SANFL 1976 Grand Final – Port Adelaide v Sturt: Around The Ground


When we (Dave, Neil G, Hammo, Bucko, Boris, Neil L and myself) lobbed at Currie Street to catch the bus to West Lakes for the 1976 Grand Final, the queue for the MTT STA conveyances, snaked around the corner past the Savings Bank Building.


Our collective clever combination of Elizabethan rat cunning, mental arithmetic and tessellation theory was applied to the problem at hand. We decided to catch a taxi from the city to Footy Park instead. Having found a compliant cabbie who didn’t mind squeezing seven of us into his pristine Kingswood (with the very roomy front bench seat), we arrived at the home of footy well in advance of the buscatchers still back in postcode 5000.


Although the lines to get in went back to the Boulevard, once the gates were opened, we scarpered into the seats in front of the members, between the two concrete coaching bunkers, maybe ten rows back.


With only the one curtain-raiser, which had an 11:45am start, we had plenty of time to watch the rest of the throng pour into the ground, knowing that we had snagged some of the best seats (as long as it didn’t rain) in the Park.


Our smug youthful self-congratulation turned a bit ugly as the day progressed, when thousands of latecomers were paraded around the boundary, taking up a seat on the other side of the fence. A sea of lumberjacket wearing youths parked their Corfu bejeaned bums on the concrete perimeter ledge, getting closer to the on-field action than the turnstile counters and ground managers had expected them to be. It is only now that I wonder how those thousands camped on the boundary managed to visit to loo, bar or food outlet for the rest of the day. They wouldn’t have gone too hungry though, as we graciously chucked the remnants of shared some of our lunches with them.


The day’s Budget cover was a colourful collage of player action and long-forgotten font work. This year’s chosen random contrasting colour was called, I believe, Radioactive Gherkin Juice Green.




Not even a phone number. No wonder they didn’t last through to the heady days of bank de-regulation.



That’s entertainment.


Sandy and Col must have paid top dollar for this slot.





Oils ain’t oils. Wait, that was the other mob.




The “younger fast moving Magpies” had a grand final cabaret back at the club planned. The “seasoned, more experienced” Sturt pulled out all stops, lighting Unley Oval up “in a gay atmosphere”.





The club reps were evenly divided, as were their hairstyles.




Cahill, Oatey, Kerley, Williams, Bunton, er, Window






The pen-pix were a ghostly shadow of their equivalents from recent years. Nary an occupation in sight. Tsk, tsk, tsk.


They are even misspelt “Yorketown” and “Minnipa” and Mike Nunan came from nowhere.




Port and Sturt were curious omissions from the League ladder as were Norwood and North in the twos. This was because these ladders contrived to include the finals outcomes too. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Just as dumb was the inclusion of the midweek NFL goals in the League player tallies.


(For more on the 1976 NFL night series, David Eastman’s wonderful is highly recommended)


Lots more to take in here, the main one being Rulebook’s brother-in-law.





A cardboard version of Ben Ean. Hic!





Mal Fraser should have commissioned a version of this for the National Gallery. Taken from the 1973 Champions of Australia game between Glenelg and Richmond, it would have been worth more than Blue Poles by now.




Daffy Edwards was the first runner that I remember telling that gag about “I only take messages out, I don’t bring them back”, but he wasn’t the last.


Remember those lavish Canberra Television commercials?


Did the Panthers have Cold Chisel, Stars, Scandal or The Angels?





John Murphy played in Skilts’ only Final.




I can still hear the Big Replay theme.




Bruce Light was quite vigorous but having Ken Rosewall as a role model would do that I guess.


That’s Fred Phillis. Where’s my tracksuit Frago?





How good would that Carnival have been?


King Gee took my advice from last year. That’s a better slogan.


Ridley’s Stripper. The Hills Hoist. Egg Rings.





Some cracking photos there.


Kim Boehm was recently Chairman of the Australian Dance Theatre. Of course.




“Others not in photo include” – I bet Gerry Otterspoor was annoyed.





Apparently starting on the bench didn’t count for much in 1974 (did he get on the ground?) for Trevor Sims. There was no thought of him not playing, despite the imminent addition to the family. And what was “international rules basketball”? At least he has good taste in TV shows.


Vin Camporeale was appointed to his first Grand Final. His son Scott was still in nappies, probably cloth ones at that.


