South East Suburban Football League (SESFL) Division One - 1989 (1 total); Southern Football League (SFL) Division One - 1998-9-2000, 2003, 2005 (5 total); Southern Football League Division Two - 1997 (1 total); E(D)FL Division One - 2008 (1 total)
The Balwyn Football Club has been in existence for almost a century, enjoying premiership success in the VFL’s Sub-District competition in 1927 and on three occasions during the 1930s. There then followed a prolonged flag drought which was not broken until 1989, but it has only been over the past decade that regular senior premiership success has begun to be attained once more. The dramatic upswing in fortunes can be traced back to the 1996 season, when the Tigers were competing in division two of the Southern Football League. They got as far as the grand final that year, and although beaten by Ashwood the experience sowed the seeds of a winning culture that would bear emphatic first fruits a year later. Opposed by St Kilda City in the 1997 premiership decider the Tigers were too hungry and determined and altogether too accomplished, winning comfortably by 32 points. Nevertheless, the speed with which the club managed to build on this triumph must have surprised all but its own most diehard supporters. Winning the division two flag was a ticket to the giddy heights of division one football, but far from being overawed the Tigers took the competition by storm, culminating in an 8.14 (62) to 7.5 (47) grand final defeat of a Noble Park side that was chasing its third straight premiership. Twelve months later Balwyn did it again, this time with more of a swagger as scores of 18.10 (118) to the Bulls’ 9.10 (64) attest.
The 2000 season saw the Tigers aiming to become the first ever team to win three successive SFL division one flags. In the end, they did so with something to spare, overwhelming grand final opponents St Paul’s Bentleigh by 57 points. A minor slump then followed, but Balwyn was back in grand final action in 2002, when it lost to St Kilda City, and 2003, when it triumphed over St Paul’s Bentleigh. When the Tigers contemptuously brushed aside the grand final challenge of East Brighton in 2005 their status as the SFL’s pre-eminent club was indisputable.
Still, the club sought further challenges. Once the 2006 season was over it applied to transfer from the SFL to the Eastern Football League, which by common consent was the strongest suburban competition in Melbourne. Somewhat controversially, given that the move would further bolster the EFL’s strength whilst diminishing that of the SFL, the Tigers’ application was approved by Football Victoria.
Balwyn enjoyed a highly creditable debut season in the EFL’s division one competition, finishing fourth, before breaking through to claim an inaugural premiership in 2008 thanks to a 16.15 (111) to 7.18 (60) grand final defeat of a Vermont side that was chasing its fourth consecutive flag.