1971 SANFL Mobil Cards – Part 3: North Adelaide


North Adelaide spent most of the mid to late 60s in the top half of the ladder. With champions such as Don Lindner (also captain) and Geof Motley for coaches, Grand Final berths were rare since their 1963 loss to Port. Determined to do better than their recent placings of 3rd/3rd/5th, the Roosters looked to Richmond ruckman Mike Patterson to inject some Victorian style footy strategy and grit at Prospect. A first up fourth placing in 1970 had the red and whites primed for further improvement when 1971 came around.


(1)         Barrie Robran, North Adelaide (23, 6ft 2ins, 12st 7lbs)



In Robran’s debut season 1967, he shared the North Adelaide B&F with his captain Don Lindner. The modest, multi-talented sportsman from Whyalla was also third in the 1967 Magarey Medal, one vote behind the winner, Port’s Trevor ‘Bubbles’ Obst and Lindner (who lost on countback but was later recognised as an equal winner by the SANFL).


His next three seasons brought three more Roosters’ Best and Fairests. Robran was, unsurprisingly, a State representative in each of his first four seasons. Winning the 1968 and 1970 Magarey Medals, by the time Barrie Robran was selected as the number 1 card in the 1971 Mobil collection, he was being lauded as one of Australia’s best footballers.


This plain pose, a simple chest mark, was like asking Da Vinci to sum up his life’s work via a do a dot-to-dot puzzle. Not only did it overlook the possibility of highlighting Robran’s matchless ball control, either in the air or on the deck, it covered up North’s Big V jumper, brought in mid-1970. (Robran referred to it as “the V with verandahs” according to his biographer Bruce Pointon).


The years 1971 and 1972 were the highest points of Robran’s time at North Adelaide. Whilst it took the likes of Russell Ebert and Malcolm Blight to prevent his third Magarey, the Roosters thumped Port Adelaide in both years’ Grand Finals. In 1971, Robran played on the ball virtually the entire game and was acclaimed by (almost) all as the best on ground.


In the 1971/72 summer, Robran also made his first class debut as a batsman for South Australia. A couple of his team-mates during his six seasons at Prospect DCC were Barry Richards and Gary Sobers.


Just another day on the paddock for Barrie Robran.


Putting in another BOG performance in 1972’s SANFL decider (beating Peter Woite, Trevor Sorrell and Russell Ebert- sometimes all at once), Barrie was thrilled that he could share this premiership win with younger brother Rodney, who had joined him at Prospect Oval in 1970. (Rodney also went on the captain the Roosters, in 1980-81).


Barrie achieved even more national recognition in the next game. Up against VFL premiers Carlton, Robran played the game of his life to get the Roosters across the line to win the Championship of Australia, 10.13 to 10.12. Footy folklore has it that the Blues’ Alex Jesaulenko was moved to applaud onfield Robran’s football genius.


North fell two minutes short of a third consecutive flag in 1973’s thriller against Glenelg, with Robran himself having a quiet match after hurting his right knee in the second quarter. He gain some consolation from his third Magarey Medal with 29 votes. Daylight (or perhaps, ‘Flashlight’) was second, Sturt’s Michael Graham (20 votes). He added a seventh North B&F, one for each season that he’d played for them so far.


Bob Hammond’s move to Norwood as their 1974 Captain-Coach allowed Robran to take over as Roosters’ skipper. A further honour was his naming as SA captain for the clash against WA at Football Park. In his seventeenth (and final) match for South Australia against the (other) Big V, Leigh Matthews inflicted the unwarranted injury to Robran’s left knee that ensured that he was never the same player again.


Returning for North eight weeks later, he played four games until North’s finals hopes were extinguished.


Robran played through pain for fourteen games in 1975 before further surgery revealed the true extent of his knee injury. The correct medical term was ‘rooted’.


The next season was a similar tale. Barrie played nine of the first ten games, at times displaying the form of five years earlier. An eight game injury break preceded a low key return for four games near the end of another forgettable North season.


Post-season surgery put paid to any league footy for Robran in 1977, but he put his hand up when numbers were thin for the Reserves late in the year, suiting up at full-forward and kicking seven goals in the first half.


Mike Patterson’s past four seasons had been ordinary at best, so North looked to Robran as its next senior coach when the ‘Swamp Fox’ departed to coach St Kilda. Robran put together a string of reasonable games as playing coach in 1978 (Barry Stringer was now captain), but North finished last.


They improved to sixth in 1979, the year that Robran returned late in the season with his left knee heavily braced for five games.


His final year as coach was 1980, which also saw Robran play three mid-season games, bringing up his 200 league games for North. He handed over the coaching reins to Mike Nunan from 1981.


