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Club History

In 1941, the name Cumberland appeared for the first time. It followed an organisation called the OTIOSE (pronounced OSHIRES) Youth Club in 1931 which involved junior teams, many of whose players had begun at Unley High School. Early games were played at Hollywood Estate, now known as Cumberland Park. Senior games did not begin until 1943, and the first official uniform was white shirts, black shorts and black socks.

Various grounds in the local area were used until a major move took place to Bailey Reserve in 1951. President Alf Sillitoe and Secretary H Thompson worked very hard with Mitcham Council and received great support from Councilor Bailey and Mr. Frank Walsh MP to achieve the move. Improvements to the facilities have been taking place ever since, the most recent being the outstanding work done by Mitcham Council and the Club to improve the playing surface and drainage of the main pitch. Colours too have changed. The colours, chocolate and gold were adopted in 1946, then in a significant Annual General Meeting in 1990, a change to green and gold was approved. The colours chosen coincide with those of Mitcham Council, the district to which Cumberland belongs. 

Since its inception, Cumberland has competed in various tournaments and competitions and has won numerous trophies, however, probably none more significant as winning the State League Championship and the Federation Cup in the same year in 1978.

This achievement is particularly remarkable as between 1903 and 1978, only ten clubs had ever achieved the League and Cup double and some very distinguished clubs had never won the League Titles at all.

Players and officials involved with the squad that year were: 

  • Robert Parks *, Barry Leane, Alan Portlock, Mike Ball (Captain), Laurie Peterson, Daryl (Harpo) Evans, Gary Reeves, Brian Welsh, Dave Mahony, David Leane, Steve Parks, Martin Charman, Dave Mexsom, Tim Dobney, John Mason, John Penman, Julian Stuart, Brian Harvey, Gary Pankhurst-Kevin Johnson, Perry Nash, Kevin Megeney. 

  • Denis Harlow -Manager/Coach

  • Dennis Grant - Senior Coach

  • John Garside - Assistant Coach 

  • Don Jackson* - Physiotherapist 

  • Dave Mathieson - Team Manager


The strength of the Foxes’ position in the top league has fluctuated over the years. Cumberland rose to the Premier League in 1997 by being State League Champions, and followed this success by winning the Premier League in 1999. In the same year, Team Captain Les Matiscsak won the Serge Melta Medal (with two other players) as Player of the Year, a feat only achieved by one other Cumberland player, Tom Caton, who won the same award (which at the time was the West End medal) in 1973.

In 2009, the Foxes won a League and Cup double for the second time, however as they played in the Division 2, this achievement was not recognised officially.

Over the years, Cumberland has maintained the reputation as an extremely consistent team that will continue to fight until the end of a match, no matter how good the opposition. From the beginning in 1943 until 1981 (39 years), the Foxes have only been in Division 2 on four occasions and never for more than one year at a time (1953, 1967, 1969, 1976).

The Club has participated in various competitions over the years, both in South Australia and interstate.

Cumberland achieved a significant win in the Barmera Carnival in 1967, when the Foxes made it to the Final and beat Polonia 2-0 to take the trophy.

Biggest Victory League 11 – 0 V South Adelaide 1943

Biggest Victory Cup 14 – 0 V Elizabeth “B” 1960

Biggest Defeat 0 - 8 V Port Thistle 1954

Most Goals in a game 7 – M.Dunbar * V South Adelaide 1943

Most Goals in a season 40 – M.Dunbar * State Record 1944


In 1980, the very first Cumberland women's team, Cumberland Vixens, was initiated by Rita Pidgeon and Carol Sissons, made up of various players’ wives and friends who wanted to play football. This team was coached by Daryl (Harpo) Evans and assisted by Garry Reeves.

Cumberland Vixens started in Division 2, became Champions in their first year, and as a result promoted to Division 1. The Vixens fielded two teams in 1981, one in Division 1 and the other in Division 2. The coaching staff changed with Eddie Chilarski taking over the Division 1 team and Simon Murdoch helping with the Division 2 team. In 1981, the Division 1 team came second and won the cup in the same year, while the Division 2 team came second. For a team that had been in existence for only two years, this was an outstanding accomplishment.

Over the following years, the Vixens had various coaches but eventually moved their operations to the Marion club in approximately 1987.

Junior football at CUFC has achieved tremendous results for both male and female teams. The Club also established a junior-focused program in 1990 which has continued to grow since then, with 32 teams currently playing at A.A Bailey Reserve in 2013. Since many present senior players, both at Cumberland and at other SA clubs began their Club Football at Cumberland, this program aims to cultivate junior players through the beginning of their football journey.

Cumberland United has remained true to its origins as a District Club. While the Foxes’ colours may have changed, its name and composition, unlike most of the other teams playing in 1943, have remained true to its foundation.

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