The Beginning

Early in February 1954 Don Eddy Secretary of the Strathmore Progress Association convened a meeting calling for the promotion of an Under 17 Football team to meet the needs of the boys in the area. This proposal has been earlier discussed on the annual meeting of the Progress Association held on November 26 at the Strathmore State School.  Mr B Jackson Secretary of the Essendon Football League attended the February meeting and spoke on all requirements of sound promotion for the Mores Under 17 formation with a particularly strong plea for parental support. Four fathers and 24 boys attended another meeting and a working committee was formed. A letter from Essendon Council Deputy Town Clerk dated March 17, 1954 to the Strathmore Progress Association revealed that Strathmore had been allotted Cross Keys Reserve for football games on Saturday mornings with North Essendon Methodists co-tenants.  And so the Strathmore Stars Junior Football Club was formed with the gold and navy blue colours, which are proudly worn and displayed today.

A multi coloured blue patrons ticket was produced for the club launching with Arthur Manson acting president and R Tait vice president. Don Eddy was secretary while Bob Adams Jnr. handled the finances. Bob Adams Snr. and Syd McGain were joint coaches. Hard work, recruiting of personnel and fund raising became the driving ambition of the new body and on Saturday April 24,  the Mores had their first game against Essendon Baptists St Johns at Cross Keys. The Mores showed heaps of enthusiasm. Competition was very intense and although Mores won only two games for the year, a bright future was to lie ahead for the club.

Alf Pearce was recruited into the ranks by Syd McCain. Alf is rightfully known as the virtual father of Strathmore Football Club and his wonderful administration as secretary in the late 50’s right through to the 70’s helped the Club achieve the success and great esteem it has today. Strathmore continued to play on the undulating Cross Keys Ground for many years, but on some days games had to be transferred to Holmes Rd. No. 2 Oval because of the muddy conditions of the Keys.

The club had a theme song to the tune of the American spiritual Marching to Georgia which began with the words – Hurrah, Hurrah, the Strathmore boys are we, Hurrah, Hurrah, we lead were ere we be. We are the best club from the Murray to the sea, we are the best club in Victoria. The time honoured words were changed some years to cheer, cheer the gold and the blue etc. Those early days could be termed the dark ages of Strathmore with the primitive facilities that the old pavilion offered (we shared with North Essendon Methodists). The rooms had a switchboard, which featured a power lead that ran from the board to curator Bill Gray’s kitchen next door. It was quite common for somebody to trip over the lead disconnecting the power supply while the boys were showering and changing.

The first Strathmore senior side took the field in the B Grade section in 1957 and Syd McGain was senior coach although still very active with the Under 17’s. Bill Wilkinson and Bill Gray were others to become club mainstays during that era. Ern Smith was president in 1957 and Keith Bussell secretary. The ladies played a big role in Strathmore in the Cross Keys days and Mesdames McGain, Mason, Smith, Mitchell, Bussell, Adams, worked tirelessly with stalls, raffles, match preparations etc. They set the foundation for the first ladies committee formed in 1963 with Mrs Mitchell at the helm and Mrs Cockerill treasurer. In 1968 the body became officially known as the Strathmore Ladies Football Club Committee with Mrs Dot O’Brien president Mrs Joy McGain secretary and Mrs Jean Millman treasurer.

In the late 50’s the club was lead by Keith Bussell with picture nights, picnics, radio sports nights, and the ever popular 10/- raffle helping to keep the club buoyant and lasting friendships formed. Smorfall (lucky ticket no.) was another good money-spinner. Venue for the club presentation/dance evenings was the RSL Hall Holmes Road Moonee Ponds and Bill Hutchinson was a regular presenter at this function. First aid assistance was a problem in the early years with the lack of trainer attendants but people volunteered and soon learnt the basics. The club began to expand as young couples moved into growing Strathmore and surrounding district’s as their kids became very involved with the club. Additional junior teams were entered by Strathmore with Under 13 and 15 competiton’s (Under 13’s initially played with Northern District before joining the EDFL).

Strathmore was to become the greater junior force in the whole competition and dominated the scene as it still does today. Under the initial skilled guidance and leadership of Col Morrison (Under 13) and Jeff Nickson (Under 15) Mores won premierships with monotonous regularity. Under 13 (1) took off the flag in 1967, 68, 69, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81. The Reserves scored in 79 and 81. Div 1 Under 15 won during 69, 71, 72, 73, 80 and 81 with Div 2 successful in 1980.

A council street sweeper named Vic Lenane endured him to the hearts of players and supporters. It was common knowledge that a whiff of old Vic’s towel was enough to revive anyone or the sight of him running onto the field. Vic was just another who contributed to the Mores survival. Strathmore shifted away from the Keys around 1962 and played a season at Oak Park Swim Centre using an old tin shed and toilets as changing rooms. In 1964 Strathmore entered a milestone in club history when it became the sole football tenants of its new home, Lebanon Park in Mascoma St along side Moonee Ponds Creek. The Mores used a tin shed in that season as the pavilion was only partly built.

With only a couple of teams, the club battled along for support and stalwart Wally Abraham and myself recall sitting on fruit boxes at the back of the room near the creek having an ale with only a handful of players. Premierships were elusive as the club had only been Runner’s up. Sunday football commenced a new era for Strathmore with the picnic type atmosphere and it gave many families the chance of participating in the club administration and life. Under 11’s and Under 9’s also helped to put Mores on the map with premierships in the late 70’s. The challenge of preparing Under 17 teams proved tough for the Mores with three flags in 70, 76 and 77 and a Div 2 pennant in 1964. Mores had many talented players and finished in the four and in the grand final on many occasions but found the big one elusive. A great deal of the Strathmore teams Under 13-15 success was due largely to the magnificent contributions of Syd McGain and Bill Wilkinson. Syd founded the Cross Keys Midgets who trained and were taught the skills of the game during cold winter mornings. Boys travelled from all over Melbourne and even as far afield as Rosebud to attend the clinics which proved even more popular when pies and drinks were produced. Undoubtedly McGain, Bill Wilkinson and helpers had a profound effect on the boys who played later for the Mores and some went on the VFL ranks.

The Strathmore club had a taste of senior success with B Grade flags in 1967, 71 and 73 and A Reserves in 1974 but the ultimate aim was to prove its total strength by winning the most honoured award in the entire competition the A Grade pennant. Mores had won its way to A Grade but failed to be a real force in that section. History was made in 1981 when Strathmore, led by captain -coach Peter Owens, proved too much for old rivals West Coburg at Windy Hill.
A jubilant Bob Leathers had the No. 1 role as President (he had succeeded a long term contributor in Ron Middleton) Jeff Griffiths was Secretary.  Further A Grade success followed with Flags in 1984, 1989,1998, 2005, 2006 and more recently 2011 and 2014.