Raiders History

Wodonga Raiders Sports Club originates from the now defunct Kergunyah Football Club that had played in a number of minor leagues during the period from 1924 until slightly after the Second World War. Upon reforming, the club struggled with many new, young players having no football experience and the older boys were well past their best. They soon joined the Tallangatta and District Football League where they found moderate success for a number of years, winning a hat trick of flags in the period 1955 - 1957.

In 1976 the Kergunyah Football Club, due to not having very good facilities or success at the time and with most players residing in the Wodonga area, decided to disband. However a group of important people gathered at the Blazing Stump Hotel and moved to create a new club, relocate to Martin Park and change it's name to Wodonga Demons Football Club.

In 1978 the club, despondent at having to pay rent and having to hand over 50% of bar takings to the Wodonga Bulldogs, decided to move over to Martin Parks No. 2 oval. The ground was lengthened to become a full sized oval and allowed TDFL matches to be played there. The club remained on this oval for 4 years.

Late in 1980 the club requested that Wodonga Council look into providing the club with it's own home ground and identified a 2.5 hectare parcel of vacant land in West Wodonga as a possible site. With an agreement of an 8 year plan, foundations were laid for the club to occupy Birallee Park by 1983. However, this did not eventuate until the 1984 season. The erection of the original buildings were heavily reliant on the volunteer labour supplied by club supporters and stalwarts.

The club made it's initial attempt to join the Ovens and Murray Football League in July 1983, which was rejected by the majority of clubs at a meeting in September later that year. Many more attempts were made in the following years, with Wangaratta and Wangaratta Rovers being the only clubs in favour of the Demons joining the O&M - however, a total of seven clubs needed to be convinced in order to gain approval.

Senior coach at the time, Tom Doolan, stated that he felt the O&M were giving excuses - but not reasons, why the club should not be allowed in. The Demons soon went public with their reasons on why another club from Wodonga would be great for the competition, which was the main focus on the number of junior players available to play at that level. Some Wodonga Bulldog stalwarts were of the opinion that the City of Wodonga was not big enough to support two teams in the O&M. Benalla also argued that for Wodonga Demons to be allowed in , they should be required to pay an entry fee to the League, however as this was not required when Lavington joined the O&M in 1979, why should the Demons be required to do so?

In the years prior to joining the O&MFL, the club was aware that a problem existed where the Benalla Football Club were also called the Demons and wore the same jumpers. A decision was made to change the jumpers to that of AFL club, Melbourne - and become the Wodonga Raiders Football Club.

Wodonga Demons won their first senior TDFL premiership in 1987, defeating Mitta United in what was a fiery encounter.

On Monday, August 1, 1988 at the Corowa Bowling Club - the club finally obtained the required votes to become the newest member of the O&MFL. Only two clubs voted against - Myrtleford and Benalla. Club delegate at the time, Bill Mooney commented, "We have arrangements in place to form a Board of Management and will be well prepared. Our club will prove it is worthy of being part of the league."

With the League now having 11 teams in the competition, a bye was needed. This was to last for 9 seasons, until the Benalla club decided to leave the O&M and head to the neighbouring Goulburn Valley Football League.

Former Hawthorn player, Mark Turner, was appointed as the club's first coach at O&M level in 1989. However, after being beaten on the last kick of the day against Benalla in the clubs first O&M match, wins were very rare in the first 3 seasons.The club won the wooden spoon in 1989 and 1990.

One important achievement for the club was the fact that the Third Eighteen side won the premiership in the club's inaugural O&M season - putting paid to any doubt that the City of Wodonga was not big enough to support two clubs at that level. They won it again in 1994 and were runners up in 1991 (to Wodonga Bulldogs), 1997 and 2010.

The senior team began to make inroads success wise in 1993, finishing just outside the final five. In the 1995 season we made our first finals series, getting through to the preliminary final - losing to Albury by 23 points. The following season we finished fifth.

A major coup was made at the end of 1996 when the club appointed former Wodonga and West Perth player, Darren Harris to the coaching role. Darren's father Herb was one of the founding members of the club when they became the Wodonga Demons.

Success began to slowly unfold - with some clever and successful recruiting, the club made the Grand Final in 1997 only to be narrowly beaten by Albury by 7 points.

The following season was all about revenge - and MATEship.......and we succeeded. The club won the premiership, defeating Lavington by 64 points in it's tenth year in the competition.

Many people had a vision and a dream for this club - that was their dream.

Today, as we all know - it's an ongoing process to continue to grow, be successful and be an important and respected part of the community. Wodonga Raiders Sports Club is in good hands.

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Birallee Tavern
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