Established in 1896, Cowwarr’s first six years saw it engaging only in informal scratch matches against local opponents. The club’s competitive history got underway in 1902 when it became a founder member of the Heyfield District Football Association, finishing last of three clubs. Three seasons later it won its first premiership after defeating Heyfield by 5 points in the grand final, 4.9 (33) to 3.10 (28). The club’s second flag came in 1912 in the Toongabbie Football Association.
After world war one Cowwarr competed initially in the Rosedale Football Association, finishing runner-up to Rosedale in 1920. The 1921 season saw the club transferring to the Cowwarr Football League where it would remain until 1954. It enjoyed premiership success in this competition on five occasions, twice during the 1920s, and three times in the 1930s.
In 1955 the CFL amalgamated with the Sale District Football League giving rise to the Sale Cowwarr Football League, precursor of the North Gippsland Football League. The Saints’ early years in the competition were unmemorable but the early 1960s saw them emerge as a force. They reached their first grand final in 1961, losing to Rosedale, and claimed their first flag two years later thanks to a grand final triumph against Gormandale.
The Saints were particularly strong during the 1970s, regularly qualifying for the finals, and emerging victorious from two out of three grand finals. The ensuing decade brought consecutive grand final appearances in 1986 against Gormandale and 1987 against Heyfield, the latter of which was won. After 1987 the Saints did not again contest a senior grade grand final until 2005, when they went down heavily to Heyfield. A season later they made amends with a laborious 11.21 (87) to 10.7 (67) grand final defeat of Rosedale. They made the finals again in 2007 but bowed out at the first hurdle against Gormandale. In 2008 they managed just 7 wins from 18 matches to drop to seventh place on the eleven team ladder. More recently, the Saints have tended to finish mid-table or worse, although they did manage to qualify for the finals in 2012 and 2013.
Cowwarr’s other grades have not generally performed as well as the seniors. The reserves won flags in 1977, 1984 and 2014 while the thirds did so in 2013.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications