VAFA: St Bede’s revive premiership memories with powerful performance at uni oval

By Paul Daffey

In the decade from the mid-1970s to the mid-’80s, University Blues lost four grand finals to De La Salle.

The Blues featured talented players from all over the state who formed a brilliant but brittle alliance. The De Salle team was formed by players from a tightly knit community in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs who had known each other since school days. The solid unit had the wood on the high-flying students.
University Blues supporters must have been reminded of that famous era on Saturday when the Blues went down to another club that draws from a tightly knit community, in this case the bayside area. St Bede’s Mentone trailed by 33 points late in the second quarter before blowing away the home team with its fanatical attack on the ball.

Two goals late in the second quarter lent the Tigers hope. Then they kicked the opening eight goals of the third quarter, giving them 10 unanswered goals, and they were back in premiership contention.

The Blues kicked with the wind in the last quarter and looked a chance to bridge the 24-point gap. But without key players in Alistair Neville and Dave Paton, they floundered.

Late in the match St Bede’s took the ball along the pavilion wing with a series of handballs that borrowed from the Geelong handbook. Midfielder Ben Phibbs seized on the ball at half-forward before sprinting 20 metres along the boundary and kicking the goal that broke the Blues’ hearts.

St Bede’s 31-point victory keeps the reigning premier in third place while the Blues hold fourth place on percentage from Old Scotch and Collegians. Scotch had a strong win over Marcellin whole Collegians were too good for last-placed Old Ivanhoe.

Old Ivanhoe stood down coach Dan Winkel during the week and replaced him with captain Brad Thompson.


  1. Danielle Swan for Brownlow! says

    Hey Paul, i know this comment is random but the mention of Melb Uni got me laughing.
    you see, one of my tactics is to hang around Melbourne Uni pretending to be absorbed in a novel when im really scouting in hope of bagging myself an intelligent future husband!

    i know, i’m random :)

  2. Might i add that this Melb Uni scouting wont be happening untill another two years!
    just to clear things up.
    You know,its wonders how impressive it is to see a guy my age reading a novel in public for his own Leisure !!

  3. the plan is to hang around Melb Uni pretending to be interested in a novel when im really scouting for an intelligent husband! HAha..
    Let me know if you find any eligible bachelors!!
    PS. no nerds!

  4. Steve Healy says

    Danielle did you just say the same thing but in different words in 3 comments?

    Paul it seems like you know a lot about my school De La Salle. I had no idea that they won 4 against the Uni Blues in the 70’s and 80’s

  5. Steve, yer the first comment had some problems going up and after the second went didnt make sense!

  6. Steve,

    I helped to write a book about the Melbourne Uni footy club. A big part of my chapters was the number of times De La Salle defeated Uni Blues in grand finals. Not quite War and Peace, I know, but I’ll be posting on it tomorrow.


    I’ve heard about this tactic but its success seems apocryphal.

    I wish I knew what apocryphal meant when I was at university.

  7. Paul, so do you know of anyone who has tried my to use that method?
    i had to look up apocryphal to see undestand what it meant!

    ps. Swan 4 Brownlow!!! :) :)

  8. Danielle,

    No, I don’t know of anyone … but I’ve heard stories!

    I agree re-Dane Swan for the Brownlow. He’s the one I’m tipping as well.

    Not sure you’d be able to attract Dane’s attention around the uni campus.

  9. What have St Bedes, Old Xavs, St Kevins, St Bernards, St Josephs, De La, etc, et al, and the rest got in common?

    That’s right: they try too hard.

    It’s not fair.

  10. Hi Paul,

    My name is Josh, and I’m a third-year journalism student at Melbourne University. I am currently researching for an article I’m writing on the history of Melbourne University Football Club (incl. the Blues/Blacks). It’s not easy trying to cram a snapshot of the club’s history into 1500 or so words!

    Anyway, I’ve obtained a copy of Black & Blue, and was just reading your section on recent history before, and I just wanted to clarify one thing. When exactly did the University relax or lift its policy on player recruitment? I.e. when did players no longer have to be students/graduates of the university to be eligible to play? From my reading of your section in Black & Blue, this occurred in the early-2000s, but I just want to make 100% certain. Also, was the main reason for this the lack of talent to fill two teams? Or was it more down to the general erosion of the relationship between the Blues and Blacks following the breakdown of allocation etc.?

    Thanks in advance for your response :)

  11. pauldaffey says


    Recruitment policies became unofficially more relaxed from the time that Alan Salter became Uni Blues coach in 1975. The Blacks stuck to university traditions until recruiting Bernie Dunn from De La Salle as the playing-assistant coach in 1981, as a measure to try to keep up with the Blues.

    Bernie didn’t have the qualifications to be a member of the Melbourne Uni Sports Union (not a Melbourne Uni undergraduate or a graduate of any university; he was a phys ed graduate from Rusden, which was not considered a university, and he had a teaching diploma from the Catholic teachers’ college, Christ College, in Oakleigh). Because Bernie was ineligible to play for a Melbourne Uni Footy Club team, he enrolled in a first-years arts subject and thereby satisfied one of the qualification criteria.

    The Blues, the Blacks and the Reds flouted university qualification criteria throughout the 1980s and especially the ’90s, so much so that the criteria were almost meaningless.

    As far as I remember, the uni only ever officially relaxed membership criteria when Mark Lockwood was the sports association (formerly sports union) chief in about 2003 (I forget exactly which year). By his reasoning, the criteria had to be relaxed to enable university sports clubs to compete at the levels at which they’d been accustomed to. It wasn’t just to enable the football club to compete in A-grade in the VAFA. The netball club was in the state league and I think the hockey club was as well. Most Melbourne Uni sports clubs historically had played at a high level.

    You can ring Mark Lockie at the UNSW, where he’s the head of the sports association, to check this out.

    Good luck with it.

  12. pauldaffey says

    PS. Josh, I’ve just embellished on a university theme with a report based on the Uni Blues and St Bede’s match last Saturday.

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