Zebras History 1981- 2001

1981-: After losing to Port Melbourne in the opening round, the Zebras put together a run of eight successive wins and in the first game of the second round faced Port for the title of undisputed top team. However the game was a fizzer, the Zebras losing by 89 points. Sandringham lost seven of the last nine games and finished in 3rd spot with ten wins. In the first semi-final Sandringham trailed Frankston by 25 points at half time, but, late in the third quarter when Rex Hunt kicked his fifth goal of the game ( his 100th for the season) the Zebras hit the front and held on to win by 17 points. In the preliminary final, Preston led by 65 points at the half way mark of the third quarter. An amazing fight back by the Zebras; led by Rex Hunt with seven goals in the last quarter (110 for the season); saw Sandringham briefly take the lead late in the game, only to have Preston regain it in time on.
Ladder Position 3rd.

1982-: Former Geelong and St. Kilda player Phil Stevens was appointed Captain Coach. The Zebras signed Peter Fitzpatrick (Carlton / St. Kilda), Ross Gallagher (Footscray), Kelvin Richards (Melbourne), but lost, Rex Hunt, Paul Callery, David Droscher, Russell Hodges and Ian Hutchison. At best the year could be considered as one of consolidation, as the Zebras only managed eight wins and slipped down the ladder.
Ladder Position 7th.

1983-: The appointment of Darrell Mackenzie as coach, Warren Green in charge of the reserves and Graeme Toms as Chairman of selectors, all ex-Zebra players, brought back a great sense of loyalty. Recruiting was the best for a decade with players of the calibre of Ian Morrison (Footscray / Essendon),Ken Mansfield (Woodville / Essendon), John Bennett (St. Kilda). Another healthy sign was that during the year Marty Lyons, Kevin Sims and Terry Wilkins all played their 100th game for the Club. In the third round, Sandringham played it's 1000th VFA game, which resulted in a loss to old foe Port Melbourne. The Club won 9 of the last 11 games to sneak into the finals. All hopes of a premiership were dashed when Port Melbourne, kicking against the wind scored 11.4 to 4.1 in the first quarter to set up a 46 point victory.
Ladder Position 4th.

1984-: Once again the Club started the season with a new Coach, appointing former Hawthorn half forward Bob Keddie. Along with Keddie came Dennis Galimberti, the man who was responsible for shaping the new Sandringham. The turnover of player personnel was very high, with the loss of David Pledger, Terry Wilkins, Wayne Mailing, Steve Gimore, Mark Sarau, John Bennett, and Gary Scott, all very experienced players. To replace this experience, the Club relied on youth from the VFL under 19 competition; who could be indoctrinated into the Keddie philosophy; and a smattering of experience in the form of Ross Brewer, Glen Philbey and Adam Pearson. The season was going to plan until the last round when Sandringham had to defeat Williamstown to hold it's final four position. After a dismal display the Zebras were out of premiership contention and a season which opened with great promise ended in defeat and lost opportunity.
Ladder Position 5th.

1985-: The Club once again recruited youth, signing Andy Collins, Andrew Pratt, Greg Beilby, (all with Hawthorn connections), Brian and Brendon Said plus Darren Kristensen, (all who had played premiership football with North U19's). Added to this list were Mark Eaves (Nth. Adelaide) and Con Gorozidis (Footscray).The Zebras started the season with nine straight wins, setting a Club record for consecutive winning games and by seasons end faced Coburg in the 2nd semi final, which was billed as a dress rehearsal for the grand final. After a score line of Sandringham 32.16.208 defeating Coburg 19.14.128 the Zebras were installed as the hottest favourite for many years. The Zebras waited for the rematch, expecting Coburg to be too strong for Williamstown. With the result going the other way, Keddie had to reassess and restructure his side for the new challenge. The selection table move of playing Mark Eaves as a forward proved a match winner, even though Williamstown effectively blanketed Morrison, Brewer and Gorozidis, (the Zebra fire power) they ran out of talls to cover Eaves who kicked four goals before half time and provided a focal point.
Ladder Position 1st.

1986-: After the success of '85, the administration tried to follow the same pattern. This, however was not enough given the large turnover of personnel. Ross Brewer and Ross Gallagher both retired and for various reasons the on field partisapation of MacLoed, Morrison, Lyons, Collins, Adams, Eaves, Gorozidis, Kristensen, Hetherington and Mannix was reduced to an average of only eight games. One of the new names to join the Zebras was Anthony Allen (Hawthorn) who was to go on to play a Club record 165 games, captain the Club 5 times and hold the premiership cup aloft twice. After losing the first game to Coburg the Club won the next four and were 6 and 3 at the half way mark, however a 4 and 5 second half saw the Zebras fail to make the finals.
Ladder Position 6th.

