The last South Purrumbete FC team


How quickly life moves on. It’s now 20 years since the South Purrumbete FC last graced the ovals of South West Victoria with our magnificent black and green jerseys.


While numbers were a constant battle, on-field success a distant memory and speculation over the club’s future a constant of its existence, the fact that we were running out for the very last time on that August day in 1999 was not something on most people’s minds. At the time the club was playing home games at nearby Cobden while retaining the South Purrumbete Recreation Reserve as our training base. I recall the pre-game talk being about us returning to play home games at South Purrumbete in the 2000 season. I was excited by this prospect. Sadly we never got there and the South Purrumbete FC is a statistic in the list of defunct football clubs.


Recently I was sent a photo of the last senior team that represented the much loved “Beters”. I have no memory of this photo being taken, nor recall seeing it before. That’s me, centre of the front row, looking very serious as I’m about to run out and struggle to get a kick. There’s quite a few I probably haven’t seen since 1999. Some I see occasionally. A couple who I see regularly at my cricket club. At least one who is unfortunately no longer with us.


The last South Purrumbete Senior team


James “Jimmy” Boyd is someone I’ve looked up to since I was a little kid. Seeing him star for the South Purrumbete FC with his pace, exquisite skill and sideburns. A magnificent cricketer for the Pomborneit CC, an immaculate square cut, accuracy and movement with the ball, arguably the Pomborneit CC’s greatest ever fielder. He WAS the South Purrumbete FC from the mid 1980s until the demise of the club. It hurts enough when the club you play for goes under, I often wonder how you cope when you are so invested as Jimmy was. As this newspaper report below shows, Jimmy did everything he could.



Jimmy Boyd addressing the Panther troops


Of course it wasn’t just the senior football team representing the club for the very last time on that August day. The photo below is of the Reserves from that final game in 1999.



I haven’t made an effort to look up the scores from what turned out to be the final outing of the South Purrumbete FC. No doubt the scores were horribly one sided against a very strong Kolora outfit.


What I do know is that out of all the articles I have written for, none has created more long-lasting interest than the South Purrumbete piece I wrote for the Almanac’s Woollen Jumper series. I still receive the odd email from people who come across it online. The club holds a special place in the hearts of many, and it deserves to have its history recorded in some readily accessible form, such as a book or a website. A big job for someone, but it needs to happen, and happen soon.


Go the ‘Beters!

(Many thanks to Marion Boyd for her assistance with this article)


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About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134


  1. Ross Treverton says

    Great read Luke. I married a girl from Stoneyford and managed to get talked into playing a few games with Irrewillipe – yet another club sadly no longer with us. Country footy was the best footy and l have great memories of footy in the Wimmera in earlier years and the great characters you would meet at each club – Gerang Kiata, Goroke, Netherby and many, many others. They all had their own ‘Jimmy Boyd’ and all now gone as well.

  2. Luke great read and thought provoking there is no doubt what so ever country clubs dying contribute a hell of a lot to mental health problems sporting clubs are that community’s hub just so important, bigger farms lost jobs in the country in general modern society mmm

  3. Colin Ritchie says

    I remember going out to the old Sth Purrumbete ground in the early 60s when my dad played for Colac Imperials. It was a cold, wet day, the wind was howling, and the ground was very muddy.Low scoring game, can’t remember who won but I remember dad kicking a goal. Loved going to the footy watching dad play at Gellibrand, Carlisle River, Lavers Hill, and other country grounds, remarkably, the weather was always absolutely lousy!

  4. I enjoyed this, Luke, although the subject matter is necessarily sombre.
    There are few sadder things in sport than local clubs disappearing.

  5. Chris Bracher says

    Great reflection Luke. My underwhelming career with Winchelsea only took me as far West as Pirron Yallock. The Stoney Rises perhaps represented a crotical proximity line to the “Big Smoke” ( Colac) and therefore financial and recruitment capability?
    Did you ever play with any of the Harlock family?

  6. Rachel Jansen (Lenehan) says

    Unfortunately not even the Lenehan boys could keep it going. ?

  7. DBalassone says

    Sad tale Luke, but very well told. I love the photos. They really take you there. Ironic that South Purrumbete played their last game in August ’99 around the time the Pies played their last game at Vic Park. By the by, I’m noticing an interesting P trend in your life… Purrumbete, Pomborneit, Prickly Moses and, of course, the Pies.

  8. ELIZABETH fryers says

    well done Luke what a great club it was i have lots of photo’s etc i still have to take photo of honour board

  9. Love all these stories, thanks Luke. In the middle, front row, does that make you the captain? Do you have any scores from that era or old footy records? I stumbled across a book on the CDFL, mainly Alvie; mentioned The Beters.

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks everyone for the comments. Still plenty of interest in the ‘Beters.

    Thanks Ross. At least football is still being played at Irrewillipe by the Western Eagles (the merged Irrewillipe & Pirron Yallock club).

    Thanks Rulebook and great point.

    Col, can see the mud at South Purrumbete vivdly in my mind! Football must have been played in horrid conditions at times in those Otway towns you mentioned.

    Cheers Smokie, and yes, there’s nothing pleasant about seeing your club disappear.

    Chris, yes the club’s location made recruiting difficult but was only one of several reasons why it ended up closing it’s doors. No Harlock’s at South Purrumbete in my time I can think of, though a very famous name in the earlier history of the Pomborneit CC.

    G’day Rachel, maybe if Tom and Eula had just a few more kids….!! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    Damian, very interesting parallel between South Purrumbete and Victoria Park in 1999. I hadn’t noticed the ‘P’ trend, well spotted!

    Cheers Lizzie, yes need to get a pic of the honour boards.

    Noel, haha no not captain, not sure how I ended up in that prime position! I do have a few old records, including that of the 1973 Colac & District FL Grand Final where South Purrumbete defeated Lorne. Think I know the book you have seen, written in the 1970’s?

  11. Good stuff, Luke. The struggle for existence is probably a more common experience for sporting clubs than the excitement of growth or the flush of success. It’s tough to watch and be a part of. My sporting club growing up, Railways, slowly died following privitisation of freight services by the Howard government. Some of the sports carried on a season or two longer than they might otherwise owing to the commitment and obstinacy of the old stagers. But, hey, in its place we now have the wonderful Karen Rolton Oval. Cold comfort for those that poured so much of themselves into their club, though.

  12. Rebecca Sharp says

    Wow, memories just flooded back rapidly. Bloody amazing article Luke, I actually remember being about 5 or 6 years old running around all of you boys ummm sorry Men, ? in the change rooms being called skwirt or little johno while my dad massaged legs n backs as Rub Down Man. They are some of my best memories growing up, playing around at South Purrumbete Oval n then being serious on game day I was either helping with scoring or was allowed to do boundary too.
    OMG the photos too, are bloody awesome, memories galore!!
    Sorry forgot to mention I’m Rebecca Johnston daughter of Russell Johnston, Rub Down Man/Massager Physio Dude, also both my brothers played one is in the reserves photo back row, one smiling his face of Robert (Big foot) Johnston n other brother Warwick (Johno or Wazza) Johnston.
    This was absolutely fantastic looking back at this time, a sad time for losing I Reckon the most awesomest footy club ever but best times too…

    Thank you very much Luke for this article first time reading this loved it…

  13. Sam Argyle says

    Played most of my footy in the Mount Noorat league in the late 60’s and 70’s and was very sad when it all fell away. For mine the score should not matter, the amount of grand finals should not matter, but the life long memories and friends you collect over the years are priceless. Country football is dying a slow death with performance at any cost being more important than the players, and the amount of money to run a club now is ridiculous in the extreme. Hell, we had to pay to play.

  14. Luke Reynolds says

    Dave, very tough to watch and be part of. Really feel for anyone who has poured their heart and soul into a club that no longer exists.

    Fantastic to hear from you Rebecca! Great times at South Purrumbete, think most people who were ever part of the club look back on it very fondly.

    Agreed on everything you said Sam. Money and player payments have added nothing to local football, only made it harder.

  15. Thanks Luke- a compelling but sad tale. I reckon it was only a few years’ ago that for the first time in history, more people on our planet lived in cities than rural areas. As one of billions who’ve made this migration I’m sure it’s not a great phenomenon, and our country sporting clubs suffer as a result.

  16. Wayne Colbourne says

    Great memories it was an honour and privilege to coach and play for the Club

  17. Peter Fuller says

    Thanks for this poignant contribution. Because I left the district when I was 15, I only had a brief involvement in the Colac & District League, half a season with Warrion under 17s. Sadly the red and green colours also disappeared quite some time ago. Our season concluded with a 1st semi-final loss to Pirron Yallock. That day South Purrumbete won the seniors match, but I don’t recall their opposition or how far they progressed. Plenty of memories of grounds I played on conjured up by the thread and the comments. I remember Carlisle River, Forrest, Alvie and the Colac grounds, South Colac and the Showgrounds which was Imperials home ground back then.

  18. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Were they always green and black Luke?

  19. Great thread as well as a great article Luke,Mickey nails it above while there isn’t a easy fix I just wish
    Cricket Australia and the AFL realised they were the custodians of the overall game and gave far greater support to grass roots level as I mentioned above mental health and suicide rates do have a correlation re sporting clubs just so vital for a community’s culture

  20. Luke Reynolds says

    Mickey, the migration to the cities is a huge reason for the decline of country clubs. Does Melbourne need to keep expanding or should more effort be put into growing regional cities?

    Cheers Wayne, remember you coaching just before I started playing Under 17’s, glad you feel that way about the club.

    Thanks Peter, think 1985 was Warrion’s last season. The Warrion oval is in absolutely magnificent condition these days as by far the best cricket ground in the region.

    Swish, yes always black & green as far back as I can find.

    Spot on Rulebook. Cricket Australia have certainly put much more effort and resources into grassroots cricket in the past two years.

  21. Matt Watson says

    Sad tale Luke. Retain the memories and the club will live on.

  22. Simon Todman says

    ROUND 18 14/08/1999 Kolora 23 19 157 Vs South Purrumbete 3 8 26

  23. Luke Reynolds says

    Cheers Simon, sadly a very typical 1999 South Purrumbete scoreline.

  24. Kathleen Searle says

    I remember driving my boys as far as Apollo Bay and Lorne, when they began playing for Sth Purrumbete. Looked forward to it each week, but not the dirty footy clothes to wash. But after a couple of years, we changed leagues, Heytsbury, I think, so not so far to travel.

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