The East Sandringham Junior Football Club is one of the most established sporting clubs in Bayside, originally formed in 1948.
Its first side competed in the Under 18 'B' section of the Caulfield-Oakleigh District League in a dark green jumper withh yellow collar and cuffs. The jumper had E.S.F.C. in large yellow letters across the chest, but this was later replaced with a large yellow vee similar in shape to the Victorian Football League white vee. In its first season, the Club won only one game out of 18 and in the following years, success was only moderate.
Nevertheless, the Club considered that it was successful because it was providing organised sport for boys who had limited scope for sport in the area. In 1949 the Club won 3 games, followed by 4 in 1950 and then 9 in 1951. The following year the boys won 14 games and played in the finals for the first time. The side reached the finals in 1953 and 1954, but it wasn't until 1955 that the first Under 18 premiership was won. The large number of boys interested in playing football with the Club resulted in the formation in 1951 of an Under 15 side which also played in the CODL. In its first season, this side lost the preliminary final against McKinnon by one point but made amends by winning premierships in 1952,1953 and 1954. This side originally wore the Richmond League colours of black with a yellow sash, but in 1952 saw the club colours change to the present yellow, black and blue.
The South East Suburban Football League was formed in 1960 -61, and the club competed in Under 13, 15 and 17 competitions, enjoying considerable success. From 1963 to 1971 all three teams made the final four in each season. The following years were successful and in its last season in the SESFL in 1975, the Club won the Under 13 premiership. In 1972 the club entered the open age competition of the SESFL, which gave the opportunity for past players from the junior ranks to rejoin and play for the old Club. It was a lot of fun, but the Club struggled for players, and after three years, the club reverted again to the juniors-only club it remains today.
In 1974, the Club transferred to the Waverley District Junior Football Association. The Club continued its success in the new competition, participating in the finals each year and gaining premierships in Under 15s in 1977 and Under 17s in 1979.
The formation of the St Kilda Junior Football League saw the Club fielding a team in the Under 11 competition from 1973 until 1974, when teams were registered with the Bentleigh/McKinnon Youth Club Football Club. After a number of years of strong competition in the Waverly League, the Under 17s finished at the top of the premiership table in 1981 but failed to capitalise on their fine year, finishing runners up. Likewise, the Under 11s were runners up. In 1983, teams were fielded in the Dandenong District Junior Football League in Under 14 and Under 16, and Under 12s played in the St Kilda Junior Football League, finishing in the final four.
The Under 17s continued to play in the Waverley Junior Football Association and in 1984 an Under 10 team was fielded. In 1985, 10 boys represented the Club in League representative games, with four playing in VFL Thirds 18 games and three boys making the Junior Development Scheme at St Kilda Football Club.
In 1986 teams were fielded in the Waverley Junior Football Association (under 17), and the Bentleigh/McKinnon Youth Club Football League Under 10, 11, 13 and 15.
The Club joined the Moorabbin Saints Junior Football League (now SMJFL) in 1991, where it remains. Since that time, it has developed a reputation as one of the best administered and most professional junior clubs in the competition. In 2011, the club was responsible for the creation of the first AFL-sanctioned junior girls football competition in Victoria, fielding four of the 12 teams that competed in the Lightning Premiership, and winning the ultimate prize. In the same year, it fielded its first netball team, winning an Under 17 premiership.
With 25 teams, four of them junior girls sides, and a number of netball teams, it is almost unrecognisable from the early days. Certainly, the Club and its ground have seen many changes since 1948 when facilities at Chisholm Reserve were non-existent There was no water, no toilets and no change rooms, and the oval did not even have a fence around it. If a player overran the boundary he ran the risk of being impaled on the spines of the boxthorn bushes which surrounded the ground.
The name “the Zebras" is shared with one of the VFL’s most established clubs, the Sandringham Football Club. How and when did this colourful club name first become associated with us? On the Monday following the opening match of the 1934 season, when Sandy easily defeated Brighton, The Melbourne Sun News Pictorial stated: "Richmond as Tigers now have a rival in the animal kingdom, for Sandringham in the new yellow & black striped guernsey resembled Zebras. The way they galloped away from Brighton to win showed they could emulate that animal. The team in future will be known as the Zebras.”
Go the mighty Zebbies!
(from the Official Journal of the Sandringham Football Club - ZEBRA '68)