The Magpies began life as the Powlett River Football Club in 1898 and for their first few years only contested matches against Ryanston. In 1910 a formal competition, the Powlett River District Football Association, was established, and Dalyston, as the club was by this time known, was one of four foundation members. The PRDFA did not survive the Great War, however, and the early post-war period saw the emergence of a number of similarly short-lived competitions. Stability was eventually arrived at under the aegis of the Wonthaggi District Football Association, which Dalyston joined in 1923. That year’s premiership decider saw the Magpies capturing their first senior flag by means of a gruelling 2 point win over Boomerangs. Dalyston’s watertight defence was the key to its success on an afternoon when the Boomers did appreciably more of the attacking.
Ten years later, the Magpies had a stake in another premiership, this time in the Western Port Football Association. Owing to a lack of players, the club had entered into a short-term merger arrangement with Glen Forbes, and it was the joint entity which emerged triumphant from that season’s grand final at the expense of North Wonthaggi. Final scores were Glen Forbes Dalyston 14.11 (95) defeated North Wonthaggi 14.5 (89), with Charlie Luke’s haul of 11 goals for the match giving him a season’s tally of 133.
In 1945 the Wonthaggi Football Association, in which Dalyston had been competing, was combined with the Glen Alvie Football Association to produce the Wonthaggi and District Football League. The new competition would only last for ten seasons, but it was a seminal decade as far as the Magpies, who succeeded in winning no fewer than half a dozen of the senior flags on offer, were concerned. Indeed, the 1940s and ‘50s as a whole represented something of a halcyon phase for the club, generating as they did a total of ten grand final appearances for eight premierships, the last two of which, in 1958 and 1959, were won in the larger and stronger Bass Valley Wonthaggi and District Football League. Perhaps the single most noteworthy contributor to Dalyston’s success during this period was Noel Buckley, who coached the victorious premiership sides of 1953-4 and 1958-9. Other key figures included the four McRae brothers, Frank, Malc, Peter and Vince, Alan Ware, ‘Chick’ Handley, Laurie Grinham, Jack Sibly, and Charlie Daly.
‘Bonny’ Connelly was at the helm as the Magpies added two more premierships in the early 1960s, but from 1964 to 1971 they only once contested the finals. Recovery, when it came, was marked, although the fact that eight consecutive seasons of realistic premiership challenge spawned just one flag might be felt by some to represent a disappointment.
The 1980s started poorly, but ended in the best way imaginable with the club’s thirteenth senior grade premiership triumph (the fourteenth if you count the joint 1933 affair). The Magpies were highly competitive throughout the 1990s, a decade which saw the demise in 1995 of the BVWDFL, and the start of a new phase in Dalyston’s existence with admission the following year to the Alberton Football League. In 2015 the Magpies broke through for a first ever senior grade flag in the new competition when they accounted for Fish Creek in the grand final by 82 points, 21.9 (135) to 8.5 (53). Dalyston were also AlbFL grand final losers twice, in 2012 and 2014.
In 2017 Dalyston was one of five Alberton Football League clubs (and ten clubs in total) to transfer to the newly formed West Gippsland Football League. The Magpies qualified for the finals on debut and ultimately finished fourth before suffering a horror 2018 campaign which produced just two wins, consigning them to the ultimate indignity of the wooden spoon. A year later they again won just twice but nevertheless managed to rise one place on the premiership ladder.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications