Eastern Football League History
The EFL, as we know it today, is only 43 years old, but the league’s grass roots stretch back to the early 1900s. History of the EFL has been traced back to the turn of the century when it was known as the Reporter District Football League which began in 1903. The clubs involved at this time included Canterbury, Ringwood, Mitcham, Bayswater, Ferntree Gully and Box Hill.
During the late 1920s, the league became the Ringwood District Football League and, after another change of name, became the Croydon Mail Football League. Several EFL clubs also competed in the Eastern Suburban Football League which ran from the late 1930s up until the mid 1950s.
Seven delegates from the Croydon Mail Football League met under a tree in Forest Road, Ferntree Gully in 1950, with the view of changing the league’s name once again. The seven men were Michael Benson, Ray Mathews, Gilbert Chandler, Cliff Tomkins, Bill Baldwin, Paul Edie and Fred Leech.
The men wanted to start a new league to incorporate football clubs from Ferntree Gully, Scoresby and Mulgrave. The only new club to join the league was Ferntree Gully, and the name was changed to the Croydon-Ferntree Gully League. The Croydon-Ferntree Gully League started with clubs from Kilsyth, Croydon, Boronia, Bayswater, Warrandyte, Ferntree Gully, East Ringwood and Lilydale.
From 1950 to 1961 another 22 clubs joined the league and two clubs transferred to other leagues. During an executive meeting of the league on Friday 26 January, 1962 at the Francis Café in Croydon, a motion was put forward to change the name of the league once again.
At a meeting on 15 February 1962, a vote was taken to decide whether to call the new league, the Greater Eastern Football League, Croydon District Football League or the Eastern Districts Football League. The vote was 38 “for” to 32 “against” in favour of adopting the Eastern Districts Football League as the new name and so the EDFL was born.
Since 1962 the league has grown dramatically over the years to four division senior competition and a three division all ages junior competition. In fact the league has grown from 60 teams in 1962 to 317 teams in 2000.
From 1980 to 1997 the EDFL’s junior competition had teams competing in the under 10, under 12, under 14 and under 16 age groups. For several years prior to 1997 due to the number of juniors within the eastern region EDFL, several clubs were fielding junior teams in the neighbouring Knox Junior Football Association (KJFA). The KJFA offered all age groups from under 8 through to under 15. At the end of the 1997 season, after a year of negotiations the EDFL and the KJFA merged and the Eastern Football League was formed.
Thus far the partnership of the two leagues has been an overwhelming success and the EFL in now the largest Australian football competition in the country in terms of numbers of players participating each weekend.
This article re-published with kind permission of the EFL.