The Nelson Bay Marlins football club was formed in 1980 and entered into the Newcastle Australian Football League (NAFL) in the Reserve Grade competition, achieving runner up in the Grand Final in their first year. The following year the Marlins went one better, winning the Grand Final and the Under 17’s were also entered into the competition.
In 1982 the side was promoted to First Grade but headed back to Reserve Grade in 1984 due to lack of numbers. That year saw the team go through undefeated and win the Grand Final. The Marlins were again promoted back into First Grade in 1985, with the club also fielding a Reserve Grade and under 17’s team. 1987 took the club into the Grand Final where they achieved runner up. The club went on to play in finals nearly every year up to 2001, playing in eight Grand Finals and winning four First Grade premierships along the way.
In 1985 junior teams were entered into the junior competition and in 2000 the juniors formed their own committee. To date the junior teams have won flags across the various age groups.
The year 2000 also saw the formation of BDAFL and a divisional system was introduced. Nelson Bay competed in Premier Division, also known as the Black Diamond Cup, from 2000 to 2008 when, due to mixed results and numbers, they moved to First and Second divisions. The Marlins achieved runner up in the 2012 Black Diamond Plate (or First Division) Grand Final and went on to win the Black Diamond Plate premiership in 2013. The Marlins were then elevated back to Premier Division for 2014 where they have competed ever since.
A women’s competition was introduced in 2015 with Nelson Bay fielding a team that went on to play in the first three Grand Finals of the competition, winning the premiership cup in 2016.
2019 has seen the creation of the AFL Hunter Central Coast (AFLHCC) League which the Marlins will now be a part of along with all other teams from the BDAFL.