1971 SANFL Mobil Cards – Part 8: West Adelaide

 

Heading into 1971, West Adelaide still had not recovered from the decision to part ways with its 1961 premiership captain-coach Neil Kerley. After losing its way badly in the middle years of the 1960s, the Blood n’ Tars regained some respectability through the coaching of Murray Weideman, despite the club’s lack of star power.

 

 

(9) Ian Verrier 21, 6ft4ins, 14st 3lb

 

 

Ian Verrier’s first match for West Adelaide was in an emphatic victory over Woodville in Round 6 of 1968. The rangy youngster was awarded West’s Best First Year Player after an eye-catching eleven games that season.

 

He rose to prominence during West’s third placed 1969, contributing 35 goals from 23 matches generally as a forward, supplementing Aldo Russian and captain-coach Weideman in the ruck.

 

Verrier took to leading the ruck division in 1970, as Weideman relinquished his on-field role.

 

The stock standard handballing pose chosen for Verrier’s Mobil Cards appearance in 1971 made him look uncharacteristically awkward (perhaps it was the same snapper as his earlier shot below). His career was soon to take off.

 

They didn’t give the Quaker Oats Award to just anyone.

 

With barely fifty club games to his name, Verrier made his South Australian debut in front of 66,893 fans at the MCG, sharing ruck duties with Dean Farnham against the Victorian pair of Mynott and Dempsey. With SA tiring in the last quarter, the home state ran away to win by five goals. Verrier played on the bench two days later in SA’s win in Hobart. He was also selected on the bench a few weeks later in the Croweaters’ convincing win over WA in Adelaide, contributing a handy goal.

 

While Westies slipped to the lower rungs of the ladder, his consistent 1971 season landed Verrier a club-topping 15 Magarey Medal votes and he was runner up to West B&F Simon Fraser. He was also selected in the Advertiser Team of the Year.

 

Verrier’s good form continued in 1972 and he was selected in the squad for the Perth Carnival, taking the field in all three matches (twice as reserve). Meanwhile, his club had slipped to the bottom of the SANFL ladder.

 

He continued to shoulder the Bloods rucking burden throughout 1973 and 1974, but West completed an unwanted hat-trick of wooden spoons during that period.

 

Falling out of love with his surroundings, Verrier sought a clearance to Port Adelaide during the 1975 season. He was duly swapped to the Magpies, who transferred Ray Hayes and a cheque for $10,000 to Westies. Port slotted him straight in as second ruck (with Chris Natt) in their Round 11 win over Glenelg.

 

Used mainly as a defender from then on, Verrier played in 25 games in 1976, including the losing Grand Final against Sturt. He was unlucky to injure his left cartilage late in the 1977 season, missing his chance to play in Port’s long awaited premiership side.

 

His final season was 1978, after a late start to the pre-season. Verrier’s 200th SANFL club match was also his last.

 

 

Playing Career

 

West Adelaide 1968-74 135 games/81 goals

 

Port Adelaide 1975-78 65 games/13 goals

 

South Australia 6 games

 

 

 

(19) Rodney Pope 26, 6ft0in, 13st 0lb

 

 

Rod Pope’s career at West Adelaide started with five games for the then reigning premier in 1962 under captain-coach Neil Kerley. He was not selected for that year’s narrow Grand Final loss to Port.

 

Never flashy but always dependable, West built their defence around Pope over the next decade. He played twenty-one games in 1963 under new coach Doug Thomas, in a solid side that finished fourth (ex-coach Neil Kerley coached South to their famous flag).

 

Already one of West’s absolute best, 1964 saw Pope win the Trabilsie Medal (Best and Fairest) but the Red and Blacks dropped to seventh, with four of its eight wins being against the new clubs, Central District and Woodville. He again played every game.

 

Pope was described thus when he was selected in the 1965 Mobil Card series – “Pace, tenacity and courage have lifted this lightly-framed youngster into one of the best half-backs in the State. He gets kicks because he fixes his eyes on the ball and keeps going for it, either in the air or on the ground.”

 

West appointed former West Adelaide, Glenelg and South Melbourne player Don Taylor to replace Thomas in 1965, but a dismal ninth placed season was Taylor’s first and last. Pope’s durability continued, but he only played in four winning games from West’s twenty matches.

 

Pope was then conscripted for the Vietnam War effort and commenced National Service in early 1966. He still managed to play 16 games for West under new coach Don Roach, returning each weekend from his training at Puckapunyal. A knee injury may have cost Pope a spot in that year’s Hobart Carnival.

 

He was posted to Vietnam, serving with 8 Petroleum, Platoon RAASC in Vung Tau and Nui Dat from late 1966 until August 1967.  He returned to Adelaide for a single game in 1967 in the last minor round game, a win against Centrals at Richmond.

 

 

Under (yet another) new coach Murray Weideman, Pope resumed his customary role in defence in 1968, winning his second B&F and bringing up his 100th SANFL games.

 

The SA selectors finally rewarded Pope with a half-back slot in all three games of the 1969 Adelaide Carnival and Pope’s 23 games for West included its first finals win for some time.

 

There were no finals for West in 1970, but Pope played in both of SA’s interstate losses.

 

Pope was forced to reproduce a lazy handballing pose when he was given one of West’s 1971 Mobil Card spots, another depiction that provided no insight into the playing style of the subject.

 

1971 was remarkably similar on the field to its predecessor – no September action in Weideman’s final year and three State games for Pope in defence; this time two of them were wins.

 

The next two seasons saw the Milner Street team at its lowest ebb. Bob Loveday took out two coaching wooden spoons. Pope’s state career finished on ten games after his pair of matches in the 1972 Perth Carnival.

 

West remained in the cellar in 1973, but the persistent Pope brought up game 200 after yet another very full season, under his seventh West coach, Bob Keddie..

 

Fos Williams’ arrival at West Adelaide in 1974 seemed to herald a period of unrest with some players and the perhaps-frustrated Pope was unsettled enough to consider retirement early in the season and did not take the field for them. Instead, he was cleared mid-year to Bob Hammond’s Norwood after 209 Blood ‘n Tars appearances, a loss that still rankles their supporters.

 

Pope’s first complete season at the Parade produced immediate success. Imposing himself on a half-back flank throughout the year, he was outstanding in Norwood’s breakthrough Grand Final win over Glenelg in 1975.

 

Not resting on his laurels, Pope took out Norwood’s Best and Fairest in 1976, playing all 26 games, a stunning achievement considering that it was his fifteenth season. He had another steady season in 1977 with 21 games, although Norwood had a middling year.

 

Pope was unable to gain a regular spot in Norwood’s resurgent 1978 side, playing ten games. On Grand Final day, he was an onlooker for the Legs’ famous victory over Sturt, having helped steer the Reserves to 40 point victory over West Adelaide.

 

In 1979, Pope’s final season, he brought up his 300th SANFL club game. At 34, he was the league’s oldest player. The Football Budget summed up his career with ‘His anticipation is uncanny, his judgement superb. He is adept at all the team skills … From the half back line he attacks relentlessly but allows opponents barely a sniff … When clearing from defence he rarely wastes a kick…’

 

Rod Pope was inducted into the South Australian Hall of Fame in 2004.

 

Playing Career

 

West Adelaide 1962-73 209 games/30 goals

 

Norwood 1974-1979 95 games/5 goals (1 premiership)

 

South Australia 10 games

 

 

(29) Jack Pannenburg 24, 5ft11ins, 13st 0lb

 

 

Originally from Mt Gambier, Jack Pannenburg made his debut in Round 1 of 1966, in his second year at West Adelaide.

 

Pannenburg’s versatility was soon to the fore, usually playing as a tall rover and his first season yielded 26 goals from his 20 games. Westies finished mid-table in Don Roach’s first year as Coach.

 

The Blood n’ Tars slipped slightly in 1967, but Pannenburg slotted 36 majors from his 17 games. He sat on the bench (alongside Barrie Robran) when selected to play for SA in Perth, but the side was humbled by the Sandgropers. He was West’s sole state rep that season, a notable effort considering that he’d played less than thirty club games.

 

With Weideman now in charge, West’s game style became more defensive in 1968. Pannenburg was their leading goalkicker with 28 goals for the season, often used at centre half-forward, despite his stature. However, The Weed’s side finished fourth on the ladder with a 12-8 record, before being knocked out by the Roosters in the first week of finals. He had earlier in the season worn the state dressing gown at the MCG, where the visitors failed to mount a challenge at any stage against the Big V.

 

At the end of the 1968 season, Pannenburg went over to Hawthorn, who had put him up in digs near Glenferrie Oval and found work for him with club sponsor Hawthorn Taxi Trucks. He was slated as the Hawks’ boom recruit, up there with a kid from Chelsea named Leigh Matthews. Six months of typically torturous training under John Kennedy (and Percy Cerutty’s weekends of sandhill running) saw him in his best-ever physical shape.

 

West Adelaide was having none of this and refused to clear him, so rather than stand down the mandatory twelve months, Pannenburg returned home. Although he was disappointed not to be able to take up the challenge of the VFL, Pannenburg was grateful for the opportunity to train under the discipline of Kennedy and thrived under the more intense training methods.

 

 

His bumper off-season saw him yards ahead of his teammates and it showed on field in his best ever season in the black and red. Weed’s 1969 West started the season with a rush and looked set for finals from the outset. Pannenburg was used everywhere, kicking a career best 44 goals, playing in each of West’s 23 games.  One of his best efforts was against Norwood at the Parade, where he kicked 6.6 (including 4.3 from 10 kicks in a rampant third quarter). He added another State game in the Adelaide Carnival against Tasmania. West’s third place was to be its best finish for some years. Pannenburg was in the best three Westies players in both the drawn first semi final and the replay against West Torrens.

 

A knee injury kept Jack to half a season in 1970.

 

Pannenburg’s 1971 Mobil Card shot shows him in an eager pose, looking to bring a team mate into the play with a sweeping left handed handball.

 

His 1971 was also truncated (11games/22 goals) and he took no part at all in the 1972 season. He was only able to play six matches in 1973 and 1974 combined. His knee injury was such that he had to have his kneecap and cartilage removed, cutting this fine player off before he could continue to display his renowned vigour and he retired from League ranks.

 

His knee recovered sufficiently for him to captain-coach at McLaren Vale, followed by a period playing at Port Augusta.

 

Jack Pannenburg then continued to work with great distinction in the SA Metro Fire Service.

 

 

Playing Career

 

West Adelaide 1966-74 107 games/177 goals

 

South Australia 3 games

 

(38) John Burkett 23, 6ft 1in, 12st 7lb

 

 

John Burkett the lightly-built Adelaide High student and nephew of 1947 West Adelaide premiership player Gar Burkett, commenced his senior career in the last four games of the 1964 season. Beginning the year in the Thirds and promoted after only one game in the Seconds, he was in the West best players on the day Doug Thomas played his 200th game, Burkett’s third.

 

Burkett appeared as one of the four Westies players in the 1965 Mobil Card series, where he was correctly described by Blair Schwartz as ‘… a thinker and a neat ball handler…’ and ‘Neat pass and accurate kick for goal.’

 

He was soon to become a regular at Richmond Oval, with season tallies of 20 games in each of 1965 and 1966. His haul of 33 goals in 1966 was his best-ever return. He also spent more time in the pivot, as well as a half-forward flank as he worked his way into a more senior onfield role.

 

A minor setback in 1967 kept Burkett to a dozen matches. The advent of Murray Weideman brought an instant lift back into the 1968 finals for West Adelaide and once more Burkett’s slick delivery was to the fore.

 

John Burkett skilfully eludes Sturt’s Raymond and Brooks at Richmond in Round 1 of 1970.

 

Two more consistent seasons in 1969 and 1970 saw followers of other clubs take note of what the Milner Street faithful already knew. He was enticed by an offer from Western Australia after the 1970 season, having played his 100th game in red and black.

 

In his second Mobil Card appearance, with Burkett tightly clasping the footy, he oozes the expression “team man”, as indeed he was. His regular appearances as West’s player rep on Football Inquest featured a wide range of leather coats and roll-necked jumpers.

 

In 1971, Burkett and Simon Fraser regularly swapped between centre and a half forward flank, which worked well for both players, although the team found itself heading south on the ladder.

 

Burkett was West’s third most experienced player during 1972, giving everything each week under new captain-coach Bob Loveday, but with little to show for it.

 

After playing only eight games in 1973 for (another) new captain-coach Bob Keddie, Burkett’s playing days ceased.

 

Burkett captain-coached Camden in the Glenelg-South competition to A Grade premierships in 1974/75/76.

 

Playing Career

 

West Adelaide 1964-73 146 games/139 goals

 

Thanks to Lee Harradine and Mark Pannenburg for their valuable assistance with this article.

 

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

 

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

Comments

  1. Another fascinating instalment. Thanks.

  2. Daryl Schramm says

    Another excellent episode Swish. I’m surprised there are not any instances of cards or newspaper photos of Westies players in white shorts. I’m sure that was their home uniform on the early 70s. Only four clubs had black shorts as their home strip during this time and Westies weren’t one of them.

  3. Rod Pope is clearly holding the ball. Great Bobby Gibson tackle. Bloody Murray Ducker never gave us a free. Westies certainly suffered the Curse of Kerls. Like the Curse of the Bambino after the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth. Or the Curse of the Goat after the Chicago Cubs kicked a bar owner out of Wrigley Field for bringing his pet to games.
    Westies along with South and Torrens were the perennial underachievers of the SANFL in the 60’s; 70’s and 80’s. Sox down back pocket Trevor Hughes was a solid Westies performer in that era.

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