Paul Dunne – the recreation officer at the Hawthorn City Council (Boroondara), approached the Hawthorn Football Club and Vicsrapid to run a clinic for people with an intellectual disability.
The first clinic was held on June 18th and because it was a very wet day the clinic was held in the gym.
Chris Pelchen (Hawthorn Football Club’s Promotion and Development Officer) wrote in his report that “I believe the best description of the day’s activities came from Andy Angwin (Hawthorn F C Property Steward, B & F winner and State player). While the clinic was being conducted he stood at the property room door, watching and smiling at the events going on. He came to me the next day and said:
‘Last night I went home and told my wife what I’d seen in the gymnasium. No sooner had I described everything to her than we both started crying in the kitchen. You should have seen us’ ”
Six Hawthorn players including Peter Curran and Robert Dixon conducted the clinic.
Following this clinic a Round Robin Competition was held at Rathmines Oval on August 27th
About this time Graeme Baines (Chadstone CRU) phoned a radio talk-back football program asking if there were any teams or organizations able to donate jumpers for his team, or the funds to purchase them. His call was heard by Police Commissioner, Mr Mick Miller. Besides being a high-profile Hawthorn supporter, Mick was a member of the AFL Foundation. He rang Graeme to suggest that the Foundation, whilst not prepared to support individual teams, would be keen to provide a grant to establish a competition.
On October 21st a second skills and match day was held at Glenferrie Oval following a meeting of a steering committee with representatives from Hawthorn FC(Chris Pelchen & Peter Ryan) Richmond FC( Barry Rawlings) VFL(Bob Batty) Hawthorn City Council (Roseanne Cregan) and VICSRAPID (Robyn Smith) The name Football Integration Development Association was agreed on.
The original Committee consisted of Bob Batty (President) Peter Ryan (Secretary) Roseanne Cregan (Treasurer)
A grant of $6,000 from the AFL Foundation enabled jumpers to be purchased as preparation for the Association to begin competitive matches in 1991
The first round of matches on March 7th involved support from a number of organizations that was to greatly assist the program.
Channel 9’s “A Current Affair” program hosted by Jana Wendt did a feature on the lead –up to the first game and a coverage of that historical day. This generated interest from country areas and interstate.
Hawthorn made the opening day a compulsory activity for all senior players. They took the players through warm-up exercises and added great atmosphere to the launch. Many of the staff including President Trevor Coote, CEO John Lauritz and Coach Alan Joyce also gave up their time to see the project off to a flying start. The Chairman of the AFL Commission, Ross Oakley and Dame Phyllis Frost (a member of the AFL Foundation) were also in attendance.
Incorporation was completed and the work done by Robyn Smith (VICSRAPID) was of great importance and vital for the establishment of the competition. Incorporation was registered on 19th August 1991.
Six teams competed in the first season of matches played at Rathmines Road Oval. They were:
Chadstone Chargers – Churchill Ave CRU – Graeme Baines
Werribee Blues – Ray Allwood, John Grosvenor, Les Sutherland
Mitcham Tigers – RAID Nunawading – Chris Morley
Hawthorn – VATMI
Roytal Magpies – Bernadette Dillon
Heidelberg -Hi City Industries – Bill Williams, Frank Callery
Two other teams played a couple of matches later in the season. They were:
Broadmeadows – Linda Sexton, Justin Smith
Keilor Saints – Danny Willsmore
The Grand Final, played on a boggy Glenferrie Oval, in front of a large and vocal crowd saw unbeaten Chadstone defeat Mitcham, 19-14-128 to 2-5-17. John Kennedy Senior, whose son Bernard played for Chadstone, presented the trophy and medallions to the premiers and all players were presented with a medal as a memento of this historic first season.
Bob Batty was elected as president. Other executive members were Val McIntosh- vice-president, Peter Ryan –secretary, Rosanne Gregan – treasure
Four new teams entered the competition in 1992, namely Doncaster 808, Footscray Underdogs, Karingal Bulls and the Ringwood Blues and with twelve teams competing it was decided to have two divisions.
In Division 1, Hawthorn Centrals beat Chadstone Chargers 8.11.59 to 2.7.10. The Hawthorn Football Club Perpetual Cup was presented by Hawthorn CEO John Lauritz.
Footscray Underdogs won the Division 2 premiership beating the Karingal Bulls 11.7.73 to 9.12.66. Dame Phyllis Frost presented the trophy.
Some very exciting events occurred during the season. The first was FIDA’s involvement in the Premiers Cup. FIDA teams played at half time at Premiers Cup fixtures in Ballarat, Bendigo, Kyneton, Frankston and Diamond Valley. The Department of Sport and Recreation assisted with a grant to cover costs of transport, Jumpers, shorts, and refreshments for all teams competing. At half-time in the Grand Final of the Premiers Cup at the MCG, the Werribee Toyota Crows and the Chadstone Chargers played a great game of football which was televised live on Channel 2 throughout Victoria.
The game was the first game of football on the MCG since the construction of the new Great Southern Stand and provided the thrill of a lifetime for all competing.
The final highlight was a Lightning Premiership held at St. James Park, Hawthorn on September 6th. Teams from Bendigo and Ballarat joined the metro teams on this great day.
The season also saw the beginning of Les Sutherland’s involvement in FIDA. Les was to provide great passion and assistance to FIDA and was the second person to be made a Life Member of the association.
