Bairnsdale Football Netball Club
Venue: Bairnsdale City Oval, McArthur Street Bairnsdale, 3875
Mailing Address: PO Box 479, Bairnsdale 3875

President:Michael Mann
Vice PresidentLindy Bills
Secretary:Karen Edgell
Treasurer:Bernie Eastman
Football Operations:Chris Cook
Netball Opertations:Lindy Bills
Football Coach:Logan Austin
Netball Coach:Alyshia Kennedy


Bairnsdale Football Netball Club was formed in 1877. The Redlegs name originated from the colour of the socks worn in conjunction with initially a blue & white guernsey with a red sash before switching to the now iconic navy jumper with a red sash.

No official records exist of matches Bairnsdale played in until 1885 when the town hosted the visiting Essendon team

Their enduring rival Sale also formed in 1877 and, along with Maffra the three clubs played matches against each other until the turn of the century. “The Old Firm” of Gippsland football was established. The Redlegs won the initial 3 way challenge in 1890 and followed it up with wins in 1893-94

The Redlegs won back to back flags in 1902-03 and won a further 4 before the onset of WWI in 1915.

Bairnsdale claimed victory over Traralgon in 1928, the first of a 3-peat beating Sale in ’29 & Traralgon again in 1930. Jack Davis played in the 28/29 premierships before joining St Kilda where he won 3 B&F’s.

The Great Depression started to bite and travel was becoming arduous with games v Yarram, Traralgon & Yallourn contributing to the club going into recess in 1935. They returned 12 months later, aided by the departures of Traralgon & Yallourn.

The Redlegs were back as an onfield force and Norm Stone won the Club’s first Trood Award in 1939 before competition was suspended due to the war.

Before becoming a Geelong Hall of Famer, Bruce Morrison played full back in a Redlegs 3peat … back 2 back in the Bairnsdale-Bruthen League and Premiership success over Sale in 1947 upon Bairnsdale’s return to the Gippsland League. Bruce joined Geelong after winning the Trood Award in 1947 and made an immediate impact winning the Club B&F in 1948 as full back. He represented Victoria and played in back 2 back premierships with the Cats in 51 -52. 

Coincidently, Bairnsdale also won premierships in 1951(Sale)-52(Maffra) with former Morwell coach Jack Spriggs (Trood Award ’51) in charge as the Redlegs dominated the decade winning 6 flags from 8 grand final appearances. Don “Dumpy” Calvert was a Trood Award winner in 1950.

Bairnsdale resisted joining the Latrobe Valley League in 1954 with players unwilling to accept the travel involved. Sale took advantage of the Redlegs’ absence and tasted immediate success which in turn upped the campaign for Bairnsdale to follow suit.

Interest in joining the Latrobe Valley League was constant and following a defeated vote to join in 58 the Redlegs first season came in 1960.

Former South Melbourne player Eddie Lane continued as coach in 1960 and the Redlegs finished 3rd in that year.

By the time Kevin Coverdale won the Redlegs’ first Trood Award & Rodda Medal in 1961, the 21yo had played in 3 premierships and won two Club B&F’s. His Hawthorn debut was delayed following a serious car accident in 1962 however in 1963 he held down CHF, played in a GF and was awarded VFL Rookie of the Year.

In Coverdale’s absence, Traralgon beat the Redlegs in 1963 and when he returned to coach he took them to the 1967 Grand Final – a match that ended in a devastating 6pt loss to Moe. A preliminary final loss in 68 under Trood Award Rodda Medal winning coach John Gallus then saw the Redlegs’ fortunes began to nosedive through the 70’s.  Bairnsdale had a brief resurgence making the finals in 1975 under Trood Award Rodda Medalist coach Ray Christie.

The Club limped through the remainder of the decade and were involved in high level talks with VCFL & LVFL executive regarding their status in the LVFL. The goal for 1981 was to improve the playing list. However, under new coach Trevor Fletcher, the Redlegs went on to win their first LVFL premiership, getting the job done over long time rival Sale. 12 bus loads of supporters headed to the game in Moe and for those who were unable to attend, the game was televised live on local station GLV8. The majority of the team were Bairnsdale & East Gippsland locals and included young guns Brian Royal & Tom Alvin who both went on to stellar VFL/AFL careers. Local legend Bruce Cowell won the Stan Aitken Medal for best player on the ground.

1982 saw a first round exit from the finals and 1983 was considered one that got away. The team was playing good footy and seemed, by some accounts, a stronger unit than ’81 however late season injuries to key players had the season end with a preliminary final exit. The Reserves were victorious in ’83, claiming our first seconds Premiership since 1966.

The mid 80’s – mid 90’s was highlighted by 6 B&F’s by David McMahon, including 4 in a row from 1984-87.

Lack of success and a major player shortage saw the Redlegs drop out of the LVFL at the end of the 1998 season. Bairnsdale joined the EGFNL and dominated the competition. Across 11 seasons the Redlegs won 8 premierships from 10 grand final appearances. Bairnsdale also saluted for 4 A Grade netball Premierships including a 2000-02 3-peat.

Bairnsdale rejoined the Gippsland League in 2011 in a major Club restructure. Bairnsdale abandoned their reserves team and in doing so sent players & families to EGFNL & ODFNL Clubs. Without the requirement to field a reserves team in the GL, players not gaining senior selection would return to play with an EG or OD Club with which they had aligned.

This proved successful in gaining re-entry to major league football & a was a strong move for the benefit of football in East Gippsland and the opportunity for players to prove themselves against Gippsland’s best. However, it was extremely difficult to manage and inhibited both onfield success and Club loyalty to families, supporters & players.    

Bairnsdale reintroduced their reserves team to the GL in 2019 and qualified for finals with an 11 win season.

Senior football & A grade premiership has eluded the Redlegs since rejoining the competition however Thirds 2012, 2013, 2016 Fourths 2018 C Grade 2015 have brought home silverwear for the trophy cabinet. Source & Extracts: A September to Remember by David Johnston

Bairnsdale Coach, Logan Austin leads out the Redlegs. Image: Wazshots

Gippsland League Premierships

Reserves1966, 1983
Thirds1986, 1987, 1995, 2012, 2013, 2016
A Grade 
B Grade1996
C Grade2015
17 & Under 
15 & Under 
13 & Under