Berri was formed in 1909, the same year that saw the formation of the Murray Football Association. However, the club did not commence its involvement in the competition, which was a precursor of today’s Riverland Football League, until the following season. In 1912 Berri reached the grand final for the first time, but lost by 32 points to Renmark Town. The club’s first premiership arrived the very next year at the expense of Fairview Rovers, Berri winning by 19 points, 5.8 (38) to 2.7 (19).
The Murray Football Association suspended operations between 1914 and 1918, and when it resumed it was renamed the Upper Murray Football Association. The first post-war premiership went to Berri, which scored a 6.3 (39) to 2.4 (16) grand final defeat of Renmark. The club then went on to enjoy further success with grand final triumphs against Glossop in 1920 and Fairview Rovers in 1921. Taking into account the wartime intermission this effectively gave Berri four successive flags.
The 1920s proved to be a highly memorable decade for the Demons who, after their 1921 triumph, went on to contest another six out of a possible eight grand finals. In 1923, 1925 and 1929 - all against Barmera - they were successful.
The ensuing decade proved, if anything, even more noteworthy as Berri qualified for every grand final except that of 1937. No fewer than half a dozen of these, against Renmark in 1930, Barmera in 1931, 1933 against Wailkerie, 1935 against Barmera, and 1938 and 1939 at the expense of Wailkerie, ended in victory.
The UMFA underwent another period of wartime recess between 1941 and 1945 and when it resumed the Demons once again stamped themselves as a leading side, but their first four post-war grand final appearances - in 1946, 1947, 1950 and 1951 - all resulted in losses. The club’s first post-war premiership finally arrived in 1952 when Loxton was accounted for on grand final day by 22 points, 7.11 (53) to 4.7 (31). Berri’s next grand final appearance two years later brought further success, this time at the expense of Renmark. The Demons’ last grand final clash of the 1950s came in 1955, and ended in defeat at the hands of Loxton.
The Demons’ habit of success was maintained during the 1960s as they contested grand finals in 1960, 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968. The last three of these resulted in victories.
In 1972 the Upper Murray Football Association was renamed the Riverland Football League. The Demons have so far taken part in nine senior grade grand finals under the RFL banner, with the following results:
1972 Berri 11.10 (76) Loxton 6.7 (43)
1973 Berri 15.11 (101); Barmera Monash 14.12 (96)
1975 Berri 17.8 (110); Wailkerie 13.9 (87)
1977 Renmark 18.14 (122); Berri 10.14 (74)
1978 Renmark 14.15 (99); Berri 12.9 (81)
1980 Berri 11.10 (76); Barmera Monash 10.11 (71)
1992 Berri 16.14 (110); Wailkerie 14.6 (90)
2002 Berri 19.13 (127); Wailkerie 16.9 (105)
2010 Berri 19.9 (123); Barmera Monash 12.11 (83)
Recent seasons have seen the Demons experience mixed fortunes, including finals appearances in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016 and wooden spoons in 2013, 2017 and 2018. The 2019 season brought a fifth place finish while a year later no senior football was played because of the coronavirus pandemic.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications