Dragons prepare for big season in 150th year

By Richard Jones

SANDHURST Football and Netball Club, one of the Bendigo league’s oldest, is gearing up for a big 2012 as the Dragons prepare for their 150th year.

With ex-Dragon Joel Selwood now anointed as captain of reigning AFL premiers Geelong, Sandhurst hopes to have as many former players, members and officials as possible present at their BFNL games this year.

Selwood, Richmond’s Fred Swift and Hawthorn skipper Graham Arthur are the only three modern-day players to have captained their clubs to an AFL/VFL premiership after starting at Sandhurst.

This season Sandhurst players will wear a special heritage jumper for all matches.

The guernsey was designed in collaboration with the 150th celebrations panel, and ratified by the overall Sandhurst general committee.

Highlight of the off-field year will be a 150th Gala Ball in June at which the club’s Hall of Fame inductees will be presented.

It’s anticipated that a large number of old-time players, their families and friends will relish the chance to meet and greet with ex-teammates and officials.

And to further enhance the Gala Ball, copies of the official history of Sandhurst will be available. Titled From Cardinals To Dragons: Celebrating 150 years of the Sandhurst Football Netball Club, the book is being compiled by central Victorian historian and author, Darren Lewis.

In its formative years in the 1860s, Sandhurst was known as the Cardinals.

The 16-chapter tome will also include appendices with lists of every footballer and netballer who has run out for the Hurst and the number of senior games each played, a life membership scroll, the table of office-bearers down the years and complete football and netball ladders.

Mr. Lewis was the co-author of Castlemaine Football Netball Club’s official book commemorating 150 years of Magpie history: A Day At The Camp. It was released in late 2009.


The Dragons are one of only four clubs to have won four consecutive premierships in BFL history.

But under the reign of legendary playing coach Bob McCaskill the Maroons — as Sandhurst was then known — actually went a little further than any other club before or since.

While Eaglehawk won four-in-a-row from 1895 to 1898, South Bendigo a brace from 1909 to 1912 and Northern United’s quartet came between 1984 and 1987, the Hurst won six, successive flags from 1929-1934.

They went down in the 1935 and 1936 grand finals to Kyneton and Eaglehawk, respectively, before saluting again in 1937 with a massive 112-51 victory over arch-rivals, South Bendigo.

So while the 1930s has gone down in history as the decade of Depression, McCaskill and Sandhurst ruled supreme in Bendigo footy.

Not surprisingly, McCaskill was known in central Victoria as the ‘Prince of Coaches’. He also coached North Melbourne from 1944-47 in the then VFL, and later Hawthorn from 1950 until his untimely death in 1952 at the age of 56.


And the Dragons lay claim to producing more ready-made VFL/AFL footballers than any other regional or country club in Australia.

From the 21st century’s four Selwood brothers and St Kilda star midfielder Nick Dal Santo, to Geelong rover Kevin “Shifter” Sheehan and St Kilda midfielder Frank Coghlan and back to Carlton stars such as Geoff Southby and Trevor Keogh the Sandhurst honor roll is vast.

Brian Walsh, still involved in Bendigo football as a radio commentator, won a Michelsen medal (the BFL’s top individual honor) in 1969 while playing with the Maroons before heading off to top 100 games with Carlton and Essendon.

Defender Peter Rohde coached the Western Bulldogs from 2002-2004 after notching 160-plus games with Carlton and Melbourne.

Michael Sexton played past the magic 200-game milestone as a key backman with Carlton.



  1. Rochester Rocket says

    Good to hear!

    A very proud club with a distinguished record. They had many great clashes with Rochester in the BFL.

    Hope the celebrations go well – look forward to securing a copy of Dasher’s book.
    Trust he explores the link between Marist Bros – Keogh, Rodda, Tresize, O’Donnell et al didn’t come from Bendigo Grammar…

    Be interesting to see if Russell Petherbridge turns up wearing shoes.

  2. John Butler says

    Richard, as I was growing up it seemed there was always a Sandhurst player in the Carlton team.

    Great times.

  3. NOT that happy about it JB, but it is fact

    Heaps of Bluebags originated from the Hurst. As Rod Nguyen mentions, John “Smokey” Tresize was yet another from the endless production line to roll off

    Then there was Bruce Reid, not the federal Pollie altho’ he also had a stint at the Hurst, but another of identical name. Won a Michelsen medal, [the OTHER Bruce Reid] and all, before he also disappeared onto the endless sausage machine known as the VFL/AFL vortex !!

    But we’ve trumped them all, JB. Got Joely Selwood as skipper at the “Greatest Team Of all.” Don’t concern yourself with the ‘kick and giggle’ NAB Cup form.

    We haven’t put a full side out on the park yet. Which I bet Bretty Ratten is glad about. The bit about not fielding a full side.

    Ur boys haven’t saluted. Not even once yet. And the middle of March beckons !!

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