A nation that forgets its past has no future. (Sir Winston Churchill)
Why write about the past? Well, there’s more of it. (John Cleese)
To invest in Kew Football Club’s future we must preserve the past – an institution that remembers and values its past has a strong basis on which to move confidently into the future. Standing on sure ground, it develops the ability to embrace the new.
Kew has always endeavoured to do this so that any prospective developments planned for the future, in any era, will therefore be an embodiment of the Kew way of doing things.
Kew Football Club is first recorded in Mark Penning’s Origins of Australian Football publication in 1876. From humble beginnings in the Junior Ranks of 3rd Rate, 2nd Echelon ranks the club grew and won its first Premiership during season 1880 in the 2nd Rate ranks of the Hawthorn District Zone competition. A second flag was added in 1886 and the Kew Football Club had grown in stature and was pressing for inclusion into more senior levels.
The success of 1886 brought large numbers of players and a Kew 2nd XX club was formed along with a Kew Junior club. These latter two were autonomous clubs but players transferred freely between the three clubs. The Kew Junior club was an Under Age team, probably U21 or U23. A small range of senior players (ranging from three (3) to five (5) were allowed to participate) presumably for coaching purposes.
Senior First Rate ranks were attained in 1889 when Kew was accepted into the prestigious Victorian Junior Football Association (VJFA). This position was held until the end of 1891 when, after a winless season, the club dropped to play in the lower 2nd and then 3rd Rate ranks of that competition. The effect of the 1890’s depression had caused the youth of the area to find work in the country and/or interstate and many also went off to the goldfields of Western Australia. The entry into VJFA ranks for 1889 coincided with the club gaining use of Victoria Park No. 2 Oval, sharing with Studley Park FC. Victoria Park No 1 Oval was used each Saturday by Kew Lacrosse Club.
In 1896 the VJFA made a decision that all clubs must play on a fenced oval and with Victoria Park being unfenced the club reluctantly went into recess for two years.
Resuming in 1899 in the Suburban Junior Football Association the club quickly changed competitions after Round 4 when a vacancy occurred in the more senior Metropolitan Junior Football Association (now VAFA) replacing the St Francis Xavier (now Xavier College) club.
For season 1900 the MJFA decided on a change of name to Metropolitan Football Association. This occurred because influential MJFA President, Mr Lawrence H. Adamson believed that his football association was now a senior competition and the tag “junior” no longer applied. He brokered a deal that the existing MFA (of 1899) become the MJFA and thus Adamson’s MJFA (of 1892-99) became the new Metropolitan Football Association.
However, after the 1900 season, the Kew Football Club transferred to the newly renamed Metropolitan Junior Football Association.
Kew continued in MJFA ranks until 1911 and now with more player strength and depth wished to play in a more senior football competition and so joined the Reporter District Football Association (now Eastern FL) for the 1912 season. The club remained in the Reporter competition until the season end of 1919 (excluding recess 1916-18 due to World War I). Relative success was obtained when the club played finals the first three seasons, finishing 4th, 3rd, and Runners Up respectively. In 1914 hopes were high for ultimate success after defeating Ringwood in the Semi-Final. However, Mitcham, the eventual premiers had other ideas and soundly defeated Kew 8 – 9 (57) to 4 – 7 (31) in the Preliminary Final at the Camberwell Sports Ground. During the 1915 season, Kew was one of three clubs that withdrew mid-season owing to a loss of players due to WWI enlistments thus causing the competition to close mid-season. Reforming in 1919, a third placing was attained on losing the Preliminary Final once again to Mitcham on a windswept Camberwell ground.
The club now believed that it was strong enough to play senior football once again. Therefore its future lay in joining VFA ranks thus a re-entry into the VJFA would be necessary to attain this aim. After an absence of over two decades, an application was forwarded and accepted for season 1920. A slow build-up occurred with a winless wooden spoon first season. However, a gradual improvement over the next few seasons saw seven wins in 1924, and ten wins and a sixth placing in 1926. However, major changes were afoot when the VJFA Executive determined that in order to survive, the competition only needed teams aligned with their VFA counterpart, i.e. a 2nd XVIII. As Kew was not a VFA member and also as Victoria Park was not fenced and Kew Council was not willing to provide such or allow the club to charge an admission fee, it forced the club once again to transfer to another competition.
The Melbourne Districts Football Association which had been taken over by the VFL for season 1925 and renamed Victorian Football League Sub Districts Football Association was advertising for applicants, and Kew was accepted for the 1927 season and immediate success was attained with the winning of the 1927 Premiership. Great success was to follow with further flags in 1929, 1931, 1932, and 1934. The Runners Up position was attained in 1935 and 1939 and finals were played in all but five out of eighteen seasons. For their Premiership successes, Kew became the outright winner of the Penson Cup and La Mascotte Shield. The Bastow Cup was also won outright for individual player team totals in the competition Marcus Clota Best and Fairest Medal.
