The Cats are one of four New South Wales-based clubs in the Murray Football League, which also contains eight clubs from the Victorian side of the river. The club dates back to the late nineteenth century but details of its achievements are patchy until 1933, when it first competed in the MuFL. After struggling initially Finley gradually improved and in 1938 qualified for a grand final for the first time. However, Numurkah emerged victorious by 16 points in a tight, low scoring affair.
The Cats’ second MuFL grand final appearance in 1951 also saw them confronted by Numurkah, and although the margin was narrower - five points - the result was the same. Two years later Finley and Deniliquin contested the first and, to date, only drawn grand final in league history. The replay might easily have finished the same way, but in the end the Cats scraped their way to victory by a single straight kick, 10.17 (77) to 11.5 (71).
The 1950s brought two further grand final appearances, against Tocumwal in 1954 and Deniliquin in 1958, and Finley was successful on both occasions by margins of 41 and 5 points respectively.
The Cats’ next grand final outing, in 1968, ended in defeat at the hands of Berrigan. There then followed successive grand final clashes with Deniliquin in 1971 and 1972, with Finley winning the former match by 9 points, but losing the latter by 4 goals.
The club’s only back to back premiership triumphs came in 1981 and 1982 at the expense of Numurkah and Cobram respectively. Then, between 1986 and 1988 the Cats established a new benchmark by contesting three consecutive grand finals for the only time in their history. However, only the last of these, against Jerilderie, was won. Since 1988 the closest Finley has come to claiming an eighth senior grade flag has been in losing grand finals against Barooga in 1993, Rumbarala in 2014 and Nathalia in 2016. Following their 2016 reversal the Cats endured a dismal 2017 campaign which produced just a single win, consigning them to the wooden spoon. They showed considerable improvement a year later, qualifying for the finals for an eventual finishing position of fifth.A dip in fortunes followed over the course of a 2019 season which produced just seven wins and a draw from 18 matches and saw the Cats slump to ninth place on the 14 team premiership ladder.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications