With fourteen senior grade premierships to their credit since 1949 the Redbacks have been by some measure the most successful post-war club in the Maryborough Castlemaine District Football League and its precursor the Maryborough District Football League. The club was a member of the competition between the wars but the league’s records for that period are sketchy and it is not known exactly how successful Carisbrook was.
The Redbacks’ first two post-second world war grand final appearances in 1946 and 1947 both resulted in narrow defeats at the hands of Primrose and P&N respectively. After dropping to fourth in 1948 they recovered to claim the 1949 premiership on the strength of an 11.14 (82) to 7.3 (45) grand final triumph over Primrose, an achievement that was duplicated the following year by a slightly narrower margin of 13 points.
Carisbrook contested three straight grand finals between 1953 and 1955 but only the second of these, against Maldon, was won. It was a victory that owed much to straight kicking as the final scores of 9.5 (59) to 6.15 (51) make evident.
The Redbacks commenced the 1960s in fine fashion, reaching four of the first five grand finals for wins in 1960 and 1964, both over Dunolly. The second half of the decade brought only mediocre results, however.
During the 1970s Carisbrook qualified for half a dozen senior grade grand finals, but only those of 1970 and 1976 were won. Another flag followed in 1980 but this would prove to be the last for nineteen years, which remains the club’s longest post-war premiership drought. Since breaking that drought in 1999 the Redbacks have added another five senior grade flags, including that of 2008 which was achieved by means of a 16.17 (113) to 11.2 (68) grand final defeat of Maldon. This came after they had topped the ladder with 16 wins and a draw from their 18 matches and scored a hard fought 8 point victory over Harcourt in the second semi final. The triumph came as the culmination of the perfect day as Carisbrook’s reserve grade and under seventeen teams had also won their respective grand finals. It was the reserves’ sixth post-war premiership with the under seventeens having claimed five.
More recently, the Redbacks claimed the 2012 MCDFL flag thanks to a 10.9 (69) to 6.11 (47) grand final defeat of Navarre. They also met Navarre in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 grand finals but lost every time. Finally, in 2017 they got things right on grand final day, when the opposition was yet again provided by Navarre. The match was hard fought, particularly in the first half, but the Redbacks managed to have their noses in front at every change, and ultimately won by 20 points, 11.7 (73) to 7.11 (53). A year later they went "back to back" when they scored an even more conclusive grand final victory, this time over Natte Bealiba, with scores of 14.11 (95) to 3.5 (23).
Popularly regarded as hot premiership favourites in 2019 the Redbacks reached the grand final having only suffered a solitary reversal all season. However, opponents Natte Bealiba came good when it counted most, and squeezed home by four points.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications