Independent Schools v Combined High Schools: a curtain-raiser played at Footy Park in 1991. But what happened to these blokes and where are they now?


by Swish Schwerdt


Forget six degrees of separation, there are no more than two degrees of separation between an item on my Twitter timeline and my collection of sporting relics.

Last night, a comment regarding attendance at the infamous Crows v Lions match in 1991 (and yes, that holding the ball free to Jammo was always there) from one of my followees had me reaching into my shoebox of memories, as I responded with a “me too” post of the Record cover from Round 12.

Having just flicked through that issue a few days earlier during a minor clean-up of “the study”, I also remembered another item of interest, the curtain raiser between the Independent and State High Schools teams, which I also tweeted. (story continues below)

curtain raiser 1991


More than a quarter of these kids found their way onto an AFL list, but the conversation took a left hand turn, enquiring about the man retrospectively known as “KRT”. Of course, there is only one degree of separation between Malcolm ‘Rulebook’ Ashwood and anyone who has set foot on Football Park or Adelaide Oval (or for that matter, The Parade), and it was confirmed that K. Roberts-Thompson (sic) was a cousin of LRT, among his other claims to fame.

But what of the remaining names? Who are they? Where did they play their footy? Where are they now?

Some are obvious, some aren’t. Let us know (by making a comment)

Thanks to Will Chapman for providing this photo of the Independent Schools team

SA Independent Schools Combined 1991

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. Mick Jeffrey says

    The ones I can see that made it onto AFL lists (to make it easier)

    INDI: Cook (Crows), Kluzek (Crows), Wellman (Crows, Dons), McKinnon (Crows, Cats), Hart (Crows), Holland (Hawks), Chapman (Swans), Smart (Blues), Beinke (Crows)

    STATE: Cockatoo-Collins (Dons, Power), Powell (Crows), Ricciuto (Crows), Pesch (Crows, Dees), Wakelin (Saints, Power), Groom (Crows, Freo, North), Burns (Pies), Bone (Crows, Hawks) [Phillipou was on the Dogs list but didn’t come across…..or do I have him confused with Ugrinic from Geelong?]

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Fantastic Swish you have discovered how to get the blacks back on top with 5 of our
    1996 A grade Premiership side playing , Will Chapman , Chris May , Chris Pascoe ,
    KRT and Tom Kat ( now lives in , Singapore) playing ( have sent article on to all )

  3. Swish,
    Interesting that only one Wakelin was selected in the High Schools squad?

  4. Dave Brown says

    Other than the ones listed above that went onto the AFL, a few likely spent a few seasons at Norwood in Damien Mellow, Tom Hyde and Michael O’Leary

  5. Great names and memories. Thanks Swish.
    As an old West Torrens man; was Sam Phillipou (he played 3 games with Footscray in 1995) the son of the great Peter Phillipou? Flipper played 272 games with the mighty Eagles from 1967 – 1984, and was the first of the European migrant line that came to dominate the Eagles list (Pavlich, Floreani, Faletic etc).
    The N Roberts that captained the Combined Independent team? Too early to be Neville “Rocky” Roberts offspring I would have thought. Rocky was the best set shot kick for goal that I ever saw. Though how anyone could give up on Torrens to go to the despised Redlegs just to win 2 flags is beyond me. If he had stayed he could have saved us from the wooden spoon.

  6. Tom Martin says

    Rulebook, just to continue the Blacks’ connection. . .

    Michael O’Leary just finished a stint as AUFC seconds coach. He played for the Blacks, as well as Norwood and Sturt.

    Nick Holland has played for the Blacks as well. One game in the Scum with brothers Luke and Ben and brother-in-law Duncan Kelleway.

    Chris Groom, one of footy’s champion blokes, also played for the Melbourne Uni Blacks. The G-Tram also suited up for the mighty Mötley Blues for several seasons.

    Thanks Swish, many memories here. One of the most vivid is playing at school against Marty McKinnon at Blackfriars. He kicked the first four goals of the game in about ten minutes before rolling his ankle and leaving the field. We won by twenty goals or so after that.

  7. Che Cockatoo-Collins: great story. The boy from Far North Queensland. The family moved south where his mother was a mature-aged student at one of the Adelaide Unis which is how Che wound up finishing school there. Of course the old Port grabbed him. Then Essendon, then Port again.

    I met Che post-playing career when he was coordinating the Indigenous footy program at Rostrevor College. He brought the lads to Melbourne for Rich v Ess. One of the kids, very small and very skinny, had ‘Mosquito’ written across his track suit top. I said, “Good nickname”.

    He said, “That’s not my nickname. That’s my name.”

    Tommy Mosquito played good footy in the Pilbara and NT. Jackson Clark could probably fill us in on the latest.

    But back to Che…Che subsequently came to the National Museum for a seminar on how footy can be a force for good. He is a fantastic speaker. Sean Gorman played an important part in the seminar as well.

    Che then worked in the area of Indigenous employment with Santos. I’m not sure what his specific role is now, but he and wife Delvene and three sons (very talented) live on Stradbroke Island (do yourself a favour and go there). That’s her country.

    Che launched The Footy Almanac one year in Adelaide.

    It would be great to get him back at an Almanac function.

    There’s just one story! About 40 players to go!

  8. Warwick Nolan says

    I can confirm Chris Groom had a stellar career at West Preston in the old Diamond Valley FL. I think he may have been part of a famous swap – with Freo gaining his services in an exchange with Adelaide for some untried bloke called Andrew McLeod.

  9. John Griffen says

    Hey Rulebook I’m sure I coached the High Schools Team ! That year I dragged Che for soft effort , went back on kicked 5 Peter Carey awarded him bog medal !
    One year I had two Wakelins , Burns , Roo captain ! Took them in to loos at half time asked what the fuk was happening ! We were down , Roo said don’t panick we are cruising ! I said what the F…….. We doubled there score after half time ! Wakelins and Roo said after game “beer time” School footy great country lads we were never going to lose ! Great memories ! Ps Bassett was full back in one of my sides the great James Fantasia my selector , loved those games

  10. Mike James says

    Just magnificent… was at both games… so many names in the early game went on to become greats.

    Was it not Josh “puppy dog” May in 96 flag Rulebook? And was W Chapman “Wade” (Swans) or “Will” (Norwood & Blacks 96 & 99 flags)??

    My old haunt Henley High represented by Ryan Kennedy (Port) & Phillipou (Eagles), who was still dobbing snags at Henley A1 a cuppla years ago. David Ugrinic (referred to by Mick above) was a true freak who could have been Brownlow material, but was cruelly cut down by knee injuries while with the Cats. Not a big guy, during his knee rehab he hit the gym so hard that for 2 years beat Ablett Snr, Stoneham, Brownless for the bench press record… unbelievable really. Within a year his brother Adam went from playing Henley C grade to the Crows list! Phillipou always wanted to be drafted by the Cats… was never sure why he only played 3 AFL games for the Bulldogs for someone with so much talent.

    Me, I like football.

  11. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Yes Puppy Dog ,and Will Chapman see my comment above , Jamesey

  12. Mike James says

    Gotchya Book, just that Mick before ya thought Wade (Swans). Not splitting hairs… just curious as to which it actually was.

  13. Adam Wilson says

    D.Mellow was on the crows list before becoming a country footy hero and now is the Deputy Principal at a Port Pirie Primary school and coach of Port Bulldogs.

  14. Thanks Adam. Who did D. Mellow play for in the bush?

  15. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Mickey Randall, did your time at Kimba coincide with the Wakelins?

  16. Malcolm Ashwood says

    John Griffen also coached , Ad Uni to our 86 flag , fantastic coach ( thanks , Griff , Jamesey , Willo )

  17. Dave Brown says

    Managed to track Damien Mellow down on twitter – played for Redlegs and South Adelaide as well as being on the lists of the Swans and Crows. He played for Port Bulldogs in the country (they wear the prison bars) during a period of dominance and was the leading goal kicker in the Spencer Gulf League four times.

  18. Tom Martin says

    Sam Smart was the younger brother of Doug Smart (North Adelaide, drafted to Brisbane Bears in the very early years). Sam did medicine and never played footy after school so far as I know.

    J.Pascoe played for Sturt or Norwood, then Old Scotch in cricket and football. In the First XI I saw him hit flush in the head without a helmet by Brett Swain (West Torrens, Redbacks). Pascoe hit the next ball for six.

  19. Michael Wilson says

    Troy Olsen 16 for I.S. played in a premiership for port maggies, kicked 16 that year playing against julian burton. Was recruited by collingwood at school, never went all too hard absolute freak.

  20. Where is he now Michael? Any idea?

  21. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    According to Wikipedia (thanks Sam’s mum)

    Sam Smart
    Personal information
    Date of birth 1 May 1975 (age 39)
    Original team Norwood (SANFL)
    Height/Weight 200 cm / 101 kg[1]
    Playing career1
    Years Club Games (Goals)
    1997 Carlton 1 (0)
    1 Playing statistics correct to end of 1997 season.
    Sam Smart (born 2 May 1975) is a former professional Australian rules footballer who played with Carlton in the Australian Football League (AFL).

    Originally from South Australian National Football League (SANFL) club Norwood, Smart was drafted by Carlton at the 1994 AFL Draft but remained in South Australia to complete his medical studies, moving to Victoria at the end of the 1995 AFL season.

    Smart played one game for Carlton in 1997 and was delisted by Carlton at the end of the 1998 AFL season. Smart then played for North Ballarat in the Victorian Football League (VFL).

  22. Tom Martin says

    Thanks Swish, I stand corrected on Sam Smart.

    Here’s a bit on Doug –

    Walkerville Junior Football Club well represented – B Hart, N Holland, T Katsaros, and I think S Wellman and W Chapman. Anyone else?

    Chris Groom is unlucky to be remembered for the McLeod trade after a serviceable career at Nth Melbourne in their dominant period, when he was third tall forward after Carey and Longmire, and then Crows and Freo. Bad knees cost him but he was a Brownlow medallist in the good bloke stakes. A Coodabeen Matthew Spangher if the fates had been kind. Now he is a pharmaceutical sales exec.

  23. Tom Martin says

    By the way Swish, I notice that the Goals/Behinds line is a bit wonky on the High School side – did you even that up on matchday?

  24. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Tommy Hyde hurt his knee in this game and cost him his spot in the teal cup . Tommy played a few league games for , Norwood and then played in several premierships with , Waikerie ( Mark Riccuitos junior club )

  25. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Tom, the wiggly line is a combination of parallax and the rain that night.

    The Record got a fair soaking, so the outermost parts are a bit crinkled. It was so wet that I didn’t bother recording the scores in either game, a rarity for me.

  26. During those years when Roger Wills had me telling a few local footy yarns on the ABC’s Saturday coverage, Goodwood and Henley were going well at the top of Div1. Sam Phillipou’s name would come up a bit – he was forever kicking bags for Henley, Part of the reason for that was Michael Phillipou (brother?) was doing his thing for the ABC then.

    The other connection with the Phillipou family name is through their father Peter – ‘Flipper’. Apart from being aware of his SANFL reputation, I learnt more of Peter when working on the Eastlake FC history – a fine book by Keith Miller (copies available). Peter was a B Sc graduate from Uni of Adelaide and went to Canberra to complete actuarial studies while working as a government actuary. He was skipper of Eastlake, won the Mulrooney Medal, and was named in the centre in the ACT Team of the Century.

    Not sure where son Sam went to school but it seems he had quite a career in SA. A fine footy family!

  27. Dave Brown says

    I’m pretty sure Sam went to Henley High, John (and, yes, he and Michael are brothers I think).

    The other Sam, Smart is a good Melrose boy. Wiped me off the court in my first ever tennis match there. His folks run Bartagunyah Estate wines just out of town.

  28. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Swish. The name that stood out for me was number 24 for the Combined State High Schools, S.Visser. Any relation to the wonderful Nikki Visser, also from Adelaide?
    Do yourself a favour and Google her. Big fan of N.Visser during my teenage years in the 1990’s. Haven’t seen or heard of her for a long time now.

  29. Number 24 for both teams are Brett Pianta who played a truck load of games for Plympton Bulldogs and the other one is Stacy Visser – brother of Nikki Visser

  30. Paul Pattison says

    Good to see Blackfriars Priory school well represented in the Independent team that year. Ben Hart of Crows, Nick Holland of Hawthorne (massively intelligent student Law and Science) and Martin McKinnon who played for Adelaide, Geelong and Brisbane.

  31. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Ben Hart changed schools moving to Rostrevor when he was , 16 as Blackfriars were insisting he played for them while he only had to play the odd game for , Rocs .

  32. Graeme Kellett says

    Ok Rulebook, here’s my two cents worth.

    Firstly, on the state schools –
    Scott Sutherland was the most courageous I ever played with and a fine captain to boot. He had his knee put back together by Wilson Lee on two occasions and came back to win two best & fairest awards at North Adelaide. He has coached Uraidla to 6 (I think) flags in the past 10 seasons.
    I stood James May in my first reserves game against Port Adelaide. He sticks in my mind for two reasons. Firstly, he had biceps bigger than my quadriceps and secondly, he was a foot shorter than me yet weighed twice as much. He was short and stocky and played league footy quite young. I’m sure this is the guy.
    Damien Sheehan, also Port Adelaide, was a brilliant player and I always wondered why he never played at a higher level. I think he was injury prone and Port were simply too strong in the mid 90’s.
    Ryan Kennedy was, and still is, good mates with my brother. He was all the rage as a 17 year old but was heavy and eventually found out to be too slow for league footy.
    Scott Burns, well enough said – great career. I’ve worked for his father for the last 20 years and he is a great family friend. His father and mine played together at West Adelaide. Was playing A grade cricket for East Torrens before the move to Collingwood also. He was taken at number 90 in the 1992 draft.
    Sam and Michael Phillipou are definitely brothers. When Sam came back from Footscray, the Eagles were strong in the SANFL and he struggled to make an impact there. Michael had a bad ankle injury as a kid after being hit by a car and only managed a handful of reserves games at the Eagles. He ended up our boxing coach at North Adelaide years later and can seriously look after himself, having won a swag of ‘UFC style’ fight contests.
    Clayton Lush – you may have followed his story recently in the Advertiser. He played for South Adelaide and recently pleaded guilty to his part in a $40m drug trafficking syndicate.

    And for the Independents –
    Well covered thus far but of the lesser lights, Tim Kelly was a ruckman for St Pauls, alongside Sean Wellman and was with Norwood I believe.
    Ex-Swan Wade Chapman was traded to the Power and North Adelaide was his SANFL club. He played in the 1996 AFL Grand Final and was originally from Geelong so your “W” Chapman is certainly not Wade.
    Mick O’Leary formed a potent two pronged forward attack with a guy called Seb Packer for St Peters first XVIII a bit before my time and like Packer had knee trouble. I played in a b grade premiership at the blacks under him 2 years ago.
    I played a couple of years of first XVIII footy with Marty McKinnon at Blackfriars and you’re quite right Tom Martin, he was a freak. I’m amazed he never really went on.

  33. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Marty McKinnon went to Brisbane after the Cats, then achieved footballing immortality as a member of Centrals’ 2001 flag, coached by Al Clarkson.

  34. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Ironic the mention re Nicky Visser and Seb Packer above as they went out together for a while . Seb Packer was picked by the Crows when they were allowed to pick 10 juniors but unfortunately hurt his knee badly and his footy never reached the same heights , pretty sure , Ben Hart and Mark Riccuito were picked up this way . Seb Packer when playing cricket for , St Peters OC it was remarkable how quick word got around that ,
    Nicky Visser had turned up to watch and the crowd grew dramatically . Looks like it was James May not Josh

  35. Sam Phillipou…he is referenced regularly as an example of the Bulldogs’ desperate search for a key forward (upped the ante with Tom Boyd this year!). Having remembered Peter Phillipou from those culturally diverse Torrens sides (not all southern europeans – Fred Bills!?) I went in to bat for him on the Western Oval terraces. He was, alas, a dud in the VFL. Glad he found his level and kicked on with Henley.

  36. Martin Foster says

    Fascinating stuff. Is the T Becker , Tom Becker, who went on to be signed up by MLB teams and play baseball in the US?

  37. Never saw Seb Packer play as a schoolboy – he did his knee well before Saints were due to play us in the Intercol, but from what I heard he would have been a world beater. He split his knee cap in half playing in a staff vs students basketball match and was never the same again. If memory serves he ended up having it removed completely.

  38. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I’ve found the Record for the 1992 equivalent of this fixture – I’ll save it for another day, but the coaches were Griff and Tim Hart for the Independents.

    When Adelaide played Fitzroy in 1992 at Footy Park, there was a SANFL match played as the curtain raiser – West Adelaide (coach N Kerley) v Eagles (coach N Balme); S Phillipou and N Pesch named for the Eags

  39. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Martin yes it was Tom Becker the baseball pitcher

  40. Tom Martin says

    Seb Packer is another premiership winning Motley Blue from the south parklands (Des Vaughton Oval).

  41. Tom Martin says

    Of all the illustrious blokes in that photo, only one would have it perfectly preserved in a dust-proof plastic sleeve, ready to deploy at the slightest suggestion, and that man is the AUFC’s two-time premiership winning forward cum wingman, Will (not Wade) Chapman.

  42. Tom Katsaros says

    Thanks for sending through Book – no one has aged a day.

  43. Darryl Wakelin says

    Just a few thought’s for what it’s worth
    Some great memories lads- Griff-what a beauty he was-great coach-real character-coached the following year also in a win against the independent’s-when’s the statue going up Griff at Adelaide Oval?
    Their hasn’t been any mention of No.10 Mark Riccuito-has anyone heard what he’s been doing since 91 and what he’s doing now????!!!
    From my count 14 players from these team sheets ended up invited to train or crows listed over this next 1-5 years with a large number a part of the moratorium the crows had on under 17 year old South australian’s which finished at the end of 91 as compensation for new liscence
    S.Wellman-Gun CHF even as a 17year old-SA player of the carnival for Teal Cup in same year-drafted at end of year by crows-great career-underrated), M.Kluzek, M.McKinnon,(Geelong to Centrals to Brisbane to Norwood-classy left footer) B.Hart(enough said-class), N.Holland(trained as a 17 year old with crows but not drafted), S.Smart(trained with Crows but not drafted then drafted to Carlton in 95 until medical studies took over) ,B.Beinke(good Port Augusta boy drafted to Geelong and then back to Adelaide) ,M.Powell, Roo ,D.Wakelin(dud-slow backmen!)C.Groom(enough covered-terrific fella),Randal Bone(built like Hulk Hogan at 17 years) ,S.Burns(invited out to Crows as a 17 year old but didn’t come to training-too far from Birdwood-great career at Wood’s),N.Pesch(Crows drafted as an 18 year old then to Melbourne)
    Ryan Kennedy-Port Lincoln boy then played with Port Magpies-very good player-Teal Cup first reserve player same year-did very well with the ladies in his mid to late teens-no doubt continued it on-terriffic fella.
    Damien ‘Dogga’ Sheehan-a great mate from Cummin’s-played for Port magpies and Carlton in 1994-back in Sydney after being o/s for 15 years with DHL
    Troy Olsen-a good west coast boy from Wirulla -came down &played with Sacred Heart-classy player with raking left boot with one of the best red mullet’s you’ll ever see-played in 94 permiership with Port magpies as a 19 year old-caught up with him in June at 20 year reunion-still has Ouzo and coke on his weet-bix in the morning -runs family farm back on west coast-still playing and apparently has kicked 1200+ goals!!
    Tyron Kovacs was a westies boy-wild lad-had some real shit in him-started in all in blue before half time in Teal Cup final against the Vics in Darwin in same year-big reason we went on to win
    Yes you were right Griff-Roo did pull out a luke warm six pack of Southwark bitter from his kit bag-just re-hydrating he said-very professional-ahead of his time!

    And for the record the reason my brother Shane didn’t play it was because he was up in the member’s grandstand keeping Nicki Visser warm-sorry Seb!

  44. John Griffen says

    Oh Darryl don’t stop there ! Oh yes played golf with Ditts the other day and I reminded him of Roos efforts at State High Schools games , Roos answer to Ditts later that week was he made me ” famous ” !
    So thanks also to the Wakelin Brothers and all the other players Roo , a team game .
    Cheers great memories and as I said at a coaches award night at Footy park recently ” coaching – a privilege ”
    Great effort by the lads to respond Rulebook , keep up the good work , great to see a song composed about you Book bigger than bob Neill

  45. Darren Blythman says

    Thanks Malcolm, it brings back some old memories. I believe I was the one standing Che in the second half when he nailed those 5 goals. So the memories aren’t all that great. Following that year I played U/19’s & Reserves at South Adelaide with Randall Bone, Chris Groom, Shane Sampson, Clayton Lush, Matthew Powell & some up and coming footballers named Matthew Clarke & Luke Darcy under the coaching of Ian Borchard & John Reid. Was lured to Hackham Football Club by John Narroway & Geoff Winton & played out my football career there, receiving Playing Life membership for the Southern Football League & my club respectively.
    Is L Berry for the high school team actually Luke Berry? If so I ended up playing against him when he played for Christies Beach & Port Noarlunga Football Clubs.

  46. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Tom and we all would have panicked if Chappy didn’t have it !
    Tom Kat you haven’t . Darryl thank you very entertaining ! Griff gun coach great bloke and no 1 challenges the legend !
    Thanks Darren greatly appreciated , life membership of a club and a league is a significant achievement and I will continue
    to try and find every body

  47. S Smart still a fine man and a good doctor to my kids.
    N Visser did get around in the mid 90’s, preferring Slapper over Lizard I suspect. Loved having her at games of footy.

  48. Tom Becker says

    Very funny discussions. I unfortunately lost touch with a lot of these guys having headed abroad. I tried to follow and support these boys careers over my time away.
    Occasionally see Roo at functions as I work with Vale Brewing as a Regional Manager. Cant complain as it is good beer.
    Had a couple of beers with Packer over the time as well cousin James Pascoe .
    Having never personally met Nikki Visser, I was first introduced to her name by my Strength & Conditioning Coach in the Yankee organisation. He went on and on about her as he had met her in Tampa FL. Classic

  49. Swish- missed the Wakelins as students but have met them. I got them to speak at a Kimba school end of year function in about ’92. It was their first paid public speaking gig. They wanted no cash. I bought them a slab of Southwark. We repaired to my verandah and drank it.

  50. Damien Sheehan says

    Terrific reading gents and if not for the detail included here by some, I hate to admit my memories were hazier than post a good session of Southwark that seems to be the flavour of the day. Yes, after my time with the Maggies when work started to take over, I did spend some time with Port Districts and then had a season with the Kapunda Bombers where my sister was playing netball. Both terrific clubs with great characters and people…loved those days up the Barossa in early August when it was colder than the end of an eskimos tool and trying to drag one down at CHF.

    Have not caught up with Sammy Phillipou for years but have caught up with his brother Michael Phillipou who was a v handy player for the Eagles and is in Sydney now and going beautifully with NAB.

    I also find it strange that Simon ‘Bruiser’ Pedler (ex Cummins on the Eyre Peninsula and Magpies premiership player and ex Crows – Rostrevor boarder) was not in this game and when I catch up with him next I will ask him why? He is still going strong with the Rambler Footy Club in Cummins and has coached and played in many premierships in the Great Flinders Footy League since returning home after buying a farm or three.

    Tks for your email Malcolm and yes I will have a look through to see if I can find the team photo…anyone have a breathing apparatus I can borrow to filter the dust?

  51. Damien Sheehan says

    Correction…Michael Phillipou with Westpac, not NAB.

  52. I’ve just read through the comments. Very entertaining. Most reverence seems to be for the game of footy itself, Nikki Visser and Griff.

  53. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Not necessarily in that order John.

  54. Luke Berry says

    Yes Darren that is me.. Oldest guy in that team. Was doing year 14 at Christies High..

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