What happens when two (or more) clubs merge?

John Harms from ABC Grandstand and footyalmanac.com.au here.

I do a segment with Walshy and the boys  on ABC SA each Saturday. This week Walshy has set me some homework.

He wants to hear stories of club mergers and is especially keen to find out what has happened to

  1. The naming of the new club
  2. The club colours – new colours based on a combination?
  3. The club nicknames
  4. The club songs

Please feel free to tell the story of your club in the comments which follow here.


About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. I played for Narrogin Towns in the Upper Great Southern Football League in the WA wheat belt. We won flags in 1986 and 1988, but about ten years ago merged with Narrogin Railways for form Narrogin Eagles. I understand why these things happen, but I don’t like it.

  2. John Harms says

    colours Tony?

  3. The naming of the new club

    Burnie Football Club (Tigers) – Cooee Football Club (Green and Gold Bulldogs)
    Became the Burnie Hawks and there was great conjecture as both clubs were fierce rivals sharing the same ground. The amalgamation did not really get total unity. There was still agreat deal of ill feeling.

    The club colours

    Phase two was the Burnie Dockers based on the Freo Dockers but these Dockers chose not to be easybeats like their mentor club and eventually won 5 straight flags.

    The club nicknames

    Second phase were of course the Dockers (but many opposition supporters called them the Wharfies, or worse)

    The club song.

    We’re a happy team @Burnie, we’re the Dockers from the coast……………. and on and on like that horrible Hawks song.

    Walshy would probably know from his Tassy days.

  4. Paul Daffey says

    Ouyen United in Victoria’s Mallee region is the result of 16 clubs cross-fertilising over the past few decades.

    I think the most recent merger was Ouyen Rovers with Tempy-Goyra-Patchewollock in about 2000 to form Ouyen United.

    Kierga and Tiamal are also in there somewhere.

    Adam McNicol could give the full pedigree.

    My uncle played with Douglas-Harrow-Mija Lake in the Western District in the 1970s. In the late 1990s (an era of many mergers) that club combined with Balmoral to form Harrow-Balmoral.

    Not sure of the colours of either.

  5. Mark Doyle says

    The best name for a merged footy club is the Mangoplah Cookardinia Football Club, which is in the Riverina area of NSW. Both Mangoplah and Cookardinia are small towns between Albury and Wagga and I think both names are derived from local Aboriginal names. I do not know the colours and nickname of this club and whether it still exists.
    There have been lots of mergers of small town community aussie rules football clubs in the rural areas of southern NSW and Victoria. These mergers have resulted because of towns ‘dying’ because young blokes need to relocate to either regional cities or Melbourne for education and jobs plus the loss of ‘immigrants’ from the cities to work in schools, banks, cop shops etc.
    I also think that one of these small towns of Mangoplah or Cookardinia was a film location for the bushranger film about Mad Dog Morgan, which ‘starred’ the American actor Dennis Hopper.

  6. Richard Naco says

    Talking South Australia obviously leads to Woodville – West Torrens in the SANFL. Woodville wore green and gold, were founded in 1964, and after initially being called the Woodpeckers, eventually became the Warriors in 1983 (when Malcolm Blight returned to them as Captain-Coach). West Torrens started in 1897, wore blue and gold and were the Eagles. Neither club were exactly powerhouses of the SANFL.

    They amalgamated in 1990 & won the premiership three years later. After Central Districts, they are arguably the powerhouse of the SANFL. They are called the Eagles, and the royal blue of West Torrens is their main colour in a truly hideous strip, but they now play their home games at Woodville Oval.

    My brother used to barrack for them when they were the Woodpeckers, but switched to Glenelg when he was 6yo and had gone right off the Woody Woodpecker show.

  7. Skip of Skipton says

    I reckon the Mininera league might hold the record with 7 of the 12 clubs being mergers.

  8. John. Towns were Subiaco colours and Railways were, ummm, I forget. Essendon maybe. Railways became the Eagles, then merged with Towns to become the Hawks.


  9. Daryl Sharpen says

    I’m not certain of this one but someone close to the club should be able to join the dots and give all the detail. In the Alberton League down Gippsland way two clubs, Devon & Welshpool combined to become Devon-Welshpool. Meanwhile Won Wron & Woodside combined to become Won Wron-Woodside. Then the two combos combined! They became Devon-Welshpool-Won Wron-Woodside. Known as DWWWW or the Four-Wheel Drives. It’s all pretty recent (in the last 20-odd years or so) so it shouldn’t be hard to retrace. Good luck. Where are the DWWWW stalwarts?

  10. John,
    I have a good one…it happened around late-1996. A team called Fitzroy (the Lions) merged with a team called Brisbane (the Bears). In the merger, I believe the Bears took Fitzroy’s eight best players, their colours, and their Lion logo. Fitzroy kept their soul.

  11. Two in the Hampden League, both of which, afaik, were take-overs, with the strong obliterating the weak. Colac-Coragulac (early 1980s), soon dropped the hyphen and the reference to Coragulac. During the noughties, Colac moved to the Geelong League.
    Terang-Mortlake (late ’90s?) still maintains the combine name, but I’m pretty sure that Terang predominates, although I believe they play some games at Mortlake.
    Peter Hanlon would be more across the detail of these.

    Matt Z would probably be able to expatiate on the amalgamations in the Colac & District League. Irrewarra-Beeac, Western Eagles, and Otway Districts are all the product of more or less forced marriages.

  12. Paul Daffey says

    Adam McNicol says Ouyen United has been formed by the following clubs over various mergers:

    Some of the clubs that have been rolled into Ouyen Utd are:

    Ouyen Rovers

  13. Smokie, that Brisbane Lion has in turn been merged with the Paddle Pop Lion.

    John, Lalbert were a powerhouse in the 90s in the Mid-Murray League, now the Central Murray League. They had gold and blue vertical stripes and were known as the Eagles.

    A good recent piece by Adam McNicol here:
    He said they changed their name from Lalbert (pub, couple of wheat silos) to Mallee to accommodate the merge with the St Mary’s junior club. I found that fascinating, all that history changed to ensure a stream of juniors – a necessary action no doubt but still bemusing.

  14. In the EFL
    Bennettswood (Brown jumper with Gold yoke) joined with Blackburn South to become Bennettswood/Blackburn South approx 1987. I think this team may have later merged with another club St Leo’s/Wattle Park but not 100% sure of this.

    Surrey Hills (melbourne jumper) joined with East Camberwell from SFL to become Surrey Park in about 1995 and wear the old Port Adelaide (Magpies) jumper and are called the panthers. Iniitially were in SFL but joined (rejoined) EFL in approx 2004. (Incidentally this team has not won a game since round 17 2008).

    From Waverley Blues FC website:
    The Mount Waverley Football Club (MWFC) was formed in 1925 and first played in red jumpers with a white sash before adopting its familiar navy blue jumpers with the white monogram (similar to today’s Carlton jumper). Apart from a brief disbanding in 1929-1935 the club has enjoyed a successful history at the Mount Reserve in Charles Street Mt.Waverley.

    To transport the members of the Mount Waverley Football Club back through the decades to its first season click on this link http://home.vicnet.net.au/~whsvic/MtWaverleyFootballClubHistory.htm from the Waverly Historic Society.

    MWFC played in the South Eastern Football League and won a flag in 1964. As the SEFSL grew MWFC played all it’s games in it’s top Division. The SEFSL became the Southern League and MWFC continued in First Division until 1993.

    In 1994 the club merged with the Burwood Football Club, a Second Division Southern League Club. The Mount Waverley Burwood Football Club participated in First Division in the Southern League from 1994 – 1997.

    The Waverley Football Club (WFC) was another club steeped in tradition. WFC was formed in 1908 and wore the familiar black & red stripes in the Victorian Football Association (VFA – a fore runner of today’s VFL). Waverley Football Club had success in 1965 winning the Division One Premiership in that year. The club played at Central Reserve on the corner of Waverley and Springvale Road during the VFA years. WFC joined the Eastern Football League in 1991 and had moderate success from 1991 until 1998 and played its home games at Columbia Reserve.

    Waverley Blues Football Club Inc. During the 1998 season, the committees of both the Waverley & Mount Waverley Burwood Football Clubs discussed the possibility of joining forces to form a new dynamic club that would represent the Waverley district of the City of Monash.

  15. Andrew Walker says

    John, I was born in Sea Lake and lived in Berriwillock as a youngster. In the 1950s Sea Lake (Swans colours), Nandaly (Essendon colours) Berriwillock (Green and gold-bullfrogs) and Culgoa (Melbourne colours) all played in the Tyrrell League. Sea Lake and Nandaly merged (not sure of colours or when). Berriwillock and Culgoa merged (not sure when but think took on Richmond colours). In more recent times Sea Lake/Nandaly and Berri/Culgoa merged and I think became the Sea Lake/Nandaly Tigers playing in the Mallee League. Hope someone from up that way can verify/correct and supply the missing information.

