Leongatha

Leongatha Football Netball Club
Known as: The Parrots
Colours: Green & Gold
Founded: 1894
Home Venue: Leongatha Recreation Reserve

Senior Coach: Trent McMicking
A Grade Coach: Lyndell Bruce

Executive: Mal Mackie (President), Alister Fixter (Vice President) Terri Rickard (Secretary) Joel Piasente (Treasurer)

History: Founded in 1894, just three years after the township adopted the name Leongatha (it was originally known as Koorooman), the Leongatha Football Club made an immediate impact by being crowned premiers in their first season competing in the Great Southern Football Association. Alas, it was the beginning of a nomadic period in which the club competed in several associations before claiming a second premiership in 1905 (Woorayl Football Association).

After an 18-year premiership drought, which included a three-year recess during World War I, Leongatha won their third premiership in 1923 (Korumburra District Football Association), then secured back-to-back titles for the first time by winning the 1924 flag as well (Southern Gippsland Football Association). That ’24 season proved one of the proudest in club history. Days after defeating Korumburra in the Grand Final, Leongatha hosted Footscray, who were fresh off having claimed the Victorian Football Association premiership before shocking Victorian Football League powerhouse, Essendon, in a charity match, to earn the unofficial title of “Champions of Victoria”. A noted slick-moving team, Footscray faced wet and muddy conditions as they ran on to the Leongatha Recreation Reserve and, despite peppering the goals in the final quarter, were unable to overrun the home side. By winning 6.7 (43) to 4.14 (38), Leongatha were the new champions of Victoria.

The 1930s proved Leongatha’s first ‘golden era’, with senior premierships in 1931-32 and 1934-35; a chance at five consecutive titles was interrupted in 1933, when no association could accommodate the senior team. Perhaps, no one wanted to play this mighty Leongatha team! Another premiership in 1940 gave the club five pennants in a decade—a remarkable achievement. It took another world war to halt Leongatha’s momentum, with the club—like many throughout Australia—forced into recess from 1941-45. 

There was more silverware in the 1950s, with senior premierships in 1951 (Central Gippsland Football League) and 1955 in the South Gippsland Football League, where the club would remain until 1968. Leongatha’s depth during this period was telling, with the reserves and, later, thirds teams, constantly threatening as premiership contenders. The thirds, in particular, emerged as the finest in the region, winning a remarkable 12 premierships in 13 seasons (1956-57, 1959-68). It was little wonder the seniors enjoyed another ‘golden era’ during the 1960s, winning four premierships (1960-61, 1963-64).

By the late-1960s, with success now an expectation at Leongatha, club administrators began agitating for a move from South Gippsland to the higher standard Latrobe Valley Football League, seen as the premier competition in the region and one of the strongest in the State. Led by ambitious young president, Frank Welsford, the Parrots finally achieved their ambitions when the club was admitted into the LVFL after the 1968 season. After a year finding its feet at the higher level, Leongatha, under the coaching of former North Melbourne defender, Terry Benton, won arguably their most famous premiership in 1970, defeating Moe to prove to everyone that the club belonged on the same grounds as other powerful clubs like Traralgon and Sale. Three more Grand Final triumphs in the next 12 years (1977, 1979, 1982) solidified Leongatha’s position as an LVFL giantkiller, despite the town’s population being dwarfed by most of its competitors. They won again in 1989.

The 1990s proved a significant decade for the Parrots. The seniors won football premierships in 1995 and 1997, plus lost Grand Finals in 1990, 1994 and 1998. While, for the first time, the local netballers amalgamated with the football club, ensuring more success and celebratory times for Leongatha, with the women on the court as competitive and determined as the men on the grass. Leongatha’s A-grade side won three premierships in the 1990s (1992, 1998-99), where famous footballing family, the Salmons, extended their dominance in green and gold via their netballing relatives.

After winning the 2001 senior premiership, Leongatha experienced a rare barren period over the next 15 years. It was left to the reserves, juniors and netballers to keep filling the silverware cabinet. But, by 2015, due to a new wave of young talent rising through the club’s ranks, the tide began to turn at senior level. And how! The Parrots returned to the Grand Final stage in 2015 and again in 2016, with repeat failures on the big stage steeling the club for its finest era. Premierships were won in 2017-18, there was a narrow defeat in the 2019 decider, then the pandemic forced an abrupt end to the 2020 season. The Parrots appeared on track for another title in 2021, before Covid struck on the eve of the finals. Given the side was on top of the Gippsland League ladder at the time of cancelation, many at the club view 2021 as the “one that got away”.

When community sport resumed in 2022, Leongatha was primed and ready, storming to a famous premiership over Sale. This was the prelude to one of the club’s greatest triumphs the following season, when, just as they were being written off, the 2023 team, under the astute leadership of coach Trent McMicking and captain Tom Marriott, turned their form around in September to claim a famous Grand Final victory over long-time rivals Wonthaggi.

Premiership Captain Tom Marriott (Right) hoisting the 2023 Gippsland League Premiership Cup with Senior Coach Trent McMicking (left)

As the Leongatha Football Netball Club embarks on its 130th season in 2024, the pride and expectation fostered at the Parrots over generations ensures that the club will remain a competitive member of the GFNL for many years to come.

Affiliated Leagues:

1894-96 Great Southern Football Association;
1897-1902 Played sporadic games. It is not clear if we were in a league or not during this period;
1903-04 Great Southern Football Association;
1905 Woorayl Football Association;
1906-10 Korumburra District Football Association;
1911 Leongatha & District Football Association;
1912-14 Korumburra District Football Association;
1916-18 Club in war recess;
1919-23 Korumburra District Football Association;
1924-32 Southern Gippsland Football Association;
1933 We couldn’t find a senior League/Association to play in this season, so didn’t play;
1934-40 Central Gippsland Football Association;
1940-45 Club in war recess;
1946-53 Central Gippsland Football Association;
1954-68 South Gippsland Football League;
1969-2024 Latrobe Valley/Gippsland Latrobe/West Gippsland Latrobe/Gippsland League

Senior Best & Fairest

4 – Ian Salmon (1970, 1978, 1980, 1984)
3 – Tim Maxwell (1975-77), Tom Marriott (2016, 2018, 2022)
2 – Col Boyd (1982-83), Peter Lynch (1979, 1985), Gary Webster (1991, 1993), Peter Helms (1987, 1994), Al Fixter (2002, 2005), Tom Dowd (2006-07), Aaron Heppell (2021, 2023)
1 – Lyle Miller (1969), Gary Clavarino (1971), Terry Benton (1972),  Greg Fennell (1973), Mark Washfold (1974), Wayne Lynch (1981), Des Thorson (1986), Trevor Riseley (1998), Allen Riseley (1989), Chris Day (1990), Tim McCaughan (1992), Darren Read (1995), Peter Dixon (1996), Christin Macri (1997), Billy Clarke (1998), Craig McGannon (1999), Matt Mansfield (2000), Michael Johnston (2001), Geoff Mackay (2003), Paul Le Page (2004), Ricky Delphine (2008), Brad Rayson (2009), Justin Sutherland (2010), Beau Vernon (2011), Tas Clingan (2012), Cade Maskell (2013), Zac Vernon (2014), Dale Houghton (2015), Luke Bowman (2017), Chris Verboon (2019)

3 time Senior Best & Fairest, Tom Marriott
#NameGames
1Peter Helms235
2Gary Webster233
3Sean Westaway231*
4Al Fixter227
5Trevor Riseley226
Leongatha's Sean Westaway

A Grade Best & Fairests

4 - Nicola Marriott, Kate Browne
3 - Kate McCarthy, Trina Riseley
2 - Jo Crofts, Andrea Pearce, Sally Rayson, Ebony Best

A Grade Runner Up Best & Fairest

4 - Kasie Rump
3 - Hannah Flanders
2 - Penny Salmon, Kath Reid, Kate Govers (Browne) & Nicola Marriott

Leongatha Recreation Reserve, Roughead Street, Leongatha VIC
P.O. Box 254, Leongatha. 3953