The Kew Junior Football Club, although autonomous, was the Kew 2nd XVIII and played in the Eastern Suburban Junior Football Association winning a flag in 1925 and Runners Up in 1924. The Juniors joined the Metropolitan Amateur Football Association (now VAFA) in 1926 and changed its name to Kew District (MAFA was now a senior competition and thought the tag Junior inferior). However, in 1927 the Districts also joined VFLSDFA but in the 2nd XVIII section of Division Two and promptly won premierships in 1928, 1929, and 1930. The club was runners-up in 1931 and 1933. The Sub Districts 2nd Division was dropped in 1934 and the club transferred to Eastern Suburban FL but sadly folded after an unsuccessful finals campaign in 1937.
The conduct and unruly behaviour on and off the field of a majority of the other clubs in the Sub Districts led to a change of competitions for season 1949 when an application was sought and won to enter the Victorian Amateur FA. The club was ranked very highly by the VAFA Executive and entry into C Grade was allotted instead of the lower D Grade. Immediate success was attained with the winning of the Minor Premiership and automatic promotion to B Grade under The Argus system of playing finals. However, after the Round 18 match, which was not only a victory over East Caulfield but it eliminated this club from the Final Four. A protest was lodged by an anonymous caller to VAFA Headquarters on the Saturday evening, stating that Kew was fielding an ineligible player, in that he had fought as a professional boxer during his service in the Army during WWII. Found to be true Kew lost not only eight (8) premiership games in which he played, but their place in the finals along with the Minor Premiership and automatic promotion to B Grade putting the disgruntled Round 18 losers, East Caulfield, into the final four replacing Kew.
Undeterred, the 1950 flag was won as Premiers and Champions with promotion to B Grade. In 1953 the B Grade flag was won and in turn, promotion to A Grade was attained. Further flags were added in 1962 (C), 1964 (C), 1966 (B) and 1979 (C). The club would remain competitive in the premier grades throughout the 1980’s, however the ultimate success eluded it, being runners up in 1983 (B), 1987 (C) and 1988 (B). The 1990’s unfortunately saw a decline in on-field performance, with the club falling to E Grade (D2), where it was runners up in 1997 and 1998. The club would eventually fall to D4, where it was runners up in 2004. In 2009, having again been relegated to D4, the club would earn promotion despite a preliminary final loss, with the top 3 sides promoted to D3.
In 2011 the club appointed former Carlton VFL Premiership player Ian Aitken as head coach, who would eventually lead the club to a 34-year–drought-breaking premiership in 2013 versus Elsternwick, a day that also saw the Reserves and Under 18’s claim the ultimate glory – a first in the club’s history to have three sides win premierships on the same day. Promotion to D2 followed in 2014, as the club finished 2nd at the end of the home and away season. In finals the seniors progressed to the Grand Final against St Marys Salesian, earning promotion to D1, and reversed its second semi-final loss to defeat the Saints in a nail-biting 9-point thriller, claiming back-to-back premierships for the first time in over 80 years. 2015 saw the club win its first 12 games again of the home and away season in D1 before finishing 2nd on the ladder at the conclusion of the home and away season. The second semi final would see the Bears topple their much-fancied opponent, former league powerhouse Ormond, and earn a third consecutive Grand Final berth, and promotion to Premier C for 2016. The Bears would repeat the treatment in the Grand Final, winning by 30 points to claim a third consecutive premiership moving up the grades – a feat only achieved a handful of times in VAFA history – and the clubs first and only 3-peat. The return to Premier C would last 2 years before the Bears fell back to D1, where it currently still competes.
A Reserve team was formed once again in 1961, the second year of the VAFA forming that competition. The Reserves team won their first flag in 1963 and has won a further seven (7) premierships (1987, 1988, 1998, 2004, 2009, 2013, and 2019).
An Under 19 team was entered in 1976. Unfortunately, this team only lasted ten years as it was extremely hard to attract sufficient numbers. However, the team does reappear irregularly over the years including their 2019 and 2021 premiership seasons. An Under 18 team was fielded in 1947 in the Richmond Junior Football Association (RJFA), also from 1957-60 in the Melbourne Boys’ Football League (MBFL) and during 2013 in VAFA, winning the flag as Premiers and Champions.
A Club XVIII team played in 1970 and then reformed in 1983 in the Club XVIII Football Association. The Club XVIII won their first Premiership in 1984 and has won three more flags (1989, 1994, and 1997) over the years. The Clubbies have now gelled into a Third XVIII (Open Age) winning a flag in 2019.
