With two dozen senior grade premierships to their credit the Devils have to rank as one of Victorian country football’s most successful clubs. However, the last of those flags was won more than thirty years ago. Since defeating Beulah in the 1976 Southern Mallee Football League grand final the club has endured what might most charitably be termed mixed fortunes. At their nadir around the turn of the century, these included discussions with the Yaapeet Football Club about a possible merger. In the end, Hopetoun opted to go it alone, and Yaapeet went to the wall. By contrast, recent seasons have seen the Devils suggesting that the corner might well have been turned, and more glory days may be imminent. In 2007, for example, all three grades contested the finals, with the thirds going on to win their grand final. A year later the thirds went ‘back to back’ with the reserves also qualifying for the September action.
Hopetoun Football Club first engaged in official fixtures during the first decade of the twentieth century. By the time of the onset of world war one the club had procured a pair of Mallee Football Association premierships, and it promptly added a third when the competition resumed after the war in 1919. During the inter-war years there were few more consistently successful clubs anywhere in Victoria than Hopetoun. By the time the Devils crossed from the MaFA to the Southern Mallee Football Association in the mid-1930s they already had no fewer than thirteen flags under their belt. By the time the SMaFA went into mothballs because of world war two they had added three more, claimed in successive seasons between 1937 and 1939.
After the war, the Devils initially made it seem as though their dominance of the 1920 and ‘30s was going to be maintained. Premiers in 1947, they lost a thrilling grand final by 2 points to Brim the following year, but there then followed an unprecedentedly long spell of failure. The 1950s produced three grand final appearances, but no flags, and the 1960s started disappointingly as well, with Beulah downing Hopetoun by 39 points in the 1961 grand final. Finally, in 1965, the Devils broke through for a long overdue premiership, after comfortably accounting for Beulah in the grand final. Final scores were Hopetoun 14.16 (100) defeated Beulah 10.13 (73). Twelve months later the Devils again went top when they scored a 14.12 (96) to 9.7 (61) grand final victory over Yaapeet. The 1967 season brought a third consecutive grand final appearance, but no premiership as the Purples scrambled and clawed their way to revenge by the narrowest of margins. The final scores of Yaapeet 12.10 (82) to Hopetoun 11.15 (81) suggest that the Devils may have been a trifle unfortunate to go down, but bad kicking is, as they say, bad football.
In 1969 Hopetoun brought the decade to an end in ideal fashion with an 11.12 (78) to 7.11 (53) grand final triumph at the expense of Rainbow. The 1970s proved to be another halcyon decade, with the Devils’ senior grade side contesting seven straight grand finals between 1970 and 1976, winning four and losing three. One of the defeats, in 1974 at the hands of Beulah, came in a replayed grand final. The previous season had seen Hopetoun amass the astonishing score for a grand final of 33.13 (211). Opponents Beulah managed just 13.6 (84).
The Devils’ 1975 and 1976 flags, which proved to be their last to date, were also achieved versus Beulah, by margins of 65 and 21 points respectively.