1975 NFL Championship Final – A Dim Recollection

If my other contributions to the Almanac are anything to go by, then 1975 must have meant a lot to me.

However, when this


tumbled from my pile of poorly shelved relics of my sports-loving past, I had no immediate recollection of the match involved.

I must have seen it. I have the evidence in my hand. I don’t remember going, but I must have.

Under the auspices of the now defunct peak body for the code, the NFL (nee Australian Football Council), this series was not a one-city carnival, but played over two weekends in different states.

The first round was played at VFL Park, June 14.

Game 1 – SA 17.16 d Tas 8.11
Best Players
SA: Colbey, Marker, Keddie
Tas: Tschirpig, McConnen, Scanlon

Game 2 – Vic 20.24 d WA 8.15
Best Players
Vic: Irwin, Moss, Greig
WA: Valli, Peak (sic), McDonald

The “CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL” was therefore between SA and Victoria.

A curtain-raiser was played between Combined Schools and State Under 19’s. Future SANFL stars in the Combine were Peter Beythien, Jim Lihou, Darryl Rady, David Palm, Stephen Keam, Andrew Zilm. Future Don Bradman and Househusband Gary Sweet was also selected (“fast and well balanced” read his brief pen-pic). Mark Williams and his late brother Anthony were the standout names in the U19s, along with Grant Dalwood, Paul Harridine and Peter Tisato.

Comb v U19

I recall that one of those teams wore a South Melbourne-style jumper. I know this because the 1976 Elizabeth High Saturday morning team inherited those jumpers, thanks to the thrifty thinking of our coach Terry Hicks.

Eliz High Footy Team 1976 001

The venue, the imaginatively named Football Park, was scarcely a year old, with a single Grand Final (1974) to its name.

That was my first GF, with Sturt and Glenelg battling each other and the elements in front of 58,113 (die-)hardy souls. Footy Park was pretty much a construction zone for much of the 70s, a complex of concrete terracing with no protection from strong breezes. Failure to bring a cushion meant a trip next week to the chemist for the sort of cream that Joel Selwood applies to his bloodied brow on a weekly basis. Sturt was able to amass a 40 point lead by the first break, but fickle winds saw them fail to register another major until the last quarter, holding on for a 15 point win. I got wet.

The Budget included two articles that reflected the development aspirations for the code almost four decades ago.

The International Scene

“… In recent years the National Football League has made great strides in the field of communication by the way of promotional films … which are now available through every Australian Embassy throughout the world, not only in English speaking countries”

A run down on activities in PNG and New Zealand was also given.

The NFL development story – Queensland, NSW and North Territory (sic)

In one and a half pages, the latest inroads were detailed on a city by city basis, e.g.

“Rockhampton – There are three teams in this recently established competition involving approximately 90 registered players” or

“Canberra – There have been many disappointments associated with the 1974 season in the administrative level of both the League and its individual clubs and it seems reconstruction of the League needs serious consideration”

The centre spread was a comparison between “VFL PARK and FOOTBALL PARK”. Neither ground ever reached its stated “Capacity when complete” (157,000 and 80,000 respectively) and I suspect that the Waverley “Distance from City” of 15 miles must have been referring to the City of Mulgrave.

The Final

Remembering that the age of State of Origin had not yet arrived, the Croweaters included former Vics Bob Keddie and Ross Dillon. Former SA greats Malcolm Blight and Craig McKellar represented the Big V, as did Sandgropers Graham Moss and Wayne and Max Richardson.

SA was unsurprisingly coached by Neil Kerley (adding to his previous stints in 1967, 1970, 1971 and 1972). John Nicholls was in his first season of coaching Victoria. Russell Ebert (C) and Paul Bagshaw (VC) were the tri-colour on field leaders, pitted against Alex Jesaulenko (C) and Peter Bedford (VC).

As I have said, I have no recollection of the game itself. According to my red-biro scorekeeping on page 21, it went like this:

SA 2.3 3.7 8.12 11.15 (81)
Vic 4.1 11.6 13.7 18.10 (118)

Best Players :
SA – Norsworthy, Keddie, Light
Vic – Knights, Matthews, Southby

SA – Dillon 3, Cornes 3, Norsworthy 2, Light, Keddie, Davies
Vic – Moss 3, Jesaulenko 3, Matthews 3, Abbey 2, M Richardson 2, Greig 2, Bedford, Hardeman, Fletcher


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. Stephen Parker says

    I was at that game the Championship Final, my brother played in the curtain raiser for the Under 19 team!

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Is that you Skittles ? Saw a Parker in the team and wondered if you were related.

  3. Stephen Parker says

    Yes, my brother was a gun when he was young, unfortunately shoulder injuries cut his football career short.

  4. The reception Lethal got only a couple of years after ruining Robran must have been just short of memorable

  5. Not to put too fine a point on it…best against Vics was Norsworthy, Dillon 3 goals….Once again the Redlegs underpinning the state team…

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Hope you are not taking credit for Bulldog rover B Norsworthy, Dr Goatboat.

    And my voting might have been a bit biased.

    Dave, don’t remember what sort of reception Lethal got, but it was only a year on from his sabotaging of Robran,; the incident or his absence didn’t rate a mention in the Budget.

  7. Skip of Skipton says

    The Vics didn’t treat the 1975 championship- decider too lightly if you look at the players selected. Jezza, Blighty, Graham Moss, Wayne and Max Richardson all good Victorians if there ever was one!

  8. My Dad and I were big fans of Darryl Rady. He epitomised unlikeliness, and with his long, black beard, looked as though he may have been raised by wolves. He didn’t seem to fit in at Glenelg. I reckon that’s why we liked him.

    And I’d love a dollar for every time Bruce Light was described as “dashing.”

    Sensational memorabilia, Swish.

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    You mean Brucey Light, of course Mickey

  10. Great names Swish. When you look at the SA and WA names in the ‘Victorian side’ you understand why interstate footy was a joke until State of Origin. That was the great era – pre AFL. I remember going to the concrete steps outer and tin shed beer halls of the early Footy Park. It was unbelievably primitive and basic by today’s standards. But compared to ankle deep in piss in the loos under the Adelaide Oval scoreboard (or pissing down your leg at finals because you couldn’t move) it was ‘looxooory’.
    Bruce Light (100 goal full forward from Waikerie and great Port wingman – the first I can remember who kicked 50 metres with both feet). Bagshaw (like Lindsay Head) never measured up against the tough men from the East. Gary Hardeman (Melbourne Demons I think) is an underacknowledged great player.
    I remember being at that first GF on a howling windy day. I remember going to a State Game where Jezza kicked a bag (I think it was Adelaide Oval) – but I doubt it was this one. 2 explanations for no memory – age or beer. Those were the days when you got absolutely stonkered at the game (I was 20) and then drove home, and tidied up before going to the Old Lion or the Largs Pier.
    As I used to say to Felicity Burns, thanks for the mammaries.

  11. Nice one Swish. How else are you to write your almanac report if you haven’t tracked the scores and BPs. DIsplaying more foresight than the administrators when they dreamt up those crowd capacities.

  12. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    PB, that was the game where Jezza demoralised Nippy’s Van driver Ian Kroehn to the tune of 10 goals – Adelaide Oval 1973.

    I watched that one from behind the goals at the northern end.

  13. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Swish I can’t remember this game either . Re the Sa side is Phil Nelson ( Sandy ? ) and the players I am struggling to remember from the Vic side are Wayne Judson and Ross Abbey . In the 1st game is Peter Beythein from Centrals who ruined , Darryl Smiths knee in a game at Unley ( v similar re Mathews and Robran ) . Lennis played for the bays , Darryl Rady re Cricket was quite sharp as a bowler . Paul Adler very good utility and premiership player for the legs . David Palm ex Norwood , West Perth and Richmond and David’s parents and my parents were good friends so we used to see a lot of the Palm family . Peter Tisato was the first pecker player to kick 100 goals in a season ( in the under 19s ) and happens to be my brother in law .
    Geoff Wilson has beaten me re memory and points out that the Vic v Wa game is when fabulous , Phil Carman broke his ankle playing for Victoria and cost him the Brownlow 75 was , Phils 1st year playing for Collingwood after leaving the parade and this was before every 1 found out he had white line fever ability wise yes he does compare to the immortal number 10 in B Robran Thanks Swish !

  14. Peter Fuller says

    If you’re asking for some detail about Wayne Judson and Ross Abbey, I can offer something. Both were 100-game players with St. Kilda and Footscray respectively. Judson played back-pocket, while Abbey was a versatile defender. This team seems to have been selected on the basis of pre-State of origin Victorian sides, with a condition that all clubs must be represented, and that no more than two players could be selected from any side.
    The motive was predominantly to ensure that clubs which were usually playing their regular matches at the same time as interstate matches, were not unduly penalised by having the number of reps in the State team that their form/talent justified. A minor consideration was to offer some consolation to players in perennially struggling clubs, although the Saints and Bulldogs were mid-range at the time of this series.
    I know Ross Abbey as he is a mate of a mate. He is also a distinguished Footscray figure because his father, Angus is one of the immortals, he was on the bench for the 1954 premiership team.

  15. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Peter appreciated

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