  16. John,

    I did a story about Ouyen United for the Age in 2005, including a ‘family’ tree of the 17 clubs. If the story’s not onlne, give me hoy and I’ll send it via coiurier pigeon.Vin

  17. Michael dean says

    In 2001 the o’sullivan beach lions and lonsdale bears football clubs merged to becom the lonsdale lions.This was due to a restructuring of the southern league from 2 divisions to 1 big division. The club is based at the Lonsdale ground and now uses a jumper simaler to the Brisbane Lions, THe O’sullivan Beach jumper was maroon and white and the Lonsdale jumper was green and yellow. If you would like more info don’t hesitate to send me an email

  18. Dennis Gedling says

    I play for the Central Crocs in the WA Masters League. It was a merge between Swan Districts and (I think) Mt Lawley in to a side that could have enough players for Supers (under 40) and Masters (Over 40) around 4 or 5 years ago. We wear green and black. The fact the new emblem is of a croc with a beer in its hand shows the dedication to peak fitness for all.

  19. John,

    The Blyth Snowtown football club formed in 1989 after a 1 year trial playing under the Blyth Football club banner. The original clubs were the Blyth roosters wearing red and white and the Snowtown double blues wearing, well, double blue.

    The new club was named Blyth Snowtown football Club were known as the roosters until 1993 when the committee of the day formed a new identity adopting the blue and white hoops and the moniker of the Cats.

    The clubs winning anthem is the classic “Cheer Cheer the blue and the white, honour the cats by day and by night etc etc”

    Premierships have been as follows

    A Grade – 2006 & 2007, 2010
    B Grade – 2007
    Senior Colts (now under 17s) – 1997 & 2002
    Junior Colts (now under 14s) – 1989 & 1992

    After a tentative start between two rival clubs that traditionally tried to smash the living suitcase out of each other on the field, the club has developed into one of the best and most family friendly clubs in the north eastern football league.

  20. Sorry John, memory not as good as I thought re EFL above.

    Bennettswood wore a gold Jersey with a black yoke.

    Benn.Blackburn South had a black yoke with green and gold panels.

  21. My old team Nairne (maroom/white stripes) accepted a merger from fierce rival Bremer (black with gold stripe) in the Hills Football league in SA in the very late seventies, adopted the naairne strip of maroon back with maroon and white stripes at the front and due to being a large farming area we became “The Rams”, mainly to help out with juniors in the Bremer area as they had juniors galore but their senior team was playing in the “C” grade while nairne fielded teams from U14 to A Grade, both grounds were used as a base early in the season while dry Nairne oval was home and second half of season Callington oval was used because of it drier playing surface.
    The junior teams began to win premierships galore, followed by the B grade before the A’s won the first of 2 in 1985 then 1989, juniors and B Grade have continued with premiersship success however the A’s while continually finals bound have been staarved of premierships

  22. Gidday John,

    i played for South Townsville in the Townsville Australian Football League in 1987/88, in 1989 a new team was formed called the Heatley Hawks, i joined this newly formed side, our colours were the same as Hawthorn, we won our first flag in our first year in the competition beating the more fancied West Townsville, the following year we almagamated with University Football Club and kept our same colours and became the University Hawks, this club still exists to this day and has had some good success.


  23. Border Downs Football Club combined with the Tintinara Football Club 20 years ago this year back in 1993 and have since played as the BDT Crows. The merge happened at a similar time to the formation of the Adelaide Crows and they were first country club to adapt the Adelaide Crows logo, colour and jumper.They played for 9 years in the River Murray League and in 2002 moved into the Mallee Football League where the Club has won 5 A grade Flags in 04, 06, 07, 2010, 2011 and are undefeated this year. They have also won 5 B grade Flags. 1 in their first year in the River Murray and 4 in the Mallee, The B garde are also undefeated this year. The Club will celebrate the 20 years with a reunion and sponsors day on the 11th of August at the Coonalpyn Oval where they take on Karoonda. The year will finish with the Mallee Grand Final held at Tintinara on the 8th of September.