1993 was a year of consolidation with the structure of two divisions remaining. After
Round one all matches were played at St James Park. This resulted from our decision to provide medical staff from Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre for all our matches. This became an obvious necessity after two serious injuries in the couple of rounds of practice matches before the season.
The first combined representative match was played against Bendigo at the QEO as part of the Vic Health Country Championship Series. A return match was played at St James Park as part of our Grand Final day.
In Division 1 Chadstone Chargers 15-7-97 defeated Hawthorn Centrals 3-0-18 and in Division 2 Werribee Toyota Crows 9-6-60 beat Roytal Magpies 4-4-28
During the season we received a $12,000 grant from Sport & Recreation, Victoria to:
a) develop a junior program in the metropolitan area and
b) development a country program
The employment of a co-ordinator and the need for a base for that person let to another major development.
After approaching the major football bodies in the state a meeting was held with the Victorian Amateur Football Association and they agreed that our co-ordinator be housed at their headquarters at Elsternwick Park.
Other benefits included:
- Matches were to be played at Elsternwick Park or Brunswick (the home of North Old Boys)
- Finals to be played at Elsternwick
- The VAFA Umpires Association would supply umpires.
- The competition was to be promoted, and fixture be included in the VAFA handbook.
Vice President Val Mackintosh and Bob Batty (who had stepped down from the committee) were great drivers of this link to the VAFA. It was to be a major development in the establishment and growth of the program.
1994 saw the playing of the first interstate match against South Australia. This was played at Adelaide’s Football Park at half time in the Victoria v South Australia mainstream match. Age journalist Larry Schwartz’ coverage which included interviewing the players at training and travelling to the game on the team bus resulted in a great article in the Age.
A visit into the change rooms by Ted Whitten and his message; “Look fellas you’ve got the Big V on, so you’ve got to get out there and stick it up those crow-eaters. Unfortunately the Vics were beaten but the foundations were laid for what was to come.
Chadstone Chargers won the Division One Premiership and Frank Sullivan’s Ringwood Blues won in Division Two.
The link with the Victorian Amateur Football Association is formally established and Bendigo becomes the first country club to join the league. The Vics won the second interstate match at the MCG. Once again it was played at half time in the VIC/S A match which saw Ted Whitten’s lap of honour at his last public appearance.
With three divisions the winners were Bendigo Warriors 1, Keilor Saints and Karingal Bulls.
Trevor Neale became co-ordinator and Coles Myer became the first official sponsor.
With the added support of the VAFA the competition started to develop rapidly. Brett Connell’s role at the VAFA with the Coles Myer support meant that many formalities involved in the running of mainstream competitions were introduced into FIDA. These included Registration/Medical forms and Match Day Team Sheets.
A monster Gala Day incorporating the Interstate Match was held at Glenferrie Oval. That match was preceded by a challenge match between a combined Southern Special Schools team and a combined Northern Special Schools side. This was followed by a monster clinic for over two hundred students from a large number of special schools
The games were generally played in great spirit but unfortunately many matches were very one-sided and tribunal sittings became commonplace.
The Division Three Grand Final could only be described as a disgrace. A new team from Emerson Special School called “The Marlins” beat Broadmeadows but the game was marred by the poor behaviour of both teams.
It was, however, a great season in the development of the program.
Heidelberg beat Bendigo(1) in Division 1. Karingal defeated Maribyrnong in Division 2 and the Marlins defeated Broadmeadows in Division 3.
The lead up to the 1997 season produced somewhat of a bombshell. Two of the original “powerhouse” clubs in the Chadstone Chargers and the Mitcham Tigers announced that they could not field a team. After a special training session at Elsternwick Park on Sunday February 16th it was decided to amalgamate the two clubs. The new club was to be called the “Lions”.
Ballarat became the second country team to play in FIDA. Geelong also played one match and will most likely play in 1998.
Heidelberg and the Marlins were again premiers.
Both patrons, Dame Phyllis Frost and Mick Miller attended the Grand Final.
Our first presentation night was held at the Hawthorn Town Hall with Hawthorn’s Jade Rawlings as our special guest.
Unfortunately the Marlins, after a short and successful stint in FIDA decided not to participate.
Geelong joined during the season and a very successful clinic at Colac meant they could participate in the near future. The Heidelberg Bombers, RAID Lions and Karingal Bulls won the premierships.
Hawthorn’s Mark Graham was engaged in a work experience program with the City of Boroondara and ran the Gala Day at Glenferrie Oval and also conducted clinics at Bendigo and Ballarat.
Colac and Geelong became part of the competition and after a mid season re-arrangement the competition had two divisions. Eight teams made up Division 1 and nine in Division 2.
Karingal beat North Ballarat in Division 1 and Parkside beat the Mambourin Tigers in Division 2
Whilst Coles Myer still assisted the VAFA in the management ot the program the ANZ became an important sponsor of FIDA.
The annual interstate clash with South Australia formed part of the VAFA Representative Day and the Vics were too classy in an excellent display of our improving skills.
With the increasing number of teams we moved our second central venue from Brunswick to Parkville which had two ovals as opposed to Bruswick’s one. West Brunswick Football Club had been great hosts but we needed to have two ovals.
The Vics finally won a game in South Australia.
Karingal beat the Ballarat Knights in difficult windy conditions on Grand Final day whilst Mambourin Tigers defeated Karingal’s second side in Division 2.
FIDA President, Peter Ryan was awarded an Order Of Australia Medal for his work with the program.