In 1977, there were more prospective footballers in Deniliquin than could be accommodated by the town’s existing Murray Football League member club. It was in a bid to alleviate this situation that the Deniliquin Rovers Football Club was formed.
After struggling in their debut season the ‘Roos improved beyond all reasonable expectation in 1978, winning 13 of their 19 home and away matches to top the ladder prior to the finals. The club’s improvement permeated all four grades, with the reserves emulating the seniors in claiming the minor premiership, the thirds finishing third, and the fourths second. However, not one of the teams managed to go on with the job. The seniors and reserves reached their respective grand finals, but lost by identical 9 point margins to Barooga and Picola respectively. Meanwhile the thirds and fourths both dropped out of contention at the preliminary final stage.
The following year, all four grades again contested the finals, with the seniors, reserves and fourths all heading their respective ladders and ultimately making it through to the grand final. The reserves and fourths duly ‘brought home the bacon’, but the seniors, despite kicking a healthy total of 20.10 (130), lost a thriller by 4 points against Barooga.
The ‘Roos’ frustrations at senior level were magnified during the 1980s as they qualified for the finals in eight seasons out of ten, winning the minor premiership three times, and yet still failed to take the ultimate step. Unsuccessful grand final clashes with Katunga in 1984 and Yarroweyah in ‘85 were as close as they came.
The 1990s were largely disappointing, although Shane Gilligan did manage to coach the side to a losing grand final in 1995. As on every previous occasion, however, the ‘Roos came up short, losing to Waaia by 16 points. Three years later they endured the hitherto unprecedented indignity of going through the whole season without winning a single game.
The present century has seen a sprinkling of finals appearances counterbalanced by a number of flirtations with the wooden spoon and that elusive breakthrough premiership remains unclaimed.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications