Based in Mildura, the Imps were formed in 1929, but had to serve a four season apprenticeship in the Mildura and District Football League’s reserves competition before being granted senior status. After winning consecutive reserve grade flags in 1931-2 it was clear that such status was warranted, and the Imps wasted little time establishing themselves at the higher level. They won their first senior grade premiership in 1936, downing South Merbein in the grand final by 7 points, and they also reached the grand finals of 1937 and 1940, losing to Merbein and Red Cliffs respectively.
Football in the Mildura region was suspended because of the war between 1941 and 1943, and when the MDFL recommenced in 1944 it lasted just one season before giving way to a new, broader-based competition, the Sunraysia Football League. Imps were among the eight founder members of this competition, and have gone on to enjoy unparalleled success. They won their first SunFL flag in 1949, overcoming Red Cliffs in the grand final by 8 goals, and then promptly added a second with a hard fought 2 point defeat of the same opponents a year later. Further back to back premierships were claimed in 1956-7.
The 1960s proved to be the least successful decade in Imperials’ history, with consecutive losing grand finals in 1962-3-4 the closest they came to procuring a fifth flag. That fifth flag finally arrived in 1971, courtesy of a 10.17 (77) to 7.12 (54) grand final win over Mildura. Imps went on to reach three more grand finals during the ‘70s, but only that of 1977, against Robinvale, was won.
During the 1980s Imps became only the second team in SunFL history to claim three consecutive senior grade premierships when they overcame Red Cliffs in the grand finals of 1986-7-8. They would go one better in the 1990s with their thumping 20.14 (134) to 12.7 (79) grand final triumph in 1995 clinching a league record fourth successive senior flag.
Imperials continue to be almost perennial finalists, and over the past three decades in particular have proved themselves to be without doubt one of Victorian country football’s pre-eminent clubs. Since the turn of the century the Imps have contested another eight senior grade grand finals, for wins in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2013. Their most recent flag in 2013 was attained by means of a 12.8 (80) to 6.10 (46) grand final defeat of an Irymple team which had earlier claimed the minor premiership and accounted for Imps in the second semi final with some comfort. Making Imperials' triumph even more noteworthy was the fact that they had endured the indignity of finishing last in both 2011 and 2012.
Since claiming their last flag in 2013 the Imps have finished second to Red Cliffs in both 2014 and 2015, eighth in 2016, and fifth in both 2017 and 2018 on what is a nine team premiership ladder.
The Imps' tally of nineteen senior grade premierships is a Sunraysia Football League record.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications