50 years after winning their first premiership as a newly-created team, the 1969 La Trobe University Football Club premiers have reunited to celebrate their hard-fought victory.
Now aged in their 70s, premiership team players and coaches gathered for a formal dinner at the La Trobe Sports Park Pavilion, where they reminisced about their stellar 84-point win against rivals, Mernda Football Club.
All but three of the original 21 team members were present, including La Trobe FC legend and Captain Coach of the 1969 premiership team Andrew Gee, who said Mernda were a tough and determined opponent.
“Mernda were a fierce side and most players had 20 years on us blokes,” Mr Gee said.
“They came out wanting to fight, and we came out playing our best footy. They got the first goal, but we didn’t look back after that, thrashing them by 84 points. It was a great feeling.”
Local media at the time revelled in the unexpected victory:
La Trobe took everything Mernda could throw at them and won the hearts of every sportsman at the ground.
The record crowd saw [David] Morgan struck within the first minute of play. This lifted La Trobe to their ultimate and it was all over barring the celebrations at half-time
– Whittlesea Post, 1969
“Looking back, those years of footy were really special,” Mr Gee said.
“The University and Football Club were only three-years-old and to win a premiership in those early days was quite an achievement.
Mr Gee said it was great to be back at La Trobe.
“It’s a wonderful feeling, this reunion. It’s been close on 50 years since I last saw more than two thirds of these players,” Mr Gee said.
La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar, said the evening marked a special moment in the University’s history.
“We’re proud to have reunited so many of La Trobe Football Club’s founding members, who represent the first chapter in our rich history of sporting excellence,” Professor Dewar said.
“It’s been wonderful to welcome these former players back onto campus and honour their achievements in our new, state-of-the-art Pavilion – part of La Trobe’s new Sports Park and a key component of our $5 billion University City of the Future plans.”
The reunion also saw inaugural La Trobe University Football Club Captain, La Trobe Distinguished Alumni Award winner and Honorary Doctorate, Dr David Morgan AO, inducted as Life Patron of the club.
La Trobe University Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Development) and Director of La Trobe Sport, Professor Russell Hoye, congratulated Dr Morgan on his playing success and contributions to the club.
“David, to this day, is still one of the most outstanding players in the club’s history,” Professor Hoye said.
“In the 1969 premiership year, he kicked a whopping total of 176 goals, 10 of which were in the Grand Final.
“Since then, his ongoing contributions to this club have been second to none. It’s been inspiring having him and the other founding members here tonight. I know it’s encouraged our current players to tackle the 2019 season with greater fervour.”
The 1969 La Trobe FC premiership team included Julian Carr, John Pech, Geoff Beynon, David Lindsay, Ivan Roberts, Greg Sceney, Brian Jones, Peter Jalanski, David Hannah, David Morgan, Colin Hall, Ron Gilchrist, Pasqual Sgro, Ian Molloy, Tony Sheehan, Michael Mullins, Martin Foreman, Allan Monohan, Darryl Leorke, John Condon and Andrew Gee.
The team was playing in the Panton Hill Football League, which is now a part of the Northern Football Netball League.
PHOTO: Robert Gee