By claiming the 2018 Bendigo Football League premiership Eaglehawk overtook Sandhurst’s record of 27 such triumphs, making the Two Blues the competition’s most successful club.
Eaglehawk was established in 1880, the same year that saw the inception of the BFL (as the Bendigo Football Association), but it was not until the following season that Eaglehawk entered the competition. By the end of the nineteenth century the club had already enjoyed premiership success on ten occasions, and its status as a league heavyweight was unquestioned. The consistent accumulation of additional flags throughout most of the ensuing century only served to consolidate and enhance that status, although unlike during the 1880s and 1890s the club never really managed to maintain its dominance over extended periods. Indeed, all fifteen of the Two Blues’ twentieth century premierships were won singly, with the first decade of the century the only such period to yield more than two.
Eaglehawk’s 2007 premiership triumph sprang from the team’s ability to find its best form when it mattered most. After losing their final home and away match of the year to minor premiers Gisborne by a demoralisingly emphatic 93 point margin, the Two Blues might reasonably have been expected to fall in a heap in their qualifying final clash with a Sandhurst side which had won comfortably when the two teams last met a month earlier at Eaglehawk’s home ground of Canterbury Park. However, far from collapsing, the Two Blues inexplicably produced their best performance of the season in romping to victory by 114 points. A week later they stunned most observers by handing Gisborne only its second defeat of the year when they edged home in a high scoring second semi final by 7 points. Even so, most of the smart money was on the Bulldogs when the same two teams again confronted one another a fortnight later in the ‘big one’.
The match was even more hotly contested than the second semi final, but the ultimate result was the same, with the Two Blues triumphant at the death by a bare 2 points, 12.12 (84) to Gisborne’s 12.10 (82). Given that the Bulldogs had been the ‘team to beat’ for most of the previous six seasons, and indeed had bested Eaglehawk in the two sides’ previous grand final clash in 2005, the 2007 flag must rank as one of the most memorable in the club’s history.
Twelve months later the Two Blues had the satisfaction of going ‘back to back’ for the first time since the 1890s. After topping the ladder with a 14-2 record they overcame Gisborne in the second semi final by 24 points and then scored a rousing come from behind victory over Golden Square in the grand final. Final scores were Two Blues 14.11 (95) defeated the Bulldogs 12.17 (89).
Eaglehawk made another grand final in 2011 only to suffer a calamitous 135 point defeat at the hands of Golden Square. More recently the Two Blues lined up in the 2017 grand final against Strathfieldsaye but they were outplayed to the tune of 32 points. A year later the Two Blues obtained the aforementioned 27th senior BFL flag thanks to a 19.8 (122) to 11.7 (73) grand final trouncing of their previous season's nemesis, Strathfieldsaye. A third consecutive grand final meeting of the two clubs saw the Storm hold sway on this occasion.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications