For better or verse – Uni Blacks sign Nick Gill

The Adelaide Uni Blacks have scored a a major coup in signing former high-flying Crow Nick Gill to play in the SA amateurs. Screamer specialist Gill has recently returned to Adelaide, where he played for North Adelaide and the Crows, for a breakfast radio gig with Triple M.

Gill’s signing by the Blacks follows last year’s recruitment of Magpie Sean Rusling, no mean feat considering the cash spilling around SA suburban and country leagues. It restores one’s faith in humanity to see talented blokes like these opting to play for the love of the game. The allure of a purely amateur experience, playing with a good bunch of bright young fellas on beautiful University Oval, not to mention post-match beers with Bob Neil, is obviously not to be underestimated.

The bookworms certainly had to call on all their guile and cunning to secure Gill’s signature in the midst of some hot competition, most notably from Andrew Jarman’s Ironbank in the Hills League. Blacks Football Director and Adelaide media powerbroker Cameron Mudge played his part, plying Gill with generous lashings of the famous pistachio gelato at Cibo Espresso on the Parade. But the clincher may have been a special poem that the Uni lads snuck in front of Gill, an unusually literate footballer and journalist. The untitled composition read as follows:

Sit comfortably, and close your eyes,

Recline, and we shall hypnotise,

Sink back and down and just relax,

And ponder playing for the Blacks.


On field of green, in guernsey black,

You dominate a feral hack,

Suffused in scent of barbied sanger,

You soar skyward, take a hanger. 


You kick the goal, we win the game.

Contentment rivals new found fame,

Pure destiny is what you feel,

And then post-game, you meet Bob Neil. 


A fantasy, a lifetime’s pleasure,

Experience worth more than treasure, 

To lead a club, that’s full of loonies…

Just wonderful. So sign with Uni’s. 

Very few clubs would resort to rhyming couplets to get a boom recruit across the line. The last time a club adopted a tactic of this sort in SA was during the halcyon days of the Kilburn ‘Maim and Destroy’ Football Club in the early 90s, when the Chics filled their formidable team by writing numerous Haiku for each of their illustrious targets. Kilburn’s effort was all the more impressive when one considers how difficult it is to compose Haiku entirely of monosyllables. Of course, it helped that they were written on fifty dollar notes.

The beauty of the Blacks is that even if Gilly doesn’t ever slot that mythical match-winning goal (which on past form may not be entirely unpredictable), he will certainly enjoy his year on the paddock. The Division One team is shaping as a decent outfit under SANFL legend Jack Paynter. New lights have just been installed at Uni Oval for night games, both to bring the crowds back and avoid the hellish AFL game day parking expected around Adelaide Oval. Bob Miles ‘High’ always has the Long Room well stocked with West End Draught and Stone’s Green Ginger Wine. The Blacks Ball and Super Sunday will be crackerjack occasions, and the club’s social calendar is as strong as ever.

As Gilly is about to learn, the difference between winning and losing at the Blacks . . . is about five minutes.

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Footy Town 2013



  1. Nice one Tom. Nick and the Uni Blacks seem to have got the balance between money and love for the game about right.
    I would never begrudge a player a good income (don’t get me started on administrators and assistant assistant coaches), but parts of the AFL have got the balance wrong.
    I am hoping that Buddy does his knee and the Swans spend the next 10 years in purgatory as a lesson in the rewards of greed, and ‘too clever by half’ club admin.
    Poetic justice.

  2. Tom Martin says

    Yes Peter, I expect there’s a few wagers floating around footy circles about how it will all turn out for Buddy Love and the Swannies. If the Swans are prepared to gamble on winning another couple of flags in the next five or so years with no realistic expectation that Franklin will play out his contract, then it’s a bold and cynical strategy. It’s not a new thing for clubs to operate on the margins of the rules to exploit and manipulate the system, but the high drama of recent years (Essendon being the most current example) seems to demonstrate that the higher the stakes rise, the more incentive there is to stretch or even ignore the boundaries and thereby move away from what a conservative old fart like me might think of as traditional footy values. The AFL is a fantastically lucrative entertainment product and a magnet for eyeballs, hearts and minds, but increasingly divorced from the grassroots of the game. I confess to bias as a parklands footy devotee – while the more rudimentary country and suburban footy can’t match the elite version for spectacle and glamour, it’s got a simple romance that can’t easily be taken away.

  3. Rabid Dog says

    Tommy D, you haven’t mentioned what ‘deal’ or ‘inducement’ re: the Blacks Ball was made to Gilly.

  4. Tom Martin says

    You’re foaming at the mouth, Rabid Dog! I’m well past that sort of carry on. The Essendon saga sent a clear message about the dangers of supplements.

    Being Uni ‘pooftahs’ and proud of it, invariably about 10% of Blacks Ball attendees are in drag. Maybe Gilly likes his fancy dress?

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Superp Tom ( v amusing Rabs ) you sum up what is great about our club superbly .
    Fantastic that a guy who could have got plenty of coin elsewhere chose to play for the love of the game The efforts of the Kerzels from London and others explaining the virtues of our great club and influencing ,Gilly to chose to play for us should be recognised
    The Greys continue to grow globally and as you as a recent life member no how special
    Ad Uni FC is .Simply we are the worlds greatest football club
    Thanks Tom you are a star !

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Tom. Fantastic to hear Sean Rusling still running around, was a huge fan when he was at the Pies, had so much ability but sadly his body couldn’t cope with AFL.
    Always love reading about the Blacks, seems a great club with many great characters.

  7. Shaun McMahon says

    Good one Tom – very nice!…………And good one blacks………..just as nice.

    Particularly loved the poetry mate – any chance of it being a regular addition to half time festivities in the long room to entertain those who have droped in for a drink?

  8. Steve Simpson says

    Always thought Nick Gill could appreciate the more aesthetic aspects of the great game and not be bought. Now if he could only kick like Jack Paynter!

  9. Graham Cornes says

    Very clever..almost too clever for a footy club. But I expect nothing less rom The Blacks.

  10. Elliot Hewish says

    Well said tommy! It’s going to be an exciting year!

  11. Mickey Randall says

    How does an announcer for the bogan-centric Triple M get to play for The Blacks? Surely he should be presenting Jazz Favourites, Tuesdays at 10pm on Radio Adelaide (5UV)?
    Nice story, Tom.

  12. Great Read!
    Could not have pitched better from one intelligentsia to another.
    God I miss the Blacks – and wish I was 20-something again!

  13. Gold Tommy – loved the Kilburn section!

  14. Lovely work, Tommy. A wonderful narrative. (Excellent grammer and punctustration I might add.)

  15. Very entertaining. The tag re winning and losing is a ripper.

    Love that N. Gill is at the Blacks and that poetry did the trick.

    Would love to read some of the haiku – as our man Haiku Bob would.

    The Blacks are world leaders, no doubt.

    Highlight: the poet’s search for a rhyme for hanger. Sanger!

  16. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Don’t expect a special locker

    No-one got them, not even Chocka

    You should join up, just because

    You’ll be a pal of the man called Boz

  17. David Hamzy says

    Great news for the Uni Blacks Tom and Rulebook. Hope 2014 is a Premiership year.Wishing you all the best.
    I will keep a close eye on results this year.

  18. chocka bloch says

    Well played Tom. And Swish – I did get a locker at the Thompsons Football Club (North Adelaide District) in 1955, but the Vice Chancellor told me to get stuffed when I asked for one at the Blacks (he was the patron then).

  19. Rabbit Warren says

    This “Nick Gill” is a joke. Just because he once played for money, it’s just assumed he should walk straight into the Black’s A-grade. I say he should start in the Scum and work his way up, just like everyone else did. Well at least I had to. Either that or he should be put on a Chardonnay Socialists contract for a couple of years, just to make sure he fits in. Next thing you know, we’ll have ladies at Hold Your Bowlies!

  20. David Gordon says

    Great work Tom. Still inspiring the Blacks from afar with your witty commentary. Keep it up.
    Ah, yes I remember playing on several wet and windy winters’ days at Blair Athol in the late eighties/early nineties and some of the expletive-laden “haiku” melodiously streaming from the Mound Mens’, much-loved megaphone . Gems such as “Hey #217, is that your number or your IQ?” served as great inspiration for myself and many other Blacks to rise to the challenge against the Chics (although in true Uni fashion…not always ultimately successful on their home ground).

  21. Josh O'Connell says

    Fine words Thomas. Fine words indeed.

  22. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Great to hear from you Chocka.

    I’m still trying to find something to rhyme with Ox or Cockburn

  23. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    But I can’t top Tom’s words

  24. @Rabbit Warren, nice point re starting Gilly off in the Scum. However, no guarantees – we have a premiership to defend and can’t afford to take a punt on any new guys.

    Chocka’s “no stand downs for first years” rule might just get him a game somewhere. How old is he? The greys might be short.

  25. Go the blacks. Great signing I see some silverware coming.

  26. Great work Tom and also great work from Nick in recognising what all Blacks have known for over a century. True satisfaction cant be induced by financial reward but it can be found in deeds of group greatness lubricated by West End and the tales of the random acts that followed that can be handed down by the generations.
    May Bob Neil smile on you all.

  27. Great piece Malcolm. It actually was Cibo Gouger Street during the infamous heatwave of Jan/Feb 2014. A brilliant effort from Blacks all over the world got the Emu across the line.

    GO Blacks!

  28. Hopefully he doesn’t get picked in The Scum, that would push me out based on our salary cap (which currently stands at 2 jugs of beer).

  29. Gents,
    Nice piece and good work securing the prized signature of the great man Nick Gill. No doubt the Kurzel brothers had some input into getting the deal done – albeit from a distance in the UK!
    Gordo – I recall one game vs the Kilburn Motor Cycle and Tattoo Club in the ’90’s in a lower grade (7Res?) where the opposition ruckman wore a colourful bandanna, long board shorts, the requisite sleeve of tattoos and a menacing scowl at the first bounce. Immediately put our weedy, acne-faced 19 year old private school boy under the pump. From memory the Mound Men were in full voice as well, making it a very eventful afternoon – as were the majority of games played at that ground!
    Looking forward to catching up at Bob Neil No.1 under lights!

  30. Tex Walker says

    Well said TM, it’s a great testament to the club to secure these quality players. Hope to see a guest appearance Action Man this year at HYB.

  31. Cam "Tank Top' Bryson says

    Thanks for this – great read, great story, great result.
    Any recruitment summary that includes the words ‘lashings’ is pure AUFC. That and pre-game flute recitals.
    Nick must be so excited about meeting Bob Neil. We all know he’s in for a treat….

  32. A win for the good guys, even if winning isn’t everything.
    Bring on Friday Night Footy @ BN#1 – the ‘spooners won’t know what hit ’em.

    A club that’s full of loonies… The Mighty Uni’s!

  33. Colin Bankes says

    Pure destiny is what you feel.. and then post-game, you meet Bob Neil! Priceless TM. Returning for a game in the black and white v this year? Good to have Gilly onboard, good bloke. Go Unis

  34. Good luck for the season ahead!!

  35. David Butler says

    Pete B, surely it is not ok to wish that an athlete has a career threatening injury.

  36. Malcolm Ashwood says

    TM Emu kicks 7 straight as the blacks come from 28 pts down at 3 q time to win by 7 pts against , Salisbury North on the day of . Jerks 500 TH ( the scum 1 ) it was a fantastic day and the most pumped atmosphere in the dressing room after a game since the win in the 2nd semi to go back up in to Div 1 . Thanks Nick Gill thanks every 1 who got emu to the worlds greatest football club !

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