The Castlemaine Football Club was reportedly established in 1859, which, if true, would make it among the oldest in Australia. During its early years it only engaged in scratch matches against teams from nearby towns, but in 1877 it commenced formal competition as a founder member of the Castlemaine Football Association.
Although football was enormously popular throughout Victoria during the nineteenth century it was not always accorded due prominence in the local press, and records of results in the CFA are patchy. However, it is known that Castlemaine enjoyed premiership success at least twice, in 1895 and 1897, as well as finishing as runner-up on numerous occasions.
In 1925 Castlemaine entered the ‘big time’ by joining the powerful Bendigo Football League in which, apart from an extended hiatus during and just after world war two, it has competed ever since. The club proved extremely competitive right from the start, contesting the grand final in its first four seasons, although only once, in 1926, was it successful in procuring the premiership.
The 1930s, by contrast, produced meagre pickings, with a losing grand final against Sandhurst in 1934 the closest the Magpies came to claiming a second BdFL flag. That second flag did not arrive until 1952 when an inaccurate Sandhurst was comfortably overcome on grand final day by 29 points.
If grand final appearances have been sporadic over the past half century Castlemaine’s reputation as a producer of top ranking football talent would have to be the envy of most other country football clubs. Castlemaine is well known as the birth place of one Ronald Dale Barassi, but, unlike his father Ron Barassi senior, the great man never actually played for the town’s football club. Among those who did so, however, were bona fide legends of the game in the shape of Percy Bentley and Jack ‘Skinny’ Titus, plus at least fifteen other footballers who went on to carve out careers in the V/AFL.
Castlemaine’s most recent senior BdFL flag, the fifth in all, was won by means of a 12.11 (83) to 9.17 (71) grand final defeat of Kangaroo Flat in 2000. Recent seasons have been rather less productive, and the seniors have not contested the finals since 2005. In 2010 and 2012 they slumped to the wooden spoon. More recently they finished seventh of nine in 2013, ninth of ten in 2014, seventh of ten in both 2015 and 2016, and ninth of ten in 2017. The 2018 season was little short of disastrous as the Magpies' tally of just one victory in 18 matches consigned them to the wooden spoon, a result repeated after a winless 2018 campaign.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications