There have been a number of footy clubs that have come and gone in the Great Southern area over the years, with their own ovals at places like Hindmarsh Valley, Ashbourne, Back Valley, Rapid Bay, Finnis, and even the little settlement of Nangkita which was able to field a team in the 1890’s.

There was also, for a number of years, a footy club at a ‘little village with a handsome oval’ halfway between Strathalbyn and Langhorne Creek, where cricket had been played since the 1870’s.  Belvidere, in the first decade of the twentieth century, already boasted a church, a hotel, and a public school, and then in 1903 its sporting life was enhanced by the formation of the Belvidere Football Club, which played its first match against a Milang eighteen, and continued to field a team until after WW1.

When Langhorne Creek formed their own team in 1906, the very first match they played on their home ground was against their neighbours from down the road.  ‘Oompah’, the Southern Argus’ reporter at the match, reported that ‘good football was out of the question,’ and Belvidere went on to an imposing 100-point win.

Langhorne’s revenge came at home in the final game of the season, when they defeated a 14-man Belvidere side 7.16 to 1.4. on a water-logged oval, with the correspondent suggesting that there had been so much rain that ‘a local boating club is being seriously considered!’  He also reported that although ‘this is Langhorne’s Creeks’ first win, most of them went straight home.’ Really!!…you can bet that doesn’t happen today!

By the mid 1920’s, however, football at Belvidere was no more, but the Langhorne Creek Club had begun to fulfill Oompah’s prediction that ‘in time they should give a good account of themselves,’ competing in the Alexandra and Hills Leagues before joining the Great Southern Association in 1978.  They soon made their presence felt here, finishing the minor round in first position, and defeating the Bays in the second semi.

The Bays, however, gave themselves another chance, by stitching up Goolwa in a closely fought prelim, to get to their first grand final in ten years, before losing the following week, on a windy Port Elliot oval, with an inaccurate 11.17 to the Creeks’ 18.7.  It was the Creek’s first premiership in the Great Southern, but their fourth in a row.

Best for the Bays that day were our present club president – the 19 year old Todd Butler – who, along with his wife Julie,  has gone on to serve the club in so many other ways, Peter Broadbent who is now a local pastor and a regular at Thursday night meals, and Ken ‘Keriancia’ Ruge (pictured), the man with the lightning handball, who could hardly believe that the best players for the opposition that day – Greg Cotton, Ken Follett and Lachlan Warren – had all just played in their fourth premiership straight.

Ken Ruge had to wait another 11 years until 1989 to play in the premiership that he so keenly wanted – and to pick up life membership of the GSFL in June that year after his 250th game.

John Althorp

All Feather Flashbacks are available in ‘A Good Way of Life’ by John Althorp

Read other Feather Flashbacks in previous editions of Eagle Tales

More News