St Paul’s Football Club was formed in 1948 under the title of Bentleigh Catholic Young Men’s Society (CYMS) by Father Tim O’Sullivan. It was a Catholic Church initiative aimed at keeping Bentleigh boys out of trouble. The Bentleigh CYMS also included other activities such as debating, table tennis and cricket in addition to a football team.
The team played against others from Catholic parishes in the metropolitan area. The original home ground was the McKinnon Reserve No. 2 oval where a little tin shed was used as the clubroom. The inaugural coach and captain of the club was Mick Abourizk who played in the Club’s first premiership in 1953.
The first Guernsey worn by the club was navy blue with a gold stripe. The original jumpers were donated to the club and the players paid 6p a week to play. As cars weren’t plentiful in those days, a local family who ran the Bentleigh Bus Company supplied a free bus to take players to their games. The club changed guernseys in the 1970s when the CYMS suggested that the clubs begin wearing a VFL look alike jumper.
When the Young Catholic Workers competition folded in 1978, St Paul’s were accepted into the Eastern Suburbs Churches Football Association for season 1979 in the ‘E’ Division.
St Paul’s also successfully applied for the Bentleigh Recreation Reserve to become their home ground. In their first year in the ESCFA, St Paul’s were runner up in their division, being promoted to ‘D’ Division. In 1981 when both teams made the finals again, St Pauls were promoted to 'C' Division.
After a disruptive 1983, where Bentleigh Recreation Reserve was upgraded for Moorabbin’s use, St Paul’s moved back to McKinnon. This led to an influx of new players, a new coach and, with it, another Grand Final appearance - but once more the Doggies were runners up in 1984/85. Despite no trophy, the club were A Grade in record time.
This A Grade standard of competition made the going tough in subsequent seasons. Lack of success on field, finishing in 7th position in 1986, dwindling player numbers, a mounting debt and a lack of volunteers spelt doom. But at the end of season 1987, a past player Les Bruton came to the party offering financial aid. Tim Mercer, an old junior currently playing for Sandringham VFA came home to coach and past player Peter Cassano, took on positions of responsibility. The club was back on its feet.
1992 marked the last premiership of the Eastern Suburbs Churches Football Association as the competition joined with the South Eastern Suburbs Football League to form the Southern Football League (SFL).
St Paul’s was one of three football clubs accepted into this League in Div 1 and the seniors made it to the finals in 1994, 1996 and 1999 as well as 2000, 2003 and 2005 without winning a premiership. St Paul’s Senior Team were defeated by East Brighton in the 2006 Grand Final, by St Kilda City in the 2007 Grand Final but were victorious in 2008, with the Reserves also taking out their Grand Final in 2009.
This 2008 Seniors Premiership under Adam Shepard & Heath Barnes heralded the commencement of the most successful era of St Pauls Football Club.
The Under 19's too performed strongly in this period, becoming many of our senior players, and following a subsequent string of seniors premierships in 2011, 2013 and 2018, we fielded a Thirds team who strapped on the boots and played highly entertaining footy. Led by Adam Shepard, Paul Howroyd, Mark Dessent and Jason Heffernan and their coaching teams, the club continues to rise from strength to strength.
Over the years St Paul’s has been fondly dubbed ‘the family club’ with successive numbers of brothers who have all played with the club.
Major supporters and administrators in Peter Mercoulia, Abbey Ghattas and Kenny Shaw also continue their wonderful support of the club.
In 2012 Netball came to St Pauls and injected even more culture, ambition and success to the club. St Pauls has fielded teams since SFNL inauguration and pride our Netball players on their commitment and courage brought to every match.
With the combination of heritage and adaptability, the club has seen ongoing success, and we strive to keep our legacy going with every year. Go the dog!
Under the Presidency of Ken Shaw we won Senior Premierships in 2008, 2011
2013 and under the leadership of Mike Lloyd a further premiership in 2018.
2009 S.F.L - Division 1 Reserve Premiers 🏆
2012 S.F.L - Division 1 Reserve Premiers 🏆
St Paul’s Netball was part of the 2012 inaugural SFL YMCA Monash Netball competition, played out of the Rowan Road, Dingley courts, its current location. The competition commenced with 7 teams and has seen a mammoth rise in 2019 to a 100 team, 10 Division competition, under the formation of the Southern Football Netball League, formerly Southern Football League.
St Paul’s has fielded teams since this inauguration and pride ourselves on fielding a Division 1 team since season 2017 after finishing Runners Up Premiers in Division 2 in 2016.
Since 2012 we have seen a few player movements and retirements, but our Division 1 team in particular has remained a constant – Caitlin Lewis being the only original player.
Former coaches of the SFNL Team were Tim Blackwood, Robyn Dale, Mark Bormanis and Greg Proc.
As of 2017, we have a team representing St Paul’s in the Tuesday night League at Jells Park, Wheelers Hill.
St Pauls Netball team photo