NUMBERS 30 and 29 in our series looking back on the 50 most dominant premiership seasons across the Bendigo, Heathcote District and Loddon Valley leagues since 1990.
30 - MARYBOROUGH 1998
Coach - Neville Massina
Record - 17-1
Percentage - 156.9%
Average for - 124
Average against - 79
Points differential - +45
def LBU 87-83
def Sandhurst 78-77
def Castlemaine 158-55
def Eaglehawk 165-131
def South Bendigo 101-68
def Golden Square 85-66
def Kyneton 97-81
def Kangaroo Flat 113-84
def LBU 131-102
lt Sandhurst 54-72
def Castlemaine 132-82
def Eaglehawk 210-71
def Golden Square 147-86
def South Bendigo 121-73
def Kyneton 166-59
def Kangaroo Flat 125-67
def Sandhurst 131-84
def Sandhurst 125-78
SUMMARY - Season 1998 heralded the first of back-to-back premierships for Maryborough in the Bendigo league and came during a run when the Magpies finished on top of the ladder for four consecutive years between 1996 and 1999.
Coached by Neville Massina, the 1998 Magpies lost just once for the season when beaten by Sandhurst by 18 points in round 11.
Their season started with a pair of nail-biters, scraping past Lockington-Bamawm United by four points and Sandhurst by one point in their first two games, before they kicked into gear with a 103-point belting of Castlemaine in round three.
Speaking to the Addy back in 2015 on the eve of his 300th senior game, Cameron Skinner recalls the buzz the Magpies generated in Maryborough in both their 1998 and 1999 premiership seasons.
"I remember how the whole town got behind us in those couple of grand finals and just how big it was. It seemed like there were thousands along High Street when we got back after we won and it was a really special couple of years," Skinner said.
Having finished three games clear on top of the ladder in 1998, the Magpies capped their season of dominance with a 47-point grand final win over Sandhurst.
The Magpies had led by just five points at three quarter-time, before booting seven goals to one in the final term to clinch a 19.11 (125) to 12.6 (78) win.
The premiership side included star forward Jamie Bond, who had won the Michelsen Medal in 1996, and gun midfielder Matt Aston, who would win it four years later in 2002.
Maryborough's back end of the season post their round 11 loss to the Dragons was particularly impressive when the Magpies averaged 144 points per game over their final eight matches.
THE TEAM - Matt Aston, Glen Bardsley, Ashley Bates, Jamie Bond, Glenn Chadwick, Mark Cossar, Trent Dell, Nevan Kelly, Geoff MacIlwain, Mick Martin-Alcade, Jim Moniz, Brent Mortlock, Richard Peart, Andrew Perry, Heath Pritchard, Clinton Ross, Jeremy Sanders, Cameron Skinner, Steve Thomson, Brendan Tranter.
SIGN UP FOR BEST ON GROUND, THE AFL NEWSLETTER YOU CAN'T MISS: Straight into your mailbox every Thursday before the first bounce
29 - GISBORNE 2005
Coach - Marcus Barham
Record - 17-1
Percentage - 178.0%
Average for - 135
Average against - 76
Points differential - +59
def South Bendigo 129-99
def Maryborough 180-45
def Castlemaine 152-140
def Eaglehawk 147-117
def Sandhurst 143-77
lt Golden Square 114-115
def Kangaroo Flat 114-66
def Kyneton 131-63
def South Bendigo 102-73
def Maryborough 89-43
def Castlemaine 52-37
def Eaglehawk 156-75
def Sandhurst 166-55
def Golden Square 85-78
def Kangaroo Flat 203-77
def Kyneton 164-65
def Eaglehawk 194-66
def Eaglehawk 101-70
SUMMARY - If it wasn't for a one-point loss to Golden Square, Gisborne's 2005 season would be much higher up the list than No.29.
With a new coach at the helm in Marcus Barham and stung by their grand final defeat to Sandhurst a year earlier, the Bulldogs regained their status as the BFL's power team in 2005.
The only blemish for the season was their one-point loss to Golden Square at Gardiner Reserve in round seven - the Bulldogs wouldn't lose on their home ground again for another four years afterwards.
The Bulldogs were skippered by Luke Saunders, who won the Michelsen Medal that season with 18 votes and represented the VCFL, while Jordan Barham provided a strong target in attack, slotting 59 goals.
While they were consistent all throughout the season as shown by a 17-1 record, the Bulldogs certainly hit peak form when it mattered most.
Among their last six home and away games were four wins by more than 81 points, before they made a mess of Eaglehawk in the second semi-final, demolishing the Hawks by 128 points - 30.14 (194) to 10.6 (66).
They met the Hawks again a fortnight later in the grand final, winning by 31 points after the decider had been in the balance at three quarter-time - although it was Eaglehawk that had all the momentum.
The Bulldogs spent 14 of the 18 rounds sitting on top of the ladder, while they had Marcus Barham (half-back), Daniel Sipthorpe (wing), Saunders (half-forward), Jordan Barham (centre half-forward) and youngster Adam Pokrovsky (forward pocket) all picked in the Team of the Year.
"Out of the four years (2005 was Gisborne's fourth straight grand final season) this is the closest team I've played with," premiership coach Marcus Barham said.
"We have been tested a lot of times and always responded."
THE TEAM - Glen Carrick, Stewart Hamilton, Michael Dillon, Matt McKenzie, Darren Farrugia, Rick Watts, Daniel Sipthorp, James McFarlane, Ben James, Shane Davis, Anthony Belcher, Ty Elliott, Eamonn Hancock, Jason Duff-Tytler, Marcus Barham, Cameron Medica, Adam Pokrovsky, Jordan Barham, Rod Sharp, Luke Saunders, Casey Robertson.
THE LIST SO FAR
No. 32 & 31 - South Bendigo 1994; Golden Square 2009
No. 34 & 33 - Castlemaine 1992; South Bendigo 1990
No. 36 & 35 - Mitiamo 1999; Sandhurst 2016
No. 38 & 37 - North Bendigo 2019; Leitchville-Gunbower 2018
No. 40 & 39 - Bridgewater 1991; Calivil United 2017
No. 42 & 41 - Heathcote 1992, Sandhurst 2004
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.