In 1931, Clunes was one of the founder members of the Clunes Football Association, reaching the competition’s inaugural grand final, but losing by 3 points to Smeaton. The club’s first CFA premiership came after its next grand final appearance three years later. Opposed by Newlyn, Clunes won a low scoring affair by 15 points, 6.15 (51) to the Cats’ 5.6 (36).
The 1935 grand final saw Newlyn gain conclusive revenge with a 39 point win, but this was a prelude to a long period of mediocrity, or worse, for Clunes. The club’s next grand final appearance did not arrive until 1950, when a straight kicking Creswick triumphed by 29 points. Clunes proved to be an almost perennial premiership threat during the 1950s, claiming three flags from seven grand finals. The good form continued into the ensuing decade which produced another half a dozen grand final appearances for wins in 1960 against Creswick and 1963 at the expense of Korweinguboora.
The 1978 season was the CFL’s last, and one of the most dramatic in its history as Clunes and Newlyn played out the competition’s first ever grand final draw. By contrast, the replay was all one way traffic as Clunes surged to victory by 12 goals.
Once the dust had settled on the 1978 season the CFL and Ballarat and Bacchus Marsh Football League merged to form the Central Highlands Football League, with Clunes among the new competition’s fifteen founder members. Over the years the CHFL has tended to be quite evenly contested, with Clunes’s tally of three senior flags exceeded by only two other clubs. The premierships came in the competition’s inaugural year at the expense of Ballan, against Ballan once more in 1993, and against Dunnstown in 1997. More recently the Magpies have tended to struggle, for example finishing 12th in 2015, 16th in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and 17th and last in 2019.
- Hepburn (eight) and Springbank (five).
John Devaney - Full Points Publications