 130-51
def Gisborne 85-74
def Castlemaine 69-59
def Eaglehawk 77-75
def Eaglehawk 109-94
def Gisborne 80-76
def Gisborne 104-75
SUMMARY - For much of the 2004 Bendigo league season Sandhurst sat in the shadow of Gisborne.
The Bulldogs had won the previous two flags and were in the box seat to make it a hat-trick after finishing on top of the ladder.
But David Collins' Dragons belied their underdog status and twice knocked off the Bulldogs in the finals - firstly in a second semi-final extra-time epic by four points, and then a fortnight later in the grand final by 29 points to end the club's 21-year premiership drought.
While it was Gisborne that had carried the premiership favourites tag all throughout 2004, the Dragons were always nipping at the heels of the Bulldogs.
The Dragons lost just twice for the year - one of those being a 91-point shellacking from Gisborne at the QEO in round seven - and while newly-appointed coach Collins expected his side to finish in the top three, even he was pleasantly surprised by the 14-2 home and away record.
"At the start of the year, if you had said we'd have 14 wins and two losses, we would have jumped at that, for sure. No doubt we expected to finish top-three, but I didn't expect to go 14-2," Collins said in the week leading up to the grand final.
The Dragons averaged 112 points per game in their 2004 premiership season and from the outset played with plenty of attacking flair, kicking scores of 128, 138, 160, 159 and 136 in their first five games, while their biggest day in front of goal came in round 12 when they piled on 31.24 (210) in a 126-point win over Kangaroo Flat - a game in which forward Mark Fitzgerald slotted 10 goals.
Fitzgerald was one of six Bendigo Bombers-listed players in the Dragons' premiership side of 2004, along with Darren Atkinson, who was one of the stars on grand final day, Brad Comer, Luke Jones, Zac Perez and Mark Vigus.
THE TEAM - Brad Comer, Matt Keown, Darren Atkinson, Matt Sexton, Rod Woodford, Ryan Haythorpe, Ben Sexton, Kieren Prowse, Matt Stagg, Mark Fitzgerald, Zac Perez, Mal Borchard, Luke Jones, Sam Richardson, Rob Thornton, Andrew Nunan, Mark Vigus, Keiran Nihill, Rick Andrews, Wayne Mitrovic, Leigh Gathercole.
No. 44 & 43 - Eaglehawk 2008, Elmore 2007
No. 46 & 45 - Mount Pleasant 1990, Newbridge 2018
No. 48 & 47 - Gisborne 2006, Calivil United 1990
No. 50 & 49 - Calivil United 2003, Eaglehawk 2018
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Bendigo Advertiser, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thankyou very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Bendigo's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.