Round 1 – Adelaide v North Melbourne: The Texurrection Shuffle

I can’t explain why I haven’t been to an Adelaide game in my home town since we moved to Melbourne in mid-1994, but this season I vowed that I would take in at least one fixture at Adelaide Oval v2.0.

We normally don’t go away at Easter, but we (Mrs Swish and I) thought that we could take our newish vehicle for a bit of a run and take in the Round 1 Crows v Roos clash.

The Western Highway traffic was lightish on Easter Thursday which was lucky as we left home later than we normally would for the 740 kilometre drive.

Beaufort was overflowing with families making the most of the sunny conditions and I was careful not to exceed the various speed limits there. The traffic had thinned out noticeably after Stawell and our first stop was May Park, Horsham where both car and occupants were refuelled.

May Park. Horsham

May Park. Horsham

Suitably fortified, the musical selection was changed from 80s/90s grey market alternative compilations (adios Pixies, hooroo Echo and the Bunnymen, so long Wonder Stuff) to our mutual tastes, the Hoodoo Gurus, Paul Kelly, Blondie and Johnny Cash.

I invoked my vagabond spirit by doing something I had always promised myself – I deviated via Dimboola, rather than bypass it as I had done every other time I’d made this trip. Disappointingly, there was no sign of Bruce Spence or Max Gillies and one of the heritage buildings in the main street had been recently demolished, but other than that, it was a worth the few lost minutes.

With Mrs Swish performing her role of radar spotter to perfection, we were thrilled when the clown that roared past us at 140km/h was intercepted by the Highway Patrol this side of Kaniva.

I was pulled over for a breath test at Keith but tested positive only to Subway and Spearmint Extra. From there it was cruise control through Coonalpyn, Tintinara, Coomandook, Yumali, Ki Ki until a brief sugar and water interlude at Tailem Bend. We hit our once-were-plush-but-now-looking-a-bit-tired-but-the-views-are-pretty-good City digs at around ABC TV news time.

Still mildly hungry, we strolled down a deserted Rundle Mall until we landed at the usually vibrant East End, treated ourselves to a shared plate of snacks and returned, just in time to see the final minutes of the Tiges’ win in the curtain raiser to Stevo’s tepid grilling of Mick.

A new day and a morning walk through Adelaide Uni and across the footbridge, afforded us a view of the greatest sporting venue in Australia. And behind Bob Neil No.1 we could also see the rooftops of Adelaide Oval.

Memorial Drive Tennis Club / Adelaide No 2 / Some other place

Memorial Drive Tennis Club / Adelaide No 2 / Some other place

The broad majestic Torrens

The broad majestic Torrens

Australia's Greatest Sporting Venue

Australia’s Greatest Sporting Venue

Next stop was the Adelaide Zoo, one of the few attractions open on Good Friday. We spent a leisurely few hours there, reminiscing about our childhood visits to see George, Samorn and the polar bears. As we ascended the walkways above the replica rain forest, the green-ness of the zoo and the surrounding parklands canopy surprised us pleasingly.

Adelaide Zoo greenery

Adelaide Zoo greenery

Our big breakfast left us wanting not much for lunch, so the impromptu sausage in bread stand inside the historic rotunda was enough for us. We weren’t expecting the bread to be Balfours branded though.

On our way back, we discovered that the Art Gallery was also open. Not only do I not know anything about art, I don’t even know what I like, but that doesn’t stop us having a wander through there whenever we are in town. Mrs Swish was hoping to see the famous painting of the first Proclamation Day, but we found that it was not currently on display.

By chance we came across an exhibition by photographer Trent Parke, which topped off the day splendidly.

We regrouped at our lodgings, then ventured southwards towards Gouger St for a feed of pricey but tasty fish and chips, without considering that it was Good Friday anyway.

Saturday morning was go to Haigh’s morning, selecting our his and hers Easter eggs, before the traditional trip to the Central Market to assure ourselves once again all is good with the world.

On the way back, we veered left in Hindley St (not always a wise move) and came across an antique book shop with the door ajar. I headed straight to Sport and snagged Keith Butler’s Howzat after deciding that the various tour diaries of the 40s and 50s could stay on the shelves until next time. Down in the Australian History section, Mrs Swish found a text book that had the Proclamation Day painting on the cover and also a history of a Victorian country town that would be of interest to one of our neighbours who grew up there.

I was amused by a 75th anniversary of Unley High, where 1982 head prefect Tim Harcourt’s presentation to that noted statesman Al Grassby scored a mention, but Julia Gillard’s time there didn’t.

As we left, the vendor told us that he wasn’t actually open for business, but as several others had followed us in, he was happy to take our money.

We made it back to our room, dumped our stuff, then Mrs Swish reminded me that we might have time to take in an Adelaide Oval tour. A quick phone call secured our place in the day’s final session at 2pm so we grabbed some grub and found a park bench near the rotunda in Elder Park possibly sitting in the same seat that Mrs Swish’s grandfather had wooed her grandma the best past of a century ago.

Elder Park

Elder Park

Rotunda and more

Rotunda and more

Well, this is something.

Our first stop was the Cricket Media Centre, a spacious expanse of glass, flat surfaces and network connections situated behind the bowler’s arm at the River End. Up a few stairs to the seating area, which revealed new heights in nosebleededness, the artistry of the grandstand roof designs and the majesty of the playing surface. The surrounding views went alright too.

From the cricket press box

From the cricket press box

Next we were shown around the areas that were meant to reflect the histories of the two AFL entities, as well as the SANFL and its clubs. I was mildly miffed that we weren’t able to spend more time here, but also miffed that, if this is all that exists as a shrine to the collective memory of especially the SANFL, it was a desultory outcome. I hope that each club has its own curated collections.

Our anticlockwise route took us to the salubrious setting of the Audi Club (think the Medallion Club, but with more fritz). I noted that they missed the obvious opportunity to name this area in honour of Greg Chappell’s 1981/82 season.

The highlight of the tour was the visit into the gizzards of the historic scoreboard. It resembled the insides of a large garden shed found at the back of a pre-WW2 home in Dudley Park, complete with 1963 Frigidaire festooned with a “DRINKS $1 EACH” sign scrawled in texta and the attendants fearing a visit from the Workcover inspector. The scoreboard is a tribute to simplicity and ingenuity. May it stand for the next hundred years.

View from inside the scoreboard

View from inside the scoreboard

Mission Control, Adelaide Oval style

Mission Control, Adelaide Oval style

Scoreboard gizzards

Scoreboard gizzards

As we wandered around the back of the members stand, I think I saw a group of Western District graziers that had been there since the First Test in December, having had plenty to say during that time without viewing a single over.

3 SA Greats, yes, the Curtin Bros. And three other blokes

3 SA Greats, yes, the Curtin Bros. And three other blokes

A quick tour inside the cricket sheds gave me just enough time to capture some of the historical essence of SA cricket, as shown above.

Out onto the hallowed Astroturf near the dugouts (we weren’t allowed onto the playing surface) for some happy snaps followed by a peek into the Cahill/McLeod bar and our tour was over. We breezed through the Bradman exhibition for dessert and crossed the snazzy footbridge and back home.

I’d thoroughly recommend this tour. It probably isn’t up there with the MCG Tour for all the sporting bells and whistles, but it is special all the same.

Later on, we had dinner at a seaside pub. I somehow managed to snag a seat facing the big screen and saw glimpses of Sydney’s last quarter charge in between bites of some Roo fillet that proved a lot tougher than its namesake was to be the next day. Collingwood let me down in the tipping stakes in the following game.

Sunday morning, two fiftysomethings alone and away from the cares of domesticity, what else was there to do but lie in each other’s arms and rekindle the embers that once burnt brightly. But, in our case, we went down the Terrace to the State Library instead.

First stop was the Mortlock Room with its, in hindsight , moderately feeble attempts to enliven SA’s great history. The opulence of this wing was not matched by the historic richness of its displays, which were dominated at the southern end by several wall displays made up of countless wine labels. Don’t get me wrong, by themselves, these displays provided an insight into SA’s past, but if that’s all there is on the official record, then thank goodness for the recent efforts of Bob Byrne and his Adelaide, Remember When efforts.

SA Cultural Artefacts

SA Cultural Artefacts

Felt patches, bring 'em back

Felt patches, bring ’em back

We had a quick squiz through the historic documents section of the library proper, with its family histories, stories of Tanunda Lutheran churches and the Unley High 100th Year book, which made up for its predecessor’s Gillardian deficit.

One of four, apparently

One of four, apparently

A quick lunch then down to the Oval, pausing to don my game day outfit of Sonny Morey t-shirt (thanks 4Boat) and 2015 Crows members hoodie.

We spied G Cornes as we wound our way past Jeanne Richardson’s dad’s gates before we took our place in the queue, not looking a day over ninety.

I noticed that the catering prices hadn’t yet had the Critchley treatment and the beer was German (or at least the name of the beer was German)

I had deliberately booked the “cheap seats” behind the Northern Goal, hoping that this would allow us to soak up the atmosphere of the hill behind us. Unfortunately, as part of the MDE, the pre-game entertainment was provided by the aging, not-missed-by-anyone-at-all Boom Crash Opera, who regaled the disinterested crowd with what seemed like the same song played four times. Apart from a trio of middle aged (i.e. still younger than me) ladies a few rows in front who were instantly transported back to Lennie’s Tavern circa 1992, no-one regarded this as either worthwhile or entertainment. (And the dose was repeated at half time).

The Crows chose to warm up at the Chicken Salt end of the stadium, the Kangas at our end.

On the hill, the throng were like perpendicular porcupine prongs, standing so close that if you had done that at Lennie’s in 1992 you’d have been slapped by the person in front of you.

But it was still not as crowded as I remembered the Hill when I was there for the 1973 Prelim, when the Roosters flogged the Blues. Nor was the crowd as loud as I had been led to believe by BT and Co.

Go Crows !!!

Go Crows !!!

The Crows kicked to the scoreboard end. Rory Sloane was busy early. Van Berlo slotted seamlessly into the lineup, adding to the pressure and harassment factor, showing no sign of his long layoff.

The Walsh method was evident – numbers at the ball, forcing errors from the Roos ball carriers, but better were the number of sharp Crow hands that deflected the Kanga dishoffs, leading to spillages that were mopped up eagerly by the home team.

I was pleasantly surprised that Mrs Swish was cheering loudly – it was a long while since she had been to the footy.

Tex, the bloke I chided for his insensitive tweeting, the bloke who I had down as tenth in line for the captaincy, sure showed me. He’s not a naughty boy, he was the messiah. It was the most dominant game I’ve seen him play.

Cheney, despite his gormless nickname, could be our best red headed defender since Rocket Maynard.

Danger did as he pleased, e.g. a disallowed goal in the 2nd was followed up immediately by goal anyway and his opening goal in the last quarter was all class, on the left from 50, following up his own centre clearance. Shut the gates. I hope he stays, but if he goes, he owes us nothing. Just don’t crap on about it all season.

Half Time at the Football

Half Time at the Football

North’s third quarter, was it a comeback or an Adelaide lapse – the atmosphere was more like the West Terrace Cemetery than a cauldron – but we were that far ahead that we hadn’t (yet) turned on our own. The crowd’s faith was rewarded as the Texurrection continued.

I liked the work of the unheralded Ricky Henderson throughout (is his choice of number a homage to Centrals stalwart Ken Russell?)

Apart from their brief third quarter surge, North were not sighted. Goldstein impressed me, his absorbing battle with Sauce Jacobs would have gone unnoticed by the Jean Claude Killy-esque pairing of Lindsay Thomas and Jarrod Waite. Higgins put in, plenty of others didn’t. Harvey and Petrie risk finishing their days as list cloggers, neither seeming capable of exerting any influence.

My choice of seats was called into question when we found a murder of security guards and coppers playing stacks-on with a couple of scuffling, bleeding spectators on the concourse behind us. Only in Adelaide.

Winners, Grinners

Winners, Grinners

We shuffled home after the final siren along with the happy throng. We were batting 1.000 at Bob Neil No.3 and the trip was successful.

There was no sign of any increase in CBD nightlife an hour or so later, apart from a smattering of tri-coloured revellers on North Terrace.

On our last full day, we decided to lunch at the scene of our 1984 wedding reception, the Exeter Hotel at Semaphore, having not set foot in there since that Dimboola-like February night.

What was once a down at heel western suburbs hostelry with a good reputation at the local Beefsteak and Burgundy Club was now a family friendly part-of-a-chain outlet, serving the worst schnitzels in the history of bad schnitzels (crumb to meat ratio of 3:1, previously frozen, gluggy gravox and one slice of mushroom in the sauce).

We had earlier paid our respects to the Arndale butcher whose Ave Maria was a fixture at countless weddings of our era, including ours, while visiting Cheltenham Cemetery, the resting place of several of Mrs Swish’s loved ones.

As the weather turned bad, we found shelter at the Port Wharf Market, a treasure trove of old stuff. More books for me (Roland Fishman’s Calypso Cricket) and some charming Carlton Ware nic-nacs for my offsider, then a quick cuppa in front of the Easter Monday footy at Mrs Swish’s mum’s.

The next morning, it was back to mum-in-laws as she was coming back across the border with us for a few days. But more importantly, I was bringing home a sacred Australian cultural relic, Colin Thiele’s 1962 AWA portable record player. OK, it probably has as much significance as Patrick White’s hula hoop, but it looks pretty neat and I hope I can get it to work.

Colin Thiele 1962

Colin Thiele 1962

Mr Percival - Radiola Birdman?

Mr Percival – Radiola Birdman?

We meandered home, stopping for lunch at Keith, petrol at Horsham and a quick pitstop to take a shot of The Giant Koala (complete with generic Open sign, as seen at scores of Thai massage outlets across the nation’s suburbs).

The Giant Koala is open

The Giant Koala is open

Next time we’ll fly, but we won’t wait 21 more years.

3 votes – Tex Walker
2 votes – O’Connells Bookshop
1 vote – Frank Scott (Adelaide Oval scoreboard operator)

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. 2 books on unley high and a trip to a great bookshop and Bob Neil no 1 2 and 3 – sounds like a perfect weekend in Adelaide Swish

  2. Swish, I think most scoreboard ‘attendants fear a visit from the Workcover inspector.’ An epic tale of big weekend. Sterling stuff.

  3. Malcolm Ashwoos says

    Great read Swish , love The Plug and Curtins mention . Sounds like a great nostalgic trip only thing missing a trip back to Bob Neil 1 for a celebratory ale after the crows win ( reading after a successful trip to the ponderosa for the legs and the crows going to 2 zip )

  4. Dave Brown says

    Good to see you joining in on the early crow, Swish. Next time you come to Adelaide Oval, head down the other end to complete the experience (noisier but more orderly). You didn’t buy that Melrose book?

  5. Swish- I enjoyed your piece immensely, and it has reminded me that I need to take the Adelaide Oval tour too. Largely so I can have a look inside the scoreboard and marvel at its ancient mechanisms.

    The only low spot during your weekend seemed to have been the Exeter’s schnitzel. I will keep this in mind.

    Do you rate Rocket as a better defender than subsequent ginger Ben Hart?

    Love the Giant Koala photo, complete with “Giant Koala” sign. Back when I was in Kimba, the state’s grain silos had large SACBH signs painted on them. This must have helped many a local farmer find them, and save them calling into the pub or deli and asking, “Can any of you tell me where the bloody silos are?”

    Thanks Swish.

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Plug – thanks, I should do it more often

    Vin – thanks, check your inbox soon

    ‘Book – thanks, when is the Blacks 80s reunion day this year?

    Dave – the Melrose book was spotted in the library. I’ll try the River End next time

    Mickey – thanks. We ate at the Sema4 Exexter, not the more trendy Rundle St version. Rocket had a better mullet. Was the Giant Galah at Kimba back in your day?

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Wonderful trip, with excellent photos Swish. Well done.
    Very accurate description of BCO. Saw them as part of the line-up at Werribee Park last year. I love a good reunion/reformation tour. But it’s not for every band.
    Hoodoo Gurus and The Wonderstuff on the travelling soundtrack sounds ideal.
    I reckon most would have had Tex as 10th in line for the captaincy. What an inspired choice. Messiah indeed.

  8. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Luke, glad it wasn’t just me bagging them.

    You must visit Adelaide sometime, it’s like Colac with paddle boats.

  9. Peter Fuller says

    I’m very fond of Adelaide as an occasional visitor over several decades; I particularly enjoyed the travelogue aspects of your post. I was born and spent my early years in Colac so I’m pretty confident in warning Luke that the last line of your comment is wildly inaccurate (and I’m not referring to the paddle-boats). Nonetheless, I would also urge him to visit your former home city. The footy now is obviously top-notch with two fine teams playing at the beautiful AO, and Luke’s summer passion is also at its best there.
    I actually liked Don Dunstan’s ambitions (pretensions?) for Adelaide, the Athens of the South.

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Peter, maybe Luke and I should be sharing a road trip, but will have to wait until next time the Crows play the Pies over there.

    Don Dunstan achieved a great deal, despite his questionable lifestyle choices (i.e. supporting Norwood)

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I have found out that a SANFL history centre is in the offing, so I hope I have teed off unnecessarily about their Adelaide Oval display.

Leave a Comment