P.O. Box 40370, Casuarina 0811, Northern Territory
Football Park, Marrara
NTFL 1917-1924/25, 1929/30-1935/36 & 1946/47-present
Blue and gold
Formed in 1917, Wanderers was among the NTFL’s founder member clubs. However, unlike their co-founders Waratahs and Warriors1 the Eagles have not maintained an unbroken involvement in the competition. After the 1924/25 grand final, which Wanderers lost to Vesteys,2 the club withdrew from the league in protest against the severity of the suspensions imposed on three of its players after the previous week’s preliminary final.
The matter appears to have been resolved, because the club was back in action the following season, albeit under the new name of Rovers. In 1926 it altered its name again, this time to Magpies, but after being referred to as ‘Magpies-Wanderers’ during the 1929/30 season it reverted to its original name from 1930/31. Times were tough, however, and at the end of the 1936/37 season, faced with financial difficulties and player shortages, the club was forced to disband again, and this time it would not re-form until after Word War Two.
Wanderers’ most successful era by far was the nine year period from 1917 to 1924/25 when it won six of its ten league premierships and was runner up three times. It was also a force in the immediate post-war years but did not quite manage to claim the ultimate prize until 1957/58 when it scored an upset grand final victory over Works and Housing.3
The Eagles then had to wait until 1980/81 for their next senior involvement
on grand final day but lost narrowly to North Darwin. Many observers felt that, had the game continued for a few more minutes, Wanderers would almost certainly have snatched victory.
Such observations are frequently made after the event, however, and rarely provide any real consolation. The only acceptable solace comes from actually winning a grand final, and thankfully Wanderers were able to achieve this in each of the next two seasons. In 1981/82 they defeated St Marys by the narrowest of margins and the following year repeated the dose with a trifle more comfort, 14.8 (92) to 12.9 (81).
Wanderers reached another grand final in 1984/85 but lost to St Marys by 13 points. Perhaps the Eagles’ finest hour came in the 1992/93 grand final, however, when, against all the odds, they thrashed perennially powerful St Marys by points, 51 points, 16.9 (105) to 8.6 (54). The side has been a consistent finalist in recent years, but a losing grand final against St Mary’s in 2004/5 is the closest it has come to procuring an eleventh senior flag.
Among Wanderers’ most renowned playing products were Russell Jeffrey, who represented both St Kilda and Brisbane in the VFL/AFL as well as somehow managing to appear in a ‘State of Origin’ match for Victoria, and Eddie Fry, who played a total of 265 SANFL games for South Adelaide and Sturt, and represented South Australia on half a dozen occasions.
1 Warriors was the original name of the current Darwin Football Club.2 In 1918, after an unsuccessful first season, Warriors changed their name to Vesteys, after the meatworks where a large proportion of the team�s players worked.3 Works and Housing Football Club became known as Nightcliff in 1963.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications