During the first three decades of the twentieth century, the area around King Valley boasted its own football association, which featured teams from Cheshunt, Edi, King Valley, Moyhu Seconds, Myrrhee and Whitfield. The economic depression of the 1930s badly affected the competition as many footballers moved elsewhere to look for work. Prior to the 1935 season the number of available players had declined to such an extent that it became clear that it would not be possible for the association to continue. Instead, the remaining players joined forces to create the King Valley United Football Club, which was quickly accepted into the Ovens and King Football League.
The Valley’s debut season in the OKFL proved quite promising, with the side numbering the previous year’s premiers, Moyhu, among its scalps, and in the end only narrowly failing to reach the finals.
King Valley United’s first major round appearance came in 1947 when it lost a hard fought first semi final to Moyhu by 19 points. Ten years later, the side made it through to its first ever grand final after downing Chiltern in the second semi final by 7 points. The grand final rematch was a vastly different affair, however, with the Swans’ greater experience proving decisive as they won comfortably by more than 7 goals.
The ‘Roos next contested a grand final in 1966, but lost a low scoring war of attrition against Greta by 13 points. It was the appointment of Bob Atkinson as captain-coach three years later that proved to be the catalyst for the club’s transformation from pretender to crown prince. In 1969, King Valley’s seniors reached the first semi final, while the reserves went top. The following year, several members of the reserves premiership side bolstered the ranks of the seniors who, after opening the season with a 20.24 (144) to 13.6 (84) rout of Bright, did not really look back. With players like Terry Crapper, Ray Hooper and Terry Ryan to the fore, the ‘Roos comprehensively defeated Milawa in the grand final, reversing the result of the second semi. Full forward Hooper contributed an amazing 11 goals to his side’s tally of 14.13 (97), while all the Demons could muster in reply was 7.9 (51).
After such a memorable triumph, the remainder of the 1970s proved disappointing, although by the end of the decade there were signs of an imminent revival. With Richie Allen at the helm in 1981 the ‘Roos finally managed to go all the way, downing Milawa by a bare point in the qualifying final, narrowly overcoming Chiltern in the second semi final, and then finishing all over Milawa in the grand final to record a convincing and wholly meritorious 29 point win. Final scores were King Valley 15.14 (104) to Milawa 10.15 (75). For captain-coach Allen the victory capped a dream season which had earlier seen him acknowledged as the league’s pre-eminent player for the year with the award of the Baker Medal.
There has been no further premiership glory since, although the ‘Roos reached the preliminary final in 2001, and also contested the 2002, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 finals series. The 2017 season saw them tumbling down the twelve team ladder to tenth before putting in an improved campaign in 2018 which resulted in finals qualification for an eventual finishing position of fifth.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications