1986 – A Year With The Blacks: The Preseason

The Adelaide University Football Club, The Blacks, has a well documented history. A recent clean out under the venerable Bob Neil #1 grandstand discovered a manuscript that was thought to have been long lost, adding a further chapter to its legendary record.

During the upcoming season, we’ll be publishing this newly-found account of the Blacks 1986 season as compiled by veteran Adelaide sports journalist Gordon Agars.

This essential work of Adelaide social and sporting history was found hidden downstairs, behind the photo of Ron “Captain Concussion” Carey’s 1980 A8 premiership team (unlike its author, who was generally found hiding in the front bar of the Criterion).

Here’s the first extract, from Gordon’s initial weeks with the World’s Greatest Footy Club, thirty years ago.


“The Preseason

I was thrilled to receive the Lawrie Pash SA Sesquicentenary Sports Literary Grant, which has enabled me to spend the 1986 season with (reputedly) Australia’s greatest ever sporting club.

As I write this, I should pause to reflect upon what makes this state of SA Great. The inception of the Formula One Grand Prix has placed Adelaide front and centre on the world sporting stage. What a magnificent spectacle the GP was last year, as I’m sure it will be for decades to come thanks to our rock-solid relationship with reputable British sports entrepreneur Bernie Ecclestone.

The majesty of Football Park as a night football venue will ensure that the SANFL competition will flourish to the point that the regular rumblings about joining the VFL should soon abate. What a shrewd move by the SANFL to move away from the tired and tatty Adelaide Oval a decade or so ago.

On the economic front, the newly formed State Bank of South Australia, under the steady hand of Tim Marcus Clark lays a solid foundation for our future economic development. On the infrastructure front, the Emerson Crossing now rivals Sydney’s Harbour Bridge as a feat of engineering excellence. Our unending supply of coal at Leigh Creek is the envy of the developed world and will continue to supply our state-run electricity supplier forever. We even have a new casino, which rivals the opulence of Wentworth’s finest RSL establishments.

The recently completed 1986 Festival of Arts brought to Adelaide such international luminaries as the Nederlands Dans Theater, the Awaji Puppets and Bobby McFerrin. As the current SA Tourism campaign proclaims, there isn’t a better time to be South Australian.

SA Great bw_0001


But to the Blacks and my first weeks there. Pride, Passion, Professionalism. They all start with ‘P’. As does the President’s Keg, held on the Thursday night preceding Round 1. So does Pissed.

It was at this function that I met several Blacks Personalities. Here are the notes from my first impressions of the club, as fished out from the men’s urinal at the Queen’s Head Hotel.

John Griffen – the Blacks new A1 coach. “Griff” was previously a stalwart coach of Adelaide College, the club where PE teachers played, so he may struggle getting his message across to blokes whose approach to fitness stops at swapping over to menthols during the winter months. Has brought across a few handy players from his old club. Good suntan.

Fred “Chocka” Bloch – Football Co-ordinator. Mad as a cut snake. Seems to place too much emphasis on enjoyment rather than winning for my liking. No way to run a footy club. Liability. May also have taught Barrie (no surname required) how to play.

Sandy Cockburn – Head Trainer. Orders strapping tape by the centimetre and Stone’s Green Ginger Wine by the pallet. Spent a good half an hour talking footy with me. Didn’t understand a word he said.

Peter ‘Young” Maddern – Coach of the A8 team. Known by themselves and no-one else as the “Glamour Side”. Didn’t seem like much of a clubman, likely to depart within a year of two, probably to a safe State Liberal seat.

Andrew “Sty” Fahey – Coach of the A9 team, the “Sty Council”. Ex A1 player who has decided to have a kick with his mates. Big teddy bear, can’t imagine him firing up a bunch of soft uni-types.

Bob “Boz” Maloney – Newly appointed A1 team manager. Cool, calm, unruffled fellow with a great talent for getting along well with all those who cross his path. May find the job too much, I’ll give him a year.

Malcolm “Rulebook”Ashwood – Blowfly. Only been at the club a couple of years, but thinks he runs the place. $1 each or 2 for $5,  I think he said.

Michael Dadds – Yappy rover type who spent most of the night at Griff’s elbow. The type whose mouth will get him in trouble, could find himself on the wrong side of the law. Fancies himself with the fairer sex. Needs to improve.

Bob “Bob Neil” Neil – Unassuming type. Unlikely cult hero according to some of the younger members. The novelty will surely wear off.

Tim “Plug” Harcourt – Son of legendary economist Geoff. Models himself on North’s Bronte Mumford. Went to Unley High apparently, but no-one ever kicks on from there. His ambition is to popularise economics. Won’t happen.

Mick Kenny – A1 Captain. Catholic school teacher. Left footer. Suspect that he may have hung on for a year too long.

I’ll be following three teams’ fortunes this year (A1, A8, A9) and reporting on the events of the season. Apparently I’ll need to attend something called Hold Your Bowlies each Saturday night. It all sounds rather civilised.

Go Blacks ’86

Gordon Agars”


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. Thanks Swish. Was at Dog Poo Park yesterday and heard you’d found the ‘missing manuscript.’ I’ll look forward to your weekly instalment.

  2. Nick Raschella says

    Nice write up Swish. Where have the last 30 years and 30 football seasons gone? Some great first up impressions. I look forward to future instalments.

  3. Hahahahaha! Can’t wait for Gordon’s round 1 instalment, Swish.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Superb Swish regular knackery readers will enjoy the hammering I will get thru the year,enjoyed the state bank and footy park lines !

  5. Brian Austin says

    Well, how prophetic was Gordon?
    He gave me some marital advice in 1986 as well.

  6. Brian Austin says

    Footnote: I note the North Fitzroy Arms Hotel -logo/”coat of arm”s appearing at this top of this page -has stolen the Spooners’ motto!!

  7. Peter Coleman says

    Very droll Swish, love your comments on the Coodabeen Champions as well

  8. John griffen says

    30 years , great memories what a start to remembering !
    Classic write up and beautifully summed up those classic characters.
    Looking forward to The Long Lunch
    Cheers Griff

  9. I laughed until I stopped…very much looking forward to this. Maybe even more than Game Of Thrones season 6.

  10. Swish should be signed up for Offsiders. A brilliant piece.

    With Bulldogs supporters Swish, Gazza, Rabs Douglas, British Leyland, and Melon Culley all joining the club from Elizabeth we should have seen the rise of Central District in the new millennium.

    No group of men from the Northern suburbs of Adelaide have had such influence since Cold Chisel

  11. The ultimate in post modern fiction — a work of fiction in which all the characters get to comment! Sorry I am wrong, Brian “Rocky” Austin is not a character, he is a legend!

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    Brilliant Swish!
    Like Rulebook, I’m also looking forward to the hammering Rulebook will get throughout the year.

  13. Swish, I think you might be wasting your time in IT. Looking forward to the next installment.

  14. The trick is to pick names that would rather be defamed than ignored or forgotten. Bon Neil would be rolling over in his grave if he read this.
    Its a sad state of affairs when “the Show” is the main cultural attraction.
    “Gordon” Agars?

  15. I had never even heard of the Adelaide University Blacks until the Almanac came along

  16. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Smokie Luke said to me at 1 stage that Adelaide Uni fc was well and truly the club of the almanac and then I thought about how many members of the blacks had written or write on the almanac and I thought that was a nice observation.

  17. 1986, now that was a great year. Looking forward to your version Swish.

  18. Very good Swish. Wentworth RSL, Bobby McFerrin and 2 for $5 all among my favourite lines.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

  19. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks all for taking the time to comment. Hope Gordon can keep this up all season.

    Plug, which one of us should be the next SA Governor?

    Smokie, not sure whether that was a sledge or a compliment.

    Sadly, those Festival acts were lifted straight from the ’86 programme Mickey.

  20. At The Races says

    Nice work Swish, but I don’t think I can be bothered reading 20+ instalments. When will the movie be released?

  21. Great start Swish. It’s going to be a long but fun season I sense.

    I’d forgotten that the Casino was once described as “elegant” but I so seem to recall being refused entry once in black tie and Dunlop Volley’s. Perhaps that’s what they meant?

  22. Mark Duffett says

    Some truly piquant observations here. Hoping some contributions from Gordon’s equally esteemed colleague Merv Schwartz can be unearthed as well.

  23. Brilliant Swish.

    Can’t wait to hear about the Vine Pull and the discussion of the need to have a submarine manufacturing industry – which no doubt came up at an early HYB.

    Many superb references.

    With a magnificent salute to human folly.

    PS When does Captain SAPSASA arrive?

  24. Malcolm Ashwood says


    Black’s faithful and knackery members the above link is about ex Black Jamahl Waddington I urge every 1 to click on and read

  25. McAlmanac says

    I remember “Boz” Maloney being captain of University Black in C Grade District Cricket. Left hand opening bat of solid build. Players seemed to always be talking of “Bozacues” and “Bozfests”.

  26. Prescient stuff from Gordon, the Nostradamus of Norwood.
    Keep it coming Swish. But be aware, telling home truths about those you know will get you sent to Coventry. I’ll keep a stool for you at the bar in The Coventry Arms.

  27. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    ATR – I wouldn’t bother, you didn’t have much of a year

    Culls – It was probably the black tie that had you door bitched. Talk to Big Jim, he might be able to sort it out retrospectively

    Mark D – Merv might get a mention in Round 1

    JTH – Just wait until the Sty Council comes up against the Lutherans

    McAlm – An Adelaide fixture like the Britannia roundabout, remembered just as fondly

    AJC – I’ve picked my (soft) targets

  28. Dan Hansen says

    In the morning I’m off to Harvey Norman to buy a Sunbeam Popcorn Maker.

  29. david butler says

    This is good stuff.
    Look forward to the next chapter.
    Well done.

  30. Just stumbled across this Swisher. Great work on your part.
    As for Culls… no chance! He’s on the Surveillance watch-list to never be let in UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!

Leave a Comment