Football on the south coast probably goes back to the 1860’s-1870’s, with the Goolwa club dating themselves from 1878, the year after the South Australian Football Association was formed.

Matches in those early days were organised on a ‘friendly’ basis, with teams from different areas or firms or interest groups agreeing to play each other. Many of these matches were arranged between those living in particular towns, and from this grew the need to establish some body to regulate a program and provide some sort of oversight to the competition.

Consequently, the Great Southern Football League was formed in 1923. Two years before the GSFL was formed, the Encounter Bay Club came into being, made up largely of players who came from other local teams in the Victor Harbor area. Their first match was against Victor Harbor in that same year, and the captain for that match, Tom Davis, eventually became the new club’s first life member. Other teams they competed against were Hindmarsh Valley and Finniss; for trips to Finniss they journeyed to and fro by train and evidently the return journeys were often riotous affairs!

The club’s first A Grade premiership came in 1940 with a 10-15 to 7-5 victory over Port Elliot, their home ground for those years being a paddock off Maude Street. Encounter Bay. Captain for that year was a local legend, Frank Joy, and the Mail Medallist was Reg Masters (who went on to captain Glenelg), with another two young club stalwarts, Don Bartel and Ian Millard, also making their first appearances. Don went on to play for Sturt, and Ian for Glenelg.

Originally, the colours they played under were red and white, and their current colours of blue and gold came about as the result of a split that occurred in 1946. After the Second World War there were a number of players who could not get a game. They canvassed the Back Valley, Lower Inman and Inman Valley areas for support, and a breakaway club called the Valleys Football Club was formed. This club had their home ground on the Back Valley Oval, next to the current Back Valley Tennis Club, but by 1953 were finding it hard to win matches so in that year they re-amalgamated with the Encounter Bay Club to form the Bay Valley Rovers.

This team took the blue and gold colours of the Valleys. and played under that name until 1957 when the name again became Encounter Bay. In 1958 the team replaced the gold sash by the eagle which is still worn today, and had their most successful season to date. winning both the A and B grade premierships, with local school teacher Alan Field winning the first of his two Mail Medals. New clubrooms were also built in 1958, largely by voluntary labour.

Throughout the 60’s Encounter Bay dominated, making numerous Grand Finals, Winning Back to Back Flags in 1960-61 with flags in 1965 & 1967, it would be a 22 year drought until 1989 when Bob Beecroft took over the helm at Encounter Bay and in 88 were bridesmaids to Willunga until reversing the result the follow year. In 1996 Darren Mansell joined forces with Andrew Chigwiggen to add another Flag to the wall in the great Encounter Bay Clubrooms.

More to come…