1974 SANFL Grand Final – Glenelg v Sturt: Whelan In The Years


One of my very first Almanac offerings was this small reminiscence on my first pair of Blue Star footy boots.


The cover from this Budget from the first Grand Final that I attended shows Ken Whelan, Sturt’s high-leaping flat punt favouring full forward, on the day he brought up a century of goals against that day’s opponent Glenelg, wearing flashy mid-cut Blue Stars.


Football Park’s first match of its inaugural season was held in Round 5, with my beloved Bulldogs knocking over the Roosters by an even five goals.


As always, getting to SANFL HQ from Elizabeth South via the train to the city and the footy bus from Currie Street. It was a mongrel of a day, so I didn’t arrive until late in the Reserves Prelim, to my eternal shame. It was freezing, pissing down and blowing a gale to the golf course end, somehow jagging a seat behind the Northern goals.


By the time I got to West Lakes, it was raining.
When Mum read the note that I left hanging on the door.
She laughed when she got to the part that said I’ll be back in time for the replay.
‘Cause I’ve stopped off at Darrell Lea on the way home so many times before.



So this is what I had to look forward to when I grew up. I reckon the dark brown with lime contrast was the best one.




The hidden nugget here is that the day’s winner had to hang around for a another fortnight for the Champions of Australia. Footy Park never quite resembled that sketch at any stage of its existence.



Craven. I’ll say they were.



It was now Rock Station 5KA. I’ve always thought that SA’s favourite soft drink was spelt “Woodies”, so maybe the Footycast gave us all some other reason to get excited. Look at those names on their roster – Fritzy must have been temporarily lured over to the dark side of the dial before returning to Aunty ABC.



The time that optometry forgot.


Credit unions – bring ’em back.



The News paid tribute to Rick Davies – not sure why the grainy treatment was necessary.



If you can read the fine print early on, you can pick up the story of West Adelaide’s impact on SA’s finest beverages (and chimney) and some tales arising from the challenge system.



How many of the Robo car washes are still going?



North, South and West were yet to snag the two points at Footy Park.


John H. Ellers drowned his sorrows that night, possibly depleting Brighton Road’s entire stocks of Ben Ean.






These two sides were recent Grand Final combatants. I wrote about the 1969 fixture here



Legends. Just legends.



Golden Service. Nothing Less.



I should’ve sent this one in.



KG’s ideas on the match day experience were ahead of their time, as were his “smorgasbord salads”. I’ve no idea of the impact of the countdown clock on his “Time-On Room”.



The Double Blues had kept the Tigers at arms length in their three 1974 meetings.


Some famous big names to the West and the East.


What were they thinking at Channel 10 ?



The “Last Ten Games” omitted the June 1, 1974 clash mentioned on Page 16. If only my attention to detail was so acute when it really mattered.


Did KFC spell it “Footie” because that uber-70s font didn’t handle the letter “y” all that well?





I went to an Advertiser coaching session once. I can’t remember the year, but a very young Neil Craig was one of the players giving us instruction.



Bugger – Port by a point. The late Robbie Enright was Port’s most well known. For the Dogs, I’d seen this side go around a few times during the year, Mark Norsworthy and Peter Beythien the standouts.





Bob Oatey joined his father at Sturt in 1974. A very impressive record.



Coke’s sophisticated advertising capped off a brief preview of the Reserves Prelim (not sure where the earlier draw occurred to have caused this).


That’s *the* John Roberts in the Green and Gold. Buff Tyrell’s there too, plus a host of names that meant something at Oval Avenue. The Bays had a smattering of well-known names, including a young Stephen Copping, a fiery Daryl Rady and old-stager Darrell Moss. Premiership players from 1973 Sandland and Anderson also stand out.





Teachers and farmers dominated the Sturt profiles, but “Flash” Graham (Taxi Driver) and Brendon Howard (Fisherman) leap off the page.





Ruckman/meat processor Bob Tregenza. Enough said.


(Full disclosure – like my overhead marking, I’ve taken two bites at this Pen-Pix cherry. A previous, more detailed piece, along with some quality comments is here)



Adelaide Sports Stores get a run here



Wow, 1925.


Murray Ducker was the only field umpire going around in 1974 with Grand Final experience. … did he get this game?



Stop mocking me Bank of Adelaide – then again, the CPI was running at double figures so in real terms, not much has changed.



I have no idea who Mr Willis is, but my crowd guess was within 1200 of the actual figure of 58113.


The quarter by quarter scores give some indication that this wasn’t played out on a 20 degree day in still conditions.


Sturt took full advantage of the roaring gale to the golf course end, but Glenelg played a whole lot better than my arithmetic in the second quarter to get within a couple of majors.


The Blues couldn’t find the major opening in the third and it was all set up for the Tigers to, er, storm home in the inclement conditions.


However, Sturt steadied, taking out yet another Oatey-helmed flag.




More “Items of Interest” and some colour from the national broadcaster.



Take the bus, it’s easier.



Bill Neil was synonymous with footy fitness.


The most South Australian ad ever?




Woodville had more success with its Rod Olsson dart board a few years later.


Is Russ’s Vulcan Oil heater still going?



Sally Saywell (OAM Pending)



Creampuff was still going somehow in 1974, thanks to AMSCOL’s patronage.



Club picnics, Tom T Hall, Bob Francis and a hidden West Adelaide.



If you didn’t kick 20 goals per game, you weren’t trying. The 1972 Champions of Australia were on the skids by season’s end.



A handful of handy conveyances in the Derby Trial Stakes.



How do you get this stuff off your fingers?



Comment Wally May. And Max Hall. And Ian Aitken.


Around The Grounds



Settle in for some highlights. I can’t get past the primitive scoreboard, the pristine guernseys, the centre diamond and Flash Graham.



The 1981 GF Budget contained this comprehensive report.



Sturt has commemorated this, Oatey’s second last flag here.


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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. Famous grand finals:
    The Manager of SA Brewing, Mr T Nation must have been a Westies supporter from the start, he was just looking for an excuse; by 1954 someone else was in charge. My question is, what what did the T stand for “Thirsty”?
    To think that 1954 was “recent memory” is amazing. For us it is ancient history, but for us, the 1990s is recent memory. For our children it is ancient history.

    Great English expression at John H Ellers: “We’ve been looking after people better for 23 years”

    KG says the game “lacks colour”, so Swish put the the Textas to Ian Wallace. Swish, do you colour in your Football Records still?
    Channel 10 wanted football to be “clean”, but “Number 96” was just the opposite!
    Occupations at Sturt: What is the difference between “Farmer” and “Pastoralist”
    Channel ADS7, 5AD and the ADvertiser teamed up together. I wonder why?
    1973 mini-league grand final, I think that was the game that Michael Aish and I played in. I can hardly remember any details of it. I did not play on football park until 1978: Independent Schools vs High Schools. I remember more details of that and have a team picture somewhere.
    Channel 3/John martins, I must have missed that one when I turned the dial!
    The Arkaba Steak House open on Saturday Night! Remarkable for an Adelaide where everything was closed from 1230pm Saturday to 9 am Monday, even the Robo Car washes. But not the Petrol stations at Eagle on the Hill, Darlington, Salisbury and the Airport.

    Long hair certainly was the fashion in 1974

  2. Dave Brown says

    Love the font choices on the Budgets of this era, this one no exception. And there’s that rogue ‘f’ again

  3. Swish superb reminiscing as always,have sent on to Bruce Winter,Sandy Nelson and Bob Oatey and posted on,Facebook thank you

  4. I well remember that day. No, I wasn’t present for the big match. Norwood, much to my disappointment, didn’t make it. Instead I went fishing to the port Adelaide wharves. However I took along my trusty tranny and tuned in to the match, hoping my second team, Sturt would take out the choccies.

    I fished on the Birkenhead side of the river from Dock K, quill float fishing for bream. We had a gentle easterly blowing, meaning my quill was continually blown close to the wharf. When I finally packed it in, I had heard Sturt’s fine win and had something like 2 dozen big bream in 3 plastic buckets. No wonder I remembered that day.

    I was also particularly pleased for my old school friend, Bob Oatey for, after beginning to look like a successful coach in ’73 before being axed, then at Sturt, finally got to play in a premiership.

  5. Excellent Swish. I, too, was a neutral supporter at the 74 GF. I was a less than neutral supporter at the Centrals/North clash earlier that year (went with my grandpa and brother).

    And yes I was at one of the holiday Footy schools in 74. Reckon that Bob Oatey was one of the coaches. Reckon it was held in the park lands off West Terrace and we were offered milo for morning tea.

  6. Brilliant Swish. Who was the #16 P Obst in the Glenelg lineup? Peter Obst (brother of Trevor “Bubbles” – reckon one of them was the milkman’s) had retired in 1969 after 222 games for Port Adelaide and the Peckers. The Australian Football site offered no clues with no Obst I could see playing for the Bays.
    You were right about a handy field in the Derby Trial – Haymaker trained by CS Hayes went on to win the VRC Derby in November and the JB Cummings trained Bottled Sunshine took out the WA Derby in January. Young Ello in the second was a flying machine over 5 furlongs that wouldn’t go around corners. Was a Vic Park straight track specialist. Parrot mouth apparently – like the Carlton Cheer Squad.
    Struggled to find any mention of West Torrens. How unusual on GF Day. Still the social pages are memorable. How did I not part with the $4.50 (really?) for some Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine? (Could get you arrested these days). And the support act were no slouches. Melbourne Bitter could be the 2019 Demons slogan.

  7. Answer to Peter B above re the Peter Obst. I went to school with him and Peter Carey at Seacombe High, along with other Glenelg players. We had a good school team!! Obst lived in a small Housing Trust house (as did most of us) on Sturt Road at Dover Gardens. He played a couple of seasons with Glenelg, mostly in the seconds. I finished High School in 1970, so this Obst would have been around 21 at the time of this game. I do not remember exactly, but I reckon he was a nephew of Peter Obst of PAFC. I very definitely remember he had the same distinctive method of doing a screw punt, with the ball swaying back, then coming forward in the kicking motion. Not sure if he played or was a reserve in this game and I don’t think he played too many games for the Bays, injury cruelled him from memory. A search of any Glenelg database may yield more.

  8. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I’ll respond to you all in due course, but Peter Obst is mentioned in the pen pix.

  9. The past is another country.

    These are time capsules, to be sure.

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks one and all for your inspired comments.

    6% – I’d love to hear a few stories from you. Your comments put my pieces to shame.

    Dave – I think that font is called “Comic Brebner”

    ‘Book – thanks for that. 1975 may stir up some interest with your contact list

    Fisho – the Port River would have been pretty choppy that day.

    Charlie – Milo !!!

    PB – Torrens (sigh)

    Bucko – appreciate that info

    Smokie – time capsules indeed.

  11. Actually Swish the easterly was quite gentle there meaning the river wasn’t really choppy. However it wasn’t exactly hot and I was well rugged up. Incidentally, it was F wharf, not K wharf where I was fishing

    Also I packed it in early to beat the crowd, arriving home just as the match finished.

  12. Rulebook says

    Swish yep plenty of contacts re 75 looking forward to it

  13. Luke Reynolds says

    It’s not a Swish article without a Woodies reference. First heard of South Australia’s finest sugary drink in a song on the Coodabeens in the early 90’s, am still sadly yet to taste one.

    Sounds like KG really enjoyed the rugby league dancing girls. Bring back the Swanettes.

    Another great read Swish.

  14. Luke Reynolds says

    That “traffic flow guide” almost looks as bad as the trip out to Waverley Park. Whatever happened to both of those venues?

  15. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Graham Cornes provided these memories to me online:

    Where do I start. Sturt won the toss kicked with a strong wind. Second quarter it started to rain and the wind eased. We were right in it at 3q time but as often happens an unlikely hero emerges. Rob Barton came off the bench and kicked important goals. Mick Nunan was also great

    Luke, surely you could arrange a Prickly Moses/Woodies contra deal somehow

  16. My favourite ad is the TAA one.

  17. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    I love these pieces Swish.
    The times seemed simpler or is that just because we were kids ?
    I’ll fly TAA too Smokie. Up up and away https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0pjq3ZzHUs

  18. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Phil. It was either that or Down Down by Status Quo.

    Careful Smokie.

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