Between the wars Daylesford flitted back and forth between a number of different competitions without calling any of them home for more than half a dozen seasons. After world war two the club spend the period between 1946 and 1951 in the Castlemaine Football League before transferring to the Ballarat Football League, in which it had formerly competed from 1929 to 1931.
The Demons, as Daylesford were known at the time, struggled during their early seasons in the BFL, but after reaching the finals for the first time in 1958 they rapidly became a force. They made the grand final for the first time in 1960, but lost to Maryborough by 10 points. Twelve months later they achieved revenge against the same opponent, winning 13.10 (88) to 8.13 (61) after trailing by 10 points at half time. Full forward Jim Gull booted 7 of the Demons’ goals in the grand final, giving him a BFL record tally of 159 for the year. Gull was the leading goal kicker in the BFL eight times.
Daylesford’s fall from grace after the 1961 triumph was unexpectedly swift, with the side finishing second from last in 1962 before succumbing to the 1963 wooden spoon. The Demons remained in the BFL until 2005 without ever really suggesting that they might double their flag haul in the competition.
All that changed following the club’s admission to the Central Highlands Football League in 2006. After finishing third in their debut season the Bulldogs, as the side was now nicknamed, went all the way in genuinely dramatic fashion in 2007. The home and away rounds ended with Daylesford in unbeaten pole position having accumulated an amazing percentage of 331.3%. Opposed by reigning premier Waubra in the second semi final, the Bulldogs seemed ‘home and hosed’ at the half way mark when they led by 40 points, but the ‘Roos then mounted an astonishing fight back to win by 9 points.
The Daylesford players then had to draw on all their reserves of energy and resolve to hold off a dogged Hepburn side in the preliminary final, which they ultimately did by a single straight kick. The grand final rematch with Waubra was tense, tight and far from pretty, but the Bulldogs always seemed the better side, and eventually edged home by 8 points, 10.12 (72) to the Kangaroos’ 9.10 (64). Luke Adams’s feat in claiming a second successive Geoff Taylor Medal as the league’s best and fairest player was icing on the cake for Daylesford.
The 2008 season brought a second successive grand final appearance, but the Bulldogs went down badly to a straight kicking Hepburn side which amassed 18.3 (111) to Daylesford’s 7.9 (51). Amends were swiftly made during a 2009 season which culminated in a revenge 10.12 (72) to 9.13 (67) grand final defeat of the Burras. In 2010 the same two clubs contested the grand final with Hepburn proving successful on this occasion with scores of 18.11 (119) to 8.3 (51). Daylesford made it five grand finals ion a row in 2012 only to lose again, this time to Waubra. The Bulldogs returned to the winners' enclosure in 2012 by means of a 12.10 (82) to 11.7 (73) defeat of Buninyong in what was their sixth successive premiership decider.
After contesting the finals in 2013 and 2014 Daylesford dropped down the list to fourteenth out of eighteen clubs in 2015. The 2016 season brought a measure of improvement as the Bulldogs made it as far as a semi final loss to Gordon while in 2017 it was Buninyong who inflicted the coup de grace at the same stage. Then, in 2018 the side endured a somewhat testing time, winning just two of their 16 home and away matches to finish above only Clunes and Carngham Linton on the seventeen team premiership ladder. This result was precisely duplicated in 2019.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications