NUMBERS 28 and 27 in our series looking back on the 50 most dominant premiership seasons across the Bendigo, Heathcote District and Loddon Valley leagues since 1990.
Coach - Mick McGuane
Record - 17-1
Percentage - 192.9%
Average for - 122
Average against - 64
Points differential - +58
def Castlemaine 90-78
def South Bendigo 99-91
def Eaglehawk 116-54
def Kyneton 167-35
def Sandhurst 115-41
def Kangaroo Flat 167-66
lt Maryborough 104-133
def Golden Square 170-83
def Castlemaine 122-48
def South Bendigo 104-54
def Eaglehawk 159-76
def Kyneton 90-27
def Sandhurst 121-59
def Kangaroo Flat 107-32
def Maryborough 149-60
def Golden Square 73-64
def Golden Square 139-60
def Golden Square 110-83
SUMMARY - Gisborne pulled off a coaching coup in 2002 that led to immediate success and the raising of the bar in the BFL.
The Bulldogs had won just three games in 2001, but the arrival of Mick McGuane transformed the club into the BFL benchmark, with its 2002 premiership season the first of six straight grand final appearances.
The team that had won just three games in 2001 became a dominant 17-1 outfit under McGuane in 2002, with the only game Gisborne lost being a 29-point defeat to Maryborough at Princes Park in round eight.
The Bulldogs' 17 wins featured 13 by more than 50 points, including a 79-point drubbing of Golden Square in the second semi-final.
The two sides would meet again in the grand final a fortnight later, with Gisborne prevailing 16.14 (110) to 12.11 (83).
The Gisborne premiership team included Aaron James, who had started the year on the Western Bulldogs' list and played round one that year against Adelaide, before retiring mid-season and heading to Gardiner Reserve with his brother, Ben.
With James joining Gisborne straight out of the AFL, the Bulldogs had two imposing targets to kick to - they also had five-time Ron Best medallist Steven Reaper roaming in attack.
In what was a star-studded team, the Bulldogs' premiership side of 2002 featured Reaper, Rod Sharp, captain Marcus Barham, Luke Saunders, Matt Fitzgerald and Ollie Messaoudi who would all be later selected in the BFL's 2000s Team of the Decade.
"To go from a team that won three games in 2001 to a 17-1 team the year after that also had the reserves and under-18s win premierships as well, that doesn't happen if you don't understand the basic fundamentals of what we stand for as a footy club," McGuane said in 2012 to mark 10 years since the 2002 premiership success.
"It all goes back to that first day back at Castlemaine (round one) when we were challenged, but the boys conjured up the courage and won the game... that was a groundbreaking day and set the tone."
THE TEAM - David Power, Eddie Barake, Mark McInerney, Matt Cannard, Marcus Barham, Jason Allen, Mark O'Sullivan, Ollie Messaoudi, Michael Dillon, Stewart Hamilton, Aaron James, Hayden Langbourne, Matt Fitzgerald, Steven Reaper, Luke Saunders, Adam Cusworth, Shane Davis, Chris Curcio, Rod Sharp, Ben James, Matt McKenzie.
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Coach - Phil Morgan
Record - 17-1
Percentage - 192.9%
Average for - 110
Average against - 57
Points differential - +53
def White Hills 90-71
def Rushworth 114-50
def Heathcote 117-78
def Elmore 80-75
def Mount Pleasant 128-75
def Huntly 266-44
def Stanhope 121-51
def Broadford 68-61
def White Hills 70-58
def Rushworth 86-12
lt Heathcote 62-72
def Elmore 116-72
def Mount Pleasant 85-30
def Huntly 147-27
def Stanhope 153-47
def Broadford 109-61
def Heathcote 70-69
def Heathcote 101-75
SUMMARY - Premierships don't come much more emotional than Colbinabbin's 1991 triumph that capped a 17-1 season in the Heathcote District league.
Club legend Mick Morgan with whom the Colbinabbin ground is named after had been battling esophageal cancer that year, but hung in long enough to see his beloved Grasshoppers beat Heathcote by 26 points in the grand final.
Morgan died in the days after Colbinabbin's grand final win that was coached by his son - and another club great - Phil 'Toot' Morgan.
"To Heathcote's credit, they did a really good job in that grand final," Morgan said this week.
"They were on a hiding to nothing... we were playing at Colbinabbin, there was a big crowd and there was the emotion involved with dad.
"We were only four points in front at three quarter-time and kicking to the non-scoring end in the last quarter. Eventually, we were able to get away from them in the last 15 minutes... there was nothing between the two sides all year."
The only game Colbinabbin lost in 1991 was when it went down to Heathcote by 10 points in round 13, while the Grasshoppers barely scraped past the Saints in the second semi-final, winning that game by one point to gain the week's rest ahead of the grand final.
"We were a physically strong side that year and we had a lot of experience," Morgan said.
"Phil McEvoy had come back from Golden Square where he had won flags, Steve Wilson had won flags at Shepp United, we had quite a few come back from major league footy.
"But we had some good younger players as well... there was a good mix of experience that knew how to get it done combined with a good young group."
Colbinabbin's most rampant performance was in round seven when it crushed Huntly by 222 points, 40.26 (266) to 6.8 (44).
THE TEAM - Chris Bolton, Phil McEvoy, Peter Watson, Rohan King, Warren Black, Mario De Santa-Ana, Greg Lambert, Bowden Hamilton, John Kirkpatrick, Glyn Reid, Ray McEvoy, Peter Rogerson, Tait Hamilton, Bernard Ryan, Steve Wilson, Bruce Bird, Phil Morgan, Darryl Wilson, Andrew McTaggart, Steve Connally.
No. 30 & 29 - Maryborough 1998; Gisborne 2005
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
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