Ivanhoe’s Under 19s, the stepping stone from juniors
By Phil Skeggs
Ivanhoe Amateurs originally fielded development teams in the post-war era, playing in the VJFA between 1946 and 1952.
VAFA records show that Ivanhoe was a powerhouse in those early years, reaching the Under 19 finals six out of seven seasons.
The club lost three successive grand finals to Hampton Scouts (1946-47-48) before winning the 1949 Under 19 premiership against Caulfield, 17.26 to 4.9.
It was the first of six Under 19s premierships. The club has been runner-up in 12 grand finals and been finalists a total of 33 times.
The VAFA formed an Under 19 section in 1953 and Ivanhoe won the flag against Hampton Scouts, 16.10 to 10.12.
Ivanhoe won another flag in 1955 against Ormond, 13.8 to 12.13. The Hoers were also finalists in 1954, 1956, 1957, 1961 and 1962.
The VAFA then split the Under 19s into two divisions in 1966 – Junior Section 1 and JS2. Ivanhoe remained a prominent force until the early 1990s.
The Hoers played in three JS1 grand finals (1966-67 and 1977) and three other JS1 finals (1968, 1975-76).
There were four finals appearances in JS2, losing the 1974 grand final to Parkside and winning the 1982 premiership against Banyule, 31.17 to 13.7.
The 1982 team was coached by John Sampson, who had been a member of the 1977 Under 19s grand final team coached by former Under 19 and seniors player, juniors coach and life member David Bartlett. John went on to become club president and a life member during the ’90s.
The VAFA formed a third division – Junior Section 3 – in 1979. The club made the finals in 1986 before taking out the 1987 premiership over Whitefriars, 15.11 to 9.12.
The 1987 team included Chris Tucker, who went on to win a senior B&F in 1990, and later served as club president and is a member of the Team of the Century. Another prominent teammate was the club’s games record holder, Hall of Famer and former captain Peter Rawley, who has been active in coaching and committee roles since he reluctantly hung up the boots after 370 games in 2012.
Between 1993-96, the VAFA grouped the JS2 and lower teams into geographical divisions. In 1996, Ivanhoe’s Under 19s were rolled into a team called Warringal Redbacks, which narrowly lost the White section grand final to St Kevins, 13.13 to 13.10. Warringal also played in the 1998 Red Section finals.
Due to a combination of factors, it has proved increasingly difficult for the club to field an under 19s team since 2000.
In 2014, our Under 19s won a breakthrough premiership against St Bernards, 7.14 to 2.9, ending a 27-year premiership drought. The team was coached by Bill Emerson and Leighton Pearce, who was a dual Under 19s best and fairest in 1992-93 and a runner-up in the senior B&F in 2001.
Both coaches went on to successfully mentor the reserves to a flag in 2015 and Ivanhoe’s women’s team, the Ivies, which was established in 2017.
The club last fielded an under 19s in 2018. There were insufficient players available to field a team in 2019.
While player numbers has been a repeated concern over the decades, it is hoped the club will have Under 19s in the near future as more Colts ‘graduate’ from the Ivanhoe Junior Football Club.
One only needs to scan the names from past Under 19s teams to appreciate their long-term value. Half of the players in the Team of the Century came through the Under 19s, including 19s’ B&Fs Tucker, Ted Flynn, Tony Course and Barry Sproule.
Former under 19s are also well represented on the seniors’ B&F board, the life members’ honour board, and as presidents, coaches and committeemen. They include legends such as John Miles, Rusty Burt, Lloyd Williams, Ian Anderson, Don Blackwood, Dave Berry, Tim Robinson, Andrew Ireland and Peter Gittos.
As a former Under 19 (1977 -78), I can testify to the life-long friendships and bonds formed during those early years. It has helped sustain my devotion to the club over the decades.
Former Under 19s are among our greatest stalwarts. They are imbued with the Ivanhoe spirit on and off the field, supporting the club through thick and thin, attending fundraisers and functions such as the Black & Whites coterie group, and volunteering to help with the myriad of match day duties days. They are our true believers.
To see the list of Under 19s Best and Fairest winners, click here. The list was compiled for the website in the absence of a permanent Under 19s honour board on display in the clubrooms. The Under 19s B&F medal is named in honour of another club legend Rob Pearce, who coached Under 19s in 1992-93 and serving as secretary in 1999, and president 2000-04, 2010-11, 2019-20-21.
*Special thanks to Russell Knight and Don Blackwood in helping compile this list.