A Beaufort football team was playing matches against combinations from neighbouring towns as long ago as the 1880s. Many of these matches could be described as semi-formal, with trophies, typically donated by local business men or companies, often at stake.
After the first world war Beaufort competed in several different competitions, and is known to have achieved premiership success on at least two occasions. The club joined the Lexton Football League in 1946 and, after a number of near misses, finally went top in that competition in 1964 thanks to a 23.14 (152) to 7.9 (51) grand final annihilation of Lexton. The 1965 season brought further success, although on this occasion Beaufort had to battle all the way to shrug off a determined opponent in Navarre. Final scores were Beaufort 12.13 (85); Navarre 12.9 (81).
In 1966 Beaufort made what some viewed as an audacious application to join the powerful Ballarat Football League. Nevertheless, after prolonged deliberation and debate on the part of the league authorities, the application was approved.
Beaufort’s first season in the BFL, while not a disaster, was nevertheless far from memorable, with the seniors managing just 3 wins from 18 games to finish last. In 1967, however, the side improved markedly, qualifying for the finals in third place with a 12-6 record before going down by 22 points to Golden Point in the first semi. After slumping to sixth (of eight) in 1968 the club enjoyed the most memorable season in its history in 1969 by claiming its first, and only, BFL flag. After finishing the home and away rounds in second place, the Cats (as Beaufort were known at the time) overcame the disappointment of a narrow second semi final loss against East Ballarat to trounce Maryborough in the preliminary final by 13 goals before turning the tables on the Bulldogs in the ‘big one’. The 1969 grand final was one of the most dramatic in BFL history with the Cats hanging in there defiantly on the strength of straight kicking for three quarters before surging home with 3 last stanza goals to nil to clinch the premiership by 3 points. Final scores were Beaufort 10.7 (67); East Ballarat 8.16 (64).
Over the remaining twenty-four seasons of their involvement in the BFL the Cats contested two further senior grand finals, losing to Ballarat by 8 goals in 1971, and North Ballarat two years later by 33 points.
The late 1980s and early 1990s proved to be testing times for Beaufort, but after transferring to the rather less arduous Central Highlands Football League in 1994 the team swiftly rediscovered the winning habit, claiming successive flags in 1995 and 1996, both times at the expense of Dunnstown.
After several undistinguished seasons the Crows as they are nowadays known returned to the finals fray in 2015 although their involvement was fleeting as they lost their elimination final clash with Hepburn by 4 goals. The following season was almost a carbon copy with Beaufort opposed to Hepburn in an elimination final and losing once again, this time by 14 points. In 2017 Beaufort topped the ladder ahead of the finals and ultimately made it through to the grand final only to lose by 18 points to their nemesis of the previous two seasons, Hepburn. The following season saw them make amends when they accounted for Buninyong in the decisive match of the year with scores of 15.9 (99) to 9.7 (61). This was followed by a disappointing 2019 campaign which saw the side drop out of the flag race at the first semi final stage.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications