The story goes that in 1957, Alan Gibbons, Junior Organiser for the St George Association asked Bruce Endacott if he would look after a team being formed using players from a midweek schools’ competition. The team comprised players that were 10-12 years of age and was entered in the St George Saturday morning competition. With that, the first Heathcote Australian Football team was born.
Margaret Endacott, Bruce’s wife, took the team to games by train, on her own, for the remainder of 1957 and much of 1958 with Bruce bringing them home after he had finished work. In 1958, an organising committee was formed and on 1st May 1959, the first meeting of the Heathcote A.N.F.C. was held. Reg Spiers, Bruce’s right-hand man, was appointed the Club’s first President. In 1975, the Club’s name was changed to Heathcote-Engadine A.F.C. to acknowledge the area from which most players were drawn.
The number of registered players has fluctuated over the years and recruiting in younger grades has always been a high priority. In 1957 there was one team, a U/12’s, by 1961 teams ranged from U10’s to U/16’s and in 1963 teams changed to odd numbers. In 1981, the Club fielded teams in each grade and two teams in U/11’s. In 1987, there were teams in all junior grades plus two senior teams leading to 111 registered players. In 1997, the 40th Anniversary, there were 90 registered players with a group of Auskickers and a team in each of the even grades U/10’s through to U/16’s. In 1999, the Club was able to field two teams in U/10’s.
In 2000, the St George Association introduced a competition for U/11’s and U13’s. This stretched some Clubs as the competition was now available to all age groups from U/9’s to U/16’s. Over the next few years, we witnessed a decline in numbers at the Hawks and the Club was forced to start again.
In 2007, the Club had 62 registered players and fielded teams in Auskick, U/9’s, U/10’s, U/11’s and U/12’s. Now is 2017 the club is proud to say we have in excess of 150 registered players and field a total of 9 teams ranging from Auskick to under 17’s. From what I am led to believe this is a club record for registered players.
The early years saw games against St Patricks, now Ramsgate RSL, Penshurst, Peakhurst, Boys’ Town, Miranda, Cronulla and Como-Jannali. In the late ‘90s the Hawks played, as a Club, in the St George competition against Bangor, Miranda, Ramsgate, Penshurst, East Sydney, Glebe, Western Suburbs, Bankstown and Wollongong. With interest in the game increasing and new age groups introduced, new Clubs emerged and the Association competition expanded to include Drummoyne, Newtown, and Maroubra as well.
In season 2006, the AFL took over running the Sydney Associations. This prompted clubs in Wollongong, the west, city and north to compete in separate competitions. The St George Association became part of the AFL Greater Sydney Juniors and was known as the AFL Sydney South Juniors. In 2007, we competed against teams from Cronulla, Ramsgate, Bangor, Miranda, Bankstown and Penshurst.
In 2014, it was decided by the Sydney Juniors that games would be played on a Sunday as opposed to a Saturday and that the South Juniors would once again join the Greater Sydney Juniors. Whilst we still do battle with our old foes from the Southern clubs some age groups now travel Sydney wide to play AFL.
As well as juniors, there was a senior arm of the Club that had four chapters. The first senior team was formed in 1963 disbanded in 1967 and reformed in 1969. During this time, they played in the S.F.A. 3rd Division with prominent names being Burkett, Endacott and Pickett. The third chapter competed for only one year but managed to reach the Grand final again in the S.F.A. 3rd Division. A number of players were approached by Sutherland A.F.C. to strengthen their team and played in the S.F.A. 2nd Division. The fourth chapter began in 1984 when 2 teams were fielded in the Illawarra competition. With Dapto playing in Hawthorn colours our club played in Melbourne colours and was known as the ‘Demons’. In the mid ‘80’s the Club had 3 players in the south Coast Rep side: - Les Nicholls, Kevin Dolan-Brown and Warren Kelso. By 1988 the Illawarra competition was struggling and Heathcote was asked to play in the S.F.A. 2nd Division as Bargo’s Reserve Grade team. However, the team had its own identity playing as the Heathcote Bulldogs in Footscray colours. In 1989, the team was playing in 1st grade and Jason Druce and Graham Fidler were selected as Association Reps. and Wayne Watts as Coach. In 1991, the Club was also able to field a U/20’s team and both teams played in Hawthorn colours. At the end of 1992, having won the Grand Final many players hung up their boots. During this time, ex-juniors Rob Lang played 350 games and Jason Druce over 320. The following players were awarded the Association Best and Fairest: - 1975 Wayne Watts, 1988 Brad Cherry, 1990 Jason Druce and 1992 Graham Fidler.
The 2002 season saw the Club streamline the structure of its Committee and introduce the position of Football Manager. In this position, Col Brown approached the Hawthorn’s Regional Football Manager, Geoff Ablett and was able to secure an official affiliation between the Heathcote Hawks and the Hawthorn Hawks. In April 2002, the Hawthorn President, Ian Dicker, attended Heathcote Oval and presented a plaque that formalised the affiliation. This affiliation is believed to be the first for a Junior AFL club in NSW.
As a result of this affiliation, a relationship developed between our Club and the Hawks Sydney Supporters Group. This group is headed by founding members Ruth and David Langdon. The affiliation also resulted in the Club asking Ruth Langdon and Geoff Ablett, as Hawthorns Football Manager, to be Patrons of the Heathcote Hawks and the Club is honoured to have their support
The Club won its first Premiership in U10’s in 1962. Morgan Hennessey was the coach and the team was managed by Russell Smith. Since then the Club has had a number of teams making the final series and many Premierships. In 2014 under the guidance of Dave Stewart our under 13s won the premiership. This was significant as it ended a 16-year drought for the club. We followed it up with an under 11’s premiership the following year.
Many Hawks players over the years have been selected in P.S.S.A. Teams, St George Rep teams, Sydney Rep teams, NSW Teams and N.S.W. High School teams. Some have continued to play for senior clubs across Sydney and some have even made it to AFL level.
As we enter another season the Heathcote Engadine Hawks AFL club is still a strong family-orientated club whose main aim is to get boys & girls playing this great sport.