Gawler Central has endured something of a topsy-turvy existence, incorporating demotion to B Grade on a couple of occasions, a six-year period in abeyance, but also considerable premiership success. The club was formed in 1889, and entered the Gawler Football Association the same year. It managed to claim a premiership in only its second season, and by the end of the 1890s had added another four, including one that was won jointly with Gawler South. During these early years, premierships were decided on the basis of teams' ladder positions after the home and away matches and Gawler Central did not contest its first grand final until 1905. Opposed by Gawler South, Centrals won a hard fought encounter by 14 points, 10.6 (66) to 7.10 (52). A year later the same two sides confronted one another on grand final day but the result was reversed, Centrals kicking themselves out of contention in losing by a goal, 3.13 (31) to 5.7 (37).
Between the wars Gawler Central was a frequent grand finalist, but only twice, in 1919 and 1936 was its successful in claiming the flag. This period also included a two season stint in B/reserve grade football.
After the second world war the club’s penchant for unsuccessful grand final appearances continued. Between 1950 and the Gawler and Districts Football Association’s final season in 1986 the Tigers played off for the senior grade premiership eleven times, but only in 1953 against Gawler South, and 1983 against Willaston were they successful.
Since 1987 Gawler Central has competed in the Barossa Light and Gawler Football Association. To date the club has contested seven senior grade grand finals, emerging victorious from four of them. In 1991 the Tigers overcame Tanunda by 25 points, 14.15 (99) to 10.14 (74), while ten years later they accounted for the grand final challenge of Kapunda by a 15 point margin, 12.16 (88) to 10.13 (73). Their third lag was procured in 2014 by means of a 20.12 (132) to 14.14 (98) grand final defeat of South Gawler. The grand finals of 2013 against Tanunda, 2015 versus Nuriootpa and 2016 against Barossa District were all lost. In 2017 the Tigers slumped to second from last on the ladder after winning just four and drawing one of their 16 minor round matches. They finished the 2018 season in the same position after winning just twice while their tally of three wins in 2019 saw them again finish second from bottom.
In 2020 the BL&GFA ran on a reduced scale basis because of the coronavirus pandemic. The minor round sw each side play just seven matches and the Tigers topped the ladder after winning all of theirs and went on to clinch the premiership with a 20.14 (134) to 11.10 (76) grand final defeat of South Gawler.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications