Based on a brief history, written by Pat Kerin
THE Cootamundra Australian Football Club will mark a major milestone this weekend, chalking up 60 years since the formation of the club
The anniversary will be celebrated in style when the Blues play a home game at Clarke Oval against Murrumbateman on Saturday, June 8.
The Cootamundra Australian Football Club, originally called the Cats, was formed at a meeting held in the Cootamundra War Memorial Library on January 12, 1960.
A few weeks later, the club was accepted to play in the Central Riverina Football League and their first match was played at the Cootamundra Showground on Saturday, April 23, 1960.
While this first game against Boree Creek resulted in a one-goal loss 8.16 (64) to 8.10 (58), a month later the Blues had their first win, defeating RAAF 5.11 (41) to 4.10 (34).
The Cats went on to win another two matches in their inaugural season.
The club's captain/coach for the first three seasons was Maurie Cousley who had previously played with North Wagga.
In 1963, the club changed to the Carlton jumper and its name to the Blues, and also acquired land opposite Jubilee Park to create a standalone home ground. After plenty of hard work - ripping out trees, levelling, removing stones - the first match was played at Clarke Oval, named after the club's first secretary Jim Clarke, in April 1964.
The Blues made their first grand final in 1965, going down to Marrar by 14 points.
However, the 1970s was a golden era for the club, winning three flags and being runner-up once. Much of this success can be attributed to coach Ron Milthorpe.
The 1980s started off with a first grade premiership, a 25th-anniversary celebration in 1984, reserve grade premierships in 1985 and 1988, and the first grade title in 1989.
The next decade started with a premiership in 1992 and a grand final loss in 1993. There was no title in 1996, but John Read rewrote the goal kicking records - 168 goals in 20 matches (average 8.4), including a club record of 25 against Junee at Junee.
Two more reserve grade flags were won in the 1990s - 1994 and 1997 - along with 40th celebrations in 1999, but the 2000s would bring not only change, but despair.
The Blues made finals in 2000, but the next three years resulted in two wins from 48 matches and 2003, with an average losing margin of 232 points and players regularly doubling up from reserve grade to firsts, would be their last year in the Farrer league.
Cootamundra explored joining the Murrumbidgee Valley Football Association in reserve grade as well as AFL Canberra, but were refused.
However, AFL Canberra relented and the Blues were admitted to play in 2004.
The first three seasons playing in Canberra resulted in finals appearances and in 2006 on-baller James Quarmby won the league best and fairest.
However, in 2007 a drop in playing numbers forced the club to withdraw from the competition and forfeit the last six matches, with its future in doubt.
The Blues regrouped in 2009, finishing sixth and celebrating 50 years of footy, before making the preliminary in 2011. Despite missing out in 2013, then 17-year-old Dylan McDermott won the league B&F.
In 2014, the Blues broke through for their first premiership in AFL Canberra. After finishing with a 16-1 record as minor premier, they defeated Yass by 40 points with McDermott best on ground. (Luke Webb won the league B&F and Sandy Maskell-Knight won the goal kicking - 72.)
In 2015 and 2017, the Blues were beaten grand finalists, but in 2017 the club fielded a women's side for the first time.
In 2018, the club challenge itself and played up a division (three), finishing seventh. Jimmy Finucane tied in the league B&F and won the league goal kicking (46).
Half way through 2019 the men's and women's sides have had a number of solid wins, with the men definite premiership contenders and the women potentially playing finals.
Auskick has been a part of the Blues' structure for over 25 years, with 40 registered players this season. The Blues fielded junior teams in the Wagga competition for over 20 years.
The ladies auxiliary (1962 to 2003) was also vital in the club's history, raising thousands of dollars.
Netball was also a part of the club from 1996 until 2003, winning the Farrer League A grade title in 2001.
- Firsts: 1973, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1989, 1992
- Reserves: 1985, 1988, 1994, 1997
- AFL Canberra: 2014
- Netball: A grade 2001