Jealousy by the North of the supposed elite South was the main reason for the formation of these annual North of the Yarra versus
South of the Yarra matches’
- Reuben Sackville one of AJAX Football Club’s first patrons
In the early 1930s most of Melbourne’s Jewish community lived in Carlton and Fitzroy. Many people had moved to St Kilda and Caulfield
by the mid ‘30s. As a result great rivalry grew between the two factions. This rivalry led to people from both sides of the Yarra organising
an annual football match to be played between the two Jewish “sections”.
North was much rougher and tougher in the early games and usually beat its smaller opponents. The later games saw South
starting to win its fair share of matches. There were a lot of injuries in the early games because many of the players had not trained
hard enough, but the matches were taken seriously on the day. In the later years, players from both the North and the South would train
for many weeks on Sunday mornings in preparation for “the big event”.
Crowds of up to 500 attended these matches, which were usually played in Eltham, Greensborough, Princes Park or at the Ross Gregory
Oval in Albert Park.
Melbourne – Friday September 5th 1947
NORTH SOUTH FOOTBALL MATCH
Over 200 people attended the match at Greensborough and witnessed a hard fast game, played under ideal conditions. Early in the match it seemed that North would win easily, but South staged a brilliant comeback in the final term to get within a point of their opponents. However North fought back to win comfortably
Melbourne - Friday August 8th 1952
SOUTH’S DASHING VICTORY - POST-WAR HOODOO SMASHED By Ben Sternfeld
In a keenly fought, rugged match SOUTH scored their first postwar victory, when they defeated NORTH by 15 points in the annual
North v. South (of the Yarra) Australian Rules game played before an enthusiastic crowd at Warrandyte last Sunday.
The first mention of an AJAX Football Club being formed occurred at the Annual General Meeting (A.G.M.) of the Ajax Roof
Organisation on March 28, 1955. Daryl Cohen, an Australian Rules enthusiast, proposed that a team be formed from Jewish
members of the community to compete in the Victorian Amateur Football Association (V.A.F.A.). After much discussion, AJAX
President Basil Isaacs proposed that a meeting of those interested in forming a club should be held during practices for the
North versus South match. But there was not great concern shown and nothing substantial was done until the following year.
It was decided at the 1956 AJAX A.G.M. that a meeting of all people interested would be called a few weeks before the
North-South match, and that every attempt would be made to enter a team in the V.A.F.A. the next season.
With the AJAX Football Club’s official application came a letter from the AJAX body saying it would support the new club. With AJAX's
acceptance into the V.A.F.A. the most important thing for the club was for it to find a home ground. With the help of St Kilda
parliamentarian Baron Snider, the club was able to get the Peanut Farm oval in Blessington Street St Kilda.
The club colours were to be the same as St Kilda in the Victorian Football League (V.F.L.) but would not include the
Saints’ emblem. AJAX Football Club president Dave Smith got a set of guernseys through Reuben Sackville, St Kilda president (1946-55).
The stage was now set for the start of AJAX climb to the top of the V.A.F.A.
JEWISH NEWS Melbourne, Friday, July 13th 1956
Football club seeks ground
Newly elected officials of the AJAX Football Club are seeking a ground for the 1957 season…. An AJAX team is to be entered in E Grade of the Vic. Amateur Football Assn., competition next season.
The first annual general meeting of the AJAX Football Club was held at Phillip Lasky Hall, 97 Alma Road, St Kilda, on January 30, 1957.
Peter Charlestone was appointed coach in early March 1957. Lionel Rosenberg was elected Captain, and Daryl Cohen his deputy.
AJAX’s first match in the V.A.F.A. took place on May 3, 1957 at its home ground in Blessington Street known as the “Peanut Farm”,
because peanuts were originally grown there. AJAX won by 31 points (11.20-86 to 8.7-55) against Insurance Social Club
The highlight of the (1957) home and away season, was the AJAX win over the previously undefeated Port Melbourne in
Round 17. AJAX’s great rivalry with Port Melbourne started in 1957. Despite the fact that there was usually trouble on the
field (with the players), as well as off the field (with the spectators), the clubs had a great respect for each other.
In the first game against Port., in Round 8, AJAX Captain, Lionel Rosenberg went into the Port rooms after the game to say
a few words, and not being too sure what to say after such a torrid game, calmly said: “Well you f…ed us, but where’s the beer.”
The second semi-final gave AJAX its biggest moment of the year when it gained promotion to D Grade by defeating
Port Melbourne. But lost to Port Melbourne by nine points in the final in blustery and wet conditions.
At trophy night Peretz Kalman, a great centre half back, won the club’s Best and Fairest. Kalman was also equal top vote
getter in the E-Grade Best and Fairest, but lost on a countback. One of the guests at presentation night was the secretary
of the V.A.F.A. Jack Fullerton. In his speech he said that the club had done credit to itself by playing the game the way it
should be played. His final remark created the most “interest”: saying that the most important thing was for us all to
be good Christians, which was well received by a 95% Jewish audience.
And so ended AJAX’s very successful initiation into the Amateurs.
By 1959 the Club had played in two losing Grand Finals. In 1959, even after having been undefeated and winning 19
straight games, AJAX lost to Footscray Tech., in the grand final. AJAX has defeated Footscray tech., by four points in
Round 10 after being four goals down with five minutes to go. In this match, the AJAX timekeeper, Ron Rogers was
involved in a fight with his Footscray Tech., counterpart. With AJAX two points down and 30 seconds to go the Footscray
Tech., timekeeper said he was going to ring the siren. Rogers told him that he wasn’t going to, and so the struggle
started. Thirty seconds later, Rogers allowed his fellow timekeeper to ring the siren with the scoreboard showing AJAX
four points in front.
AJAX found itself in “C” Grade in 1960 and was now fielding a Reserves team, which played curtain raisers to the
senior matches. Despite the club struggling in the early 1960’s to maintain it’s momentum, it had 51 players on its senior list.
1961 saw the launch of the club song, which was originally typewritten on toilette paper, and was arranged by
Ron Goldberg, the club comic. The was song was subsequently condensed to its present form and is sung to the tune Hava Nagila:
Who are we?
Who Are we?
We’re the boys from AJAX Football Club,
We fight for victory,
Losers we’ll never be, as we fight for the flag, AJAX , AJAX
Up the ladder we’ll go higher,
Every forward is a flyer,
Every backman is a trier, AJAX , AJAX
AJAX football club is here.
How do we do it?
1962 - 1963
In 1962 the club moved from its home ground at Blessington Street Oval to Oval No.14 Albert Park. The many player
vacancies through retirements and injuries took its toll on the club in that year.
AJAX won only one game of the last fifteen in the season, and for the first time in its history was relegated to D Grade
after finishing last.
The Reserves had a similar season to the Seniors. After winning four of their fist five games and looking like a
real premiership threat, the Reserves suddenly dropped form and recorded only one victory in the last 13 rounds.
One of the seasons big disappointments occurred against Caulfield Grammarians Reserves. For the first time the
club came close to forfeiting a match. However, it was saved this embarrassment when five committeemen took the
field. Two of these were Clem Epstein and John Brustman.
The retirement of so many brilliant footballers in such a short space of time made it virtually impossible for the club to succeed.’
John Brustman – Committeeman 1962-63
AJAX did not fair any better in 1963, and found itself facing relegation, which became a reality after losing to Elsternwick by 14 points. AJAX would be back in E Grade in 1964.
1964 - 1967
1964 saw a rejuvenated AJAX Football Club. It seemed that the club was about to start a new era, as players
were enthusiastic about playing football for the first time in years. The AJAX Committee decided to enter a
third team in the V.A.F.A. under 20 competition. The newly formed AJAX Third XVIII (Juniors) side faired
poorly to begin with as a direct result of the high standard of the division.
The achievements of these years were very much a result of the establishment of a junior side, as well as the
gaining of a number of talented recruits.
Harold Davis, President 1964 - 67
It was in the 1964 season that AJAX had a player reported – Joe Flinkier. He was reported for unduly rough play
for fending off a player with an open hand to the face. At the tribunal, Joe produced a photograph from the
previous V.F.L. round which showed Ron Barassi (Melbourne) in exactly the same situation. Flinkier was found
not guilty by the tribunal.
As the 1965 season progressed, it was obvious that the 1964 Juniors were starting to show the reward of experience,
and Ajax Seniors finished in third place after losing only four home games.
The First Premiership
Season 1966 was to be one to remember. AJAX Football Club won its first premiership when the senior team scored
a runaway 71-point win over Old Ivanhoe Grammarians on September 10. This was a culmination of a highly
successful year, where the benefit of the formulation of the Under 19s in 1964 has started to show. In pre-season
practice matches and training sessions many of the Under 19s were exerting pressure on the regular players. The
enthusiasm of these lads and the masterly manner of coach Lionel Rosenberg, had the players in peak condition at
the start if the season. Stan Duzenman dominated the centre in that premiership year, and was awarded the
Harold Sackville Trophy as well as club’s Best and Fairest award.
On the social side, the club had never been stronger. The annual barbeque hosted 800 people, and the end-of-season
trip turned out to be a function that should never be missed. The success of the club continued as club representatives
Hiram Janover and John Brustman won the interclub drinking challenge by beating the Carey representatives.
Reserves finished fifth on the ladder, and the Juniors finished sixth after losing several closely contested games.
The 1967 season did not go as well as expected. After being on top of the ladder for the first six games of the year,
the side finished fourth, a disappointing result considering the talent of the team. AJAX's rise to C Grade may have
been prevented by two losses to lowly sides, Brunswick and Fairfield, which stopped the club getting the double chance.
During the year AJAX had the great honour of playing in the amateur match of the day against Hampton Rovers,
(the eventual premiers) at Elsternwick Park: the first time this had happened in the clubs 11-year history.
Reserves had a disappointing season, after starting the year brilliantly. The Juniors provided a real highlight for the club,
making the finals for the first time.
1968 to 1969
1968 saw changes in the club leaders prompted by illness, and business and study commitments. AJAX seniors
won three out of the first five games to place them near the top of the ladder, but they won only one out of the
next nine games, which brought the club close to relegation. The one pleasing aspect of the year was the way
the team fought for victory when facing relegation. In Round 15, AJAX turned on a brilliant display to defeat premiership
favourite Parkside 9.9-63 to 7.13-55. And in Round 17, AJAX, needing a win to secure themselves in D Grade, defeated
Fairfield 16.7-103 to 10.12-72.
The Juniors and Reserves proved to be the club highlight of the year, and both teams played off in the grand
finals. Reserves started the season magnificently winning the first six games, but inconsistency saw them finish
fourth after the home and away games. The Juniors only lost one of the first eight games, but were brought down
to earth when whitewashed by Old Paradians 16.13-109 to 0.6-6. The youngsters regained confidence despite the drubbing,
and made it to the grand final, where they were thrashed again the undefeated Old Paradians.
1969 was a bad year for the AJAX Football club. The Seniors finished last, which saw the team relegated back to E Grade
and the Juniors went through the season without winning a game. The Seniors suffered from player depletion and rarely
saw the appearance of their most outstanding players because of injury and alternative commitments. The Reserves
made the four, which was the highlight of the club. Reserves lost to Old Trinity after missing two easy goals in the semi-final.
Melbourne, August 1st 1969
Knockers by Hans Licht
Knock-knock, you can hear them at work, KNOCK-KNOCK, they’re digging and sniping. Woodpeckers? Yes the human variety. This time they’re knocking AJAX footballers for their lack of success in the current VAFA D section season.
In the meantime, a closer look at AJAX senior XVIII shows high team spirit, devoted officials, youthful (future) talent and a number of close results which could have gone the other way.
1970 to 1974
1970 saw changes both on and off the field. This included both coaching and club committee changes, and 1970 proved to be a poor year for the club. For the first time in its history, the Seniors failed to make the four in E Grade. Things looked both promising, with the debut of new and exciting players, and not so promising where players were again missed – some players deciding to play with clubs in higher grades. As a result the club won only eight games for the season and finished seventh. Despite the mediocre season, the club did show some patches of brilliance. In Round 18 AJAX defeated State Savings Bank (fifth). The result seemed to have no significance at the time, as State Savings Bank could not make the four, and AJAX could not go any lower than ninth (in a 12 team competition) and could not be relegated. It was announced that in February of 1971, a new section, F Section, would be added to the competition, and the four bottom teams in E Grade in 1970 would be relegated. The win against State Savings Bank meant that AJAX would not be relegated to F Grade in 1971. The Reserves also had a disappointing 1970 season, despite the potential of the side, and the Juniors, although fielding a side every week, received some humiliating defeats.
1971 saw AJAX finishing sixth, but this was amongst much activity within the club. For the first time in the club’s history, it got a permanent home and wonderful facilities for its players with the establishment of the Gary Smorgon Memorial Pavilion. The acquisition of the pavilion had been one of the main aims of every committee since the foundation of the club in 1957. The Seniors showed some improvement during the year, and if not for a mid season slump, would have made the four. The year saw the promotion of a number of junior players into AJAX Seniors. As a result, the Junior side suffered, but the spirit of the team was never dented because of the type of characters in the side.
The Reserves won the flag in 1971 by defeating the other three finalists from fourth position, providing the year’s highlight for the club.
Seasons 1972 and 1973 were frustrating years for the AJAX Amateur Football Club. The committee had hoped for a marked improvement in the club’s performance in 1972 because 1971 finished on such a high note. But the club limped home with some mediocre performances. After starting well at the beginning of 1972, a mid-season slump hit which saw AJAX in the relegation zone. The team was crippled with injury, and suspensions, while other players had chosen to retire. Courage and determination saw the Seniors finish fifth in the home and away season.
The Reserves were “moral premiers” having to forfeit the grand final because of Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year). The V.A.F.A. Executive and the E Grade clubs (except for Marcellin) rejected a request from the AJAX committee to defer the game should it fall on the same date. Reserves had already won the second semi-final by more than 10 goals, despite having such a strong side around finals time, they were short of players at times during the year. In Round 14, committeeman John Brustman again took the field to make up the numbers, which proved to be the match-winning move.
1973 saw the Seniors start the year like world beaters and looking like premiership material by Round 5, but finished the season like lambs in fifth position again. The most disappointing aspect of the side was its inconsistency. To be able to beat the two grand finalists by nearly twenty goals, showed how much talent was in the side, but to lose to the bottom team twice showed there was something lacking in the players’ attitudes.
Reserves had a disappointing year and struggled to field a side for most of the season. A victory that meant so much to AJAX Reserves was the defeating of Old Ivanhoe, which won the 1972 Reserves grand final because of AJAX having to forfeit the game. Having been robbed of the flag, the players were keyed up like never before. The Captain Tom Lefkovic was reported for striking and Rod Morley for abusive language. The umpire who reported Morley was his personal lawyer, Ernest Woolf, who for once, could not defend his client. Morley did not need Ernest’s help, as he was able to convinced the tribunal of his innocence himself.
The Juniors had their best year for many seasons.
1974 saw AJAX Seniors remain in fifth position on the ladder by the end of the home and away season, albeit with an improved side. The Reserves, while starting the season with five straight losses, suddenly hit form to record four wins in the next five matches.
The Juniors proved to be a big disappointment, and did not win a game until Round 15. There was also conflict between the Junior and Senior sides. This occurred because several Junior players were promoted to the Senior side, this resulted in low Junior team morale.
1974 - 1979
‘With an enthusiastic approach both the players and administration developed a discipline that was the forerunner to the success on the field.’
After the improvement shown by the club in 1974, both at player and committee level, everybody was hoping that the many changes that took place would lead to success, which in fact they did.
Changes occurred in the office of President, with Ron Rogers taking over from David Burstein, Ben Sternfeld became Chairman and Daryl Cohen made a comeback as Senior Coach. On paper the team looked weaker than the previous year, having suffered further depletion through player retirement. However, vast improvement in the Juniors more than compensated for the loss in regular players. Exceptional support shown by former Captains in Tom Lefkovic and Barrie Jurberg, and grim determination shown by players focused on getting selected for the Senior team, proved to be the making of the side. One such player was Julien Wiener, who missed the Senior Grand Final because of a knee injury, but was able to play in the Reserves preliminary grand final. Wiener was knocked out by the Elsternwick full back before the ball was bounced. This same “gentleman” was disqualified for life from the Amateurs for first hitting John Brustman, AJAX Club Secretary, while a spectator at the Senior grand final the previous week, and then hitting Wiener. Round 1 saw AJAX come home to a 10 goal victory, and with only another 3 losses in the ensuing seventeen games, AJAX proved that they were the outstanding side in E Grade.
A Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) grand final conflict was nullified with the V.A.F.A. Executive and the Amateurs agreeing to postpone the game for a week, should AJAX make the final – which they did. AJAX won the flag on September 13th, 1975 by defeating Elsternwick, and in so doing succeeded in going up to D Grade.
AJAX Reserves also had an outstanding year, and for the first time in several years gave the Seniors great depth
1975 unfortunately saw the abandonment of the AJAX Junior side established in 1974.
In 1976 it seemed that AJAX was in for a good season. Its practice match form against A Grade Coburg and B Grade Old Scotch, showed that AJAX would have been worthy of a higher grade. The year started with incredible success, the Seniors notched up 13 straight victories. Added to the previous year’s six successive wins, the side equaled the club record of 19 successive wins established in 1959.
AJAX lost the second semi final by one point, but made it to the grand final which, even though proving disastrous, saw AJAX seniors advance to C Grade. Apart from being well beaten on the scoreboard, many of the AJAX players were badly injured. The most serious of these being a broken arm suffered by Phil Rozen, and a broken sternum by Mark Feldpicer. Mike Bialek succeeded in kicking 67 goals for the season.
The Reserves had a great season, remaining on to or close to the top for most of the season, which kept the pressure up on the Senior players.
1977 looked like being very bleak for AJAX. Attendances dropped remarkably during the pre-season. Those “in the know” said that C Grade would test AJAX, and that the side would be found wanting when the big men were needed. Relegation to D Grade seemed to be foremost in people’s minds. Optimism increased, however, with the onset of the practice matches, which included a 10 goal win over A Grade Coburg. But this optimism was soon brought back to reality with a nine goal loss to Parkside in the opening round. Fortunately AJAX went from strength to strength as the season progressed, helped by the improvement in form of the ruckmen Jeff Jankie and Jim Kessel. A club record was achieved in that year, when AJAX defeated Melbourne High School Old Boys (MHSOB) 28.25-193 to 9.9-63. Seniors did not manage to advance to B Grade, but the season proved to be more successful than anyone had envisaged. To be successful in the home and away series proved to everybody that AJAX Seniors were ready to establish themselves as a force in the Amateurs league. The disappointment at losing the final to Parkside was instrumental in inspiring the players start gym and attend weightlifting courses to ensure the same thing would not happen again in 1978.
Reserves had a frustrating season, when at times they looked like world beaters, and then at other times would lose to sides that should not have come within 5 or 6 goals.
1978 has proven to be the most important year in the club’s history. It was clearly understood that failure to gain promotion to B Grade for the 1979 season would set the club back significantly. AJAX lost many players from the 1977 side, and also lost the inspiring and successful leadership of coach Daryl Cohen. The AJAX Senior coaching position was filled by Syd Myers, who had a more professional and much harder line of approach. The loss to Old Brighton Grammarians in the opening round did little to instill confidence, but the drubbing of Old Ivanhoe Grammarians by 20 goals in the next round made up for lost ground. AJAX only lost one other match between rounds 2 and 15. AJAX found themselves at the top of the ladder at the end of the home and away games.
Melbourne, September 15th 1978
FINALS JITERS AGAIN
Team form deteriorated during the finals, but AJAX managed to defeat St Kilda by one point in the semi final, and secured the promotion to B Grade. The semi final game proved costly however, with the team suffering injuries that included a broken jaw as well as the suspension of a player whose fist became accidentally entangled with an opposition player’s jaw.
Reserves once again had a disappointing year, despite starting the year positively.
While 1978 was an important year historically, 1979 to date, was the greatest year in the history of the AJAX Amateur Football Club. AJAX seniors won the B Grade premiership flag. The victory was the culmination of a tremendous amount of work put in by all concerned, which involved not only players and coaches, but also the committee, headed by President, Daryl Cohen.
The beginning of the season looked bleak because of the impact of injury and player’s work commitments. This impact was mitigated by the inclusion of players making a comeback after injury, as well as the re-instatement of Michael Zemski, former league and Association player, as an amateur half way through the season. While the season started out promisingly, it was not without its problems, which included the end of a 30 match-winning streak with a loss to Parkside on the home ground – the first loss to Parkside in four years. After losing only one of the next 16 matches, AJAX succeeded in getting to the top of the ladder, won the grand final by defeating Marcellin 13.14-92 to 11.20-86, and was promoted to A Grade.
Coach Syd Myers was appointed in 1977 and had the responsibility of getting AJAX seniors to A Grade as soon as possible. The club took only three years get there – a truly remarkable achievement.
Reserves had another disappointing year, and won only three of their home and away matches, and finished bottom of the ladder.
The 1980's saw the extreme highs at the AJAX Football Club as well as the real lows. The Jackers started the decade in A Grade and finished it in E Grade - what a transformation!!! For the first time in the Club's History AJAX played in a very strong A Grade competition from 1980 - 1982 and at times in 1981 and 82 were in the four only to fall away at the end of the season. The decade was also disappointing in that the senior side only participated in one finals match - a loss to Banyule in the first semi final in 1986 by four points.
Many of the players who had worked so hard to take AJAX from E Grade to A Grade in the second half of the 1970's were still around but in several cases were starting to age. Losing several stars from the 1979 Premiership Team was going to be a massive blow to the club. Mordy Bromberg returned back to the VFL (now AFL), Russell Basser,(Retired to concentrate on his Olympic aspirations and represented Australia at the Olympics in Water Polo) whilst Mark Kalmus's year ended in a practice match against Old Scotch when he ruptured his knee and missed the whole year. Other losses were the brilliant Henry Bluzer who was seriously injured in a car crash and despite playing 10 games for the year couldn't perform at his usual brilliant normal high standard because of the battering his body had taken in the car crash. Another star David Segal also had a very injury prone year and after playing 19 games in 1979 was limited to a mere 3 games in 1980. One bonus was that former VFL star Mike Zemski played a full year compared to only a handful of games the previous year.
A new coach Phil Davis was appointed to replace the highly successful Sid Myers who had been appointed to coach A Grade side University Blues. All players had prepared to play B Grade but on the Thursday Night leading up to the opening round were told that AJAX were back in A Grade and Uni Blues were relegated to B Grade for playing an ineligible player (Karvelis their star) throughout 1980 and had therefore lost all their points. One player who was ecstatic at the news was Mark Kalmus who thought his aspirations of playing A Grade may have passed him by due to his serious knee injury the previous year. However, the news allowed him to achieve his ultimate goal of playing in A Grade. Other bonuses included the debut of Peter De Winter who put in several outstanding performances, David Segal who played a full year as a hard working goal kicking star and Julien wiener whose brilliant kicking from the backline set up many goals in the forward line, The brilliant coaching of Phil Davis was a major reason as to why AJAX threatened the four for all the year and performed well above everybody's expectations. Phil's ability to get the best out of the likes of Volleyballer Leonard Kipen was a credit to his coaching ability. A 6th place in A grade is the highest place AJAX has ever finished in its 50 Year plus history.
Phil Davis was living in Ballarat and decided that the trek to AJAX was a bit too difficult so AJAX appointed their third coach in three years - Graeme Weinert. After achieving reasonable success in the first half of the year the committee decided to sack him and appoint Mike Zemski who had limited success with one victory coming from the last 9 games.
Phil Davis, after returning from his studies in America took on the challenge of trying to get back to A Grade after being relegated back to C Grade. The highlight of the year was the defeating of Old Trinity who had previously won 23 games in a row. This helped set the Jackers up for a run at the Finals as well as a potential promotion back to B Grade. However, this was not to be as Banyule hit the lead with a couple of minutes to go (and retained it) in the First Semi Final. This was to be the AJAX Senior Team's only finals performance throughout the 1980's.
1994 AJAX was playing in B grade. Ernie Cherny was President and Mark Sarau was senior coach,with Wayne Holdsworth as Reserves coach.Half way through season the Jackas seniors were on the bottom, but AJAX under 19s were on top.The U19s played in its 3rd consecutive grand final but unfortunately AJAX lost. AJAX seniors finished bottom and were relegated.Senior Best and Fairest was Daniel Pat.
Ernie Cherny remained President for 1995 in C Grade with Mark Sarau as senior coach and Sol Skurnik as Reserves coach.After 8 rounds both teams were top of the ladder, each having lost only 1 game.But then trouble struck. AJAX seniors finished outside the 4 on percentage with 11 wins.The ressies finished 2nd. AJAX smashed Monash in the 2nd semi but lost the grand final.The best and fairest was won by Greg Rozenberg.
Ernie Cherny was reappointed again as President with new senior coach Rodd Morgan and reseves coach being Anthony Bursztyn. Half way through the season both seniors and reserves were 7 wins and 2 losses, and both in the four. The under 19s were struggling, having only won 2 games.Both teams finished the season playing finals. The seniors were knocked in the first semi but the reserves won by 1 point. AJAX reserves went on to play in the grand final but lost to Marcellin.Leading goal kicker for C grade was Andrew Kalinski (85goals) The best and fairest was Phillip Goldberg.
Mark Feldy was appointed President in 1997.Phil Aarons was senior coach and Brian Zielinski the Reserves Coach.Henry Ritterman was the under 19s coach. AJAX FC needs a strong under 19 team to ensure future success.This under 19 team proved the highlight of the season and set up the successful club performances and results over the next few years. The under 19 team reached the preliminary final. The tragedy of the bridge collapse at the Maccabiah Games in Israel where some of the AJAX players were competing, will be a terrible memorial for that year. The best and fairest winner was Martin Haphen.
The 1998 season began as a rebuilding one following a disappointing 1997. Mark Feldy remained as President and Rick Marks was appointed senior coach and Andrew Shenker as reserves coach. Rick and Andrew combined to bring a new increased level of professionalism, ensuring onfield performances improved during the season. This would ensure continuous improvement over the next few years. The senior team finished the home and away season 3rd and won its first final, but at the cost of several serious injuries, losing the preliminary final.The reserves however finished the season on top and won the D Grade Reserve Premiership-the club's first flag since 1979.Henry Ritterman again coached the under 19s. The best and fairest was won jointly by Martin Halphen and Andrew Freund.
1999 - 2014
1999 was a remarkable year and probably the most successful in the Club’s history winning 2 flags. The seniors defeated Bulleen Templestowe while the reserves defeated Thomastown. Under the presidency of Jeffrey Jankie, the senior team coached by Rick Marks claimed its first title since 1979. The reserves coached by Andrew Shenker on the other hand went back to back claiming the flag in 1998. There were many highlights during the year. Ant Rosen against Kew broke the club record with 16 goals and 2 weeks later against Yarra Valley kicked 18. His tally at the conclusion of the season was another club record topping the charts in D grade with 115 goals. Captained brilliantly by Martin Halphen who not only won the club best & fairest but was also adjudged the best player of the finals series. Phil Goldberg was another standout and was an inspiration to the team. The team leadership group comprised Marty and Phil together with Andrew Kalinski, Ant Rosen and David Gelbart. Les Levin and Brian Goldberg excelled in the tough contests. Joel Basist won the competition goal kicking in the reserves bagging 65 goals. Dean Mohr and Danny Weislitzer tied for the reserves best and fairest. Dean was also named the best player of the finals. Bruce Josem coached the Under 19 that was captained by Jake Sharp. Brent Lukav won the best & fairest in the team that finished just outside the four.
At the conclusion of the previous season all 3 coach’s needed to be replaced. The senior spot was handled by former Carlton great Wayne Harmes. Club stalwart and 1999 premiership player David Marks took the reins for the reserves while Mark Zuker was in charge of the Under 19 group. Jeffrey Jankie was again at the helm. Due to the Olympic Games the break between the conclusion of last season and the commencement of season 2000 was shorter the team struggled with consistency but managed to finish 3rd on the ladder. In the last round of the season in a match that had no bearing on the final four Hampton Rovers at home inflicted a heavy defeat, but one week later AJAX comprehensively reversed the result. Had AJAX won the final round they would have finished 2nd on the ladder. In the preliminary final AJAX led Therry at half time but played poorly and lost. Gab Dukes was outstanding and won the club trophies for best & fairest and the AJN as well as the coach’s trophy. Joel Basist again won the competition goal scorer with 41 goals. Jason Feldman won the best & fairest. The team just missed the finals by one game. Two draws during the season were costly. Saul Newstadt won the best & fairest in the Under 19 in a season where many new players were tried in team finishing a creditable 7th.
Mark Sarau was appointed coach at the conclusion of the 2000 season. A pre-season camp at Torquay was a highlight. Brad Davis was selected in the VAFA representative C-D side and Jason Ritterman the Under 19 side. Overall the senior results were disappointing resulting in the team being relegated. Jeremy Dukes played only 9 games for the season but so good was his form that he won the club best & fairest from Martin Halphen and Michael Weisler. Forty eight players represented the side that won only one game in the first half of the season and when the season was all but over won the last three for a season total of five. The reserves fared a little better under David Marks winning seven matches. Amir Lefkovic won the best & fairest. The most successful team was the Under 19 who won the first premiership for the club. During the season the team only lost twice to Mentone (the minor premiers). At season end they had a whopping percentage of nearly 300. In the second semi-final AJAX won the right to play in the grand final by defeating Mentone by 3 points. The teams met again in the grand final and in a nail biting finish AJAX won by the barest of margins. Elliot Janover was the best & fairest from Jason Lewis and Gary Blieden.
Phil Davis returned to coach again in 2002 having previously coached in1981 and 1986. Barry Simon took over as reserves coach while Gary Blusztein was in charge of the Under 19. Jeffrey Jankie continued his presidency for his fourth term. Emphasis was placed on doing things properly. Players were involved in a gym program to “toughen up” and a number of business style breakfast lectures were conducted. On the field over 100 players represented the club. Forty two players tasted senior football including 16 for the first time. The seniors won eight games for the season including victories over 3 of the finalists. Gab Dukes after being overseas the previous year returned and followed his brother in winning the club best & fairest. Mark Segal was second and Jonathan Berger third. The reserves were unfortunate to lose one of their final rounds by the barest of margins which may have given them 2nd position however victories in both the 1st semi-final and preliminary final took them to the grand final where they lost agonizingly by one point. 62 players represented the team with Ben Erlich playing all 21 games. Sol Newstadt was adjudged best & fairest defeating Adam Zemski. The Under 19 also made the grand final but was soundly defeated by Monash Blues. Ben Goldbloom was best & fairest defeating Leigh Fetter.
2003 promised a lot and was one of the best for many years. 136 players represented AJAX including 74 that played Club 18. Jeffrey Jankie continued as President and all 3 coaches from last season were reappointed. Tim O’Shaughnessy was recruited to the Club as Director of Coaching of both the senior and junior clubs. There were many season highlights but the massive victory at Optus Oval over fellow finalist University Blacks and Julian Kirzner notching his 100th goal was hard to top. Monash Blues were the stand out team of the year and soundly defeated AJAX in both the 2nd semi-final and grand final after AJAX had defeated Old Mentonians in the preliminary final. Kirzner broke the club record with 118 goals; Nick Gold was best & fairest from Kirzner and Jona Segal. Monash were also the bench mark in the reserves however AJAX were their masters in both the 2nd semi-final and grand final. Adam Zemski was best & fairest defeating Ash Goldman and Daniel Goldenfein. Josh Pask captained the Under 19. The side finished with 9 wins and Josh Givoni won the best & fairest from David Codron and Ben Rose. The Club 18 fought hard for 5 wins for the season.
The full coaching panel of Phil Davis and Tim O’Shaughnessy, Barry Simon and Gary Blusztein were reappointed as well as Jeffrey Jankie who presided over the club again in 2004. During the year the team played at Punt Road, Sportscover and Sandringham. The seniors won just enough games to avoid relegation. One of those victories was over rivals Monash Blues mid-season by 5 points. Nick Gold repeated his best & fairest from Gary Blieden and Julian Kirzner the latter two were also selected in the VAFA team of the year. Kirzner won the competition goal kicking as well with 89 goals. Mark Blashki, Nick Gold, Julian Kirzner, Ben Klein and Grant Samuel played all games. The reserves had an excellent season finishing third with 11 wins. In the 1st semi-final AJAX prevailed in double extra time to defeat Old Camberwell. In the preliminary final AJAX continued their dominance over Monash but lost to Hampton Rovers in the Grand final. Darren Gerber and Adam Sacks played in all games. Brett Duzenman won the best & fairest from Darren Seidl. The Under 19 struggled in the latter half of the year. Earlier winning 5 from the first 8 matches was promising. The emergence of Evgeni Routman best & fairest was hopefully a glimpse of the future.
At the commencement of 2005 Phil Davis was forced to relinquish his role of senior coach however Tim O’Shaughnessy was able to fill the breach perfectly. The Jankie reign continued as did Barry Simon as reserve coach. Michael Konsky took over as coach of the Under 19. Again without a home ground AJAX played all home games at Sportscover except one which although held at the Gary Smorgon oval was nearly postponed because of the state of the ground. A horror start by the seniors with 5 losses was worrying but they then became the glamour team winning the next eight. Injuries and the Maccabi games played havoc and the team limped to only another 2 wins. The reserves and Under 19 both struggled winning only 5 and 3 games respectively. The winners of the best & fairest were Ari Lewski from Jonathon Berger and Jason Israelsohn in the seniors, Matt Dudakov from Adam Zemski and Darren Seidl in the reserves and David Blusztein from Josh Sacks and Ben Hershan in the Under 19. Lewski and Israelsohn were named in the State team as was Josh Sacks in the Under 19 representative team. Lewski, Mark Segal and Julian Kirzner were named in the C grade team of the year while Kirzner again was the leading goal kicker in C grade.
Amir Perzuck became President to start the 2006 season. Tim O’Shaughnessy continued as senior coach, Matt Dudakov took over the reserves position and Michael Konsky handled the Under 19 again. A poor start to the season saw the seniors lose 3 out of the first 5 games but with only 2 more losses the club finished 2nd on the ladder 3 games clear of 3rd position. St Bedes undefeated going into the 2nd semi-final were hot favourites but were stunned by AJAX and lost by one goal 116-110 in a brilliant match. St Bedes tackled the Jackas in the Grand Final in a stunning match in the match of the century. After holding good lead early AJAX surrendered the lead a number of times to eventually fail by the narrowest of margins 138-137. Corey Jankie and Jared Raleigh played in all senior games. Yaron Rapoport kicked 55 goals, Aaron Bloom 44 and Anthony Rosen 32. The reserves after a promising start failed to produce in the latter half of the season, finished with 8 wins in 7th position. The Under 19 could only manage 3 wins and finished 9th. Ari Lewski went back to back winning the best & fairest from Jared Raleigh and Jason Ritterman. The reserves winner was Ash Goldman from Adam Sacks and Adam Zemski. Lewski, Ritterman and Jason Israelsohn were State representatives as were Corey Jankie and Ben Hershan in the Under 19 team. Lewski, Ritterman, Jason Israelsohn and Darren Sutton were named in the C Grade team of the year.
For the 3rd time in their history AJAX were to play in B grade for season 2007. At the commencement of the season the club celebrated its 50th year with a glittering affair at Crown. Amir Perzuck was presided over the club again. Tim O’Shaughnessy was unable to continue as coach as he had taken up a position at the Australian Istitute of Sport. Stuart Powell was appointed senior coach with Matt Dudakov again in the chair for the reserves and Jesse Feldy the Under 19. While losing a grand final by one point was devastating, losing the final match against Old Melburnians by 2 points in a relegation battle was bitter pill to swallow. Both opening games were both lost by 5 points but the next 2 games with strong victories promised a lot. In the rematch against St Bedes at Sportscover AJAX eradicated the loss of the grand final with a 16 goal drubbing. In round 17 AJAX had the opportunity to leap ahead of Old Melburnians but lost a thriller to cellar dweller MHSOB. At the conclusion of the year AJAX fell one game short. Had AJAX won they would have probably finished 5th an amazing statistic. Ari Lewski made it three on the trot, winning from Marcus Jankie and Jason Ritterman. Adrian Lewin was best in the reserves from Brad Nissen with Rubin Winograd was best in the Under 19 from Michael Herscu and Josh Dorevitch. Ben Kalmus represented the VAFA in the Under 19 team while Jason Ritterman was named in the B grade team of the year. The reserves only won 3 matches during the year finished 9th. The Under 19 in losing their last game dropped from the four finishing 5th.
Brian Goldberg became President for the first time in 2008. Stuart Powell continued as senior coach. Gary Blusztein and Ian Fayman handled the reserves and Under 19. The records show that AJAX was statistically the team to beat with strong wins over all other finalists in the last few rounds. In particular the victory over home team Oakleigh was incredible following a horrific injury to star Jason Seidl. The victory by 75 points had all talking premierships and a return to B grade. In the final round of the season only a matter of percentage separated the finalists. Added to that Mazenod still had an opportunity to take a place in the finals but they had to defeat AJAX and depend on another result to fall their way. Neither occurred but unfortunately despite likely to finish 2nd AJAX lost that position to Ormond who overwhelmed MHSOB in the final stanza. Still AJAX took the field against Oakleigh in the 1st semi-final chock full of confidence, however the spark seemed to disappear and Oakleigh won by 24 points. The reserves also had a reasonable year finishing 4th and after winning the 1st semi-final against Mazenod by 33 points lost the preliminary final to Oakleigh by 19 points. The Under 19 were clearly the second best team in the competition behind Monash Blues, but disappointingly lost both finals to Monash by 18 points after leading at the start of the last quarter by 22 points and then to De La Salle by 25 points. Gary Blieden won the best & fairest from Jeremy Dukes and Ari Lewski. Jesse Osowicki finished ahead of Ryan Kagan in the reserves while David Selzer was adjudged best in the Under 19. Jason Ritterman won the competition best & fairest in C grade and was named together with Gary Blieden and Evgeni Routman in the C Grade team of the Year.
A new era commenced in 2009 when Bernie Sheehy was appointed senior coach. Many changes were seen at the club, changes that certainly set up the future. Winning 7 of the first 9 matches saw AJAX as one of the contenders however injuries and player travel arrangements had a huge effect and only 2 more wins came in the second half of the season, the side finishing 6th. David fayman was the club’s leading goal kicker with 58 goals. The reserves under coach Gary Blusztein struggled and won only 6 games to finish 7th. The Under 19 under Darren Seidl had at the conclusion of the home and away season the Under 19 occupied 2nd position but as in the previous year lost both finals. Gary Blieden again won the senior best & fairest from Mark Segal and Rubin Winograd. Rodney Grof was the reserves best from Sam Bruce and Ben Rotstein. Matthew Kaye and Matthew Nissen tied for the Under 19 best from Josh Ludski and Noah Rischin. David fayman and Gary Blieden were named in the C Grade team of the year.
Brian Goldberg was President for his third year , Bernie Sheehy took the helm in 2010 and was a little unfortunate in not having the team play off. There were 3 outstanding sides including AJAX and strong wins against the other two Caulfield Grammarians and Beaumaris promised a lot. Winning the first 5 games then losing by 2 points against home team Beaumaris, followed another victory then a loss to Caulfield by 16 points before another 4 wins was halted by a drubbing in the Mazenod mud. The next 4 games were won prior to the first semi-final against Old Camberwell who had claimed their position with a good win against Caulfield the flag favourite. This danger game was quickly dispelled as AJAX were never troubled winning by 11 goals. The preliminary final was a nail biting affair in dreadful conditions with water all over the Sandringham ground. Beaumaris asserted their supremacy early in the game. It was catch up football from then on with AJAX missing several chances to steal the game failing by 4 points allowing the opposition only one goal after the first quarter. Maybe it was a case of the better side losing. Sadly Beaumaris gained a spot in the grand final, promotion and after losing the 2nd semi-final won the premiership. The reserves lost 2 vital games in round 16 and 17 which put them out of contention for the finals. The team finished 5th 4 games and 50% ahead of 6th. For the third successive year the Under 19 made the final four but was bundled out in the 1st semi-final. During the year a massive 175 point victory over Old Haileybury was a highlight. Warren Steinberg won his first best & fairest narrowly over Evgeni Routman and Ari Lewski. David Fayman was the C Grade leading goal kicker and he together with Steinberg, Jarrod White and Danny Weislitzer were named in the C Grade team of the year. Luke Peters took out the reserves award from Jesse Osowicki and Ben Rotstein. Matthew Kaye repeated his success of last year from Brad Caplan and Nadav Harel.
2011 will possibly go down as one of the most successful in the club’s history. Ian Fayman was elected the new President and Bernie Sheehy was the senior coach. Darren Seidl stepped up to be reserves coach while Adam Slade-Jacobson handled the Under 19 team as well as Barry Simon for the newly formed Club 18. One hundred and forty five players represented the club. Financially the club were in strong position with sponsors hopefully getting plenty of exposure. A state of the art electronic scoreboard was launched at the opening game of the season. The “Richard Pratt Scoreboard” set the tone for a first class season. After 3 wins the side had stamped their authority on the season. Round 4 pitted against early flag favourites Werribee showed that the team was “the real thing” winning by 26 points with 16 more scoring shots. Continued success followed until a slip up against Rupertswood. Seven more victories before Rupertswood again defeated AJAX. In a grand final preview Werribee won by 22 points. In the final round AJAX won again honing skills for the finals. In perfect conditions at Northcote, Werribee disposed of AJAX by 47 points in the 2nd semi-final. A worrying week ahead prior to the preliminary final against Old Camberwell was quickly dispelled with a brilliant display winning by nearly 20 goals. Hot favourites Werribee didn’t expect the onslaught in the grand final. In a superlative display AJAX won by 74 points capturing the first C grade premiership with Evgeni Routman winning the Michael Ritterman medal for best on the ground. David Fayman was the competition leading goal kicker again with 94 goals and together with Jake Lew 83 goals formed a potent forward line. Warren Steinberg was a runaway winner of the best & fairest over Fayman and Rubin Winograd. Fayman, Lew and Josh Ludski were named in the C grade team of the year with Steinberg named captain. Fayman was also selected in the representative team. The reserves only lost 2 games for the year. In the first match against Werribee a goal after the siren deprived the side a victory. Complacency against lowly MHSOB was costly but maybe the loss the team needed. Eight more victories followed culminating in a premiership against Ormond by 20 points. Matt Nissen was named best in the grand final while the award winners were Adam Trytell, Josh Givoni and Nadav Harel. Jarryd Ludski not only won the club best & fairest but also the VAFA under 19 award. Runner up was Noah Rischin with Richie Simon third. For most of the season the team were not strong enough in the high grade and finished 7th. The Warriors had a reasonable season finishing 3rd. There were 67 players that participated with Dean Levitan and David Wlosczowski playing all matches.
2012 will be remembered as the year, in which many players travelled overseas yet AJAX stayed in B Grade finishing 7th with several honourable losses. Ian Fayman remained as President and Bernie Sheehy agreed to coach the seniors again, with Darren Seidl took control of the ressies.
The objective in 2012 after promotion in 2011 was to consolidate in B Grade and win about as many as we would lose. AJAX achieved that goal with 7 wins and 11 losses. The highlight win was the first game V Old Brighton which AJAX won by 8 points, but losing Jason Seidl with a season-ending shoulder injury. Against Oakleigh later in the season AJAX kicked 17.1 to beat Oakleigh to ensure AJAX stayed in B grade and sent its opponents to C grade.Oakleigh and Old Ivanhoe were relegated.The 2 outstanding opponents were University Blacks and Beaumaris. AJAX played a Community Day game at Princes Park-home of the AJAX junior club in Caulfield against Beaumaris in the final game of the year, losing by only 8 points in front of a huge vocal loyal crowd.The low point of the season was terminating the under 19s due to a lack of numbers, but before that it did have a fantastic win against Old Geelong at Como Park with only 18 players. The reserves had a memorable game beating Old Haileybury without any premiership player from the previous year, but several under 19s were required to make up numbers.
Warren Steinberg won his third consecutive B&F beating Eugene Routman by a single vote. Eugene did not play the final game due to travel. David Fayman won his third consecutive competition leading goal kicker with 60 goals.Both David and Eugene made the B grade team of the year. Jarryd Ludski won the best player for the ressies. Best First Year player was Jason Tendler, with Most Improved being Adam Caplan. Marcus Jankie won the Most Courageous player. Bernie Sheehy resigned as coach after the final game having had 4 great years at the helm. 4 new Life Members were inducted for long term loyal services to the AJAX FC.
The 2013 year was a huge success for the AJAX FC. We achieved the goal of finishing in B Grade again- higher than in 2012 and finally was able to convince ex-AFL player Ezra Poyas to play for us. A new group of coaches were appointed led by Leigh (Macca) McQuillen. The Under 19 team played off in the Grand Final at Sandringham -in front of a huge crowd and extra time had to be played to determine the result. Unfortunately AJAX lost.
The AJAX players played with vigor and intensity all year. Our loyal supporters were proud to watch the AJAX efforts on field. The highlight game for some was the “away” game V Old Haileybury, at Princes Park-South Caulfield. Other supporters felt the St Kevin's victory at Albert Park was better.
Another great effort was when the reserves won against Old Haileybury without one AJAX player from the previous finals Premiership sides of 2011.
The seniors finished 5th 1 game and % out of the four, having lost 5 games by a TOTAL of 20 points.What could have been! The club tried to help some orthodox players play competitive footy by requesting opposing clubs play on Saturday. 3 clubs agreed. We could not sustain a 3rds team due to only 3 teams agreeing to Sunday games. The lowest point of the season was terminating the 3rds due to a lack of numbers. Best and Fairest winner was Josh Ludski with David (Mailman) Fayman securing his 4th consecutive Coleman Medal for leading goal kicker in the Division. He kicked 9 goals in the final game to overtake the 2 previous leaders.
The 2014 season was another successful season on & off the field. The rooms were renovated, a gym installed and 154 players represented the Club across our four teams, including 34 in the Seniors, with a number of young guns given their opportunity. A highlight was the two home and away victories against Old Carey, one of the Grand Final sides. Ronnie Lewis was elected President, our Seniors consolidated in B Grade finishing 5th for a second year running, our Reserves, Thirds & U19s all had competitive seasons, Warren Steinberg won his 4th Club Best & Fairest and David Fayman capped off another great year up forward with his 5th "Coleman", whilst notching up 500 career goals for the Club. A number of players took part in several community based initiatives throughout the year and Jake Lew, Josh Ludski & Warren Steinberg also did the Club proud by representing the VAFA representative teams. Club champion, 200 game player & former captain, Gary Blieden announced his retirement at seasons end. Leigh McQuillen moved on as Senior Coach, also at seasons end with his role taken up by Marty Pask.