AFL Semi Final- Fremantle v Port Adelaide: Putting a lid on Bob Neil No.3



Professor Fred “Chocka” Bloch is an extraordinary individual. He is a man of many talents. A midfielder for North Adelaide and a representative for the South Australian state team, it is rumoured he saw Barrie Robran play one game for North Adelaide reserves and retired from the SANFL, knowing that North’s future was in safe hands. Football’s loss was academia’s gain. He then did an economics degree with straight distinctions and an exceptional PhD under the supervision of Professor Eric Russell on the term structure of interest rates in monetary economics. Before embarking on a career in the school of commerce where he ultimately became head of school and earned the title of professor, he was involved with the student union, the University Jazz Club as a musician and most importantly the Adelaide University Football Club. As club secretary he singlehandedly transformed the Blacks from one of the best clubs in the state to the world’s greatest football club (TWGFC). Funnily enough the North Adelaide centenary book describes Chocka as a brilliant economist and in one of the Adelaide University Commence Department’s annual reports it describes him as a brilliant footballer.



Despite being a man of many talents Chocka’s best attribute is his sense of humour. Given the duty of producing the official South Australian Amateur Football League club and fixture guide of 1989 by league president Alan Statton, Chocka decided to have some fun. Instead of entering University’s ovals as University Oval, Park 10 and Park 9 he entered them as Bob Neil Oval No. 1, Bob Neil Oval No. 2 and Bob Neil Oval No. 3. Since then Park 9 is no longer used by the University Football Club and the title of Bob Neil Oval No. 3 has been transferred to the Adelaide Oval. The Adelaide University Football Club Wikipedia page recognises University Oval’s alternative name and even lists the capacity as one hundred thousand. While about ninety thousand could fit on the outer and the northern end and another ten thousand elsewhere, you would want to be in the front row or bring your own milk crate.


Before the rise of Michelangelo Rucci, the pre-eminent sports journalist in South Australia was Paul Klaric, an ex-Adelaide University footballer. He wrote an article in the Saturday Advertiser about the opening round of the 1989 amateur league season. Later that day Alan Statton rang good friend Chocka and the conversation went something like this.


Statton: “Hello, this is Alan Statton, president of the Amateur League. Can I speak to Dr Fred Bloch please?”


Bloch: “Hi Big Al, its Chocka here.”


Statton: “Ahhh Mr Bloch, do you have a copy of today’s Advertiser handy?”


Bloch: “Yeh, I got one here in front of me now.”


Statton: “Can you go to the front page of the sports section and read the very last sentence of the Amateur League story?”


Bloch: “Yeh, it says ‘Due to ongoing cricket commitments Adelaide University won’t be hosting Broadview at the usual home ground but will be playing them at Bob Neil Oval No. 2 instead’.”


Statton: “Now, Dr Bloch, if I were a Broadview supporter wanting to go to the game how would I locate Bob Neil Oval No. 2?”


Bloch: “Oh that’s easy, Big Al; you’ll find it in between Bob Neil No. 1 and Bob Neil No. 3”


Port had an easy victory over Richmond last week at Bob Neil No. 3 but we all knew Fremantle at Subiaco would be a more difficult proposition. The general consensus amongst the NSW Port supporter group at the Royal Exhibition Hotel was Port had to be within three or four goals of the Dockers at three quarter time in order to be a chance. Fremantle had a hard game against the Swans last week and would be feeling a bit sore.


Monfries kicked the first goal thanks to some ill discipline from Mundy but after that it was all Fremantle with Nathan Fyfe the clear standout. Fremantle caught Port unaware by playing courageous football. They moved the ball quick and continually cut diagonally through the corridor. Poor kicking at goal by Fremantle and a late goal to Wingard saw Fremantle end the term with a nine point lead. This flattered Port Adelaide as the Dockers should have been three or four goals up.


The second term started as the previous term had ended. It was all Fremantle. Michael Walters could have put Port to the sword but instead kicked three consecutive behinds. Goals to Sandilands, Barlow and Crozier and Fremantle had moved out to a thirty one point lead. At this stage Fremantle had completely smothered Port’s run and should have been eight or nine goals up. Another late goal to Wingard and at halftime the game felt remarkably similar to the 1998 grand final. Back then North were two goals and twelve behinds up at halftime, should have been ten goals up and the game ought to have been over. In the second half the Crows superior fitness saw them run all over a dispirited North. Whilst far from confident I was still hopeful.


I don’t know what Hinkley said at halftime but I reckon he may have used the terms “never give up” and “be brave”. I’m sure he said “take the game on” because that’s what happened in the second half. Port came out running, took the game on and dominated the first fourteen minutes. Just before the halfway mark of the term and Port were within a kick. Fremantle rallied and the game turned into an arm wrestle again. Wines and Hartlett were the catalyst for Port’s comeback. Both were instrumental in winning contested ball and getting Port running. Another goal late in the quarter to Port, Gray’s fourth for the term and Port go into the three quarter time break with a two point lead.


However Fremantle weren’t done yet. They kick the opening two goals of the quarter and look like they have stopped Port’s momentum. Once gain the game turns into an arm wrestle for the next five minutes before the Port avalanche begins. Port start to win the ball out of the packs and Fremantle can’t match the run of Neade, White and Polec. With ten minutes to go and the Dockers eleven points down Pavlich marks the ball about thirty five metres from goal. As he lines up one of the guys in the pub yells out “C’mon Pav, it’s your entire careers achievement resting on this kick. No pressure”. Pavlich missed slightly to the right. “Nice career Pav” came the follow up call. A two bounce run down the wing by Wingard followed by a snapped goal from the pocket and Fremantle’s spirit is broken. Two more goals to Schulz and Polec and Port have their best victory since the 2004 grand final.


Wines and Fyfe were exceptional and the victorious team’s player was going to be awarded the three Malarkey votes. Wingard and Gray were also outstanding with Wingard slightly tipping out Gray. Wingard seems to relish the dry and fast conditions. I think back to his inclement weather games earlier in the year. He underperformed in the wet against Gold Coast, the second half of the second Showdown and in heavy dew against Essendon. After the game Hinkley was on the field making motions which commentators misinterpreted as him saying “keep a lid on it” to his players. The gesture was really a clandestine message to South Australian Premier and Port Adelaide fan Jay Weatherill that he has to put a lid on Bob Neil Oval No. 3. Bugger the new hospital, who cares about road and rail infrastructure, and education really isn’t that important. It may cost South Australian tax payers about four hundred million dollars but Wingard is a match winner under the dry fast conditions of a roof and what’s good for Port Adelaide is good for the state.


PORT ADELAIDE                                2.2          3.5          9.9          15.15 (105)

FREMANTLE                       3.5          6.11        8.13        11.17  (83)



Port Adelaide: Gray 4, Wingard 4, Wines 3, Monfries, White, Polec, Schulz

Fremantle: Walters 3, Fyfe 2, Barlow 2, Crozier 2, Sandilands, Pearce



Port Adelaide: All played well.

Fremantle: Fyfe, Neale, Walters, Mayne, Mundy, Sandilands,


Umpires: Margetts, Stevic, Schmitt


Official crowd: 42,338 at Patersons Stadium


Our Votes: 3 Wines (PA), 2 Fyfe (F), 1 Wingard (PA)


  1. Great article Danny Hansen

    I remember when i lived in Israel and everyone was talking about Gaza. Of course they meant the Palestinian territory but I thought they meant the amateur league club Gaza – the original club of Andrew and Darren Jarman of north adelaide fame.

    My response to the statement that we should “sort out Gaza” was – “no worries just contact Big Al Statton at South Australia Amateur League House”

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Brilliant Danny obviously I loved the Chocka reference , agreed the game had definite similarities to 98 GF . I hear the power are quite chuffed about there decision not to retain , Chaplin and Pearces services some how I don’t think , Burgoyne will be so generous ( Port well and truly wanted to keep , Burgoyne ) would have happily got a bp service station smurf doll for the other 2 . So to keep the sequence going , Eddie owes the power a favour surely he can make , Renouf play for the hawks this week ?

  3. Anthony Dodd says

    A great read, we need more articles like this! Chocha certainly is a character that would have plenty more material…

  4. Dan Sergeant says

    Brilliant article. Chocka once told me that; “Shit kicking is shit football”. Fremantle should have seen the game up by half time, but their misses gave Port a sniff.
    The second half performance was brilliant. For me I can’t think of a better performance by the club. Yes we can argue that the grand final win was better, however in that game we weren’t 31 points down playing at a hostile ground with the greater unwashed baying for blood.

  5. Brilliant

  6. The Dancing Pole says

    port should have won, full list to choose from, freo key 4 outs, loaded up with top ten draft picks from being crap for years and a good choice of top 4 ceo, coach, pres + super captain

  7. Hahaha lovely Dan. We probably didn’t fully appreciate at the time how privileged we were to be quite accidentally organically immersed in Chocka’s enthralling dedication to the Blacks. I fully get it now. What a legend. Love the Pear. And Hinkley, and Wines and Wingard and Gray and Boak. Throw in the Hoff too. The whole lot of them. Such nice boys. Heading over for the prelim with 3 kids and a mate, in the Territory. Hoping for an opportunity to recreate the “Fear and loathing in Las Vegas” desert road trip. Perhaps I’m kidding myself. Pumped. Carn the Pear.

  8. Yep, top write-up, although I’d have Gray higher up the list. That goal he kicked after getting smashed in the back of the head just reeked of belief. In fact everything he did that night had that strong smell. It’s the sort of leadership that other clubs (Fremantle included) would kill for.

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Ripper Handbag.

    I’ve inserted a photo of Chocka – I love it that it has erroneously labelled him as a former “Sturt FC star” due to his choice of training jumper.

  10. Hey Swish, did you have Fred Bloch from North Adelaide in your Coca Cola bottle cap collection? Was he in the glossy Mobil petrol cards too?
    I used to leave a bit of cork around the top of the cap for Fred, so it looked like he still had a bit of hair.
    I think Fred won out in the end, and I’m a victim of the Chocka reverse curse these days when it comes to hair.

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Gee I wish I still had those caps, I wonder if the Coke machine at Parafield Airport still has some left in the bin below the bottle opener.

    Yes, there is a Mobil Card, #6 of 1965.

  12. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Adrian Howard bought the Mobil card of the great man on e bay it is proudly framed in the longroom at bob neil number 1

  13. AFL did Port a favor in sending them to Perth for Round 23 to protect the 10 VFL teams, as you learn more from a loss than a win. Another note: The only teams to travel to Qld for the last 4 rounds were both S.A. & W.A. teams.
    Lyon played the wrong Pearce, he continues to make crucial errors, two resulted in goals. Execution in front of goal is the more important as set plays, especially for Freo as the Grand Final showed.
    With Keith Thomas now at Port, the Norwood influence has taken full effect. Pity Port can’t influence are local airlines to put on extra flights in September, this would of helped Fremantle the previous week. Adelaide needs to remove its curfew to allow extra flights in allowing more supporters the opportunity to see there team in a final, rather than forking out a $1000 return fair.

  14. Luke Reynolds says

    What a cracking game Saturday night, love watching Port play.
    A roof on a footy ground is overrated. Leave Bob Neil No.3 as it is.
    Great read Dan.

  15. Remember Fred vividly during the 1980’s. I played at Riverside all my life, and there was probably no two diverse football clubs in culture, however both Riverside and Adelaide University, got along famously.

    Regular after gam drinks at the Kings Head Hotel. Fred was the guest speaker at the Riverside “End of Year Dinner” on many, many occasions. Who would have believed that a University professor, would be the guest year after year, at the working class club of Riverside.

    The speeches of Fred were memorable, as he spoke about his old mate Strawbs Emmel, and our famous ruck duo of Fiji and big Bubbles Milne. He spoke for up to 30 minutes, and everyone in the room stood still. No-one moved, not even to go to the famous bar.

    Wishing there were more University people like Fred, especially over the last few years. A great man, who did a lot for football, and bringing together people of different cultures, and at different ends of the economic scale.

  16. Great old stories about Chocka…Not being a Port supporter I didn’t find any requirement to read on about the Port/Freo game, but I assume it too is a great read!

  17. Great read about Chocka. I loved how his marketing strategy for recruiting players involved a 5 minute conversation convincing them not to join when they were lined up to register. A bold but surprisingly effective tact.

  18. Matthew Warren says

    My first memory of Chocka was signing up as an undergraduate, just after the end of WW2. I was in the mid-season draft (i.e. I turned up halfway through the season), which meant I had to ferret out Chocka inside the commerce faculty (where he proudly offered, and awarded, an automatic minimum P1 to anyone in first year accounting who signed up to play for the Blacks). When I greeted him he was as enthusiastic as if I had just been delisted from Geelong, and immediately began workshopping a few nicknames. I left the draft camp (Chocka’s office) as Matt War and Peace. Clearly it was an iterative process.

    Chocka didn’t just shape the culture of the Blacks. He WAS the culture. I’m old enough to remember him standing on a chair at the back of the Queens Head (hey love, enjoy your shit?), getting completely rat arsed as he skulled during HYB, Ra Ra McGrath being the first nominated skulled and vomiting in the garden, the Blacks Blues Band, the powerful feeling that Chocka conveyed that everyone was valued, everyone belonged. As a fragile teenager this was important, as so few people were offering it at the time.

    This became more evident as I grew up inside the club and began to attend selection night on Thursdays, where Clarry the computer had already spat out the complex matrix of possible team line-ups, factoring in injuries, the ski season (for tarnished spooners) and the contracted players in the lower teams. There are few times I can recall Chocka getting serious, but selection was one of them. He wasn’t so fussed with the A-grade, but rather the more recreational end of the football spectrum. Chocka was adamant that everyone got a game. The Ollie Ablett’s, the Cunning Germans, the Kevin Elle McFergusson’s (two sses) had to be part of the fabric of the club, not just spectators. And so they played. Sometimes in the broadest possible definition of the word, but they bought a mouthguard, wore a jumper, stood on beautiful Bob Neil number 2, or Mardi Gras Park, or Postage Stamp Park, and they tried to get a kick, got a bit sweaty, swore a lot, and belonged. I can think of many things that Chocka did over the years I’ve spent with him, but I think few are more profound.

    He introduced swap cards, with selected marquee players from all the AUFC teams, and Bob Neil in the pivot. He anointed Brian “the club poofter” and brought him back to the General Havelock, only for Brian to then proposition pretty much every player in the club on the statistically valid theory that perhaps someone might be up for it. It was hilarious. I recall in later years Chocka had (somehow) been promoted to Dean of the School of Commerce, but his office basically consisted of hundreds of lever arch files containing the shared history of the AUFC and the SAAFL, upon which he wrote a history. He was a long standing commissioner (or whatever it was you called them) of the SAAFL, and introduced and protected a remarkable rule during his tenure that where there was a jumper clash, the team that should change its jumper was not decided on the home and away, but on how long that club had been a member of the SAAFL. As the foundation member, we never had to change our jumper. Chocka retired, and we lost that defence of the realm with him. He was powerful beyond imagination.

    It wasn’t all smooth sailing. I remember as the club evolved and more Rhodes Scholars and accountants got involved in its management, Chocka was marginalised on his simple and more autocratic management style. He didn’t like losing control of the thing he had singularly created. At the same time it was inevitable. Something this special needed to be more than anyone, even Chocka Bloch.

  19. Great summary, Matty. I should have consulted you beforehand.

  20. Great article Chockablock was my first uni lecturer and kept things very interesting with his footy analogies. A great man.

  21. Great article – the first half was better than the second half!

  22. Both my parents worked with Chocka in the National Bank, many years later I find him at the Blacks. He and Dad loved having a yarn at Uni games. Gold Danny.

  23. Good read Rulebook!

  24. Nice commentary – Port for Premiers I think.

Leave a Comment