Balmain Tigers Football Club is an Australian semi-professional football / soccer club based in the Inner West suburb of Balmain in Sydney, New South Wales. We currently play in the Football NSW State league 1 with First Grade Mens, Under 20’s, Under 18’s and Under 16’s. The club played for many years at the historic Birchgrove Oval, just west of Balmain. Due to Football NSW regulations we now play all our home games at Wentworth Park, having recently moved from Lambert Park, but continue to train at Birchgrove Oval, among other venues. After several years of playing in the NSW State League Division 2, we gained promotion at the end of the 2008 season to Division 1 after a hard fought match against Camden, winning on penalties. In 2012 they made the finals series in Division 1 for the first time in the club’s history and followed this up by winning the 2013 grand final and securing the State League 1 title.
In 1986 Roy Lawrence, an English migrant living in Sydney, and Steve Hendrick formed a six-a-side football competition, inviting all Brits living in Australia to play in the competition. After there was lots of interest, and dozens of players, they formed the Balmain Tigers Soccer Club, and entered it into the Canterbury District Premier League. The first season in the CDSFA was a huge success, finishing runners up and reaching the grand final. This early success led them to being promoted into the NSW Soccer Federation Division Seven in 1989. The next season, their winnings continued and they finished Runners up and grand finalists again in their first season in Div 7. Ultimately they were promoted, and continued to be promoted yearly all the way up into Division 5. In 1991 was the season where they won Division Four, winning all but 2 games.
1992 saw the club move from Easton Park to Lambert Park where it remained for a couple of years with varying results that saw the club remain in Division 4.
Soon after in 1995 Roy Lawrence retired as coach, manager, secretary, and as a result in 1996 they moved to Birchgrove Oval, and reformed under new coach Bruce Allen.
In 1997 Roy Lawrence came out of retirement to help with the coaching, and took up role of Assistant coach to Bruce Allen. In 1998, on the 10 year Anniversary, 2 brand new coaches were appointed, Tony Dunn from Concord SC, and former Balmain SC player Jimmy Campbell, with the latter taking Balmain into Division 3, after winning the 1999 Grand final.
The 2000 season saw Balmain finish runners up in the division, and were promoted to Division two, showing what a remarkable history Balmain has had, going from the lowest division to division two, inside of a decade. This was culminated in 2001 with an astonishing Grand Final Win on Penalties after again finishing runners up in the minor premiership.
In 2002 the club was invited into Division 1 but with mounting debts the club was in dire financial straights and sold it’s position to The Norther Tigers resulting in the club re-naming to Birchgrove United and dropping down to Division 4. Incoming President Dave Grill, bitterly disappointed that they had not been able to go up, vowed that if the club was ever presented with this opportunity again they would be ready.
A Year later,The returning Jimmy Campbell led Balmain to 2nd in division 4, seeing the once again gain promotion into Division Three, Where the following season saw Balmain take out the Minor premierships in both grades and two grand final appearances with the reserves taking out the double and the firsts losing out on penalties. With three out of four titles secured, this remains to this day as Balmain’s most successful season.
2005 Saw Jimmy Campbell once again leave for pastures new and the following two seasons saw a mid table finish and a disappointing exit in a semi final appearance. There was the highlight though of our Under 21’s who, under Coach Alex Kaltenegger and his exciting brand of football, won their championship in 2006.
In 2007, with the aforementioned coach promoted to the first team, his first point of business was to stun the footballing world with the signing (on a free) of Johnny Buonavoglia the ex NSL and Sydney FC forward and by 2008 they had won the division title and beat Camden in the Grand Final on Penalties. True to his word Dave Grill along with his committee saw that the club was ready to be promoted to Division 1 where it rightfully took it’s place in 2009.
After a number of mid table finishes in the first division the 2012 squad secured 5th spot in the league, enabling Balmain to participate in the division one final’s series for the first time where they progressed to the qualifying final.
The end of 2012 season heralded a significant shift behind the scenes with under 20’s coach Joe Di Giulio being promoted to 1st grade manager and Alex Kaltenegger, arguably Balmain’s most successful coach, stepping down after 6 years in charge. Johnny Buonavoglia also left the club along with a number of first grade players meaning Balmain would head into the 2013 season with a new look playing group and a new home in the form of Wentworth Park.
The 2013 season turned out to be the most successful in terms of highest achievement in the club’s history as the new look Tigers narrowly missed out on the minor premiership, finishing 3rd, but won their way through to the Grand Final, hosted at Jensen Oval, where they defeated Northbridge FC 2-0 after extra time to secure the NSW State League One Title. This milestone meant that from Division 5, every division the club has payed in, they have either won the minor premiership, championship or both, Something I think even Mr Lawrence would not of envisaged.