The real measure of Robran’s passion for footy was seen when he played five games for the Reserves in 1981 before finishing for good after an injury-filled 1983 season at Walkerville in SAFA Div 2.


Like another couple of the 1971 Mobil cardees, Barrie Robran (did I mention his  1982 MBE?) has his own statue at Adelaide Oval. He is, of course, a Legend of the Australian Football hall of Fame.


Playing Career

North Adelaide 1967-76 78-80, 201 games/196 goals (2 premierships)

South Australia, 17 games


(5)         Bob Hammond, North Adelaide (30, 6ft, 13st 7lbs)




Roosters’ recently appointed vice-captain Bob Hammond appeared to be at the veteran stages of his career by 1971. Recruited to the North under age teams as a local lad from Kilburn, his first senior season was in North’s most recent flag year of 1960. He immediately impressed all in the difficult full-back position as a mature eighteen year old.


Moving to CHB in the next couple of seasons, Hammond was rewarded with selection in the famed 1963 SA side that defeated Victoria at the MCG. North lost that year’s decider to the Magpies.


Further State selection in followed 1964 and his 1965 year was hindered by injury.


With almost 120 games behind him, Hammond’s employment with Dunlop Tyres took him to Port Pirie for the 1966 and 1967 seasons. Snapped up by his new city as Captain-Coach, Hammond took Port Pirie to successive Spencer Gulf League flags. One of the three games that he played for North during that time was Barrie Robran’s debut in 1967. At the time, Robran was boarding with Hammond’s parents, Harley and Bob (or, as Barrie referred to them, Mr and Mrs Hammond).


Coming back to the city and North, Hammond was briefly used on the ball and as a key forward before once more settling into the last line of defence.


The Mobil shot shows Hammond, a thumping kicker, being calm and collected as opposed to his usual vigorous, bustling and close-checking style. He was also featured in the 1964 Mobil series.



Bob Hammond didn’t mess about in defence



What a next decade Hammond experienced! He brought up his second premiership in the good old red and white in 1971, reversing the 1963 result against Port. Although the Roosters went down against Hawthorn in a fiery Champions of Australia tussle, Hammond kept Peter Hudson to a couple of majors.


The following year was even more momentous – another Grand Final flogging of Port, this time with Hammond acting Captain as ‘Patto’ was on the sidelines. Two weeks later, it was Bob Hammond drinking from the Champions of Australia trophy.


Still at his peak in 1973, South Australia came calling again. Now North Captain, Hammond led them to the decider against the more fancied Glenelg. To directly quote the NAFC website:


Glenelg were red hot favourites and eventually prevailed by 7 points in what is often mentioned as the greatest Grand Final ever.  Universally considered best man on the ground in a losing side, was Bob Hammond.  He kept Glenelg Magarey Medallist, Fred Phillis, goalless in a team that scored 21 goals and Bob continually attacked from defence.”


After 234 games for the team from Prospect, Hammond next embarked on a new challenge as Norwood’s captain-coach. In 1974 they were despatched promptly from the finals but, after retiring from on-field duties in mid-1975, he returned the TS Hill Trophy to the Parade for the first time in 25 years over Glenelg.


An NFL championship win in 1977 was surpassed by Norwood’s famed last quarter comeback against an inaccurate Sturt in the 1978 Grand Final.


Finishing at Norwood after 1979, Hammond maintained a high footy profile, coaching SA in 1983’s State of Origin win over the Vics. When Ricky Quade’s illness saw him vacate the Sydney Swans’ coaching role, Hammond was drafted in as a surprise interim coach.


When the Adelaide Crows were swiftly formed in 1990, Bob Hammond was their first Chairman, a role that he fulfilled for their most (some would say only) successful decade. He followed this with ten years on the AFL Commission.


Hammond is rightly a member of both the SA and Australian Football Halls of Fame.


Playing Career

North Adelaide 1960-73, 234 games/73 goals (2 premierships)

Norwood 1974, 14 games/0 goals

South Australia, 7 games


(15)       John Phillips, North Adelaide (26, 6ft, 12st)




John ‘Sticks’ Phillips played his first league game for North in Round 19, 1962. He wasn’t seen again in the seniors until 1964, where he added eight more appearances.


He made his mark in 1965, cementing his place in North’s mid-placed side as a skilful, always-on-the-go wingman. He caught the eye of the State selectors after only thirty-odd games and played twice in the 1966 Hobart Carnival, earning a late berth in the squad when teammate David Cearns withdrew through injury.


The 1966-68 seasons had the Roosters losing each of the Prelim finals, but Phillips grew in stature as one of North’s key contributors. Phillips played twice in the 1969 Adelaide Carnival; the SA pen-pix described him as “Elusive and dynamic utility player with great big game temperament. A much underrated player.”



Sticks Phillips – in the right place as always


So, by the time 1971 came around, Phillips had almost a decade of top flight footy under his belt and was North’s third-most experienced player behind Bob Hammond and Geoff Paull. His Mobil shot was (yet) another tortured pose that you’d never see on a footy field. Ever.


Sticks was integral to North’s twin flags in 1971-72, a more than fitting reward for the solid service he’d given the club. Unfortunately, he missed the thrilling Champions of Australia win over Carlton after playing against City-South in the first round.


Injury interrupted the early part of 1973, but Phillips again shone for North when he recovered. That year’s courageous but ultimately unsuccessful finals series was the last time that he saw September action, as he retired (due to injury) after five games in 1974.


Ever the clubman, Phillips was the senior side’s team manager when he died in a car accident in 1983, aged 39.


Playing Career

North Adelaide 1962 64-74, 182 games/98 goals (2 premierships)

South Australia, 5 games


(25)       Neil Sachse, North Adelaide (20, 6ft 2 ½ins, 13st)





Neil Sachse had the most North Adelaide of backgrounds, living at Clearview, playing his junior footy at Gepps Cross and coming up through the Roosters Colts and Thirds. His first senior match, in 1970’s opening round, saw him take the field with his older brother Dennis (known to many as ‘Big Den’) lining up at full-forward.


Initially coming off the reserves bench for a few weeks, Neil took the injured ‘Big Den’s’ place in front of the sticks in Round 9, snagging a five goal haul against Glenelg. With his brother’s continued absence, Neil proved a more than adequate replacement, taking out the North goal-kicking with 43 goals, with three bags of six along the way. However, he also picked up two holidays thanks to the Tribunal in his first season.


A Mobil Card after one year was some indication of his early impact, but why, oh why, was this uncharacteristic pose chosen?


North’s success of the next few years was due in no small part to Sachse’s ability to play according to Mike Patterson’s vigorous instructions. A nagging ankle injury kept him out of a few games during 1971, but he was cherry ripe for his first two State games. Neil was the sole Sachse on Grand Final day as Dennis was injured for the entire season. Coming into that game as his team’s top goalkicker once more, Neil played his part in North’s decisive win over Port. Neil’s four goals against Hawthorn was some solace for North’s loss in the 1971 Champions of Australia match.



Dennis (left) and Neil Sachse in mid-1971.



Neil commenced 1972 away from the goalfront due to the return of his big brother. When he did deputise at full-forward, Neil was very productive (sixteen goals from rounds seven to nine), but he was also used at centre half-back. A mid-season suspension cost Neil any chance of a spot in the Perth carnival, but worse was to come when a Centrals player with a hard head caused a Neil broken thumb, which put Sachse out of action for the rest of the SANFL season. It was left to Dennis to fly the family flag in the second of North’s successive flags against Port.


Neil recovered in time to play in the revamped Champions of Australia series, sharing North’s historic success over Carlton with Dennis.


1973 started promisingly for Neil, with North on a roll and his selection in the famous State game against Victoria. However, when tempers boiled over against Centrals once more, he was sidelined for six matches for kneeing Bulldog wingman Peter Vivian in Round 9.


North finished the minor round as a solid third place behind Glenelg and Sturt, thumping the Blues in the Preliminary Final, thus allowing Neil and Dennis to play in their first Grand Final together. Unfortunately for them, the pacesetting Tigers got up in the final moments of one of the SANFL’s greatest Grand Finals.


There was interest in Neil from the VFL, with Footscay signing Neil on a Form Four in the off season.


Neil was still a regular selection for South Australia, playing in the ill-fated 1974 clash against Victoria at the SCG. Dennis and Neil were joined in the North Adelaide line-up by their younger brother John in 1974, the threesome playing together from Round 12 onwards, but North’s decline was becoming evident.


Footscray revealed two big name recruits for 1975, Neil Sachse and Subiaco’s Peter Featherby. The clearance negotiations didn’t go particularly smoothly with Footscray using an aptly named new player “Neil Roughead” in a trial game against South Melbourne.


Once that was sorted out, Neil’s VFL debut was forgettable apart from standing up to Melbourne’s Carl Ditterich, something rarely seen especially from newcomers. A week later, in his first home game against Fitzroy, Neil’s Bulldogs went into the last quarter trailing narrowly. He had taken more marks (ten) than anyone else on the field at that point. Midway through that quarter, he chased a loose ball with his head down, colliding with a Fitzroy opponent.


The marvellous book Playing On by Neil Sachse and Michael Sexton was promoted with the following summary:

… a front on collision left Neil a quadriplegic.

It remains the most catastrophic injury to any player in the history of the VFL/AFL competition. However, it’s not the injury, but what Neil went on to achieve that has come to define him. A passionate advocate for disability care and injury prevention in sport, Neil has raised millions for medical research through the Neil Sachse Foundation, and been a mentor to countless injured athletes.”


Playing Career

North Adelaide 1970-74, 89 games/114  goals (1 premiership)

Footscray 1975, 2 games/1 goal

South Australia, 5 games



Thanks to aussierulescollectables.com.au for the assistance. It’s the ‘go to’ site for all of your Footy Collectable questions.


The North Adelaide website is a rich resource for all things Roosters, including an extensive and detailed player history database.


Bruce Pointon’s extensive book Barrie Robran MBE – Legend was referred to often for this article.


To read all parts in the 1971 SANFL Mobil Footy Cards Series click Here


To return to the Home Page click HERE.


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. Darryl Hogan says

    Fantastic read Mark I was born in 1961, these were the days of my life. With my Father and Grandma we saw every game, home or away. From the start of the seconds until the final siren of the firsts. We saw it all, one eyed Rooster supporters

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Some stars there, Phillips was the only one I wasn’t familiar with.

    Magnificent guernsey too, the white big v looks great on red.

  3. Great stuff Swish and thorough by even your obsessive standards. I had a soft spot for North maybe because they were modest in my formative years and gave Torrens a chance. Was fortunate to be at both the ’73 GF and the ’72 Champions win over Carlton. Memory seems to stick in tiny snippets. A glistening Hammond bathed in sweat running the ball out beyond exhaustion. Barrie taking a pack mark across half back against 3 Carlton forwards to repel another attack. Remember thinking Barrie beat them single handed and the Blues would have won by 5 goals without him.
    Has Matthews ever been asked about the Barrie assault? I know he has been asked about the Bruns punch and expressed vague regret “but that’s how footy was played back then”. Memory of the Robran injury is it was mild by Matthews standards but brutal and unnecessary. With SA well beaten Robran took a chest mark on the lead and Matthews ran through him chest on well after the mark was taken.
    Strange how their careers coincided. Like you I regard Barrie as the greatest player I have seen. Matthews is the greatest VFL/AFL player. Mainly because of his versatility and consistency. He was never beaten and could find a dozen different ways to hurt an opposition.
    Wonder what they chat about over claret and cheese at Legends dinners?

  4. Lance Morton says

    Great story and a privilege to have played with each of them. Barry Robran was undoubtedly the best player I played with and would have been a champion in any league. Sticks, Bob and Neil were also great players for North.

  5. Simon Trenorden says

    Mark thank you. I used to have these as a 4 yo. I had them for years.

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I believe that this piece had been given the Barrie seal of approval. My work is done here.

    Thanks Darryl, you certainly had a good run.

    Ta Luke, I still reckon that North’s jumper before the Big V was a ripper, especially in a laceup.

    PB, yes, the hardest thing with this one was reducing Robran to 1000 words. If you look carefully, I’ve avoided saying that I think he was the best I ever saw, But we were all robbed of four or five more seasons of his greatness.

    Ta Lance. You’ll be getting a guernsey when I get eventually around to part 3 of my SANFL Blow Ins series.

    You have a famous North name there Simon. You should have kept those cards.

  7. There are some things that you just know as fact and never question – bob neil drinks west end beer, it’s a farmers union iced coffee or it’s nothing, and Barrie Robran is the greatest footballer ever. This last fact was handed down to me by my Dad and I’ve never questioned it for a moment.

  8. Superb Swish a lot of research involved! Barrie Robran while being the best player I’ve seen is just universally loved and respected ( Swish it was a fantastic email from the great man ) I had the privilege of meeting
    Neil Sachse at a Woodville South breakfast when,Chocka Bloch was also speaking ( Chocka made me go it was fantastic to sit at the same table with,Neil I have caught up with him several times over the years he is a inspiring man also bloody sad re,Sticks Phillips ( article has certainly been v popular on facebook)
    Enjoyed the thorough write up re,Bob Hammond to thanks,Swish

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Cam, the SA trinity.

    Good on ya ‘Book for spreading the word on this piece, especially to the great man himself. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to make the Norwood Mobil quartet look quite as good, but I’ll give it a crack.

  10. Swish – nice article – Ive worked for Mobil for over 30 years so i have a soft spot for the old footy cards – but the Roosters guernsey is the best Aussies Rules Club guernsey by some margin i reckon

  11. Daryl Schramm says

    Was meaning to comment much earlier. Well done Swish. Agree with all of the above. PB’s description of the “assult” on Robran in that Sydney SA v VIC match is spot on. I remember watching the incident live on the telly and being disgusted by the action and like all others, disappointed with the lengthy outcomes. And yes, that white V on red lace up 60’s gurnsey was a ripper.

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