Details of the early history of the Dimboola Football Club are patchy, but in common with other towns in the Wimmera region Dimboola certainly had its own football team as early as the 1880s, and possibly before. Although occasional attempts were made to introduce regular, organised competition to the area, it was not until 1902, and the establishment of the Wimmera District Football Association, that Wimmera had a well administered, wholly viable competition of its own. Dimboola did not enter the WDFA until 1908, when it brought the number of teams in the competition to four, but after just one season it withdrew, and it would not be until after world war one that the club would truly begin to establish itself.
Between 1919 and 1922 Dimboola competed in the West Wimmera Football League, winning premierships in 1920 and 1921. In 1923 the club crossed to the Wimmera Football Association, precursor of the Wimmera District Football League. The period from 1927 to 1937 would see Dimboola enjoying unparalleled success, winning five premierships from eight grand finals. Not all the premierships were won in the same competition: in 1932 Dimboola left the WDFL for a season back in the West Wimmera competition, before spending the period from 1933 to 1936 in the Mid Wimmera Football League. In 1937, Dimboola was one of nine founder members of the Wimmera Football League, the competition in which the club has participated ever since.
Dimboola’s first WFL flag came in the competition’s inaugural season after a 15.14 (104) to 13.15 (93) grand final defeat of Stawell. Three years later the same two teams again played off for the premiership, with Stawell turning the tables by a 9 point margin in a low scoring affair.
From 1941 to 1945 the WFL was in recess because of the war, although an unofficial competition calling itself the Wimmera Football Association operated in 1945, with a Dimboola team among the half a dozen participants. When affairs resumed in earnest in 1946 Dimboola had an excellent season, culminating in a grand final win over Warracknabeal. There then followed a prolonged period of decline, however, with only a single finals appearance in the eleven years from 1947 to 1957.
The 1958 season saw the ‘Roos, under the wily coaching of former West Adelaide player Doug Thomas, back on the premiership trail and contesting their first grand final in twelve years. Opposed by reigning premiers Ararat, Dimboola posted a handy 4.3 to 0.5 in the opening term, and seemed well on course for victory, but over the remaining three quarters the Rats reigned supreme, adding 12.15 to 3.8 to win convincingly by 39 points.
Hardened by their finals experience of the previous year the 'Roos of 1959 claimed a memorable premiership victory after battling through to the grand final from the first semi final. In that grand final, with the charismatic figure of Doug Thomas again calling the shots, they had to draw on every last ounce of resilience, determination and courage to fend off the grand final challenge of Warracknabeal, which they ultimately did by the barest of margins, 7.12 (54) to 7.11 (53).
After the heroic triumph of 1959 it was to be more than a quarter of a century before the ‘Roos again experienced premiership success. During the early 1980s they boasted a powerful line-up that got as far as the grand final in 1982 and 1983, only to lose to Horsham on both occasions. Revenge was quickly served up, however, and could scarcely have been sweeter, as Dimboola inflicted the Demons’ only defeat of 1985 when it mattered, and hurt, most - on grand final day.
There then followed another prolonged premiership drought although in the meantime there were some near misses. After bowing out of premiership contention at the first semi final stage in 2004, they reached the next two grand finals, losing on both occasions to Horsham. In 2006, however, there were suggestions that the gap between the two sides might be narrowing. In the second semi final, the Demons trounced the ‘Roos by 77 points, but on grand final day Dimboola, in losing in the end by 45 points, registered a score of 20.6 (126), which on most occasions would, needless to say, have been comfortably good enough for victory.
Given the promise shown in 2005 and, more particularly, 2006, the ‘Roos’ performances in 2007 would have to be regarded as disappointing, with a 32 point first semi final loss to Horsham Diggers bringing an emphatic curtain down on any premiership aspirations. The 2008 season was even worse as the ‘Roos tumbled right down the list to sixth after managing just 6 victories from their 16 home and away matches. Even worse was to follow with the 'Roos plummeting to last in 2009, but after that the team began to show signs of improvement. After finishing eighth (of nine) in 2010 they qualified for the finals in both 2011 (fourth) and 2012 (third). Then, in 2013, they broke through to claim their first senior grade premiership for thirty-eight years. After topping the ladder ahead of the finals they accounted for Horsham in the second semi final by 5 points before going on to thrash surprise grand finalists Horsham Saints 16.15 (111) to 7.13 (55).
The last four seasons have seen the club's fortunes decline significantly. They finished sixth in both 2014 and 2015 before plummeting to the wooden spoon in 2016 after managing just a single win for the year, a result that was duplicated in both 2017 and 2018. The 2019 season brought modest improvement as the side's tally of four wins from 16 games saw them rise two places on the premiership ladder.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications