The Banyule Bears Football Club (BBFC) is a not-for-profit organisation formed to enable the young men of Banyule and surrounding districts that had completed their under-age football with the highly successful Banyule Junior Football Club (BJFC) to continue playing with their friends under the Banyule name. The club is also affiliated with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University Union and Viewbank College. Through these alliances, the Banyule Amateur Football Club serves to provide a strong community and family-based environment to support the development of the young men of Banyule from their childhood years through to early adulthood.
The BJFC was formed in 1967 and took occupancy of the present premises at Beverley Road in 1973. The BJFC competes in the Yarra Junior Football League (YJFL), which comprises 26 clubs fielding some 200 teams playing games throughout the season on Sundays – the YJFL is the largest junior football league in Australia. The junior club field teams in the Under 9’s, Under 10’s, Under 11’s, Under 12’s, Under 13’s, Under 14’s, Under 15’s and Colts (combined Under 16’s & 17’s) age groups, which provides an opportunity for up to 260 boys & girls to play a game of football each week. In addition the club sponsors the local Auskick program each Saturday morning during the football season.
The BAFC entered the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA) Competition in 1979 with just an Under 19 team. In 1980 the club fielded Seniors, Reserves and Under 19s for the first time. In that year the club won the Under 19s premiership.
The BAFC had major on-field success in the Eighties and early Nineties when it progressed through the grades from F to B and won 3 Senior and 3 Reserve grade premierships as well as several losing Grand Final appearances.
Season 1991 was arguably the highest standard attained when the Seniors played in the B grade finals series, only to be beaten by the eventual winners, Old Xaverians, who have since gone on to be a dominant club in A grade.
BAFC Seniors maintained their B grade status until 1997 when they were relegated to C grade. Since then the Seniors have been runners up in both the 2001 and 2004 D1 Grand Finals.
The Under 19s have made major steps forward with a Grand Final win in Division 2 in 2005 taking them to the top division of one of the best under age competitions in Australian football.
At the end of 2014 it was voted upon by Banyule members that the senior club move to the Northern Football League. The Banyule Bears now compete in Division 3 of the NFL.
The BBFC and BJFC aim to provide a sustainable link between junior and senior football from under-age teams at Under 9 level through to Colts (Under 16 & 17), Under 19s and into senior amateur football. The Under 19s team also has strong links with the nearby local secondary school, Viewbank College, a link which is recognised in their official team name of Banyule/Viewbank College Old Boys Under 19s.
16 Banyule junior and senior players have progressed through to the highest level to become VFL/AFL footballers, the most notable are Brent Stanton and Brayden Sier.
• 17 junior teams in the BJFC involving 280 registered players from 7 years old to 17 years old
• 3 Female junior sides
• 500+ junior parents visit the club rooms week-in, week-out during the season
• Schools feeding the BJFC include St Johns, St Martins, Banyule Primary, Viewbank Primary, Rosanna Primary, Rosanna Golf Links Primary, Heidelberg Primary, and others
• 85 registered players in the BBFC
• 100 registered participants in the Auskick competition held every Saturday morning