In 1979, Bell Park was one of the Geelong and District Football League’s Division One clubs which seceded en masse to establish a new competition, the Geelong Football League. Success was not long in arriving as the Dragons reached the grand final in 1983, when they lost to North Shore, before breaking through to claim their inaugural flag the following year at the expense of St. Alban’s. Another premiership ought perhaps to have followed two seasons later as the side topped the ladder with a 16-2 record only to suffer the disappointment of successive finals losses at the hands of Newtown and Chilwell, and North Shore.
The Dragons next qualified for the finals in 1990, but their involvement lasted only a week as they bowed out at the first semi final stage against St. Joseph’s. A year later they made memorable amends with a premiership achieved against the odds at the expense of perennial power club North Shore, at whose hands Bell Park had earlier lost the second semi final. On grand final day a fortnight later, however, there could be no disputing the Dragons’ superiority as they won a low scoring affair with surprising ease by 37 points, 10.9 (69) to 4.8 (32).
The remainder of the 1990s brought contrasting fortunes as the side got as far as the preliminary final on three occasions but also succumbed to the indignity of a pair of wooden spoons.
Since the turn of the century the Dragons have been consistently strong performers highlighted by a dramatic premiership victory in 2003 which was achieved by means of a replayed grand final against St. Mary’s. There was another grand final appearance four years later, but South Barwon proved to have the Dragons’ measure, and won by 37 points. In 2008 the Dragons suffered a slump in fortune with their tally of 11 wins from 18 matches consigning them to sixth place, behind elimination final qualifier St. Joseph’s, which had emerged victorious from the last round clash between the teams, on percentage. The Dragons' next grand final appearance in 2010 also resulted in defeat, once again at the hands of South Barwon, before Bell Park again achieved grand final success the following year when they accounted for South Barwon - who else? - by a single straight kick.
The Dragons have continued to perform strongly, reaching a grand final in 2012 and only three times failing to contest the major round since.
Dual Brownlow Medallist Jimmy Bartel is a Bell Park product.
As intimated above, prior to commencing in the GFL the Dragons spent 20 seasons competing in the Geelong and District Football League with the twin highlights coming in 1969 and 1970 when they procured back to back Jarman Cup victories. (The Jarman Cup was effectively the GDFL's third tier competition.)
John Devaney - Full Points Publications