It was a bitter rivalry born from 120 years of impassioned contests and a 25 kilometre stretch of the Henty Highway.
But staring down dwindling population numbers and an uncertain future, Hopetoun and Belauh laid any animosity to rest for the betterment of football in the two neighbouring communities. The Southern Mallee Giants was born from the merger in late 2014, a united club.
Giants president and former Beulah clubman Brad Moore said, despite tensions simmering since the rivalry's golden days, there was a bit of work that went into the decision.
"The rivalry probably wasn't as bad as it was back in the 1970s or the 1980s, but you still always wanted to beat your neighbouring town," he said.
"It was probably a longer process than what people think. The plans went in motion up to 10 years, probably before it happened.
"We'd spoken about (the merger) for a while, and the two clubs had just kept hanging on and hanging on.
"About five years ago we got together and it just happened when we both realised that the alternative of not merging wasn't good. We needed footy in the two towns."
Matches between the Hopetoun Devils and the Beulah Blues were always hotly-contested affairs.
In the mid-1970s the two sides met in four consecutive grand-finals, of which the Devils won three.
"I'll be honest, nobody hated Beulah more than me," decorated Hopetoun footballer Geoff Burdett said.
"It was pretty hostile and great banter throughout the years. Nobody hated each other, so much, it was just two sides that wanted to win.
"I remember a couple of grand finals that we won where we really had some fireworks."
The passion of the fixture came to the fore in the 1975 grand final - a game now etched in Mallee folklore.
"Beulah had a coach (Bruce Mulligan) who was really strong, and he used to belt the younger guys and us, so we made a pact that when we played them again, we wouldn't let that happen," Burdett said.
"Which we did, we were really hard on him, and we won our second in a row.
"After the game, we were all happy because we won the premiership. It was about a 50-metre walk up to the clubrooms, and I saw this lady walking towards me.
"I thought she was going to kiss me, so I puckered up because I didn't know what it was.
"She just went whack and hit me square in the face and said 'that's for my Bruce'. It was the wife of the coach."
The two sides would go on to share bragging rights for decades to come, despite Hopetoun struggling on the field in its final years.
Beulah reached the seniors preliminary final and won the reserves premiership right before the merger, but struggles behind the scenes took their toll.
"On the top end of the footy Beulah was going well, but it was going to get hard over the next few years," Moore said.
"Recruiting was getting harder, money was a struggle, and the junior numbers were dwindling. The running of the club was just getting left to too few and was getting a lot harder.
"To go through with the merger was a no-brainer, and when we sat down, there was no arguing. It was a case of a new name, new jumpers and new colours, and away we go."
The Giants name and the accompanying colours came to fruition after Geoff Burdett, a 37-game Essendon player between 1976-81, reached out to former GWS Giants coach Kevin Sheedy.
"When I first rang him about the idea of going as the Giants, he said he'd support us 100 per cent," Burdett said.
"He came down and launched us, and when he was there the Thursday night before our first game, the crowd was absolutely packed."
"The best thing we did was play under the Southern Mallee Giants. The good thing about the Giants is that we had all these young kids, four or five years old maybe, who go around in their GWS Giants jumpers and think they're part of it.
"They see the GWS Giants on TV, and they think they're a part of that sort of thing and that's terrific."
Burdett was appointed the Giants inaugural coach for their first year in the now-defunct Mallee Football League and was at the helm when the side moved to the Horsham District league in 2016. The Giants claimed two undefeated premierships in their brief Horsham District league stint, prompting a move to the Wimmera league in 2018.
"Winning a couple of premierships was something that really bound the club together. It really gelled everyone and made it feel like the club would belong into the future," inaugural Giants president Clayton Shannon said.
"Everyone feels like it does belong as a club, and it wasn't something put together on a whim. It does have that bit of heritage to it already, even though it's only been going for five years."
Giants supporters from both towns agreed the merger was the right decision.
"It was split right down the middle, and it's worked really well so far," Moore said. "We still get to have four games in each town, which is great, because without that the town does fall into a hole."
"It was a big decision, but it was made in the right way and at the right time," Burdett said. "It's been magnificent. There's been no squabbling between the two towns, just one Southern Mallee Giants."
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox twice weekly from the Wimmera Mail-Times. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the Wimmera, sign up below.