Imperial Football Club was established in 1931 when the River Murray Football Club was split into two, with soon to be arch rivals Ramblers as the newly formed second club. The purpose of the split was to enable the establishment of a local association, although as this initially comprised just the two clubs the word ‘association’ scarcely seems appropriate. Inevitably, Ramblers and Imperial confronted one another in the inaugural River Murray Football Association grand final, with Imperial holding sway by 8 points after a tough, low scoring clash. The following year the ranks of the Association were bolstered by the inclusion of Jervois, which promptly spoiled the picnic by racing to the premiership. Imperial would not taste grand final success again until after world war two.
The Blues’ second flag in 1946 was a prelude to more than a decade of dominance which saw them contest a total of eleven grand finals in fourteen seasons, winning half a dozen of them. The club was less successful in the 1960s, but still managed to claim a couple of premierships from three grand final appearances. The period from 1975 to 1988 was another stellar phase for Imperial, spawning a dozen senior grade grand final appearances, and five flags.
The club’s 1998 and 1999 premierships were among its most memorable as it went through both seasons unbeaten. Such feats tend to be rare but the Blues gave further proof of their pre-eminence as a club by claiming a third undefeated flag in 2002. Since then, further grand final successes have followed at the expense of Mannum in 2009 and Ramblers in 2011. The Blues finished as runners-up in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2013 and 2015. The next couple of seasons saw them finish third (2016) and seventh and last (2017) before recovering magnificently in 2018 to take out their twenty-first senior grade flag. Top of the ladder after the minor round they suffered a disappointing second semi final loss to Mannum before getting back on track in the following week's preliminary final when they accounted for Jervois by 53 points. The grand final re-match with Mannum was a bona fide thriller with the Blues coming from behind to steal victory by just 2 points, 9.6 (60) to 8.10 (58).
John Devaney - Full Points Publications