Although the Bonnie Doon Football Club existed as long ago as the first decade of the twentieth century, most of the club’s success has been achieved over the past three decades.
The first half century of the Bulldogs’ existence saw them unable to find a permanent, or indeed even a long term home, as they participated at various times in upwards of eight different competitions. After gaining admission to the Benalla and District Football League in 1965, however, the club quickly settled down to become a competition mainstay. Indeed, its impact on the league was significant, at the outset at any rate, with the seniors contesting the grand final at the first time of asking, only to lose a tight, low scoring game by 9 points to Goorambat. It took only a season for the Bulldogs to make amends, but thereafter there followed almost a quarter of a century of mediocrity, or worse.
After claiming their second senior grade flag in 1989, however, the Tigers emerged as a consistent contender, making made another eight grand final appearances for wins in 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2008.
In 2007, Bonnie Doon comfortably qualified for the finals in third place before ruthlessly derailing Tatong’s premiership aspirations in the first semi final by 173 points. There then followed a nail-biting 4 point preliminary final success over Longwood, but in the ‘big one’ the side failed to do itself justice, and went down to Goorambat by almost 6 goals.
Twelve months later the Bulldogs atoned for this disappointment by claiming their sixth senior grade BDFL premiership courtesy of a 10.17 (77) to 11.6 (72) grand final triumph over their 2007 conquerors, Goorambat. The victory was all the more memorable in that it was the culmination of the perfect season, during which the side had won all 18 matches contested.
Since 2010 the Bulldogs have competed in the Ovens and King Football League. They made the finals in their debut season and subsequently in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Indeed, in 2016 they topped the ladder after the home and away series, but then crashed out of the flag race with straight sets finals losses to Glenrowan and Tarrawingee. The 2017 season brought a marked decline in fortunes as the Bulldogs managed just six wins from 18 matches to nosedive down the 12 team premiership ladder to eighth place. Even worse was to follow as in 2018 the side lost all 18 matches played to slump to the wooden spoon. The 2019 season brought considerable improvement as the side emulated its 2017 performance by winning six of 18 fixtures, albeit that this was only good enough for ninth place on this occasion. After spending the 2020 season in abeyance because of the coronavirus pandemic the Bulldogs will be hopeful of continuing their upward progress in 2021.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications