Evolution of the Henley Football Club
Written & compiled by Evan Bennetts
The Henley Football Club was formed in 1899 and played its 1st season in a competition known as the Port Adelaide Football Association. In the seasons before 1920 the Club was officially known as ‘Henley Beach’ and played at an oval between the Marlborough and Beck streets of the Henley area; An area now known as Beck’s Reserve.
By 1906 the Club was affiliated to a competition called the Suburban United Football Association and in 1907 it won the premiership at the Unley Oval against a side called St. Bartholomew.
1909 to 1919
Throughout these seasons Henley Beach played in a local district competition that would regularly change its name. Titles of the league included the Adelaide & Suburban Association, the South Australian Association and later also became the City & Suburban Association late in the decade.
The season of 1913 was a great success as Henley Beach took out the Division 2 premiership. The Club throughout these periods were led by large family groups such as the Webb brothers and the Roberts brothers.
Grange Football Club
In 1916 the Grange Football Club was established at the Grange Oval by troops returning from World War 1. It played in a competition known as the Adelaide Imperial Association and in 1919 a league called the United Suburban Association. In 1920 the South Australian Amateur Football League resumed play after being suspended throughout the 1st World War as Grange made a successful application to join the reformed league. Before the season began Grange merged with the Henley Beach team to further ensure its strength and standing in the competition.
Henley & Grange Football Club
The 1920 merger saw the creation of the Henley & Grange Football Club and for the next 27 years the Grange Oval facilitated the home of the Club.
In its first ever season in the SAAFL, Henley & Grange played in its first Division 1 Grand Final but were unfortunately defeated by Adelaide University.
In the seasons there after, the clubs success rapidly dissolved as by 1923 Henley & Grange were unable to field a team in the amateur league and endured a season with no affiliation.
West Torrens District Football Association (1924-26)
In 1924 Henley & Grange regrouped and joined a smaller local league known as the West Torrens District Football Association. It played here for 3 seasons and allowed the Club to reinvent itself by not only enlarging its administration but also by hosting major social events. Although not winning a premiership the team was always a finals contender.
New and popular leaders came to the Club such as famous SANFL West Torrens player George Richmond and the highly regarded administrator Cyril Chambers. At this point it is known that the Club colours were red & white.
The 1927 return to the SAAFL
With a return to the SAAFL in 1927, Henley & Grange managed to win games but couldn’t match the stronger sides, eventually being relegated after the 1929 season. It immediately rose to the challenge by dominating the 1930 Division 2 season and as minor premier, contended the Grand Final against St. Peters to unfortunately be defeated on the day. The season also saw Charlie Remnant win the Division 2 league medal. The rise back to Division 1 in 1931 was short lived with a second relegation as Henley & Grange became settled in Division 2 for a couple of years more. The Club colours had evolved to include blue with the red and white. This era also saw the highly regarded administrator Percy Johns Senior join the Club and apply his terrific abilities to the ongoing needs of the Club.
In 1932 former player Max Pontifex won the SANFL’s Magarey Medal.
1st SAAFL Premiership
In 1934 the Club was blessed by the signing of West Torrens player Joe Kinlough from the SANFL to be Captain-Coach. Along with his great leadership, Joe also brought his goal kicking machine brother Alex. With an average of 8.5 goals a game, Alex eventually kicked a total of 112 goals for the season and led the team towards the Club’s 1st SAAFL premiership. It was the Division 2 title and was played at the Thebarton Oval against Exeter (Port Districts) in what was a challenge final.
Henley & Grange dispands
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the Grange Oval was renowned to be a sandpit full of box thorn bushes and large surface dips. The refusal by the council to upgrade the playing area eventually had the Club playing from the Adelaide parklands in 1936. This eventually saw a withdrawal from the SAAFL as the Henley & Grange Football Club completely folded.
Grange Football Club
The following 1937 season saw the Henley & Grange Council finally gain control of the Grange Oval from the Woodville Council as investment into the long awaited upgrades immediately took place. Excitement by the previous Club players and committee saw the forming of a new Club Identity and new affiliation. Members would now strive as the Grange Football Club and play in a rival amateur league known as the Adelaide & Suburban Association. 6 seasons were played here until the Second World War put football on hold in 1943.
World War 2
In the years from 1943 to 1945 most young men were overseas fighting for our country as there was no existence of a Henley or Grange football team in the remaining stocks of football competitions.
1946 Henley Rovers
From the football recess of World War 2, came returning local soldiers and a new beginning for the football club. A creation of a new team known as the Henley Rovers was formed as it was the first independent Henley team since the early 1900s. Whilst playing a young Peter Ardill led the administration duties as the team’s secretary.
A Grange team was also revived as both teams joined a new competition known as the “Independent Sunday Football Association”. Both teams were based at the Grange Oval.
1947 Henley & Grange Memorial Oval
1947 was the year the Henley & Grange Memorial Oval was created at Atkin Street. The Henley players broke away from the Grange Oval and also formed a team identity to be known as the Henley Two Blues. It also joined a newly re-formed West Torrens District Football Association, as did Grange.
The Premiership Streak
From 1950 the A-Grade won 3 premierships in a row playing in the ‘Blue’ division of the WTDFA. The success confirmed the new Henley Football Club identity at the new oval was well & truly on firm ground as in 1953 Henley returned to the South Australian Amateur League.
Club rejoins the SAAFL
To the South Australian Amateur Football League came the Henley Two Blues as the new entrant was placed into the Division 3 of the 1953 season. Current player of 2 seasons and South Adelaide Hall of Fame inductee Don Pryor took the Henley coaching position as the Two Blues went a third season without being defeated in any game, taking its 4th A-Grade premiership in a row.
In club records that still stand today, Arthur Pearce won his 4th A-Grade Best & Fairest award, and Henley’s highest ever SAAFL score of 47 goals & 20 points slaughtered Flinders Park in August managing 1 goal & 3 points.
In the SANFL, Henley’s 1934 premiership Coach Joe Kinlough coached the West Torrens Football Club to the 1953 SANFL premiership.
The next season in Division 2 saw the Two Blues actually lose a game for the first time in many years, when Colonel Light Gardens inflicted a mid season dent on the armour of the another eventual Henley minor premiership. Eventually a 5th premiership in a row arrived at Henley when the boys got past Kenilworth at the Payneham Oval by a goal.
The B-Grade also won a 1954 premiership bringing home the Division 4 flag, as for the first time ever a SAAFL club had won 2 premierships in a season. The B-Grade actually lost the Grand Final but being the minor premier was eligible to play a ‘Challenge Final’ a week later.
Hello Division 1
In 1955, with 6 premierships from 8 grand finals across the previous 9 seasons, the re-established Henley Football Club found itself back in Division 1 for the 1st time since 1936. Having only lost 1 game in nearly 5 years the now powerhouse faced the highest standard of amateur football in the state. Although never truly being thrashed Henley managed only 5 victories in the big league to finish 8th, gallantly avoiding relegation in its first year.
After a great rise to Division 1 and a little success once there, the Henley Two Blues momentum fell away and by 1957 were once again in Division 2. The independent Grange Football Club were also upon hard times and in the following year of 1958 the 2 clubs reunited to once become Henley & Grange. The merger didnt help as the new club dropped to Division 3 in 1959.
Throughout the 1960s it was know that the club had 2 ovals as home matches alternated between Grange Oval and the new Henley Memorial oval.
Nathan Buckley’s Grand Father