The Great Southern Football League is Officially 100!

May 13, 2023

On the 24th of April, 2023 the Great Southern Football League (GSFL) officially had its 100th birthday.

On 24th April 1923, a meeting at Port Elliot, agreed:

“That this Association of five Clubs namely Encounter Bay, Goolwa, Hindmarsh Valley, Port Elliot, and Victor Harbor be called the Great Southern Football Association.”

Mr Bamford was elected President and Mr Keen Vice-President.

Hindmarsh Valley pulled out after only two games and Victor Harbor went on to win the Association’s first premiership confortably accounting for Port Elliot
9.11 (65) to 2.4 (16).

In 1928 Yankalilla joined for one year and in 1930 Strathalbyn did the same and finished second before returning to the Hills League in 1931.

Yankalilla returned in 1935 and stayed for 20 years before moving to the Southern Football League (SFL).

Until 1941 the competition was dominated by Victor Harbor and Pt Elliot.

In 1940 a representative from the RAAF, suggested they could field two teams in the Association. However, this proposal failed to materialise as World War II escalated and the Association was forced to enter a ‘war recess’. As a result no premierships were given between the the years 1941-1945.

The competition restarted in 1946 with six teams. Victor continued where they had left off prior to the war winning 7 straight Premierships (still the League
record for consecutive Premierships) – 6 of those in-a-row against cross-town rivals, Encounter Bay.

An Association competition was introduced in 1953 and C.K Lovelock donated a trophy – Lovelock Shield. Hills, Southern, River Murray and Great
Southern Associations played on the June long weekend.

Due to low player numbers, Encounter Bay and Valleys amalgamated in 1954, and were admitted as Rovers, going on to win the Premiership in 1956 before
renaming back to Encounter Bay in 1957.

Strathalbyn re-joined in 1963 with immediate success, winning 4 Premierships in six years.

Strathalbyn, Yankalilla, and Goolwa were the superior teams from 1968.

Langhorne Creek joined and won the premiership in their first year in 1978.

Strathalbyn played in 6 grand finals during the 80s – winning three (1981,82,87), before Victor Harbor hit their straps, winning six straight from1990. Victor went on to win another 2 premierships in 1997 and 1999, dominating the decade with eight Premierships.

From 1995 Goolwa and Port Elliot had both struggled on-field and in 2001 amalgamated to form the Goolwa-Port Elliot Football Club.

McLaren (having previously played in the SFL) took up the empty spot and won their first Premiership in 2003.

From 2000 Willunga, Creek, Strath and The Bays were the stronger sides.

Between the years 2000-2013 Willunga played in 12 Grand Finals winning 6 straight between 2004-2009.

The Demon’s era finished with the resurgence of Encounter Bay (2013,15), Mount Compass (2016-17) and Langhorne Creek playing in four successive grand finals – winning 3 in-a-row between 2018-2020.

In 2022 McLaren would produce the perfect season, going undefeated and taking home just their their second flag since joining the League in 2001.

Our competition has grown to 10 clubs, and we are treated to seven grades of football every weekend.

Our League has always been in good hands because the Clubs are the decision makers. The significant decisions are made by Club Representatives at League
Delegate meetings held throughout the season.

We have had some outstanding footballers and administrators contribute to the success of the League, and we should all be proud that we have existed for 100
years, and continue to grow.

Photo above: The Valleys FC was established in 1947 before merging with Encounter Bay FC to form the ‘Bay Valley Rovers’ in 1954 – winning their one and only Premiership in 1956. The following year in 1957 the club was renamed Encounter Bay FC.

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