David ‘Malt’ Wildy: Sobers, Richards, Wildy


Source: David Wildy personal collection


David Wildy – North Adelaide – 146 games, 32 goals


1981 – John Downie Memorial Trophy (Reserves)
1983 – Northern Tavern Encouragement Award
1984 – Harrison Encouragement Award (1 Magarey Medal Vote)
1985 – Woodroffe Skylights Trophy (2 Magarey Medal Votes)
1986 – Rodney Robran’s Sportslover Award
1987 – North Adelaide Football Club Encouragement Trophy


David Wildy complete player history at NAFC HERE


Life member of the North Adelaide Football Club


Media personality including commentating the past 31 SANFL grand finals (a record), six AFL grand finals


TV footy: ABC and Channel 7, Cricket: Channel 9


26 years continuously with radio station FIVEaa


David is entrenched in the media in South Australia and is an important part of the furniture, currently commentating AFL footy and doing an hour long sports show nightly with Malcolm Blight on FIVEaa.


Back to the beginning!


David is the son of Bob (deceased) and Allison with brothers Mark and Tim and sister Carolyn. He attended Vale Park Primary School and Marden High. David played both junior cricket and footy for Walkerville, playing state primary school cricket at Under 17 and Under 23 levels and made the senior state squad in 1983 before retiring at the age of 24.




The first bowler David faced Playing A-grade district cricket for Prospect was none other than Ken Cunningham! David won the Prospect DCC batting award twice – hey, Sir Garfield Sobers in ‘61, Barry Richards in ‘71 and David Wildy in ‘81 has some synergy!


I rated David very highly as a batsman and was working on the scoreboard in a state Under 23 game against WA. The word was whoever got the most runs out of Harvey Jolly and David was going to play the next Shield game. Wilds was run out for 50 odd – we won’t mention who by but it was smart to get rid of your main opposition (only joking Harvey).


A few familiar faces in the state Under 23 squad – can you name them? Source: David Wildy personal collection


Joel Garner also remarked that Wilds was the best batsman he played against in Adelaide district cricket – fair endorsement! David was a tall, elegant batsman with similarities to Greg Chappell.




Source: David Wildy personal collection


Footy wise, Wilds started with Walkerville playing Under 9s, 11s and 13s. David was roped into playing for St Peters YCW when he was 15, ending up badly breaking his leg. He was in hospital for four weeks and in plaster for nine. Now, Adelaide University FC readers, David may have received a visit from a certain Boz Moloney and as we all know Wilds couldn’t run or hide. The next couple of hours of his life he can’t get back (I can see plenty of heads nodding).


David missed two and a half years of footy, returning against doctors’ advice and his dad, Bob, wasn’t overly keen on him playing either. David kicked 99 goals for Walkies Under 18s that season. He was then invited out to North Adelaide and played Under 19s under the coaching of Rodney Robran.


He started his Rooster career in the ruck but, explaining to Rodney his body couldn’t cope with the physical demands of rucking and that he was a full forward anyway, Wilds proceeded to kick 101 goals in 15 games including seven in a losing Grand Final (pipped at the post by a Grantley Fielke inspired West Adelaide).


A very important point in Wilds’ footy career is he was a one-eyed Norwood supporter. Growing up and playing juniors for the Roosters he used to then rush to go watch the Legs (always said you were a man of class, Wilds).


David made his league debut against Woodville in Round 4 1980 playing under the legend Barrie Robran. He kicked five goals replacing the suspended Mike Doszna. David played the following week against Centrals but was then sent back to the 2s to further his development.


In 1981, under new coach, Mick Nunan, the two had a meeting at the start of the year where Mick said ‘I reckon you can play and I will back you in but footy has to be the total main sporting focus’. So, David retired from cricket – he adds he does not regret the decision whatsoever and wouldn’t have had the resulting media positions in all likelihood if he had kept trying to combine both sports.


David established himself in the league side halfway through the season in ‘81 after consistent performances in the reserves. Unfortunately he only played one game in ‘82 (injuries held him back). Season ‘83 was when Wilds (aka Malt) established himself as a league player.


Now there is a bit of debate how David acquired his nickname. I will back in the great man, Nick Haines (North Adelaide FC historian), that Mick Nunan called him ‘Malt’ as he was making sure Wilds was having plenty of malted protein shakes trying to put on weight.


David’s fine form coincided with him doing the training to enter the fire brigade, changing from the National Australia Bank. The strenuous training David was doing for the fire brigade helped dramatically as he was so fit that 30 plus possessions playing in defence was commonplace. Getting to every contest and running off wasn’t a problem whatsoever.


David kicked on and became an integral part of the Roosters’ defence. His consistency was a key and he did a very good job on key forwards such as Neville Roberts, Roger Luders, Malcolm Blight, Stephen Kernahan, Tim Evans, Rick Davies and John Roberts while also being mobile enough to stand Wilbur Wilson and Ralph Sewer.


In ‘85 and ‘86 David played in the North Adelaide sides which lost to Glenelg in both Grand Finals. In ‘85 he was knocked out by Stephen ‘Sticks’ Kernahan in Stephen’s last SANFL game (no problem with Sticks whatsoever, Malt said it was entirely his fault). A highlight of David’s career was playing very well against and having team success against the VFL sides Melbourne and Collingwood while also being high up in the Roosters’ best in the loss against Hawthorn.


In ‘87 David was like the Roosters – on a mission. Having the best year of his career, he made the SANFL Advertiser and the News teams of the year as well as the West End All Stars team. It is his biggest footy regret, being injured playing against West Adelaide in the Round 18 game in a questionable incident by Glen Goss. The led to him missing the rest of the season including the North Adelaide premiership.


In ‘88 David played the in the Escort Cup and the opening two minor round games. He got injured and then returned from Rounds 8 to 14 before getting dropped. David then bizarrely broke his arm playing in the reserves against Sturt, colliding with Matty Benson’s head (hard head, Matty!) which turned out to be his last game.


In his career David had a broken arm and wrist, a bone in his back, a shoulder reconstruction, two groin operations and a fractured ankle (bloody hell, sounds like a medical dictionary!). These were at the start and end of his career, missing 40 to 50 games with injury and playing over 100 straight games in the middle of his career.


David and Mick Nunan had a falling out which thankfully is repaired now. At one stage it looked like Wilds and Steve Riley would head to the Parade in ‘89 – unfortunately, the clearance fee put paid to that (other clubs showed interest in David also).




David had been North Adelaide’s main representative on the Channel 9 footy show so had a relationship with Ken Cunningham. Also, after his injury in ’88, he had been involved in the coverage of footy on the ABC (the good old days with plenty of coverage of the SANFL!) so KG lined up an around the grounds role for Wilds in ‘89 on 5DN. By the end of the season Wilds was calling games – this was like a dream come true.


When 5DN wound up, David moved to 5RPH calling footy with Ian Aitken. Then when the late David Hookes moved to Melbourne, Wilds was offered the job at FIVEaa a casual 26 years ago. He has now called a remarkable 31 SANFL Grand Finals in a row – an Australian record at state level which is very unlikely to be surpassed. He has also called six AFL Grand Finals.


Some highlights were when it looked like Scott Hodges was down for the count hurting his knee in the 1990 Grand Final and Rick ‘the Jumbo Prince’ Davies in the FIVEaa box wasn’t exactly shattered as it looked like his SANFL goal kicking record of 151 goals in a season was going to survive. Alas, Scotty hobbled back out on to the ground and ended up with 153 goals. Safe to say that Rick was just as disappointed as the losing Glenelg side.


The Teddy Whitten lap with Neil Kerley in the State game in ‘95 (I will always maintain that is the best radio I ever have had the privilege of listening to – KG, Wilds and John Reid painted the picture perfectly. I pulled over driving as it was emotional and I wanted to listen closely), the AFL Grand Finals stand out for different reasons but the Crows comeback in ‘98 when seemingly dead and buried at half time is his favourite. Hey, 30 plus years over 1,000 games commentating.


When FIVEaa were commentating both SANFL and AFL games every week, one year David commentated 75 games! Let alone hosting Summer Drive and regularly Saturday morning talk-back there have been many highlights (obviously the calls of Malcolm from Highbury is No. 1).


But seriously, David thanks Gary Beau at 5DN in the early days and has loved working with Ken Cunningham, Graham Cornes, Chris McDermott, Mark Bickley, Stephen Rowe and Malcolm Blight, thanking Paul Bartlett for being a magnificent boss at FIVEaa and Cam Thompson has been a significant influence as Sports Director.


David also worked for the News, writing a weekly column interviewing sporting celebrities such George Foreman in which he spoke about Muhammad Ali, Greg Chappell about the underarm incident, Dawn Fraser, Max Basheer and Mark Jackson were highlights. Hey, even a fellow Prospect batting trophy winner in Barry Richards! The column had some challenges but was a buzz and had its rewards (yep, get that totally Wilds).


Source: David Wildy personal collection


Personal life


David met his first wife, Jenny, at the Grenfell Tavern (hey, an enduring relationship starting up at the Grenfell is a life achievement in itself!). Jenny was a magnificent person who I met and had a bit to do with when I was coaching at Pembroke. Their son, Ben, was playing for Pembroke and Payneham. Jenny would always put her hand up to score and help in any way. She was a selfless person always thinking of others. Jenny died of a rare genetic lung disease and refused to tell the kids Melissa and Ben as she didn’t want them to worry – only telling them in the last week, not crying and being very specific that they had each other. A truly remarkable lady and which David had a special relationship.


Wilds has struck the jackpot again with his current partner, Gail, who works for Qantas. David originally met Gail after a game in Melbourne with ex-Rooster David Robertson and then ran into her nine months later. I reckon it takes a pretty incredible person to develop such strong relationships with David’s children only emerging recently about the lengthy chats Ben used to have with Gail when David was off working night shift at the fire brigade.


I remember Ben as a pretty quiet kid, so for Ben to confide in Gail is true testament to a caring person. Melissa, who was involved in the media here and now living and married to Mitch in the US (hey, Melissa LOVE how open you are on Facebook about your feelings towards David, Gail, Ben and your late mum Jenny!)


The fireman


Wilds worked for the fire brigade from ’83, retiring recently. He was the first to arrive at the NCA bombing in town in ’94 which was particularly horrific. He also attended the Torrens Power Station fire – it only emerged afterwards how extremely dangerous it was. The Pinery bushfires and being on the scene of numerous terrible car accidents all have had its moments and are huge life learning and changing moments.


David misses the camaraderie of the fire brigade. He really enjoyed working there, appreciates and is so grateful for people who covered his shifts and helped him work in his passion of sport. He looks forward to continuing to work in the media and, personally, being the doyen of callers of footy and the chance to travel with Gail. I reckon fair chance of a bit of travel to the USA!


Thanks Wilds aka Malt!



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  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Glenn Bishop, Harvey Jolly, Gary Davis, Tim May, Michael Haysman, Malcolm Dolman, just for starters.

    The blokes at the Highways used to call David Wildy “Merv” after one of their long serving managers

  2. Another great read malcolm, love your research. I always have loved David’s radio commentary.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Back row from left

    Wundke, May, Smart, Wildy, Cassidy, Bishop, Christensen

    Front row from left

    Sargent (Mgr) , Dolman, Jolly (vc) , Haysman, (c) , Massey, Davis

    From the 81/82 U/23 Carnival.

    Wildy 33 (run out) v WA (Jolly scored 154) and 47 v Tas

  4. Arson Garson says

    Great Read, Book.

    I do remember David Wildy from those early SANFL Days and my days in SA, but it’s great to get more detail – and a very personal touch!

    Good job.

  5. Peter Myers says

    Interesting read Malcolm. Can’t say the Roosters are or will ever be among my favourite sporting teams, but they were a pretty good side during those years, and I always thought Wildy and John Riley were very fine players in their defence, along with my old mate Mr C. Stanbridge! Always a pity when players who grew up loving the Redlegs end up playing somewhere else, but that’s just the way it goes, I suppose. He certainly does a good job in the commentary box too. Nice touch including him alongside Sobers and Richards too! Is Tim May in that state cricket photo? I think he’s the only one I recognise.

  6. Peter Myers says

    Just seen Mark Schwerdt’s comment above. ?

  7. Peter Crossing says

    Nice article Malcolm.
    David Wildy was a good player and a splendid team mate.
    Almost the last player to have done the double and played A Grade for Prospect and League for North Adelaide.

    Gary Sobers was a bit busy with the West Indies team in 1960/61.
    Peter Eaton won the A Grade batting – as a young player in the first A Grade premiership team. I believe they defeated Kensington.

  8. Tony Foster says

    A good read Malcolm.
    Re the State U/23 photo I think it’s Steve Wundke, Tim May, Brian Vincent, Wilds, David Cassidy, Glenn Bishop, not sure but reckon it has to be a bowler – maybe Robbie Christensen,
    Murray Sargent, Malcolm Dollman, Harvey Jolly, Mike Haysman, Rick Massey and Gary Davis.

  9. Tony Foster says

    Re Peter Crossing’s comment above was it Peter Eaton or Mark “Moth” Eaton?

  10. Peter Crossing says

    Tony. It was Peter Eaton. Moth was still in short trousers at that stage. Both great Prospect stalwarts.

  11. Kevin Lewis says

    Terrific read Malcolm,no doubt Wilds was good enough to be a good state player,
    I know Hooksie rated him.
    Probably made right decision though to concentrate on football.

  12. Tony Foster says

    Thanks for the clarification Peter. I don’t know Peter Eaton but Moth is a terrific bloke.

  13. Harvey Jolly says

    Good read Malcolm, I can’t remember the specifics of the run out but I didn’t return to the dressing rooms until stumps so I’m feeling a little guilt. Very funny man in the dressing room David, and a very tidy batsman. We played in the same SAPSASA side back in the early 70’s along with Glenn Bishop, Sam Parkinson, David Marshall. Enjoy David’s commentary and points of view. Thanks for linking me in, kind regards

  14. One of the better nicknames I’ll hear today. Can’t believe I’ve never heard it before. Thanks Tony.

  15. Paul Spinks says

    Excellent and detailed, Rulebook:

    I have a mate in Aldinga Beach who is a Roosters fan, but not internet inclined.
    He’d love this, though, so I’ll print him out a copy.

  16. Michael Charles Aish says

    Champion bloke is David. I probably should say Disco.He will understand.Very solid in defense.Enjoy listening to him on AA

  17. Great article again RB. Well done. The other Black’s connection is a certain Sty Fahey in the back row of the Walkerville photo.
    Glen Goss dislike of North players heads continued in the 1991 GF.
    I’m going out on a limb here but I think the Under 23 cricketer front row 2nd from right is Ian Carmichael.

  18. Peter Coleman says

    Great article Book, love the Boz cameo.

  19. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Bloody hell, how did I miss Sty?

    Gordon Agars

  20. Robert Sjostrom says

    Fantastic read , what a extraordinary life with many more chapters to go

  21. Athan Lekkas says

    Great article, and well written. Not many nicer guys that David Wildy..
    Top bloke and a genuinely great human

  22. Obviously very lovingly put together, RB.
    Another wonderful piece to add to your collection.

    Those of us who have little idea about South Australian sport are really getting some history lessons.

  23. Rory Champion says

    Fantastic read. I worked with Wilds in the MFS and he is the nicest guy you could meet. Friend to everyone, was great with the recruits and was a very good firie. Never heard him badmouth anyone or think he was special.He took the ribbing and gave back as good as he got .After he got reported for striking Kernaghan in the grand final, we would ask him “Hey Wilds what was Kernaghans number again.” I never saw him lose his temper. Fantastic bloke the world is a far better place because he’s in it

  24. Another great read, very well written

  25. Garry Davis says

    A good read as always Malcolm. ” Malt” was always a great man to play both with and against. Brings back some good memories. Glad that he put his obvious verbal talents to great use.

  26. Greg Whittlesea says

    One of the best Malcolm…. what he achieved in cricket/football and Media is one for anyone to aspire to.Great to play against Him during the 80s

  27. Greg Perkins says

    A good read written by a passionate guy about a great bloke!!

  28. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Well played,Swish re names and I will chase,Wilds up re seems to be a few different nick names over the years.Thanks Fisho and Arson.Peter 2018 I’m still in the foetal position I admit personally most disappointing loss as a supporter I have felt and yes,Wilds is a gun commentator.Noughts thank you apologies.TF thank you.Kevin can’t disagree but do wonder what would have happened if,Wilds had been picked in the state side.Harvey thank you and you batted v v well that day.JTH top man,Moth.Paul thank you.Aishy v much so and as I said above definitely some nick names to explain re above.Charlie well picked re,Sty and shhh I thought it was,Ian Carmichael as well but don’t tell any one.PC the conversation with,Wilds and the reaction from Wilds that’s him as I said,Boz was priceless.Robert and Athan thank you and very much so.Smokie greatly appreciated.Rory thank you and very well put.Campbell thank you.Gary thank you and definitely.
    Greg aka Sir Yankalilla well said.Perky thank you and yep,thanks folks

  29. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Darryl did you umpire,Wilds ? Thank you

  30. Great article Rulebook big fan of Wilds the commentator. Would have liked to have seen how far he took his cricket. If Big Bird rates you I’m guessing quite far.

  31. Luke Reynolds says

    Great piece Rulebook, that’s a fair career, both playing and post playing. Is the David Robertson mentioned the same player who played a couple of years at Collingwood in the late 80’s? It’s mentioned at the start that Wildy commentated cricket on Channel 9, was that state cricket?

  32. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Raj yes,Big Bird thoughts is a huge wrap.Luke yep same,David Robertson and think so I will double check
    thanks legends

  33. Claude Crow says

    Nice article,Malcolm and David congrats on a wonderful career on and off the ground.

  34. Lovely Lisa says

    That visit from Boz probably hurt more than the broken leg!

  35. One of your best Book – despite the Boz mention.

  36. Fabulously written Malcolm!!!! A lot in the article that I had no idea about!
    I actually taught Melissa Wildy at dance for a number of years… and it was only a few months ago that I found out that Jenny had passed away! You are right… a lovely woman!!
    Well done

  37. Martin Rumsby says

    Didn’t know much at all about David’s extensive achievements before reading this article. Thanks Malcolm.

  38. Tim Victory says

    Great person Great footballer, enjoy his easy conversational style media commentary. From a great NA and SANFL era.

  39. Excellent tribute, Malcolm, to a deserving recipient. David Wildy is a walking encyclopaedia of sport and is far more knowledgeable than one or two of his 5AA compatriots. His views on sport are always accurate and balanced and he still manages to fly the flag for SA without going over the top. His views resonate with me often and I always try to catch his hour with Blighty as I feel that they nail the sporting issues of the day with a measured insight that avoids hyperbole and over-the-top reactions. David was horribly unlucky not to play at least one Shield game & equally unfortunate in missing out on Roosters’ 1987 triumph where the late M. Parsons strutted his stuff so memorably.

  40. David Wildy says

    It was nice to read all of the above comments, some from people I know and a lot from people I have never met .Malt was my nickname at North Adelaide ,Ness (Short for Wilderness) was my nickname at Prospect and later it became Wilds or Wildo Credit to you Malcolm for your great research and incite you provided on my sporting career and life in general .Many of my friends have enjoyed the read Well done

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