Dessie Foster got the nod.







The Budget insisted on spelling it “Grainger” for all of 1976.


Twisties were even more popular with my demographic thanks to Skyhooks. I don’t know anybody that preferred the chicken ones.





Coke adds life. I don’t think so.





Andy Porplycia was to find even more disappointment today, but made up for it in future seasons. Geez he was good looking.





Flash Graham remains largely under appreciated by the general footy world. He was incredibly swift, had amazing ball skills and enjoyed a goal (but his running bouncing was always a bit of a raffle).


Barrie eventually received his MBE, Russ scored an OAM.





Only a Sturt player would have “Heywood” as a middle name. No guesses required regarding the pronunciation of Phil’s surname.


There is no truth to the rumour that Rick Davies had a short-lived career in the local adult film industry.








Tim Evans gave us more than the usual responses. I’m surprised how young he was was he came across to Alberton from Geelong. I bet the Magpies weren’t expecting him to deliver multiple centuries and six Ken Farmer Medals as the SANFL’s leading spearhead over the next decade.


How wide’s ya tie Jack? This wide.





Norwood’s dew-kicking dynasty continued.


Don’t ring that number and expect to get Mike Poulter or Warren Packer these days.





The Redlegs bolted away in the second half, aided by their big men Sticks Dolan (future Port premiership ruckman), Bill Nalder and Ugo Colasante.


North’s Wayne Stringer found success at the Bays in the 80s and the late Pat Tocaciu became a much loved Coonawarra winemaker.





Medibank and its successor Medicare. One of Australia’s greatest social initiatives.





Hidden away towards the rear of the Budget, I did my best to show off my new Bic 4-colour biro when recording the scores etc. I never did it like that again (and I “deliberately” left off a Port goal).


Just look at that Sunday lineup at Tynte Street.


Tony “Brugan” evened up the mis-spellings at 1-apiece each of two.





Can climate change be traced back to the JD Travers awards of the 1970s. Barry Norsworthy had the right idea.


The crossword should have been made null and void by the Government Inspectors due to that mysterious blank square on the bottom row. Talk about clueless.





Ern’s final column was thrown into analytical disarray by the introduction of the Final Five system.


His sponsor lasted another quarter of a century or so.





No more rants Swish, we get it, smoking is bad.





Lots of stats.








The Wills Cup messed with some of these teams’ numbers.


These pages are valuable to historians; I like looking for the little known names such as Chris Boxall, Charlie Moyle, Bob Scaglia (again), Tony Johnstone, Peter Broderick, Mike Kennett (who worked with my father), Jim Katsaros (the ’76 Reserves Magarey Medallist and AUFC Blacks star), John Donaldson (Shield cricketer), Tony Risby (another cricketer) and Bill Davis (who I struck out in winter baseball a few years later).





Can anyone help me with that Port club song? It has me completely befuddled.


The Umpies get first dibs to publicise their “good supper”.


Did Woodville really put on the “Morrie (sic) Amsterdam Show”. What a great get that would have been, fresh from his appearance in Won Ton Ton, The Dog Who Saved Hollywood as Custard Pie Star #1.





Lipman won the 1976 and 1978 Christmas Handicaps.


Bart Cummings trained Vacuum and Asgard, who were both Derby winners.




8 1/2%





I’ve seen better heads on a Murray Cod.




The Washup


Jack Oatey’s tenth and final premiership extended the anguish that Port supporters had endured since 1965, a comparative lifetime given the Magpies’ post-War dominance until then.


A closely contested first quarter saw Robert Whatman’s brace of goals eclipse Barton’s single, and the red-hot favourites were up by 8 points. From that point, Sturt outmarked, outpaced and generally outSturted Port to lead by 22 points at the Pipes and Drums break, 19 at the final change before swamping the swampies and running out very comfortable 41 point victors.


Rick Davies, the farmer from Urania, recorded the incredible stats of 21 kicks, 21 handballs, 21 hit outs, 15 marks and 1 goal.


The official crowd was 66,897, an SA footy record. I suggest that they stopped counting at about 12:30pm.


Sturt has memorialised this game here


This video includes many snippets from the Channel 9 cutting room floor as well as “extended edited video highlights”.





Sturt’s unlikely lead-in to the Grand Final was recorded in some detail in the 1983 Grand Final Budget. Was it Sturt’s finest hour?





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. Swish, I’ve been waiting to see this all day and I am not disappointed! (Yes, I am a Sturt fan.) I was there, across the ground from you on the south-east half-forward flank, with my friend and our wives. Andy’s a Port man and was very confident going into the game. Goodness knows what the W&HS people of the 21st century would have thought of the thousands of people seated inside the fence! The flattening of ‘Flash’ Graham early on made Port’s priorities clear. Unfortunately for them, he got up off the turf and played a blinder. Davies gave an absolute masterclass, Bagshaw was pure ‘Bags’ at his elegant best, and a young Robert Klomp was already all brute muscle. Basically, it was the Double Blues who out-ran and out-paced the hapless Magpies. In the end, it was a rout!

    I always had a soft spot for Trevor Sims, one of those loyal, unfashionable workhorses who persist and make the most of their modest abilities. I think he ended up with over 200 SANFL appearances.

    And, pray tell, what was wrong with Corfu jeans? I had a few pairs of those high-waisted, tight-crotched, voluminously flared and very chic trousers in both dark blue and stone-washed colours.If I remember, they cost the earth, something like $15-20 a pair when you could get a good pair of Levis for just over $5. I think their shop was in Twin Street in the City.

    ‘Keep your eye on the Old Double Blues!’

  2. Paul Garson says

    I was there, sitting RIGHT up the very back, on top of the “Bessa Block” Eastern wall, with only the barbed wire holding me form falling backwards 30 metres!
    As a Port fan, I was devastated.
    However, the very next year, in 1977 v The Bays, I tasted JOY!
    And we Port fans have been fairly spoilt ever since!
    PS – Charlie Moyle taught me PE at Unley High, and I think I also played Cricket against him some years later (he for Brighton, I for Unley CC),

  3. chris james says

    Mr Magic said it all. This has been Book and Swish’s finest work capturing the finest hour.
    Both teams had so much talent. Port were more genuinely terror-laden in ’76 than today, they might have won a game today and then missed a few players at the judiciary’s pleasure.
    Thank you for the view of the old double blues.

  4. Still have nightmares about this game, although slightly assuaged by subsequent years. What an incredible day, I was there, early enough to get a seat on the benches, not the grass, never seen crowds marched in like that ever.

    Port unbackable favourites, most Sturt blokes I knew wanted about 10 goals in…. Then Davies put on a masterclass the like of which I have never seen since. The modern stats guru computers would melt. I suggest the numbers quoted were a conservative sagittarius nocte (stab in the dark). He was on another planet, possibly adjacent the one of Ablett in the 1989 GF. Sometimes I just sits and shakes me head, sometimes I just sits…

    Randall Gerlach one of the most courageous efforts ever, played one more year, won the flag, retired. Died last year I think from the kidney problem.

    Look forward to 1977.

  5. Andy Armstrong says

    Great post Bucko. I’m a Sturt supporter and had the same feeling 2 years later as Sturt went down to Norwood by 1 point. Our 2nd loss for the years. Footy’s a funny game. best leave it at that. I recently watch the hour highlights on this site and was blown away by the brilliance of Michael Graham. After nrarly being killed in the first minute…accident??????……he played a blinder. Love a couple of Bagshaw’s pack marks. 3 deep and seemed to be the only one going for the ball it looked that easy.

  6. What was the SANFL thinking letting all those people in? I guess they were used to terraces with no seating when you could just keep cramming more and more in. My sister 17 years old took my younger brother (11 years old) and lost him in the crowd. She spent the whole game looking for him and he was oblivious and found his own way home!
    All but about 3 players on the Sturt team are from the country (and Mildura), if you count McLaren Vale as the country. Only 8 of the Port Team are from the country, the rest are from interstate, or from Woodville high, Rosewater, Semi Centrals or Ethelton (all clubs proximal to Alberton).
    Good guess for the mystery player, Swish. Was it the boots that gave it away? I guess you did not win the prize because your “Entry [did not] … reach us by no later than the first mail on Wednesday”. What! There was more than one mail on Wednesdays?!
    The Aboriginal carnival was ahead of its time as a reconciliation event. Or was it an example of oppression and exploitation?
    Can you imagine advertising egg rings in the Footy Budget? The cost of the ad would be more than the profit from the sales. Now they give egg rings away at the Dollar Store. I guess they were not made in China in those days.
    Looks like if you worked for Ron Heath you were a jail(gaol)-bar inmate.
    Ah the 70’s, when a GF and a baby meant the wife had to listen from home or the hospital and it did not mean that the Dad had to stay home and help.
    Hey AGC had anticipated WAFL on p 23!
    Lucky that the Messenger Press adopted the latest in “computerised type-setting”. It means they are still around although no longer on Commercial Rd, Port Adelaide, they are now part of News Ltd in the city.
    Hey Poulter and Packer, what are the “all famous brands” you stock?
    Swish, the colouring in of the black and white photos with coloured textas from previous years has matured by 1976 to coloured pens. One colour for each quarter. I always understood that green was for auditors only!
    Looks like Swish was confused as to the second Port Reserve. Hard to see from the concrete bunker reserves benches at Footy Park!
    [Editors note: did the Labour government decree that the spelling of colour change to color prior to 1976? Whoops and Labour to Labor]
    The intricate minutiae of Ern’s statistical arguments over what are essentially random events is not even worth reading.
    On the video, neither of the two team banners for the players to run through worked!

