The Golden Grove Football Club, known as the Kookaburra’s was founded in 1995. The club is based at the Harper’s Field Oval, which is situated in on One Tree Hill Road in the Northern Suburbs of Adelaide. Many people wonder why the ground is called Harper’s Field, it is named after James Little Harper and Robert Emslie Harper from the 52nd Australian Infantry Battalion.

The club is a member of both the SAAFL and NEMJFA. At the time of our foundation we were able to field a number of junior sides, which played in the then North Adelaide Junior Football competition. Although Greenwith Oval was then the home ground a number of games were played at Hargreaves Oval. The club had limited facilities and hired the Greenwith Community Centre to run a match day canteen and evening presentations. After two positive years a number of committee members sent a proposal to the SAAFL outlining the clubs intention to set up a senior club. Senior football commenced in 1997.

The club was entered into Division 7 of the SAAFL competition and played its first full season at senior level in 1997. The club gained promotion in its first season and appointed John Economou as our senior coach. The club remained in Division 6 until its Premiership season in 2003. Although the club played in Division 6 for 5 years without success at A Grade level, the B Grade was a very strong force in the Division 6 Reserves competition. This led to a number of Finals appearances and was capped with a Premiership in 2001 and a Grand Final appearance in 2004 in the Division 5 Reserves competition. The introduction of a C Grade in 1998 was proof that the club was growing and the side consolidated its position in the Division 9 North competition very quickly. Finals appearances in 2005 and 2006 gave the club the depth it required to set a base for coaches to develop. After three seasons in Division 5 the club had a very average season in 2006, which saw it finishing in 15th place and subsequently relegated to Division 6. Over the close season the committee worked diligently to employ a new senior coach and it announced that Ashley Mitchell, a proven A Grade coach, would lead the club into the 2007 season and beyond. Ashley took the club to Division 4 in consecutive seasons before handing over the reins to former Tea Tree Gully A Grade Coach, Mark Weaver. The club gained promotion to Division 3 in Mark’s first season but after a season hampered by injuries we were relegated back to Division 4 the following year. The committee re-appointed Ashley Mitchell in 2012 but work commitments only allowed Ashley to coach for the one season.

In 2013 the club was pleased to announce the appointment of Ben Armstrong, a former North Adelaide and Kilburn player, as the new senior coach of our club. Ben went about changing the culture of the playing group and encouraged as many former juniors as possible to come back to the club to join the journey. In his first season the club finished minor premiers but unfortunately could not continue our form into the final series and we dropped out of the competition finishing in 4th spot. This was a massive disappointment to players, officials and committee and the club went about strengthening its playing group. Last season was to be our strongest to date finishing again as minor premiers. After a small hiccough in our first final the side went on to beat Eastern Park in a Preliminary Final, gaining promotion into Division 3. The side then went on to win the Division 4 premiership by defeating Salisbury West. The Season 2014 was to be the most successful in the clubs short history with the B Grade also taking out the Division 3 Reserves Premiership, the C Grade being Runners – Up in Division 8 and our under 18’s playing finals in their respective Division. As the 2015 season looms expectations are high as we start the next step of our five year plan and head towards gaining promotion to Division 2 by 2017.

Our Junior Development program has grown over our twenty years and the club is now a very strong force within the North Eastern Metropolitan Junior Football Association (NEMJFA). Junior football is played on a Sunday although the NEMJFA are now programming night football on a Friday evening. The club offers junior football from Under 6 levels to Under 16 level. Numbers have increased over the twenty years, which has consequently led to the number of teams the club fields every Sunday increasing. In the season 2006 the club ran 17 junior sides with a membership of around 400 children making up these teams, we now run 22 sides with around 500 children playing junior football at the club. Parents and volunteers coach the teams and all coaches are qualified to AFL Level 1 standard. The club philosophy is for children to enjoy themselves while learning the skills of Australian Rules football. It is the clubs policy that all children will play at least 3 quarters of football in grades Under 6 to Under 13 grades and coaches are instructed to make sure players are rotated through the various positions. In the older age groups players are guaranteed at least a of half of football each week, but again coaches are encouraged to make sure where possible players play three quarters and are rotated through the various positions.

In 2004 the clubs junior committee setup a Senior Colts policy. This policy was set up to assist the development of Under 14 to Under 16 players in their quest to play football at their highest level and ready them for senior football. When players reach Under 13 level the SANFL clubs request the club to send out three players from the various age levels to try out for their development squads. The Golden Grove Football Club services North Adelaide, Norwood and Central District Football Clubs in the SANFL. The club is very honored to be able to display many players who have taken the steps to play in the SANFL as well as 6 former juniors who are currently playing in the AFL.

Due to increased numbers we are able to field multiple sides in various age groups and the Junior Committee has set up a program to assist Coaches to allocate players to make sure these players are assisted in their development. This program monitors players progress during pre-season training and during the season and has been used with great success.

Off the field the club has worked very closely with the Tea Tree Gully Council with the development of our off field facilities. Then Councilor Kevin Knight was invited to attend an A Grade game in 2001 and he could not believe the facilities the club was trying to operate from. He made it his business to work with the club committee in developing changing rooms, toilets and canteen facilities at Greenwith Oval, along with council carrying out a great deal of work on the oval to make a superior playing surface. It was very apparent that the club needed a home ground with a clubhouse and Councilor Knight once again worked with the then President, Adrian Case, in developing the old recycling depot on One Tree Hill Road. The new oval was completed in 2004 with the first game being scheduled for April 2005 against Ingle Farm. A competition was held by Tea Tree Gully Council to name the oval. A young boy by the name of Alistair Bean won the competition when he suggested it could be named after the Harper brothers, two local residents who lost their lives in the First World War fighting in the Imperial Forces in France. The Mayor of Tea Tree Gully Mrs. Lesley Purdom officially opened the ground on April 2nd prior to the Ingle Farm game.

Although the playing surface was first class and was at the time branded second only to the Adelaide Oval, training was always going to be a problem without floodlights. The club applied for grants through Sports and Recreation Department of the State Government and we were awarded $50,000 towards the cost. Following the visit to the club by the Prime Minister, RT Hon John Howard MP, and the Federal Government through local member Trish Draper MP the club was also allocated $30,000 from the regional development department. This funding was backed up with money allocated by the Tea Tree Gully Council, and this allowed us to erect four 25-meter light towers on the Harpers Field site. These lights were fitted in readiness for night football and the club celebrated the official ‘switch on’ with the First round Division 6 game in 2006 against the Elizabeth club. State Minister Jennifer Rankine a long time supported of the Golden Grove club officially switched on the lights.

The committee of the club worked very closely with Tea Tree Gully Council and the Federal Government to secure a substantial grant to start the development of community clubrooms on the Harpers Field site. The club was successful in their application for a grant of $1.2Million only to see it rescinded with the change of Federal Government. After a long period of lobbying our local MP and various Federal MP’s and pleading our case in the Media, then Minister Albanese agreed to honor our application. Work on the clubrooms started almost immediately and the new facility was opened for our first games of the 2010 season by Mayor Miriam Smith and Federal MP Tony Zappia. The club made agreements with Tea Tree Gully Council to assist with the development of the Harpers Field site and this led to the work starting on our second oval. The Oval was finished and ready to use at the start of the 2013 season. This has given us two full sized ovals on the Harpers Field site and allowed us to cease renting Greenwith Oval at the end of 2014. Since 2013 the committee has worked extremely hard in developing the site further with the building of storage sheds, a fully fitted Gym, a surrounding fence on the second oval, netting behind the goals on the Crouch Road side of the new oval and the erection of an electronic scoreboard. Most recently we have erected floodlights on the new oval and built an extension to our canteen/kitchen along with building a professional viewing platform and verandah looking onto the new oval. The new floodlights were officially switched on at our trial game against Modbury on Saturday 21st March 2015. Early in 2015 the committee signed a ten year lease of the Harpers Field site with Tea Tree Gully which gives the club primary use of all the facilities and allows us to rent the facilities to other sporting and community groups. Being a family orientated club we want to continue to work closely with the local community in offering sport to all residents within the Golden Grove and Greenwith area.

The club has come a long way in its first 20 years and this has come about by a great deal of hard work from past and present committees. As we move into our third decade we are all very positive and are looking forward to success both on and off the field. We have a fully licensed bar which is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s during the season as well as a fully catered canteen on match days. The extension of our canteen/kitchen also allows us to continue to supply meals on a Saturday evening at a very competitive rate. The committee holds many functions throughout the season to assist in raising revenue. The Golden Grove Football Football Club has a great future ahead of it and we hope all local residents can be part of its development.

Ian Graham
President
Golden Grove Football Club