In 1888, newspapers of the day mention game results from Bulli and a team called Parra [Fairy] Meadow. This was most probably the North Illawarra Rovers team and it is also likely that the game played then would be unrecognisable today, as it was sometimes half British football, half Rugby. The British traditions of football were "still in a state of flux". Most teams were associated with a particular pub or publican. The Bulli Pass Hotel and a Mister Kerns appear to have been a Bulli based team's earliest sponsor.
The 1971 issue of "Ampol's Sporting Records" has the following paragraph in the Soccer Section on Page 601:-
"First Club on NSW South Coast - North Illawarra, with a ground at Bulli, founded in 1888."
Club records from the 1950's indicate the club colours as blue and white quartered shirts. Around the period 1959/60 following amalgamation with Bulli Surf Club, the colours were changed to green and gold. The early 1970's saw a return to a blue and white strip. The 1956 team was Minor Premiers and the players were J Hamilton, D McNeill, W Pearce, B Spicer, A Matiuscenko, B Washbourne, V Parkinson, T Brown, T Henson, M Richardson, R Suddick, R Young, K Beaton, M Laughlan and J Brown. Team Manager was M Biggins with B Evans as Strapper.
The period 1966 -1969 has been described as "The Golden Years". In 1966/67 & 68, First Grade were Major Premiers and in 1966 & 1968, Minor Premiers. The team of 1969 became known as "The Invincibles".
Coached by Ron McGarry and trained by John Jones, they won 5 trophies during that season. The Major & Minor Premierships, NSW Amateur Cup, Langridge Shield and the Corrimal Leagues Knock-out. Players were Tony Hancox, Ken Holbrook, Kel Potter, Peter Hammersley, Tom Mulqueeny, Paul Hancox, Nonny Ashbolt, John Veigel, Geoff Hamilton, Geoff Potter, Ian Potter and Jim Ryan.
The early 1970's saw Bulli teams in a number of epic struggles, particularly against Bellambi who were captained by Klaus Wenig. The 1971 Grand Final was typical of the clashes during this period. After a drawn first game, Bulli eventually won the title in extra-time in the replay, Phil Worthington scoring the all important goal in a 1-0 win. The team consisted of M Hammersley, I Shuttleworth, A Ringlands, D Thomas, I Potter, N Ashbolt, P Hancox, T Hancox, G Hammersley, G Potter, P Worthington, P Hammersley, A Fenton and S Hammersley.
Bulli First Grade 1971
The late 1970's saw a decline in Bulli's success in First & Reserve Grades. However, an Under-18 [later Under-19] side was formed and much success was achieved with Youth teams, which eventually flowed through to the Reserve and First Grade sides. This period became known as the "Todd Years". Due to the efforts of the Under-18/19 Coach, John Todd. The 1977 and 1979 Under-19 teams took out the Premierships. Youth Grade Players included Steve Quirk, Brian Condran, Warren Hamilton, Tony Charnock, Steve Anger, Steve Sargeson, Dave Quetcher, Kevin Lewis and James Hobbs.
The 1980's did not start well. Bulli were relegated. In 1982, a quick recovery earned promotion, Reserve Grade were Major & Minor Premiers. The period 1983-87 was one of sustained achievement under Coach Norm "Flash" Flanagan.
In 1983, Reserve Grade coached by Dave Mollinson, included G Hancox, I Cracknell, A Jones, R Van Ede, P Blanton, R Wood, J O'Brien, P Jordan, G Mann, R Baker, M Hancox, A Mar, K Lewis and H Van Ede.
In 1986 Bulli were Club Champions, First Grade - Major & Minor Premiers with Reserve Grade-Minor Premiers.
The 1986 First Grade squad was Gio Raso, Gareth Lewis, Greg Fisher, Ron Van De Voorde, John Van De Voorde, Steve Sargeson, Kevin Lewis, Andrew Christie, Peter Beggs, Michael Grew, Tony Charnock, Ron Van Ede, Phil Bragg, Gary Mann, Ian Cirson and Gary Cajar.
On 2nd July 1988 our current Balls Paddock complex was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of the City of Wollongong, Alderman Frank Arkell MP. Other dignitaries in attendance were Alderman Brian Tobin and IDSA President George Naylor.
The 90’s saw Bulli consolidate itself as one of the most consistent teams in the Premier League under the guidance of First Grade coaches John Frew and later Peter Beggs. Clubs stalwarts emerged in the form of Rod Paterson, Warren Baker and Chris Curtin, Bulli was crowned Club Champions on 4 occasions in 90, 93, 97 and 98.
The club also became a limited company, formed it’s first board of directors and purchased the Balls Paddock Children’s Centre day care facility located at Balls Paddock.
2000 and Beyond
The new millennium saw plenty of ups and downs. Under Bruce Tilt the club was relegated from the Premier League in 2002, but quickly bounced back the following year after the appointment of Alan Mangles as head coach and he went on to lead the First Grade side to Bert Bampton Cup glory in 2004.
In 2006 Bulli appointed former Socceroo Adrian Alston as head coach and recruited strongly over the latter half of the decade which saw the club produce excellent results to finish runner up in the league and grand final on 3 separate occasions. The decade also saw the retirement of Rod Paterson after 22 years of service as a player.