An Under 17 team also was fielded from 1968-69 in the MBFL. In 2017 a Colts (U17) team, run by KFC and KJFC in the Yarra Junior Football League (YJFL), was formed and competed until the cancellation of the 2020 season because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. In 2017 the team, almost wholly bottom-age, won a premiership in Colts (3), and in 2018, two sides were fielded, with the bottom-age side claiming the premiership in Colts (4). A junior side, run by KFC, KJFC and Kew Rovers JFC will return in 2023 in the YJFL Youth Boys (Under 18)
In 2014 the club entered two Women’s teams in the Victorian Women’s Football League. Squad numbers dwindled and two sides could not be sustained. One team persisted beyond Round 7 and covered itself in glory by finishing Runners Up by the season’s end. 2015 saw another successful year on the field, with the Women’s team Runners Up again in the VWFL. In 2016, the Kew Women went one better and won the club’s first women’s premiership in Division 1 of the VWFL. The club expanded in 2017, fielding Seniors and Reserves women’s sides in the Northern Football League, both of which played finals that year. Transferring to Victorian Amateur Football Association for season 2018, Kew entered sides in the Premier Division. The Women’s Seniors had immediate success, playing the preliminary final. In the ninth season of Women’s football, the club fielded two sides in the VAFA in 2022, both of which made the finals. The Seniors finished Runners Up, and the Reserves played in the preliminary final.
|2023 (Premier Division)||WOMEN'S SENIORS||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2023 (Premier Division)||WOMEN'S RESERVES||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2023 (D1)||MEN'S RESERVES||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2023 Thirds||WOMEN'S THIRDS||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2022 (Premier Division)||WOMEN'S SENIORS||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2022 (D1)||MEN’S RESERVES||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2019 (D1)||MEN’S RESERVES||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2019||MEN’S THIRDS||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2019||MEN’S UNDER 19s||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2016 (D1)||WOMEN'S SENIORS||Premiers and Champions||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2015 (D1)||MEN’S SENIORS||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2015 (3)||WOMEN'S SENIORS||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2014 (D2)||MEN’S SENIORS||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2014 (D2)||WOMEN'S SENIORS||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2013 (D3)||MEN’S SENIORS||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2013 (D3)||MEN’S RESERVES||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2013||MEN’S UNDER 18s||Premiers and Champions||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2009 (D3)||MEN’S RESERVES||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2007||MEN’S SENIORS||VAFA Most Disciplined Club Award – Division 3||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2005 (2 Red)||MEN’S UNDER 19s||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2004 (D4)||MEN’S SENIORS||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|2004 (D3)||MEN’S RESERVES||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1997 (E)||MEN’S SENIORS||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1998 (E)||MEN’S SENIORS||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1988 (B)||MEN’S RESERVES||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1998 (E)||MEN’S RESERVES||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1998(2)||MEN’S THIRDS||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1997 (2)||MEN’S THIRDS||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1994 (North)||MEN’S THIRDS||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1992||Runners Up |
VJFA Consolation Trophy
|Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1989 (G)||MEN’S THIRDS||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1988 (B)||MEN’S SENIORS||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1987||MEN’S SENIORS||OUTRIGHT WINNERS Four ‘n’ Twenty Pies VAFA Club Championship||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1987 (C)||MEN’S SENIORS||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1987 (C)||MEN’S RESERVES||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1983 (B)||MEN’S SENIORS||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1979 (C)||MEN’S SENIORS||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1979 (2)||MEN’S UNDER 19s||Runners Up||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1966 (B)||MEN’S SENIORS||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1964 (C)||MEN’S SENIORS||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1963 (D2)||MEN’S RESERVES||Premiers and Champions||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1962 (C)||MEN’S SENIORS||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1953||MEN’S SENIORS||Runners Up - K.G Luke Shield Coronation Lightning Premiership||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1950||MEN’S SENIORS||Premiers and Champions||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1953 (B)||MEN’S SENIORS||Premiers||Victorian Amateur Football Association|
|1939||Runners Up||Victorian Football League Sub District Football Association (1st Division)|
|1935||Runners Up||Victorian Football League Sub District Football Association (1st Division)|
|1934||Premiers||Victorian Football League Sub District Football Association (1st Division)|
|1932||Premiers||Victorian Football League Sub District Football Association (1st Division)|
|1931||Premiers||Victorian Football League Sub District Football Association (1st Division)|
|1929||Premiers||Victorian Football League Sub District Football Association (1st Division)|
|1927||Premiers||Victorian Football League Sub District Football Association (1st Division)|
|1927 to 1948||Outright Winners|
- La Mascotte Shield
- Penson Cup
- Bastow Cup
|Victorian Football League Sub District Football Association (1st Division)|
|1914||Runners Up||Reporter District Football Association|
|1886||Premiers||Metropolitan Football (Second Rate)|
|1984 (2)||Premiers||CLUB XVIII Football Association (1983 - 1986)|
|1880||Premiers||Metropolitan Football (Second Rate)|