  7. Dave Brown says

    An enjoyable read as always, particularly given the result. One of the great grand final performances by Davies. Is the “international rules” basketball to distinguish it from netball which was also called basketball up to a certain time (I have no idea when)? And a phone call to 214 The Parade these days would yield a cup of coffee, so not all is lost. Great stuff!

  8. Dave, as a basketball participant at that time, my memory is that “international rules” basketball was used to distinguish women’s basketball (5 a side) from what was then called basketball, but became netball (7 a side), or, in New Zullund – nitball !

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Another article where the comments are better than the actual piece, so thanks to you all.

    Stay tuned for 1977 (and possibly beyond)

  10. Dave Brown says

    So, him specifying that he likes international rules basketball was a bit of a pervy comment then Bucko?

  11. There is a Twitter feed that is not going to like you very much Swish. @1975sanflseason. Feel like I’ve been on 43 year delay all my life. Invitation to my 21st next week is in the mail.
    Always loved Sturt. Beautiful football from those 5 successive flags in the 60’s. Port always thugs and Kenny from Camperdown continues the trend with similar results. Bucky an honourable exception – and Tony Giles – have I told you about………..
    Never realised Greg Phillips played CHF in his early days. 2 goals. Only remember him @ CHB. As good as Jacko. Was Neville Phillips his brother? Both from Minnipa. Love the Minnipa guernseys.

  12. Rulebook says

    Swish only just read the article in full ( Jamesey I only send,Swish articles on ) Saw a few of Peters u 19 games that year he was a magnificent kick.Bruce Lights daughter was in the same class as my son so spent some time with,Bruce he was a fantastic bloke,RIP huge respect.My main memories of the day was the massive crowd ( my mail is it was at least,75 thou) and Rick Davies master class.i admit I don’t have a huge recollection of the legs reserves win unfortunately

  13. Dave, hard to say. There was a degree of use of that name for men and women, as it was seen as an outside game, being from the good old USA of America. To distinguish it from the proper British Empire netball.

    Peter B. My memory is that Neville and Greg Phillips were cousins, but may have been brothers – not much help I know!. To my great shame, I remember coming home from a pre-season trial game and telling my family I had seen these 2 new Phillips boys and thought Neville was better!! A raking left footer (as they all are), who unfortunately only lasted one season in the big smoke before going back to EP.

  14. Daryl Schramm says

    Hi Swish. To help illustrate the boilover line, the tiser had headlines Sat morning along the lines of it would be an injustice if Sturt won after Port’s year. Oatey responded with similar to I’ll show you injustice and plastered it all over the changerooms on matchday. Geof Motley said in an interview after the game “it’s not the end of the world but it’s bloody close to it”.
    Also, i preferred chicken twisties! Cheers.

  15. Swish- Like many I was among the thousands on the boundary line- southeastern flank. It was my first SANFL match- my Dad picked a good ‘un. I recall Rick Davies’ colossal performance and running onto the ground after the siren and patting him on the back. It was a mighty day and should have made me a Sturt supporter for life, but somehow Glenelg later intervened.

    John Donaldson was a PE teacher who I worked with at Marryatville High in the early 2000’s. He previously taught at Keith, among other places. I’d be confident he’s now retired, but couldn’t tell you more than this.

    Great post, Swish.

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