Almanac Footy History – On The Bench (Seat)

Another recent trip to my collection of footy’s back pages reminded me of the deep commercial connections between players of yore and the burgeoning automobile sales business, which, like me, started nearly sixty years ago.

When Haydn Bunton Jr resumed his captain-coach role at Norwood in 1965, his day job at Freeman Motors was handily situated opposite the Maid and Magpie (click on all pictures to enlarge).



Another captain-coach, Centrals’ Ken Eustice, began his empire at John St, Salisbury. His stable of outlets grew so large that Ken could soon produce this TV ad, featuring Adelaide icon Anne Wills.



Speaking of Centrals, Peter Page was a long time sponsor through his Holden dealership (a John Duckworth torp from the Ponderosa) and was in the Dogs’ original 1964 roster. Phil Haughan was one of the first recruits employed at the business end of Elizabeth’s primary product, Australia’s own car.



Just down the road, Elizabeth Chrysler also employed a 1964 Bulldog, the 14-gamer John White.



North Adelaide can thank benefactor Rick Hosking for his fiscal input into the Roosters’ Big-V jumper which Patto turned into a pair of flags.



The Magpies were looked after too, with Dependable Motors loaded with Port players Motley, Traynor and Cahill (although that doesn’t look too much like Jack in the middle).



My collection didn’t throw up anything of Dave Boyd’s Datsun/Nissan outlets, perhaps he didn’t need to advertise.


Ron Heath Tyres, while not technically a car yard, deserves a mention for this devotion to the Port prison bars wharf pylons.



John Cahill Motors was a landmark at Queenstown for many years with some early and later examples of his promotional materials shown here.





But all of these examples fade quicker than a late 90s metallic paintjob when the Glenelg tally of car yard consultants is compiled.


Brian McGowan dealt in exotic European makes, there being no shortage of new-monied beachsiders willing to make the long trek to Edwardstown for some flash wheels (and expensive services).



Bays big-wig Tom Bonnily sponsored the sports-cars used to ferry Magarey winners around Adelaide Oval on Grand Final Day – here’s two examples.





John H Ellers was another Tigers President who was known for his colourful TV ads.



Fred Phillis spent his Saturday mornings flogging used motors in the shadows of the Brewery (and to be fair, the Coke factory too) – what a preparation.



Kerls and Twiggy could be seen “personally” in that venerated vehicular vicinity of Franklin Street, not far from 5KA and the Maugham Church. Of course.



Steve Hywood twisted elbows both on and off the field.



Studley Cornes gets a couple of mentions at different clubs, and that’s without having to mention his eponymous Toyota dealership in very very leafy Hawthorn.





The Stillwell tradition lasted into the tail end of my time in Adelaide, Tony Symonds and David Holst (plus Jack Pill’s satchel swinger) the evidence of that.



No collection of footy car yards would be complete without a Wayne Phillis Toyota ad. Mine isn’t.


Finally, my scanty Victorian collection threw up a couple of pearlers. Wind back the clock (and also the odometer) with this tribute to Honest Des and his sidekick Golden Gordon.



This Bill Patterson Cheney puffery proves that even though you didn’t have to be a VFL footballer to sell cars in the early 70s, it certainly gave you a head start. It is believed that George Cole learnt everything he needed from these blokes.



Unlike a sneaky kid with a fistful of car keys in the Elizabeth Oval visitors’ carpark, I’ve only just scratched the surface of this topic. Did your favourite Saturday arvo hero LMV-Deviously sell you your first lemon? Or did one of your star-crossed vehicular purchases actually make it past the warranty period?


Post Script 12/4/19 – it isn’t Polly, but I found this shot of Glenelg’s Peter Anderson that seems apt


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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. Luke Reynolds says

    Some great cars (and footballers) in this Swish.

    Remember my parents buying a new Holden Statesman from the late Paul Couch at Winter & Taylor Holden in Geelong.

    Think the great St Kilda ruckman Lazar Vidovic was/may still be a car salesman in Footscray?

  2. When I was a lad I served a term turning back the clock for a used car firm, I fiddled with the steering so very hard I soon became the owner of a used car yard, but now my yard is empty all day, people come but they all go away, they go where used cars past the tests, where cars get over a hundred checks. …John H Ellers is his name. fill in the dots…

  3. Hey Swish, some famous baseballers were also in the motor car business. One of the most famous was the All Australian pitcher and power hitter JIMMY COCKS who was the face of PARAMOTORS for many years.

    Jimmy had a reputation for supplying many baseballers (and t especially their wives) with quality used cars and had a real “gift of the gab”. Apparently he had honed his skills on previously selling encyclopedias.

  4. Dave Brown says

    Such are our demographics over here Swish that (former) footballers are more likely to be spruiking caravans these days. Head on down to Dave Benson’s caravans and campers this weekend to meet Tony Modra. Today’s footy stars seem more interested in owning pubs/cafes. A sad state of affairs.

  5. DBalassone says

    Great work Swish. Hard to believe that Jack Cahill had time to sell cars in between playing and coaching 43 premierships for Port.

  6. Outstanding Swish. If we remove footballers aligned with car yards, pubs and sports stores we’re left with a skinny collective, certainly in the SANFL of the 70’s.

    As Studley’s most recent offspring go to the same school as mine (ignoring the cheap argument that Kane requires re-educating) I sometimes see him hoping into his car of a morning which happens to be an ancient Corolla. The only other transport I’ve seen him use is a pair of rollerblades along the esplanade. He’s a complex character.

    The John H. Ellers ads are still iconic.

  7. * doubtless hoping, but also hopping.

  8. 6% – this immediately came to mind. I think these are all the words:
    When I was a lad I served a term
    Winding back the clocks for a used car firm
    I covered up the rust with a coat of grey
    and I fiddled with the steering of a Chevrolet (he fiddled with the steering of a Chevrolet).

    I fiddled with the steering so very hard
    I soon became the owner of a used yard
    (He fiddled with the steeering so very hard he soon became the owner of a used car yard).

    But now my yard is empty all day
    People come but they all go away
    They go where used cars are the best
    Where cars get over a hundred checks (where cars get over a hundred checks)

    The moral to my story is it’s never too late
    I’m trading in my yard and I’m going to update
    (the moral to his story is it’s never too late, he’s trading in his yard and he’s going ot update)

    Five big branches, one near you.

    ANd then there were others, such as the ‘Goodness Gracious’ ad, or the other one:

    John H Ellers is his name
    Quality proven cars are his game.

    DBalassone – I’m surprised that John Cahill had time to do all that and place a bet.
    Dave Brown – you can see Knuckles at ‘Noel’s Caravans’ I believe.

  9. Such a peculiarly South Australian thing, Swish??

    Not sure I would buy a used car off Tuddy. Or crates of soft drinks!

    What was that old story about Polly Farmer hand-balling footys through open car windows in a car-yard?

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks one and all for the magnificent responses so far.

    Russell Jackson alerted me online to Sav Rocca’s time flogging motorcycles for Ray Quincey. Thanks Rusty.

    According to a stubby holder that I grabbed at a game back home recently, a current co-captain (the one whose last good game was when Tony Abbott was relevant) and his mate on the Board are the guys to see for all of your fencing, carports, patios, pergolas, louvres and fencing needs.

  11. Polly worked at Winter and Taylor with my father – must have been in the 60s. Dad says Polly would spend his lunch break filling the front of a Kingswood with footies handballed through a half-opened window.

  12. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Ripper Swish. Bill Patterson Cheney seemed to have the pick of the bunch footy-talentwise. Not sure what they were like as salesmen.
    Didn’t know they imported Fiat’s in those days. Did Brian McGowan have much luck with what Ted Bullpitt used to call ‘Wog Mobiles’ ?

  13. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Stik – I’ve added something from my collection along those lines.

    I think I’ll avoid any reference to “dim sims on wheels” Phil

  14. Bruce Tschirpig – what a life in footy and cars. A South Australian who played in Victoria, Tassie and WA. Masters Hall of Fame. Champion car salesman – 6,800 cars in 36 years at Shacks Holden in Fremantle.

  15. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks PB, I wasn’t aware of the extent of the Tschirpig story.

  16. Hi Rabid dog got the John H Ellers ad spot on, I was a huge fan of the advert and remembered it well ,

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