Broken Hill Football League (BHFL) and precursors since 1900
Blue and white
Formed in 1900, the year that the Barrier Ranges Football Association, precursor of the Broken Hill Football League, adopted a district system, North Broken Hill has been that competition’s most successful club. The Blue and Whites, as they were popularly known at first, reached a grand final in their very first year, but lost to West Broken Hill by 3 points. They lost again to Wests in 1901, but broke through for a first flag the following year.\n\nBroken Hill was a veritable hotbed of the game during the early years of the twentieth century, and Norths, with players like Alex Conlin (later a star with West Adelaide), future Magarey Medallist Dave Low, and triple club best and fairest award winner Jack Hunter to the fore, was the most consistently successful side. Clear evidence of its prowess was accorded in 1907 when it annihilated a combined Port Pirie team by 204 points, 32.29 (221) to 2.5 (17). Two years later, in the face of the much sterner opposition accorded by top West Australian goldfields side Boulder City, Norths emerged victorious with a single point to spare, 10.12 (72) to 10.11 (71).\n\nIn 1910, having just won three premierships in a row, the club sought to test its mettle against leading teams from throughout Australia. A trip to Sydney produced a narrow loss against a combined NSWAFL side (9.11 to 9.8) followed by a highly impressive 10 goal defeat of YMCA, which was to win the Sydney premiership that year.\n\nVisits to Ballarat and Adelaide proved less successful, however, as the players struggled to cope with completely unfamiliar ground conditions, especially at Ballarat where the oval “partook of the nature of an Irish bog”. A match against a combined Ballarat Football League side resulted in a 13 point reversal, while Port Adelaide on the Adelaide Oval proved much too strong, winning 14.20 (104) to 5.5 (35).\n\nPerhaps fatigued by their extensive travelling, North failed in their bid to secure a fourth successive flag in 1910, but further premierships followed in 1911 and 1914. \n\nThe 1920s brought just two flags but off the field the club prospered and in 1927 it broke new ground by constructing its own clubrooms costing £600. Among the many fine players to don the blue and white during this era were the four Troughton brothers, Fred (invariably referred to as ‘Sonny’), Bob (later of West Torrens and Geelong fame), Charlie, and Vic.\n\nNorth Broken Hill’s post-world war two teams were arguably the most powerful to represent the club, and but for a glaring umpiring error might easily have annexed seven premierships in succession. Victorious in 1945-6-7-8 and 1950-51, the Bulldogs as they were known by this time lost the 1949 grand final to Wests thanks to a goal kicked by Alby House, a former Norths player, after the final bell had sounded. Astonishingly, almost alone among those present at the ground, the umpire failed to hear the bell, and so the goal was allowed. Key players for Norths during this period included 1947 Middleton Trophy winner Alan Gillespie, Dick Codd, Perce Fitzgerald, Doug Buss, Ray Schmidt, Norm Dunlevy and Mick McInnes.\n\nThe mid-1970s was another illustrious era for the Bulldogs, with players like Steve Minnis and Ray Egan, who won no fewer than eight Middleton Medals between them, Peter Baldwin, John Garnaut and Zane Separovich helping the side to three successive premierships between 19775 and 1977.\n\nThe Bulldogs have won three of the last six BHFL premierships. In 2004 they overcame a poor ending to the home and away season to battle through to the grand final and defeat South Broken Hill, in 2007 they were too good for Wests on grand final day, winning by 29 points, 19.11 (125) to 14.12 (96), and in 2008 they held off a fast finishing Centrals side to claim victory by 17 points. The Bulldogs again contested the grand final in 2009, but opponents Souths proved too strong.
During the BRFA’s formative years of the 1890s an entirely different North Broken Hill Football Club had participated in the competition for a time.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications