Football is known to have been played in Euroa as long ago as the 1870s, and the current club can trace its origins as far back as 1880. However, it was not until 1894, and the formation of the Euroa District Football League, that regular, formal competition was embarked on.
Euroa won the EDFL in the competition’s first season, as well as at least once more, but records from this period are scant.
In 1913 the club was a foundation member of the Waranga North East Football Association and repeated its achievement of a couple of decades earlier in the EDFL by winning the fledgling competition’s inaugural premiership. With the exceptions of a two season stint in the Goulburn Valley Football League in 1939-40 and three wartime seasons back in the Euroa competition Euroa remained in the WNEFA until 1970. During the post-world war two period in particular, the Magpies enjoyed considerable success, and indeed their final fourteen seasons in the competition yielded no fewer than eight premierships. In both 1963 and 1969 they won the flag unbeaten.
The last six of these WNEFA premierships were achieved under the coaching of Dick O’Bree, who was also at the helm as the club began life in the GVFL in 1971. Right from the outset, the Magpies laid down the gauntlet to the league’s eight other teams, winning thirteen matches in a row before tasting defeat for the first time against Shepparton. This proved to be just a minor hiccup, however, as all the side’s remaining fixtures were won. In the grand final clash with Lemnos, played in biting winds and frequent, squally showers, Euroa blew their opponents away with a sensational 10 goal third term after scores had been deadlocked at the main break. The Magpies eased off somewhat in the final quarter, but still won with considerable comfort by 30 points, 20.16 (136) to 16.10 (106).
Euroa’s only other grand final appearance in the next couple of decades came in 1975, but on that occasion Kyabram had their measure. In what was described in the local press as “a match of extremely high standard” the two teams traded blow for blow until three quarter time, at which point scores were level. During the final term, however, the Bombers edged away on the strength of superior fitness to win by three straight kicks, 14.12 (96) to 11.12 (78).
Euroa’s fortunes went into steady decline after the ‘75 grand final, and It was not until 1990 that they once again tasted premiership success thanks to a stirring come from behind grand final defeat of Rochester. Despite being 27 points in arrears at one stage, the Magpies never relented in their aggressive attack on ball and man, and in the end the Tigers’ resistance crumbled. The last quarter saw Euroa assume complete control to run out winners by 17 points, 18.13 (121) to 16.8 (104). Two of the Magpies’ best were full forward Paul O’Bree, whose 6 goals for the match gave him a season’s tally of 106, and defender Mick Williams, who kept his opposite number goalless. Watching proudly from the sidelines were the two players’ fathers, Dick O’Bree and Gavan Williams, who had played prominent parts in Euroa’s previous GVFL premiership win in 1971.
The Magpies have not added to their senior premiership haul since 1990, but they came mighty close in 2005, a season in which they did everything right except when it counted most. Having sustained just 1 defeat all year in topping the ladder going into the finals, they cruised into the grand final on the strength of convincing wins over Mansfield, the only team to have beaten them during the home and away series, and Seymour. Opposed by Seymour again on grand final day, however, Euroa were found wanting and went under by 11 points.
The crushing disappointment of this loss hung over into 2006 when only 10 wins from 18 matches were recorded and the side failed to qualify for the finals. At the end of the season coach David Gleeson announced that he would not be continuing in the role because of work commitments in Melbourne, but he later had a change of heart and verbally agreed to continue for another twelve months.
The Magpies performed creditably during the 2007 home and away rounds, finishing with a 12-6 record to qualify for the finals with some comfort. However, their season was then brought to a peremptory end by Mansfield, who scored an emphatic elimination final victory by 73 points. A year later they dropped right down the list to eighth (of twelve) after managing just 7 wins from their 18 home and away matches. Subsequent returns have tended to mirror this - or worse, as exemplified by a wooden spoon in 2011. Balancing the ledger somewhat, the Magpies qualified for the finals in sixth place in 2015, which was where they ultimately finished after losing to Kyabram in an elimination final. In 2016 they dropped down the list to eighth after finishing with an 8-10 win/loss record. Then, in 2017 they once again qualified for the finals and ultimately finished fifth before just missing out on finals participation a year later when they came seventh. This was followed by a drop of a couple of places in 2019.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications