Brighton Football Club
Brighton Football Club was an Australian rules football club which played in the Victorian Football Association (VFA). The club was based in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton, and was nicknamed the Penguins. After suffering financial hardship throughout the 1950s, Brighton moved to Caulfield and later became the Caulfield Bears in the early to mid-1960s.
|Full name||Brighton Football Club|
|Colours||Maroon and gold (1946–1964)|
|Ground(s)||Brighton Beach Oval, Elsternwick Park|
The club is believed to have been formed in 1885 and seven years later became a foundation member of the Metropolitan Junior Football Association. They won a premiership in 1903 during their sixteen years in the league and in 1908 joined the VFA as one of the teams to replace Richmond, who had shifted to the Victorian Football League (VFL), and West Melbourne, who had merged with North Melbourne in a failed attempt to do the same. During this time, Brighton played its home matches at the Brighton Beach Oval, before shifting to Elsternwick Park in 1927.
Brighton first played finals football in the VFA in 1926 with help from former Fitzroy player Gordon Rattray who coached the club. They made it all the way to the grand final before losing to Coburg, the club that would beat them again in the grand final the following season. They were runners-up in 1938.
Brighton almost folded while the Association was in recess during World War II, but was able to compile a committee and resume playing in 1945 when the Association resumed. Four years later, in 1948, the club won its first and only top division premiership. Under the coaching of Col Williamson, they had finished the home and away season in third place and after defeating Brunswick in the preliminary final they qualified for the decider against Williamstown, whom they downed by nine points.
The club was one of several which struggled badly both on and off the field after the throw-pass era ended in 1950. In twelve seasons from 1952 until 1963, the club won eight wooden spoons, including the first three Division 2 wooden spoons in 1961 until 1963. The club had a very low supporter base, a very small group of committeemen who were increasingly unable to manage all of the administrative work, it struggled to retain players, and in some seasons it had to operate as an amateur club due to lack of money.
Coupled with its existing off-field problems, the club lost occupancy of its home ground at Elsternwick Park after the 1961 season. The club managed to survive, after merging with the Federal League's South Caulfield Football Club to form a new team known as Brighton-Caulfield. The merger did not help the club's on-field performances, and its first two seasons as a merged club yielded wooden spoons. The club's on-field performance briefly improved in 1964, when the club recruited a core of twelve senior players from defending Division 1 premier Moorabbin after that club's sudden expulsion from the Association just before the season.
After competing as Brighton-Caulfield for three seasons, the club eliminated almost all links to its Brighton heritage in 1965 as the club sought to appeal more strongly to fans in its new suburb. The name was shortened to Caulfield, the Penguin emblem was replaced with a Bear, and the club's colours were changed from maroon and gold to blue and white –effectively bringing an end to the Brighton Football Club's existence–. The club competed in the Association as the Caulfield Football Club until the end of the 1987 season.
- Geoff Clancy (17 September 1949). "Brighton has riven over the years". The Argus Supplement. Melbourne, VIC. p. 2.
- "VFA to play next season". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 13 June 1944. p. 13.
- "Brighton to play". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 21 July 1944. p. 12.
- Scot Palmer (21 January 1961). "VFA club near "end of road"". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 53.
- Jack Dunn (17 July 1953). "Third VFA team to play as amateurs". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 28.
- Scot Palmer (16 December 1961). "End of the road for Brighton...?". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 51.
- Scot Palmer (30 March 1962). "Brighton saves its VFA place". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 44.
- Scot Palmer (8 April 1964). "Moorabbin windfall to 'wooden-spooner'". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 59.
- Jeff Penberthy (9 April 1965). "Old club becomes extinct". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 57.
- "Caulfield downed by four points at home". Southern Cross. Caulfield, VIC. 21 April 1965. p. 16.
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