Old Ignatians began life in 1972 when it fielded a team in the SAAFL’s A7, drawing together a disparate group of players and dominant personalities that would guide the club through a very successful first decade. Jay Hogan, a hard-hitting and fearless left-footer was instrumental in the club’s formation, and is often referred to as ‘Club Founder’ being the inaugural playing coach.
Stars in the inaugural season included Jay, Michael “Tom” Kelly, Chris McCarthy, Chris Mellows, Trevor Overy and David Harben who became a century goal kicker. The playing list had originally been restricted to alumni of St Ignatius College until it was discovered that one of its players, Roman Nowosilskyj, was not a former student but in residence at Aquinas College, fortunately run by the Jesuits. Aquinas students were then to become an integral part of our Club, both as a social centre and an excellent recruiting ground for Iggies in its formative years. This important relationship has grown into a key part of the club and also Aquinas College.
In its debut season, Iggies saved its worst until last, scorching the competition every week until it lost the Grand Final. Doubling in size and being promoted to A5, the club had a September to remember, capturing flags at seniors and reserves level.
Ignatians quickly became known for their quirkiness. Their weekly newsletter, the Dropkick, was packed with features about the club, quotes of the week and less than kind chatter about rival clubs. Eyes were often raised in official quarters about some of the content, but the defence was usually that people outside the club would never understand what those inside the club couldn’t comprehend themselves. Peter Teakle, Paul Griffin, Peter Ward and Michael Fitzgerald shared editing duties over many years and were responsible for christening many players with strange new nicknames (and changing them once they had stuck!). In recent years Adam Alessandrini has been chief editor and taken the humble newsletter into the digital era.
The club’s victory song, adopted in 1973, is “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and despite it being sung on thousands of occasions at hundreds of celebrations through the years, it seems no-one actually finished writing the lyrics.
Ignatians 1974 season in A4 was one of ultimate disappointment. The club surprisingly lost the first semi-final to finish fourth, but rebounded with purpose in 1975. With its biggest recruiting class in the Wolverines’ history, Ignatians won a massive victory in the Grand Final over Henley High after beating them by a point two weeks earlier. Honours came again in ’76 when they torched Brighton High OS in the finals to win their third senior flag in five years and jump into A2. Steve Duddy, Mark Griffin, Greg Smith and Mick Coghlan were stars of the era.
In its first stint in the second tier the team was again coached by Peter McCarthy, who had held the clipboard since ’73 but had resumed a decorated playing career thereafter. Ignatians made the four in Div 2, but with many players retiring, moving on or just losing form, the late 70’s saw an end to the successful era. The one-way ticket to the northern terminus had expired.
One of the initiatives of the period was the Destructo tour to the (then) VFL Grand Final. From humble beginnings in 1978, the annual pilgrimage to the MCG grew into a monster in the early ‘80s and ‘90s, with the tourists donning specially made tour apparel and one year cutting a song in a Hindley Street recording studio. In recent years Destructo has been re-born, with senior members staying at high class venues such as The Westin and Hyatt, while the youngsters enjoy all that the finest back packer establishments have to offer.