SEPTEMBER 1983 will live long in the annals of the historic Preston Football Club.
Already playing its 101st year of football, it was the year the famous PFC monogram ruled supreme over the time-honoured competition, doing something no other club had ever done before with a VFA hattrick.
The Bullants led all the way and held on for a thrilling seven-point victory over Geelong West in front of 14,719 people in the VFA Grand Final at the Junction Oval on Sunday, September 18, 1983, under the tutelage of club legend and Collingwood VFL great Ray Shaw.
They had earlier beaten Dandenong to win the under-19s flag for the third of four consecutive years and drew the reserves Grand Final with Frankston, and when they journeyed down the peninsula the following Sunday and defeated the Dolphins by 38 points in the replay, it made them the first team to win all three flags in the same year of a competition that had fielded a trio of grades since 1952.
The senior Grand Final was a memorable affair.
The Bullants kept their noses in front for most of the day, leading by four points at quarter-time and three at the main change before edging clear by 15 points turning for home with a six-goal third quarter sparked by three majors from star full forward Shane Halas.
Geelong West threw everything at them in the last quarter, but with John Bourke kicking six goals and star ruckman Geoff Austen winning the inaugural Norm Goss Medal, Preston held on to win 14.10 (94) to 12.15 (87).
Austen, who had played 98 VFL games for Collingwood and Fitzroy and shared the 1982 Liston medal with VFA games record holder Billy Swan before finishing runner-up to the same man in 1983, was one of many stars of the Bullants team, while Bourke kicked 104 goals in just 29 games for the club, adding five in the 1984 decider, before heading to the VFL Magpies.
Preston repeated the hattrick the following year, beating Frankston in the VFA Grand Final by 54 points back at the Junction to complete a two-year reign that not many people had even thought possible to achieve.
Forty years on from that famous victory over Geelong West, 14 members of the VFA premiership team will head to Cramer Street and reconvene at Preston City Oval for a reunion that is sure to rekindle many memories of the time when the Bullants ruled the VFA – some will be true, but some will certainly also stretch the truth a bit!
It is a team that featured eight players who had either played or would go on to play a total of 257 games in the VFL (Austen, Russell Ohlsen, Graham Osborne, Halas, Mark McKeon, Mick Warren, David Brine and Geoff Towan).
The Bullants are expecting up to 250 people to gather for a luncheon before the 2023 team runs out against Frankston chasing a second consecutive victory after their thrilling triumph in last Saturday’s Battle of Bell Street with Coburg.
The function will hear from one of the club’s most famous names in Shaw, the 1973 Liston medallist who returned to Preston as coach after 146 VFL games with Collingwood from 1974-81 and led them to back-to-back glory after losing the 1982 decider to Port Melbourne, even though he unfortunately coached the first premiership from the sidelines after suffering a broken leg during the season.
Reserves and under-19s premiership coaches Greg Freemantle and Peter Weightman will also recall their parts in the Bullants’ biggest day, with president Whit Malkoun also speaking before the greats take in the clash against the Dolphins while the 1983 decider plays in the background.
The 60th anniversary of Preston’s historic 11-point win over Waverley in the 1963 Division 2 Grand Final at Toorak Park, when the Bullants came from 24 points down at three quarter-time by kicking 5.5 to 0.0 in the last term.
The club’s first VFA Grand Final victory and one which sparked a golden era of four flags in seven years will also be acknowledged on the day, with players from that team also likely to be in attendance.
The function starts at 12pm before the main game at 2.05pm, with a big crowd expected to catch up with so many luminaries of the famous big white Ant.
PRESTON 1983 PREMIERSHIP TEAM
B: Graeme Bux, Andy Plowman, Mick Warren
HB: Dale McCann, Gordon Towan, Mark McKeon
C: Robbie McEwan
HF: Russell Ohlsen, Paul Bolger, Ian Boden
F: John Bourke, Shane Halas, Adrian Marcon
FOLL: Geoff Austen, David Brine, Rod Dunbar
INTER: Graham Osborne, Craig Dyson
Preston 3.4, 6.7, 12.8, 14.10 (94)
Geelong West 2.6, 5.10, 9.11, 12.15 (87)
GOALS: PRESTON: Bourke 6, Halas 3, Marcon 2, Dyson, Osborne. GEELONG WEST: Radojevic 5, Murphy 2, Eddy, Gibson, McDowell, Sells, Watt.
PRESTON 1963 PREMIERSHIP TEAM
B: Graham Pinfold, Mal Sayers, Eddie Millar
HB: Barry Dixon, Graham Boyle, Vin Catoggio
C: Bob Stewart
HF: Garry Appleford, Geoff Watson, Bob Muir
F: Ron Mills, Ray Murnane, Alan Parris
FOLL: Mal James, Bob Wasley, Bruce Waddell
INTER: Peter Thorpe, Bob White
Preston 1.3, 5.7, 6.9, 11.14 (80)
Waverley 3.6, 4.7, 9.15, 9.15 (69)
GOALS: PRESTON: Mills 5, Murnane 3, Parris 2, Waddell. WAVERLEY: Angus 2, McKindley, Scott 2, Ingwerson, Nash, Nation.