SA v WA 1968: Home Ground Advantage



(Please click on all images to view an enlarged version).

The ongoing battle for second place between South Australia and Western Australia remained the main interest when it came to pre-State of Origin state v state contests.

In 1968, WA had the chance at a free look at SA, who was hosting the 1969 Australian National Football Council Carnival on Adelaide Oval. As the preview here indicates, away wins were as rare as Birdwood Rocking Horse manure whenever the Croweaters and the Sandgropers competed.



MMG appeared to have significant fixed costs to recover, based on the published table of premiums. No mention of excesses to further muddy the waters.

Not enough is known about Mal Atwell to those of us in “the East”, but he’d earnt his place as WA coach by coaching the past two flags. I’d have preferred more about the coach and less about the officials. Atwell added the 1968 Perth premiership to his captain-coaching successes from the prior two seasons (he also played in East Perth’s 58/59 flags).

Harry Neesham is the elder brother of Gerard and this very interesting summary of his life in football and beyond is worth a read. Selection in the initial side was the closest that he was to playing for his state.

John McIntosh on the other hand would play for WA on eighteen occasions. He also played once for Victoria during his three years at St Kilda, finishing fifth (1970) and equal second (1971) in the Brownlow Medal. He was a dual All-Australian (1966 and 1969) and was the father of West Coast Eagle Ashley McIntosh, also an All-Australian in 1998. Injured in the 1971 finals, he missed the Saints’ Grand Final and retired from footy for good after another knee injury early in the 1972 season.



The WA equivalent of the Football Budget was the Football Budget. It didn’t catch on elsewhere.

Brown and Cable would eventually head to the VFL, with Cable enhancing his reputation in a football sense. Brown’s reputation was also affected by his time at Richmond but not in a good way. Farmer had recently returned from his six years at Geelong, and he helmed West Perth to flags in 1960 and 1971. Peter Eakins shone brightly in 1969 when he won the Tassie Medal (tying with Graham Molloy) but Collingwood’s recruitment (and remuneration) of the blond defender was the embodiment of the expression “noses out of joint” when it came to the Magpie’s senior playing ranks.

Ray Boyanich tried his luck at Hawthorn in 1969 (no senior games), Richmond, Woodville (!) and Richmond again before returning to West Perth. Lorne Cook was to win Claremont’s B&F in 1968 before retiring in 1972 after 230 games.


Remember the Barrier Reef?

Tom Grljusich was straight back into the black and gold and both SA and Centrals missed him. Austin Robertson Jr was a goal-machine, topping the century six times for Subiaco and was the Lions’ top goalkicker in each of his twelve seasons, heading the WAFL tally in eight of those.



Bill Walker is another fair dinkum legend whose feats are not as widely named as his contemporary Cable, but three consecutive Sandover Medals gives a clue as to his genius. He was awarded a retrospective fourth Medal for the 1970 season and was one of the first inductees into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

John Wynne became both a feared and admired footballer when he transferred to Norwood in 1970.


My incomplete collection of Footy Worlds will be the first thing rescued when Doomsday strikes.

Stonie or West End. Why both. Thanks for asking.



It’s #26 then daylight from the SA Seconds, although Brucie (always ‘Brucie’) Light, Mick Nunan, Greg Wild, Ian Verrier and Dean Farnham would all go on to represent SA at senior level.

For the Hillites, #1 should read “Oberon” Pirak, the future player manager, West Adelaide GM and South Melbourne Secretary. Stephen Hywood went on to play at Richmond, before blowing in to Glenelg.



Freddie Bills played his last State game in 1964, but he remained the stoutest of stout hearts for West Torrens through until 1975.

Joe Clarke was a multi-talented Indigenous sportsperson. His first love was basketball, at which he represented SA for many years. Payment during his SANFL playing years at West Torrens cost him the chance of Olympic selection. He had also held the SA Heavyweight boxing title in 1977.

“Big Den” Sachse battled injury through the next few years, before returning to form in 1971 and starring in North’s 1972 premiership.

Fos Williams’ middle name was “Fanatical” – he coached SA from 1955 through 1969 although Jack Oatey (1959) and Neil Kerley (1967) were given stints during that period.

Peter Darley was SA captain in 1968 and 1970, playing 13 times for his state. He was an All-Australian in 1969.

Dual All-Australian Rick Schoff (1966, 1969) also suited up 13 times for the Croweaters.

This match was Kelly Stringer’s only appearance for SA. He started very well, but was injured in the second term and was replaced.

Denis Errey played three times for SA.

SA’s back pocket spot was Brenton Adcock’s on 20 occasions.


Robert Oatey’s nine SA games bettered his father Jack, who notched up seven state games.

Jim Forsyth’s only game for his new state was this one. Although he was selected in the 1969 Carnival squad, he did not take the field in any of SA’s three matches.

Peter Marker developed into one of SA’s elite players, captaining the state in 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1975, playing 15 games.

‘Fred’ Phillis was a 10-time state representative, 1969 Magarey Medallist and leading the SANFL goal-kicking five times.

Another SA fixture was Daryl Hicks with 12 state games,

Jeff Potter was a long time rover for the Croweaters, racking up 23 state appearances.

Barrie Robran gained SA selection in his debut season 1967 and was captain in his 17th and final state game against Victoria on the SCG. He was a triple Magarey Medallist and regarded by many as the State’s finest ever player.

Bohdan Jaworskyj, who wasn’t selected for this match, played four times for SA.

Alan White started on the bench in this, the first of his two SA games.

Ron Elleway made every full forward earn every kick across his eight State appearances.

Bob Simunsen would have amassed more than his eight State games had Woodville not been in the SANFL Seconds comp from 1958-63.

Doc Clarkson retired from footy at the end of the 1968 season, after playing six games for SA.


Noel Teasdale played two SA games in 1968.

Bob Loveday’s SA tally was two.

Ken Eustice was SA captain in 1967 and the 1962 Magarey Medallist played 25 time for the State. He didn’t make the cut in this match.

Graham Molloy’s 1969 Carnival performance saw him tie with WA’s Peter Eakins for the Tassie Medal and gain All-Australian selection. He played five SA games.

Alf Skuse wore the tri-colours eight times, starting alongside South teammate White on the bench in this clash.

Keith Spencer was not selected here and his only state game was against the Big V earlier in the season.

The tallest player was 6’4” and some players needed the extra ½ inch apparently.



Here are the lineups, as displayed in butcher’s store windows across the nation (or at least those below the yet to be drawn up Barassi Line). South Australia went it alone with its “SA kicking up, names underneath” convention.

If you don’t want to know the scores, look away now.


I can still feel the slightly scratchy warmth of my first Onkaparinga rug.

Ric Vidovich took out the SANFL League goalkicking in 1968, despite a demotion or two during the season as indicated in this round up of Seconds goings on.

Broken Hill has always been a South Australian town, regardless of its longitudinal position.


Hmm, crumpets.

Over several decades, it was customary for WA and SA to play two games when the Croweaters headed west.


What a feast of footy there was on the ABC.


Vidovich eventually overtook Russell Ebert who played much of his early games for Port at full-forward. Bunratty Castle ran third in the last at Headquarters and the feisty grey went on to win the 1968 Caulfield Cup.


After winning the SA final Sturt’s Bob Shearman won the National 1968 Champion Kick title. He defeated Greg Brown (Vic), Paul Vinar (Tas) and Reg Hampson (WA). Shearman won the National title again in 1971.

(Maybe Melbourne should have taken Renz Bais).


Dave Brown penned this glorious tribute to Miller’s book here:

Molloy was one of a dozen or so SANFL players who were featured in King Gee gear during the mid 60s.


Cox Foys is now a giant K-Mart. Sigh.


The Outcome

From the 1969 SA Football Yearbook

The ‘home side wins’ pattern was repeated here thanks to the SA tall timber. Both spearheads were in fine form with the Croweater half-back line holding firm in a match that wasn’t one for the ages.

With this match sitting mid-way between SA’s 1963 humbling of the Big V at the MCG and the titanic struggle between those two teams in 1973, stars of 1963 such as Head, Shearman or Kerley were no longer State material and the likes of 1973’s Ebert, Cornes, Blight and Huppatz were just starting out.

More details about the 1969 Carnival can be found here

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. roger lowrey says


    Whoever your old history teacher was who told you about the value of primary source commentary over secondary source commentary, well, I reckon he’d be looking down now being very proud of his student protege.

    A great read and some marvellous old clippings. Well played.


  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks RDL.

    I’ve never had a history lesson in my life, but occasionally some materials fall into my lap that should be stored and shared.

  3. Great stuff Swish. Going back to early memories even for me (just started High School in Yorketown). WA players never liked the wet and mud because of the sandy grounds in Perth. Explains a lot of the home ground advantage. My sense is that players of the day used interstate trips for playing up off the ground more than on the ground.
    Bill Walker is still a regular at Swan Districts home games.
    Peter Eakins returned to Perth and was a successful publican (Subiaco Hotel). Died tragically young of cancer. His brother Bevan was a long term footy writer for The West Australian. He was captain of the flag winning Seaview Golf Club senior pennants team this season (cue applause – humblebrag).
    Thanks for the memories Swish,

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks for adding some WA colour PB.

  5. Hi Swish
    Thanks for the memories and your erudition.

    Look forward to the day when interstate matches are resurrected.
    If it happens in Cricket why not in Football.

  6. Thanks Swish. Always a treat.

    Curious that the AFL was formed partly on the back of the various enthusiasms generated by state of origin football only to ultimately kill it off because it threatened the, umm, integrity of its competition.

    Anyhow, come September, I reckon I’ll be on GWS.

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks John – I’m not holding my breath.

    I can’t warm to the Gooossss Mickey, but if they happen to meet Port …

  8. roger lowrey says

    Poignantly perspicacious as always Mickey!


  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Sensational as always Swish, what a great name Cox Foys is.

    The Harry Neesham link was indeed well worth the read.

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Luke and well done for following the Harry Neesham link.

  11. Peter Fuller says

    Another splendid dividend from your collective memory and resource centre. When I first saw it, I was going to add a note about Austin Robertson’s season at South Melbourne – and his father’s stellar role there in South’s golden years in the 1930s. I also knew that AR junior had a role in World Series Cricket, without my knowing the detail. Victorian-based Almanackers have probably seen Greg Baum’s obituary (i hadn’t been aware of his death, prior to seeing the Age article), but those in other States may appreciate the link, as it’s an interesting read about an interesting life,:

  12. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thank you Peter. I thought about updating this piece as it was originally posted just before his passing, but I thought I’d see if others were brought to it via that news. Even as a young tacker in Adelaide, I was aware of Robertson Jr’s command of the WAFL, but not of his pedigree. See if you can track down his book Cricket Outlaws for his insider’s view on WSC (and its counterpoint, Barry Nicholls’ The Establishment Boys)

  13. Nice Swish. No Chadwick, Whinnen, Dempsey in the WA team. That’s unusual.

  14. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Ta Les. Only Chadwick made the trip across for the 1969 Carnival, captaining the side in his last three games for WA. He played against Victoria in 1968 a couple of weeks after this match, so he may have been unavailable for the SA game.

    ( )

    In Bill Dempsey’s case, he returned to State ranks in 1970 and stayed there thru 1973.

    Mel Whinnen had to wait until the 1972 Carnival to play his final three state games.

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