Adelaide Sports Stores – Balls Up

My recent exposition of the workaday habits of the SANFL’s top teams cast some light on how the Saturday arvo suburban club sheds were supplied; the looming leisure boom brought opportunities for the city’s better-known footy faces to satiate the demand for athletic brand names such as adidas, Puma (and err, adidas and Puma) while making an honest buck in the early 70s.

I’m not sure whether this was just an Adelaide thing, like wide streets, iced confectionery in team colours, late night pie carts, nudist beaches and red behind posts.

Australian Open tennis champ and West Adelaide footballer Ken McGregor’s Sports Store was the earliest name that comes to mind when I think of big name sports stores in my infant years. His Bowden squash courts were handily placed near the North Gawler line if you needed to eject a full Coke can from a moving Red Hen after a South v Centrals fixture at Adelaide Oval (apparently).

Mr SA Tennis Barry Phillips-Moore (who was surely a “Barrington”) felt confident enough to advertise his “tennis and squash shop” in the SA Footy Yearbook of 1966.

Brady’s Sports Store in Adelaide Arcade sat below its upstairs snooker hall and employed a young Trevor Hughes around the time of the moonwalk (Armstrong’s and Aldrin’s, not Michael Jackson’s)

Hughes took over the prized location with his Westies team mate Bob Loveday at the turn of the decade, having parlayed the business so successfully that they were able to deck themselves out as bank tellers a few years later (and for Hughes to trade up to a new joint in the 49-s rather than the 45-s)

The Rowe and Jarman name began its domination of the city sporting scene when jockstraps, nail-in nylon sprigs, buckle up batting pads and green rubber spiked gloves were still de rigeur in the Adelaide’s South Parklands and beyond. (No, not 1984, smart alec) Everyone knew Barry Jarman and his offsider Barry ‘Nugget’ Rees but I never did find out who Rowe was. The introduction of the Slazenger Polyarmour was to blame for the cupboard full of linseed oil tins that was still there around the time Boy George was given the Key to the City in the Mall.

Motley and Greer was another of the big smoke based stores, a partnership of Geof (Magarey Medalist 1964) and Alan (post-WWII Port player, AUFC Blacks coach and short-lived coach at Torrens) that became an institution. Its lineup of employees and proprietors over the years resembled a Caltex Sports Star of the Year Awards night. (It’s a pity that their names weren’t able to be spelt correctly at any stage in their ads).

As the 70s rolled on, Motley and Greer became Motley and Ebert although Greer still kept an interest. Stan Wickham was still on hand to dole out advice regarding Malvern Stars, Phil Smyth once had hair and Tony Risby had just made his debut for WTDCC. Ebert’s business interests were part of the reason that he delayed his foray into the VFL until his fly-in fly-out 1979 season at Arden Street.

 

I don’t have any of Ebert and (Paul) Weston’s advertising copy after the business took on their names, but it was probably better than Smith and Weston’s (geddit?) efforts after yet another change of name at 340 King Wm Street.

Over at the Parade, the Redleg owners of (Mike) Poulter and (Warren) Packer resembled a mash-up of the Hair-Bear Bunch and Zardoz era Sean Connery. Packer was previously a fleeting presence at Motley and Greer, but I’m told this new venture did a roaring trade in red socks and the white plastic numbers 2 and 8.

Sturt pair Sandy Nelson and Colin Casey had set up shop in Unley Road by 1976, after they had learnt the ropes (medicine balls and crash mats too) at the feet of Messrs Motley and Greer. They also provided employment for Gary Hardeman during his time at The Blues.

Down near the Black Diamond Corner, Port’s Carl Fragomeni was the frontman at Quins, the go-to Puma specialists for both painters and dockers. Much of his gear was loaded straight from the wharves, if you know what I mean (allegedly).

Late to the game, Rodney Robran nonetheless carved out a sizeable slice of the north-eastern market, with his promiscuous brand name bonanza, some of which were even spelt correctly.

Super Carey eventually left the public service, although his time in the sports game wasn’t all that long from memory.

Kym Hodgeman returned to the caper that he first owned up to in the 1974 Grand Final Budget,  when he lobbed back from the Kangas, cornering the growing Hallett Cove market. Do people still have “sporting needs”?

Popular umpy Rick Kinnear gave special discounts to his fellow whistleblowers at his Findon outlet. The thought of mid-80s umpire’s leisure wear, shudder.

Between Rowley Park and Cheltenham Racecourse, Grantley Fielke’s Arndale sports store kept him busy between winning a Magarey, sculling FUIC and slumming it at the wrong Victoria Park for a season.

The last of the big names in the sporting game was possibly McGuinness and McDermott’s partnership at the former Rowe and Jarman. It was fun while it lasted.

But the corporatised world of the 90s and beyond saw many of these stores consolidated into larger groups and their local identity rendered irrelevant.

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So, I hope this has jogged a few memories in ageing Croweater bonces.

But back to my original question – was this just an SA thing? Was it common in other parts of our great nation? Where did you go for your Romes, Gazelles, KT26s or pink plastic protectors and which local sporting identity was there behind the glass display counter to take your Bankcard?

 

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. Lyndon Andrews says

    Another great read. Amazing that you could retrieve so many of the of the sports store ads. Probably as an Elizabeth boy you did not venture into Salisbury but if you had you would have come across Colin Stutley’s sports store. Colin (and Mick Daly) were the first players to play 100 games for Centrals Later this store was taken over by Dean Farnham before he ventured off to Victoria. Off course now one of my fellow backman , Tom Zorich is the sports store Goliath owning about 16 sports store stores in SA

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks #8. I was more of a John Watt/Elizabeth Town Centre kid. Stuts must have had that store before he went off to mine opals?

    Platts worked at the Parabanks Sports Store, how did I forget that one?

    I probably should have paid more attention to Tom ‘first kick at Footy Park’ Zorich’s empire, but I’ve been in Melbourne for 20+ years.

    Thanks again.

  3. Comprehensive! A classic
    I loved my KT26s. Not available in Canada!

  4. Great Swish. As a kid going into one of these stores was always accompanied by the anticipation of one of the owners actually being there. I still got a thrill when a young Ben Hart sold me a pair of adidas Oregons at Rowe and Jarmans in the early 1990’s. Our entire conversation went thus:

    “How’s that?”

    “Good, thanks.”

    “Enough room at the toe?”

    “I reckon.”

  5. Dave Brown says

    The earliest I’ve seen of this in SA, Swish, is Joe Darling had a sports ’emporium’ in Gawler Place in the 1890s. Reckon there were a number of Tiger owners involved at Glenelg Sports at Jetty Rd and Marion over the years too (none immediately spring to mind, however). Another is Kevin McSporran’s decades of sports store proprietorship up in Port Augusta. Pity you didn’t capture Rodney Robran’s branching out into ‘sports and toys’…

    Oh, and I almost forgot, of course Tom Warhurst is still the proprietor of Jogger’s World/Sportitude. Have been sold many a sports shoe over the years by a local footy player.

  6. Dr Goatboat says

    Excellent stuff Swish. As a keeper, loved hanging at Rowe and Jarmans.
    Looking forward to the sequel ….. those not with Rothmans as a rep or on sports good caper were all on pubs …. from Cross Keys then to Arkaba now

  7. Not just an Adelaide thing Swish.

    Former test cricketer Bill Brown had the imaginatively named ‘Bill Brown’s Sport Store’ on George Street in the Brisbane CBD.

    I vaguely recall getting my first Aussie Rules footy there in the mid- to late- 70s.

    I don’t know if Bill was in the shop but Dad was excited.

  8. Len Rodwell says

    Former Collingwood player Collin Tully ran a sports store in Hobart for many years.

  9. Yep plenty of old footballers, runners, etc ended up in sports stores in the 80s.

    Bruce Doull owned a newsagency in suburban Lower Plenty in Melbourne. You could always find him behind the jump.

  10. Les Everett says

    Nice Swish.

    Slater Gartrell Sports is still going in Midland in Perth’s east. The Slater is Keith who played one Test match for Australia, was a champion ruckman for Swan Districts and later playing coach of Subiaco. Kevin Gartrell played 10 Shield games for WA and made a century.

  11. Paul Young says

    Great read Swish. I can’t recall this being as prolific in Melbourne as it evidently was in Adelaide.

    From memory I think Collingwood great from the 1950’s, Thorold Merrett had a store in Collingwood. Certainly Crackers Keenan had one in Ascot Vale in the 1980’s. Probably the most successful was Arnold Breidis and Shane Zantuck who started SportsCo and made a killing on all the franchises they sold to other VFL players.

    Fitzroy great from the 1950’s, the late Don Furness converted SIMS in Moonee Ponds from a sports & toy store into a fully fledged sports store. It also sold cigarettes in the early 1970’s. The store is still going strong and now run by Don’s son Robert.

    Essendon rover Andy Wilson and athletics coach Jim Bradley teamed up to start Bradley-Wilson in Rose Street Essendon in the early 1970’s. Essendon utility, Peter Hickmott bought into the store and ran it with Bradley for a while and they ended up with another store in Greensborough.

    And just for the record – the Nike store in the Rundle Mall & Marion Shopping Centre is owned by Rhett Biglands.

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    You had red behind posts in Adelaide…???

  13. Luke Reynolds says

    Don Nicolson, 5 games for Essendon in 1959, owned the biggest sports store in Colac for many, many years. It’s still known as Don Nicolson SportsPower, even though he sold the business and retired several years ago. Still colloquially know to locals as “Donny Nic’s”.

  14. Rulebook says

    Swish it was David Rowe( lovely man ) have sent thru to Tony Risby,Colin Casey and Mike Poulter
    plenty of memories and yep we had red behind posts,Luke

  15. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Appreciate the comments everybody.

    6% – surely your old ones are still going

    Mickey – they’ll ride up with wear

    Dave – thanks for the update. Thinking about it, maybe the clubs or their benefactors may have had some ownership of those ever rotating stores.

    Dr G – and car yards too

    RTB – I’m thinking Sam Trimble too?

    Len – Bewdy, I’ll add him to the list

    Dips – Chris Fisher and Kerry O’Brien were the SA equivalent in the aths world

    Les – we’ve nearly covered all of the states now

    Paul – wow, you’ve really filled us in there

    Luke – yes, the posts were as red as a Maslin Beach bum in January

  16. Stone Cold Steve Baker says

    He didn’t own it as such but Merv Hughes was a major draw card at Dove’s Sports in Werribee back in the early-80s while winning B&Fs with the Tigers in the then VFA at his leisure.

    Also in the 80s & 90s Arnold Breidis of North Melbourne and Shane Zantuck of Melbourne had a thriving chain of sports stores called – wait for it – Sportsco at the big shopping centres in the western & northern suburbs of Melbourne.

  17. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Ah, so this is what they used to to before assistant coaches were invented.
    Bring back the footy franchise sports store I say !! SA could lead the way going by this compilation. Nicely researched Swish.

  18. McAlmanac says

    No mention of Sewer and Close? Heresy. One not-so-huge location at Findon Shopping Centre.

    Chris Fisher’s Sporting World at West Lakes was a nice little shop.

    And recko I I bought a great Onitsuka Tiger t-shirt in 1979 at Mick Cronin’s World of Sport on George St in the Sydney CBD – Parramatta Eels legend.

  19. Nice one Swish. Now for the tough questions. When did they stop making Rossi Blue Star boots? Did anyone outside of SA buy them? Are “low cut” (ie foreign) footy boots still the leading cause of all knee and leg injuries because “they don’t support the ankle”?
    Luke – all footy point posts were red until 1975. I saw it on the footy replay every Sunday (you had to wait a day in the 60’s for the VFL replay on Adelaide tv). Its just that the wetter weather in Melbourne gave their point posts a good hosing down most Saturdays, which explained their lighter colour on our 18″ Pye (teak or walnut). I also learned my snooker from Pot Black – the white is the cue ball and the black is worth 8 points. The mid grey is one point; the light mid grey is two points; the dark mid grey is three points; the almost black is 4 points……………………………………..

  20. Another enjoyable and well-researched piece, Swishter.

    Thorold Merrett and cricketer Lindsay Hassett ran a number of Merrett-Hassett sports stores, the most prominent of which was a huge store on Elizabeth St, Melbourne. I believe that Merrett went on to found Rebel Sports.
    There was a Jack Collins Sports store in Nicholson St, Footscray. As a kid I believed it be the J Collins from the Dogs’ 54 premiership. But it was in fact Jack Collins the former Test umpire.

  21. Rabid Dog says

    Well done Swish. My first boots were a pair of hand-me-down high-cut no-names, with nail-in plastic sprigs. Gladly, my dad knew a thing or two about footy and hammers, and knew how far to drive the sprig in. Later (1970/or 71) I won a pair of ADIDAS footy boots on the Sunday Channel 7 sports wheel – assisted in answering the question by Merv Agars – these had to be collected from Hughes and Loveday, so a day trip from the far norfern suburbs was in order. Peter B – you’ll be glad to know that they were ‘low cut’ too! What a trendsetter I must’ve been running around Kalara reserve! Beefy, I too thought of Colin Studley’s store. A LONG time ago. 6% – I’m with Swish thought those boots would last forever. And peter B – wasn’t Tony Burgan THE greatest exponent of the Blue Star boot?
    Swish – are you going to an article on car dealer players? Would be QUITE a list.

  22. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Footballer/tennis player John Mehaffey, how did I forget him?

    Bakes – yeh, I’ve since read a bit more about the poultice that those two made when they sold out. Merv!!!!

    Phil – good point. This was good old fashioned “year books piled on the study floor” research

    McA – sorry about that. Tiger was a big name in baseball cleats back then

    PB – I wonder if a pair of Blue Stars was ever worn over the border

    Smokie – thanks for the Western suburbs colour

    Rabs – sure it wasn’t Gordon Agars?

  23. kath presdee says

    Peter Wynn’s Score – sports store on Church St, Parramatta, still going strong; run by Peter Wynn, Parramatta Rugby League player of days gone by.

    For a time it was the only place you could get AFL related merchandise in Western Sydney that wasn’t badged Sydney Swans.

  24. Dave Brown says

    Still plenty of red point posts to be found over here, Luke. Still the case at most primary schools. They have only left SANFL grounds in recent times as AFL pre-season games have necessitated AFL specification goalposts which means each ground gets two new goalposts and the old (white) goalposts become the point posts. Blandification I tells ya!

  25. Ben Footner says

    Back in my uni days (late 90’s) I used to have a lot of time to kill in between buses on Grenfell St (the buses back to home in Mt Barker used to only run once and hour and often I’d just miss it after catching the bus in from Magill uni).

    Used to spend most of that time either in the basement of Harris Scarfe playing their playstations/nintendos, or wandering around Rowe & Jarman. The recently retired Tony McGuinness used to be in there quite a bit actually.

  26. Peter Crossing says

    Thanks for this Swish. David Rowe and Barry Jarman were not only sports shop pioneers, they were great people too. They paved the way for others from the sporting world to set up a business of their own as the sporting world broadened. And the ABC Australian Stories documentary on the legendary Nuggett Rees also displayed just what they did for him at a personal level.
    Two non-Adelaide sports store stories, if I may be so bold.
    The great Australian batsman Victor Trumper was, for a time, involved in the sports trade and ran a sports store in central Sydney in partnership with fellow Australian cricketer, Hanson Carter. Australia’s off spinning author Ashley Mallett recounts a story about Trumper who “once grabbed a bat off the 7/6d rack after a hectic Saturday morning trading, hit a glorious century for Paddington that afternoon, and on the Monday returned the bat to the rack with the note: “Used bat. Special 3/9d.””
    Also
    A good friend of mine,“oop” north, Lancashire lad RMO (Bob) Cooke was involved in the family sports business Tyldesley and Holbrook in Manchester. Cookie, who among other sporting achievements scored one County Championship century playing for Essex in 1973, tells a lovely story about the great English Test batsman Cyril Washbrook. For many years after his retirement, Washbrook worked in the Tyldesley and Holbrook store, at that stage run by Cookie’s father. While at work one day, Cyril was approached by a sales representative from the Unicorn Dart Company. Unicorn had just taken over the cricket bat company, Gunn and Moore. The salesman asked Cyril if he was familiar with the company and its products. Cyril, who had made thousands of runs for Lancashire and England (including 6 Test centuries) using a Gunn and Moore bat, did not bother to enlighten the hapless rep.

  27. PC recognised Victor Trumper’s sports store links. Another couple of 20’s/30’s greats with Sydney sports stores were Alan Kippax and Bert Oldfield (the Australian wicketkeeper felled by Larwood at Adelaide in the 1933 Bodyline series provoking the famous Bill Woodfull line – later immortalised in song by Paul Kelly – “there are 2 teams out there, but only one is playing cricket”).
    Here are some Google links to their respective stores. Note that the Bert Oldfield 1964 autographed bat in one of the pictures is a Gunn and Moore. One of the bat signatories in the Roar story is “E (Ernest) Tyldesley”. Younger brother of JT Tyldesley who founded the sports store where PC’s friend worked. Both Tyldesley’s were famous Lancashire and England cricketers. Recent English captain Michael Vaughan is a great great nephew.
    Lancashire cricket seems an even smaller world than Adelaide football.
    http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/12526417
    http://www.theroar.com.au/2014/07/29/cricket-memorabilia-found-cricket-sleuths-history-buffs-can-solve-mystery/
    https://www.cricketgateway.com/news/Interesting-Facts/14-Facts-about-Alan-Kippax:-Australia%E2%80%99s-very-own-Morant.html
    http://www.mossgreen.com.au/view-auctions/catalog/id/74/lot/26336/BERT-OLDFIELD-Gunn-amp-Moore-W-A-Oldfield-The-Peerless-Cricket-Bat-signed-on-shoulder-Bert-Oldfield-1969-Bert-Oldfield-played-54-Tests-1920-37-then-opened-a-famous-sports-store-in-Pitt-Street-Sydney

  28. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Kath – he sounds like a Wynner to me

    Ben – my going away gift when I moved to Melbourne was a Crows bomber jacket and Crows footy autographed by him, bought from Rowe and Jarman

    Noughts – a couple of pearlers there

    PB – some beaut archaeology

  29. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Malcolm, Swish, Peter B and Dave. I have lived my whole life totally unaware of red behind posts.

    Peter B- pre 1975? Colour TV’s arrival have something to do with the decline of the red post?

  30. Michael Sexton says

    One more for you Swish – Geoff “Scatters” Attenborough whose left arm medium pace helped SA to the Shield in 75-76 ran a store with his brother at Nailsworth. They later branched into the wholesale caper and ended with the embroidery contract for the ACB.

  31. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Mike, we are now close to accounting for every local government area in Adelaide I reckon.

  32. Adam Muyt says

    Adidas were first brought to Australia by a Dutchman, John van Hoboken, who in the 1950s set up Wilhelmina Soccer Club. The Dutch club became one of the powerhouses of Victorian soccer in the 1950s and 60s. It later became Ringwood City, and still continues to this day playing in the original orange colours of Wilhelmina.
    Van Hoboken would entice star Dutch players to Wilhelmina with work selling and distributing Adidas boots. One of these players, Bill Westerveld, went on to bring Puma out to Australia after having a falling out with Van Hoboken. Bill went on to open several sports goods stores in Sydney and regional NSW, employing several ex-tennis, rugby league and soccer players including Socceroo, Ray Baartz.

  33. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Bewdy Adam.

    From memory, Bailetti in Hindley St were the Adelaide soccer specialists.

  34. charlie brown says

    Swish (and Rulebook) – Really good read thanks Swish. The “Rowe” from Rowe and Jarman was I think David Rowe who was a more than handy tennis player. Rowe represented South Australia alongside Ken McGregor.
    http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/127073365

  35. Peter Thomas says

    I was the Adidas Representative in South Australia in 1970, working for the SA Agent Tom Warhurst by arrangement with Jan Van Hoboken who had the Adidas franchise for Australia through his Company,
    Ametco (Aust) Pty Ltd situated in Ringwood Vic.. . One of my challenges was to get Aussie Rules players out of boots and into soft toed football shoes. To achieve this there was an interim period when Adidas compromised with a hard toed football shoe. Many will remember the occasions when both football
    and kicking foot shoe flew towards goal. Eventually the “soccer shoe” won acceptance . It was no easier to get cricketers from boots into shoes. I had a session with Don Bradman to explain the benefits during this time.
    I later returned to South Australia to be with Bailetti & Sons in Hindley Street. This began their concentration on sporting goods which continues under their name.

  36. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Peter, that was very interesting to hear. There was quite a kerfuffle around cricket shoes in the 70s – I think John Benaud was caught up in it. Were you around for that?

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