1961 - 2010
MAGNUM SIGNUM ANTIQUUM EST
“It's A Grand Old Flag”
It was 1961.
The Gold Coast’s first high-rise, the Kinkabool, had opened for business the year before and, at 11-storeys, was a local landmark. Bernie Elsey was hosting his notorious ‘pyjama parties’ at the Beachcomber in Surfers. And the Surfers Paradise Australian Football Club was born - one of the foundation clubs that formed the Gold Coast Australian Football League.
The league’s official inaugural season commenced in 1962. Our home ground was situated in Beach Road, just a couple of blocks from the now world famous Surfers Paradise beach, and where the Bruce Bishop Car Park stands today. It didn’t take long for the club to assert its presence. The senior team won their first Premiership in 1963, an historic flag that sparked a golden era of consecutive premierships in 1967, 1968 & 1969. Legendary coach Frank Sutherland steered the team for all three flags, along with Team of the Century captain, Graham “Storkey” Walsh. Outstandingly, Graham “Nugget” Anthony won Best & Fairest awards in each of those three consecutive premierships. As early as 1966 a gentleman by the name of “Alderman Bruce Small” appeared on our honour boards as one of the clubs first Patrons. It was a role he continued right through to 1979 when the diminutive entrepreneur was better known as “Sir Bruce Small”, Mayor and acknowledged “father” of the Gold Coast tourist capital. As Surfers Paradise itself developed into a booming tourist mecca during the 1960s, the club was forced to move its home ground to the Isle of Capri. In the proceeding years the new home ground attracted large crowds and just as many physical contests – testimony to the growing strength of the Gold Coast league.
The Demons were back in premiership mode in 1972 and 1974, with the club’s Best and Fairest awards in those years going respectively to Don Franks and Mick Domaine. Other stars of this era were Frank Lord, Peter Lindsay and Surfers Paradise tough man Dale Templar. However the indisputable player of the 1970s had to be champion Centre half back, Tom Routledge, who won consecutive Best & Fairest awards in 1973, 1976 & 1977.
By 1980, the Gold Coast Australian Football League had reached new heights in its standard and professionalism, attracting talent from the southern Australian leagues. Col Burke was appointed senior coach in 1983, a year that coincided with the club’s final home ground move to where we are today - Sir Bruce Small Park. With the clubhouse and grounds not completed in time for the annual season, the club was forced to play the first five games away from its new home. The season then extended to just fifteen games. The SPAFC lost all five of those games plus round six at home. However, a remarkable comeback steered by Coach Burke saw the club sneak into the Grand Final, and we were runners up to Coolangatta. On the back of that remarkable year, the Demons bounced back to win the 1984 premiership at Carrara (where we narrowly went down by five points in 1985). Our Premiership best and fairest winner in 1984 – by a record margin - was Gavin Folan. The first Captain / Coach for many years - Paul Goss from Leongatha, Victoria - was recruited for the 1988/ 1989 seasons. Although we were defeated in the preliminary final in both years, this appointment certainly helped open up the Gippsland region for valuable north-bound recruiting in years to come. Star players in the 1980s included Gaven Folan, David Goldfinch, Mark Brand, Jamie Flanagan, Terry Atkinson, Darren Ermer, Neil Hardman and many more.
Two great Patrons in this era were Bill Ackerly and Kelly Small [son of Sir Bruce Small] who sponsored the club from the mid-80s to the late 90s. By 1990 – after almost three decades in the Gold Coast league - the club had built such a strong list that it became dual premiers winning senior and reserves grade premierships under returned coach Col Burke. The club now had tradition, a wide following, and was an indispensable part of the Gold Coast Australian Rules landscape. President, Patron and major sponsor Michael Stapleton was a huge contributor to our success in this era. Wayne Davis would go on to play over 200 senior games as Captain. In 1990 Paul Hams also arrived at the club; he was twice a Premiership and Team of the Century player, life member and has coached the Demons at senior and reserve grade level. Max McMahon was appointed senior coach in 1992 and he secured a Premiership in his first year. Danny Corbett (who won the 1990 League Medal) was our Premiership Captain in that triumphant season. It was followed by a heartbreaking five-point loss in the 1993 Grand Final. Many will remember Team 93’s spectacularly dangerous forward line that included Andrew Gibson, Barry Oates, Wayne Corbett and mid-fielders Gary and Rod Brewster. Along with Richie Elliot, these were the outstanding players of the period. Gibson kicked 525goals for the club in 78 senior games, an average of 6.5 goals per game. During 1996/97, the then Captain/Coach David Cameron had one remarkable game in which he kicked twenty-five goals. Our next and most recent senior premiership was in 1998, again under a first year coach in Brian Durack. His Co-Captains were Team of the Century representatives Peter Hunt and Shaun Stone. Stone was also a four-time Best and Fairest winner. The 1998 Premiership side also featured another league medallist in Brett Fisher. Significantly, it was the year we hosted our only senior Grand Final.
Since that last premiership, the captaincy has been shared eleven of twelve seasons by Jason Chantler  and Simon Fenton . John Millane equalled the club’s coaching record of five consecutive seasons in which we were runners up in 2004, and Simon Fenton has won a league Medal and three consecutive club Best & Fairest awards. Prominent 150-game player Luke Pridmore was also a stalwart. Our “200” game senior players - Robbie Bennets, Terry Atkinson and Wayne Davis – were joined in 2010 by Simon Fenton. As a senior club the Demons have a total of 10 Premierships and 10 runners up – a remarkable achievement in almost half a century of local competition.
Our juniors were formed in 1962 as one of six foundation members of the Gold Coast Juniors Football League and in 1964 the under 16s won the premiership and all junior teams followed. In 1963 with the 3rd 18 as under 18s/ 17s where they had won eight consecutive premierships from 1965 to 1972. In 1973 the under 19 Colts were created. We have nurtured and developed a disproportionate number of exceptional players who have gone on to play for our senior teams, Division 1 and the AFL – a testament to the club’s dedication and rich history. Our Junior and Senior clubs have delivered fourteen ex-Demons to the AFL. They are:
Brisbane Bears/ Lions: Steven McLuckie, Darren Carlson, Mathew Kennedy, Marcus Ashcroft, Clark Keating, Daniel Merrett and Trent Knobel. Geelong: Mark Woolnough. Nth Melbourne / Adelaide: Brad Moran. Adelaide: Aaron Keating. Melbourne: Ricky Petterd. Sydney: Jesse White. Hawthorn: Brent Renouf.
In 2001 the Demons fell on hard times and the club was restructured to become The Surfers Paradise Australian Football Club Inc. It is controlled by a Management Board of Directors, an umbrella for the senior and junior sub-committees. In that difficult year many former players and supporters rallied to renovate the club rooms, an action that brought senior and junior ranks closer together.
At this time an elderly gentleman - Jim West - put his hand up to help the club, and help he did. Jim organized materials to finish the club extension, lobbied the GCCC for new field lights and grants, and Qld Sport and Recreation for funding for revamped Change Rooms and an upgraded Gym. Gym equipment was secured from the Jupiter’s Community Fund. Following many donations of materials and labour, the club rooms, change facilities and gym buildings are today insured for more than a $ 1,000,000.
Jim didn’t stop there. In the following years he continued to lobby the GCCC for irrigation systems and a total renovation of the main oval. His tireless work has brought approximately $800,000 in Grants, Works and Donations to the Demons and our facilities are now one of the best in Qld Australian Football.
In 2005, Qld Australian Football was restructured into two divisions. Surfers Paradise is striving to be a force in Division Two. Indeed, 2009 witnessed one of our, and the coast league’s, greatest come back games. Playing against Maroochydore on their home turf in the second semi final, the Demons were trailing by 43 points ten minutes into the last quarter. By the final siren, Surfers had pulled off a miraculous 13-point victory.
By 2010 the club had embraced a youth policy for our strong juniors of 240 from Auskick to under 16s in an attempt to have them join the ranks of seniors’ players. By June of that year ten club teenage players debuted in the senior side. After almost half a century the club has deep roots, and this is no better exemplified than by the eighteen names on the Father & Son honour board. Surfers Paradise AFC is a community football club that teaches Football skills. But just as importantly it also imparts Life skills, the importance of Mateship and Discipline, and the virtues of working as a team.
As Surfers Paradise AFC reaches a new Decade, the Demons are committed, above all, to ensuring players and parents stay with and enjoy this Great Family Club. This History is a tribute to all the Coaches, Players and Volunteers of the past 50 years who have made the Club what it is today.
[Any History or Paraphernalia please ring Phil Pope 0418762749]