  24. NoelMc,
    Waverley in their Eastern (Districts) Football League period initially played at Central Reserve – for at least a couple of seasons. As they were in one of the lower divisions, they were elbowed off the ground and Mazenod OCs (typically around 3rd or 4th tier) were the beneficiaries. Waverley then had their time at Columbia just up the road from VFL/AFL Park. From the club’s point of view this was something of a disaster as it was not enclosed creating the problem of enforcing paid admission; in addition the ground was favoured as an alternative car park for people attending AFL matches at the big ground. My socialist prejudice is that local councils in middle class districts prefer the ammos.

  25. pamela sherpa says

    The old Northern District League- like many others mentioned saw near neighbours and rival teams merge. Leitchville with Gunbower, Koondrook with Barham, and Cohuna with Union. And of course there have been several league changes for some. I find the loss of some of the gorgeous old jumpers a shame. Many merged clubs seem to have adopted AFL league jumpers.

  26. John & Daff – the merger between the famous cross town rivals in Orbost still bears deep scars in the town where blokes will still not watch the merged club play (nor drink at the ‘top pub’.) Kept both names alive with Orbost Snowy Rovers and a nice symbolic jumper design with a bridge over a deep blue Snowy River.

    My current (merged) club was once the evocatively named ‘Woodend Rebels’ (green jumper yellow yoke) and the Hesket ‘Bohemians’ (red jumper white yoke). They merged to become the rather bland ‘Hawks’ in the brown and gold some 35 years ago.

  27. Essendon Youth Club and Moonee Ponds Imps was a big merger back in the day of local junior Essendon footy. They turned into Aberfeldie Park and the club song was to the tune of ‘On the road to Gundagai’ Peter Filandia’s old man was our coach at one stage, good bloke with Peter himself carrying the rest of us most games!

  28. Sing along now-
    There’s a track winding back down to Aberfeldie Park,
    That’s where the Bears play their game,
    Where the crowds of supporters are rushing the fence,
    And the oppositions trying to break our defence,
    But it’s all done in vain,
    Cos the Bears have won again,
    Down at Aberfeldie Park!

  29. I grew up in the tiny town of Appila in the mid north, home to the mighty Black and Whites. Well, certainly Appila won a number of premierships in their time, although off the top of my head I couldn’t tell you how many. My brother, currently taking his kids on a holiday to Europe, would be able to tell me quick as a flash.

    The Appila Football Club’s last year on it’s own, however, was the year before I was born. So I never got the chance to represent my home town at the hallowed turf of Stacey Park. My brother can still remember sitting on the scoreboard at their last home game in 1971. Appila merged with Jamestown in 1972 and then, a few years ago, Jamestown merged with Peterborough and the name Appila was dispensed with altogether.

    In 2009 I was thrilled that the Backyard Football League decided to host a game on my favourite patch of grass, Stacey Park. Better still, I got a gig in Appila’s back pocket, my brother lined up in the forward line, and thus my dream of playing a game of footy, no matter how not-serious, representing Appila in the mighty black and white colours on that ground with my brother in the line up, came to life. Magnificent day, and in playing my third game of footy in 25 years, I’m actually proud to say that I did alright too.

    So, that was a thrill of a day. But it’s an annoyance that the name Appila is not represented in a competitive team these days, even if I have to concede that the town probably hasn’t contributed a player to the Jamestown line up for some time. It’s sad how many towns can disappear from the memory, just through the footy finding a way to lose track of the towns identity.

  30. William ( Billy ) Lahn says

    Hi my name is Billy Lahn it is now 2017 and the effect of the the 1990s VCFL merger policy is clear. Last year I travelled to many Leagues in Nth Central Victoria to see games of Netball & Football and my conclusion is. Australian Rules Football is in deep trouble. There are now less Clubs but still only the same or less supporters attending each game than was in the 1970s. Mergers were supposed to improve the viability and sustainability of Football. But now there is less opportunity for every one to get a game of Aussie Football and Netball, because of less leagues and grass root Clubs. The displaced, their families and friends, all move to sports and activities with better participation opportunities. The V.C.F.L has failed to promote and advance Australian rules as a sport for everyone. Example two battling clubs with 100 active participants = 200 participants they are merged into one. Now only 100 positions are available. Some move to other Clubs, in doing so displace someone already there, and so on. Hence every year one person that has opportunity lost = one participant/year. A full club = 100 People/years. In ten years that is 1000 people/years. Multiply that by the 30 or so Clubs involved in passive and forced mergers of the 1990s and then multiply the years that have passed. The damage to traditional Australian Rules and Netball is huge. Had Clubs and competitions been down graded and eased of financial burden. It may have been different No sport can survive without strong grass root participation. The changes are forever

Leave a Comment