1987-: Bob Keddie resigned to coach Fitzroy reserves and was replaced by Francis Jackson. The year got off to a disappointing start losing to Springvale and Port Melbourne before scraping in by one point against Coburg. In the middle section of the season the Club lost 5 on end by a total of 296 points before putting it together to win 5 of the last 6 and so end the season 9 and 9.
Ladder Position 7th

1988-: Keddie returned as coach and some around the Club thought this would return us to the good times of '85. By round nine the ratio of 3 and 6 blew this theory and when the Zebras lost the last five in a row, the season closed on our worst performance since '76.
Ladder Position 9th

1989-: Bob Keddie had been appointed for the '89 season half way through '88 in a display of solidarity, a move that displeased many around the Club. The year started as '88 finished with the Zebras losing the first 7 games by an average 10 goals. The second half of the season saw some of the old Zebra fight and resulted in a six wins.
Ladder Position 11th.

1990-: The Committee chased Trevor Barker to coach the Club, however for personal reasons the offer was refused. Daryl Nisbet who had been coaching St. Kilda 3rds was appointed and ex-Dandenong centreman Rod (Darkie) Evans came as chairman of selectors. They immediately set about bringing the players together as a unit, sometimes with unconventional training methods. Daryl recruited, amongst others, Shane Foley from St. Kilda U19's when that club failed to see his enormous potential. In contrast to the previous year the Club got off to flying start winning the first five before dropping the next three. Form dropped away in second half of the season and the Zebras finished with nine wins and a strong foundation for the near future.
Ladder Position 8th

1991-: Daryl Nisbet once again had the controls. The most notable of the recruits for the year were Peter Czerkaski (Richmond), Lachlan Kellaway (Collingwood), and Chris and Paddy Garrett from Cranbourne (both of who had played under Nisbet before). The Zebras won six of the first nine games but injuries in the second half of the season forced Nisbet to play flankers in key positions (a reflection on the lack of depth available) and the Club could manage only another four wins.
Ladder Position 6th.

1992-: Phil Cleary could not bring himself to accept the offered coaching position. The supporters sensed something big was about to happen, when the Club announced Trevor Barker would be Coach in '92. With the arrival of Trevor and his team of Darrell Fenton (Reserves Coach), Colin Carter (Snr. Runner), Gerg Gneil (Team Manager), John Moncrieff (C.O.S. and Fitness Adviser)and physiotherapists Phil Bedlington and Rob Denatris, the Club just oozed professionalism. The Club went on a recruiting drive that netted Andrew Tarpey, Andrew Krakouer, Warick Angus, Daryl Argus, Joe Wilson, Damien Pearce, Nick Morey, Darren Mitchelson and later in the year Michael Ford and Pat Lambert. Thus replacing Jamie Duursma and Sam O'Connor who had left the Club. The season started badly with a 44 point loss to Williamstown -- Barker later admitted he picked the first team on reputation , not form. It is interesting to note that of the 20 players in round one, seven didn't play in the grand final. The Zebras went on to win the next 13 games straight (a Club record) before losing to Prahran. In the last of the home and away games an injury depleted Zebras lowered their colours to Werribee. In the 2nd semi Sandringham accounted for Prahran and were far too strong for Williamstown in the Grand Final. Joe Rugolo won both the Liston Trophy and Norm Goss Medal while his brother Frank was the leading goal kicker.
Ladder Position 1st.

1993-: Once again, the aim was to win back to back flags, for the first time in the Clubs history. Before the season started the Club lost both Andrew Tarpey and Lyle Johnstone from the grand final side. Serious injuries to Darryl Argus, Michael Ford and Chris Garrett, all who missed several matches and with Andrew Krakouer being picked up the mid season draft, our team balance was disorganised. It was difficult to find players with experience that were able to replace them. In spite of the loss of these players, a victory in the final home and away game would have given us a chance for another flag. A bright note for the Club was the blooding of youngsters Adam Williams, Paul Dimmattina, Steve Amiet, Justin Crough, David MacGeorge and Leigh Snooks and the Grand Final victory of the reserves.
Ladder position 6th

1994-: The most successful year in Zebra history. Due to work commitments Darrell Fenton resigned as reserves coach and Colin Carter took over. John Clarkson (Snr. Runner/Fitness Adviser) and Steven Roach (Skills Coach) joined the coaching staff. Many players moved on for various reasons, Michael Ford, Mark Williams, Andrew Krakouer, Warren McKenzie, Jason Croall, Paul Dimattina. The return of 1992 premiership players Andrew Tarpey and Lyle Johnstone was a big lift for the Club and the recruitment of quality players in Ian Herman, Steve Moloney, Austin McCrabb, Mark Frater and Paul McMaster added strength to our list. Of the 62 games the Club contested for the year (1sts, 2nds and 3rds) the win loss ratio was an amazing 54 to 8. On Sunday the 25th of September the Zebras created history by winning three flags on the one day.
Ladder Position 1st.

1995-: Trevor Barker was offered the St. Kilda reserves position and he and his whole support crew moved up the road. Tom Alvin (Carlton) and Bernie Evans (Pt. Melb. / Sth. Melb) took over as senior and reserves coaches respectively. As with other years following Zebra premierships, there was a great turnover of player personnel. From the '94 grand final side Sandringham was missing; Brett Bailey, Peter Czerkaski, Chris Garrett, George Gorozidis, Lachlan Kellaway, Austin McCrabb, Paul McMaster, Steve Moloney and Adrian Mackenzie. Still the season started well with the Zebras winning the first five games. After beating Coburg in the last home and away, Sandringham had to face up to Port Melbourne, who had defeated the Zebras twice during the year, in the qualifying final. After beating Port by 45 points Sandringham was defeated by Springvale in the 2nd. semi by the same margin. The preliminary final saw a 68 point margin in favor Sandringham over Port and the grand final went to Springvale by 43 points.
Ladder Position 2nd.

1996-: Once again it was turnover of personnel that had the Zebras on the back foot, losing Steve Amiet, Nick Hanson, Ian Herman, Tom Keipert, Andrew Kellaway, Pat Lambert, Aaron Martello, Ben Oakley, Robbie Walker, Adam Williams and Brian Winton all of who averaged 15 games in '95. The best of the recruits for the year were Adam Coghlan and Shayne Smith with 51 goals. Although the Zebras were still in with a chance to make the final up to the last couple of games, it was the inability to defeat the teams above us on the ladder (except for the premiers Springvale whom we defeated twice) that brought about our demise. Sandringham finished win 9 wins and 9 losses.
Ladder Position 6th.

1997-: Former Sandringham premiership player Andrew Collins was appointed coach, his first task was to review the player list and playing style. Only 23 players of the '96 list survived the pre season. New recruits included David Grant, Darren Baxter, Paul Dear, and Glen Nugent. The other 28 added to the list were all young men ready to make their mark on senior football. The most successful of these being Mark Haynes, Nick Sautner and Heath Tregear. After suffering a 7 goal loss to Port Melbourne in the opening round the Zebras put together 6 wins before being defeated at Frankston by 29 points. Sandringham was going for 8 wins in a row when they played Frankston in the last of the home and away game, and although this resulted in a 6 point victory to Frankston, Collins was seen to smile, knowing his sided had what was needed to beat them come finals time. In the qualifying final the Zebras disposed of Springvale by 25 points and faced Frankston in the 2nd. semi. Collins was once again smiling after a 41 points Zebras victory. On grand final day it was Frankston who stood between Sandringham and their 3rd. flag in the 90's. With a score line of Sandringham 10.13 to Frankston 5.14 the Zebras proved that it is finals wins that count.
Ladder Position 1st.

1998-: "Back to Back" was once again the aim. Given the turmoil at the end of season '97, the lack of preparation (viz recruiting and injury assessment) was evident and to finish sixth was creditable, but, as a whole, underachieving. With a 9 and 9 result for the season the Zebras scraped into the final six only to be defeated by 10.8 at the hands of Springvale.
Ladder Position 6th.

1999-: Graeme Yeats (Melbourne) was appointed as coach and ex premiership player Bret Bailey returned as his right hand man. Recruiting for the season saw no big names joining Sandringham, with Chad Liddell being the only senior AFL player. The return of Adam Coghlan, Lachlan Oakley and Richard Maloney brought both strength and experience. The remainder of the list was made up of players from the under 18 competition. The move of Sautner to full forward and the realisation that we had a ready made tagger in reserves player Dan Carroll, were two plusses for the coaching staff. Without a recognised ruckman it was always going to be hard against the bigger sides and it was upto our mid field to shark the ball away. At the half way mark of the season Sandringham had 3 wins, a draw and 5 losses. The draw, the time on loss by 11 points to Frankston and the 5 point controversial lost to Werribee were always going to prove costly. In the second half of the year the Zebras put it together, dropping only one game, going down to Springvale by 25 points. The 11.1.6 final ratio put Sandringham in sixth spot. After defeating Werribee by 19 points, Frankston by 26 points, the Zebras bowed out of the race for the flag going down to Nth. Ballarat by 80 points.
Ladder Position 3rd.

2000-: The year 2000 saw a revamped format for the VFL competition. With the abolition of AFL reserves, a new 18 team comp was formed with a combination of VFL stand alone clubs (Springvale, Frankston, Northern Bullants, Coburg / Fitzroy, Bendigo and North Ballarat ), AFL stand alone clubs ( Carlton, Essendon, St Kilda, Geelong, Collingwood and Richmond) plus AFL and VFL aligned clubs (Sandringham with Melbourne, Box Hill with Hawthorn, Werribee with the Western Bulldogs, Williamstown also with the Western Bulldogs, Port Melbourne with Sydney and North Melbourne forming the Murray Kangaroos with players from the Murray area).

Because of the early start to the season, due to the Olympics, Graeme Yeats had pre season underway the first week in November. Natural attrition saw many of the '99 side move on (including our Captain Darren Mitchelson) with their places being filled by recruits from the Dragons.
March 18th saw the Zebs kick off the season with a 35 point victory over the Murray Kangaroos, with a side consisting of 10 Melbourne and 12 Sandringham players. This was the first of five wins in a row, before going down to Geelong by 21 points, on a Monday night at Waverley Park. Another straight six wins before a 14 point loss to Williamstown in round 13. Four more victories, a loss to Springvale and a 37 win over Port Melbourne saw Sandringham finish the season two games clear of North Ballarat at the top of the ladder. The 40 point victory in the round 17 clash against Carlton, at the Beach Oval, had many of the older supporters claiming it was the best game they had seen in decades.

The qualifying final once again saw Sandringham venture to Waverley on a Monday night, but this time the opponents were St Kilda and a one point victory was the result.
Two weeks later the venue was Port Melbourne and the opponent, Carlton, in the Preliminary Final. A classy display of football assured the Zebras victory and a place in the grand final; the winning margin of 74 points was more than anyone expected.
August 27th saw Sandringham front North Ballarat in the Grand Final at Waverley Park, a ground many thought was too big for the Sandringham style of play. But, by quarter time the Zebs had kicked 4.6.30 to North's 5 behinds and set the pattern for the day. 3 goals 4 against the breeze to North Ballarat's 3 straight goals gave Sandringham a 6 goal buffer at the long break. In the second half North Ballarat got within 22 points and out scored Sandringham by four points but were never able to overcome the initial break. Final scores Sandringham 15.18.108 to North Ballarat 11.11.77

To win all but three games for the year was a credit to both the players and coaching staff, when you consider the facts. The Melbourne players only trained with their Sandringham counterparts on the Friday night before the game, giving little time to learn each others names let alone their strengths and weaknesses. The Club used 50 players (29 Melbourne and 21 Sandringham) in the seniors for the year, which must rank as a record. The average number of changes to the selected side throughout the year was four. One week saw 7 changes, 4 weeks had 6 changes and on 6 occasions the side included 5 new faces.

Of the fifty players to wear the Yellow, Black and Blue in the seniors, only six failed to score a goal for Sandringham during the season. Whelan, Tingay, L. Oakley and James McDonald all played only one game each while McNicholas played two and fullback Adam Coghlan played 20 games without bothering the scorer.

What started as a year full of questions about bringing the two sides together: how can we achieve team balance? how many players from each team? how much say will the coaching staff have in team selection ? and so on, ended by answering any sceptics or critics with two flags, and setting the model which it is almost centains will be followed by other clubs in the future.
Ladder Position 1st.

2001:- The structure of the VFL once again had a facelift. Collingwood aligned with Williamstown, Richmond with Coburg and St Kilda with Springvale, plus Tasmania joined the competition to make 16 teams.
As has happened too many times before after a premiership The Zebras faced a mass exodus of experienced players. From the 2000 grand final side we lost Ash Gehling, Richard Maloney, Nick Sautner, Ben Oakley (Sandringham List); Matthew Febey, Jamie Shanahan and Scott Chisholm (Melbourne List) plus three players, Mitchell Grant, Chad Liddell, and Mark Haynes all took overseas trips, missing pre season and most of the year; Grant and Haynes not returning to the seniors until round 15. The Club unfortunately relied on the Melbourne connection to fill the void left by these departures and did not do any recruiting of seasoned players. You can not replace experience with raw talent from the under 18's comp.
Even with the change of player personnel the Zebras were still very competitive but lacked a focal point up forward. Total score for the year being 252 goals 258 behinds. Cameron Templeton was the leading goal kicker with a meager total of 41 goals for the season from 20 games. Next best was Ben Beams with 26 from 15 games.
Of the 20 games contested 8 had a final margin of 7 points or less (3 wins; 5 losses). In each of those 8 games the Zebras had more scoring shots than their opponents. In a 7 point loss to Port the difference was 8 more and a 6 point loss to Willi it was 9 more.
During the course of the season a total of 47 players (22 Sandringham; 25 Melbourne) donned the Zebra stripes. Of the 22 Sandringham listed players used, eight fronted for their first senior game. Some of these showed they were not ready for or up to senior level. However, our lack of experienced mid fielders forced the selectors to keep punting them. Ben Hackett at 22 years; 190 cms and 88 kgs showed he could be a strong forward option if given the chance.
The club finished the year with 9 wins.
Ladder Position 11th


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