SANFL 1983 Highlights – Whimpressive

If you ever want to know what it was like to live in Adelaide 30+ years ago, this summary of the footy season, as compiled by noted historian, gad-about, bon-vivant and former David Cloke doppelganger, Bernard Whimpress should be enough.

Taken from the 1983 Grand Final edition of the Footy Budget (which Bernard edited and provided virtually all of the content for), there are countless insights into Croweaters, our then place in the national game and the goings on inside Malcolm Blight’s bonce.

Blight clearance wrangle, Blight’s liquid training regimen, Blight’s retirement, Blight’s open letter to Bob Ansett, “Blight cleared”. Who needs Shakespeare, when we had Bernard documenting the tragi-comedy that was M Blight circa 1983. And it’s not even June yet.

Check out that Round 1 attendance, Barrie having a kick for Walkies, Don Roach’s preparation for the Middle East negotiations, SA towelling up the Little V and Sticks saying goodbye to the Magarey Medal.

Things were back to by normal mid-season, SA losing to WA, Michael Aish donning the helmet temporarily, South trying to get money out of the Saints and the formation of the SA Football Historical Society. The Hewitt Bros had more clubs than Greg Norman and Mike Parsons starts his SANFL career as a Rooster. Studley gets a gong, Dave Granger doesn’t.


Barrie just can’t keep out of the headlines, Blighty reconsiders his approach to the after match frivolities, Footy Park to get floodlights, Jumbo, Rocky and Roger bring up the century and SANFL marketing hits the Royal Adelaide Show. Grenville and West End Draught embark on a lifelong relationship, the Angry Ant wins the Medal (after some late count confusion). Oh, and Blighty wins the Peckers Warriors B&F.

I’m breathless just reading this stuff. Hats off to Bernard Whimpress for whipping this up carefully crafting this detailed summary of the events that shaped SA Footy in 1983.

Did anything else catch your eye? Let us know down below.


Bernard’s contributions to the Almanac 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. Charlie Brown says

    Ah the West End long neck brings back memories Swish!

    Ex Centrals star Greg Edwards now the CEO at North Adelaide. His son Shane just chalked up 200 games with Richmond.

  2. Classic Swish, and Bernard. The Samboy chips! My parents and two brothers moved to SA (Eudunda) at the start of 1982 but I stayed Up North at uni so I had a Sunshino-Croweating sort of existence – with about four weeks a year spent Down South. That’s why I know the Newell Hway. Cousin Chris was in the SA Shield team. Cousin Smudge arrived to play for Glenelg. I loved SA sport. Its distinct character – footy and cricket. This brings back memories.

  3. Dave Brown says

    Wonder if that Daryl Hicks video still exists somewhere. Good to see SA colleges damaging junior footballers’ development as much in 1983 as they do now and Blighty’s August move is brilliant. The precursor to Terry Wallace’s 1996 spew up speech. Wonderful!

  4. How’s the West/ Woodville match in August? Peckers kick nineteen majors and lose by fifteen goals! Good to see Spoof return to Port in April. Has there been a coach with more exotic methodology than Blighty? Take players to the bar/ ban players from the bar!

  5. Have just had a chance to read this in more detail.

    You have to hand it to Bernard – he has always been a doer. Many books, many articles, many sliced drives, and the Budget and other mags for all those years. And a prolific reader – and reviewer. The old dictum – writers write – has bener been lost on B. Whimpress. Not to mention his SACA museum and history role.

    I first met Bernard at a restaurant in St Lucia during the Aust Sports Historians (academic) conference in 1995. It became obvious he liked red wine and chatting about books and writing. Since then, always good company, and you always take some insight or suggestion or observation away with you.

    Which all adds up to him being the ideal SANFL Budget editor and expert on M. Blight. Bernard, were you consulted as historical advisor for the latest NAB kids’ ad?

  6. Practise cancelled for beers at the Findon Hotel! You wouldn’t even have that happen in the Amata League in 1983. And I’d know as I was still there.
    That was a season with a lot of goals! It also points to the dominance of Ken Farmer, highlighted previously this week.

  7. 1983 saw the election of the Hawke Labor government in early March. I joined the great West Torrens diaspora in greener pastures. Milan Faletic (or “Spoof” as Mickey so eloquently reminded us) at Port Adelaide via St Kilda. Neville “Rocky” Roberts kicking a hundred goals for the despised Redlegs from half forward. Shame. Shame. Shame.
    Our “playing” coach comes out of retirement after 3 years to don the boots! We must have been travelling well. The Pecker merger loomed in the distance to escape mutual ignominy.
    I wonder if South Adelaide ever got blood out of the St Kilda stone? Had to wait for Lindsay Fox to pass the hat around I guess, and accept 2 fluid ounces in the pint. Insolvency would have saved 30 years of enduring heartache and incompetence.
    Grand memories. Thanks Bernard and Swish.

  8. Yes, re-reading, I notice the “South Australian Football Historical Society” is mentioned. Reading some more about Whimpress it seems to me that he was likely the driving force behind this while he was at the SANFL and the mention in the Budget was somewhat self serving, or perhaps you would say good publicity. I wonder what happened to that society, perhaps it lost some impetus when he moved on from the SANFL?

  9. Mark Duffett says

    Since Meggsy Edwards kicked 104 the year before, you have to wonder whether he would have become a fifth player to get over the century this year, were it not for that damnable accident.

    SANFL scoring rates have certainly dropped off since then. By my current reckoning, teams are averaging barely 80 points a game, which equates to not much more than half what West managed in 1983.

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks everyone – I gave the middle column of the first page a run on Twitter last night – thought I’d share the whole three pages here.

    Charlie – let’s hope the Almanac doesn’t start to get sponsored by one of those new-fangled craft beery mobs any time soon.

    JTH – you’re almost an honorary one of us, but I can’t see you with chip on either shoulder, let alone both of them

    Dave – #blightywasbonkers

    Mickey – not much call for dour full backs in 1983, was there?

    6% – the SANFL History Society has ramped up again recently

    PB – further down it mentions that South received its $35k, but it may have been in the form of an interstate transport credit note

    Mark D – You are spot on about Meggsy. And scoring rates.

  11. Scoring rates? Woodville had four DIFFERENT century goalkickers in the 80s spread over six seasons.! Entertainment guaranteed!

  12. Swish after Norwood def Sturt in the qualifying final when the Redlegs club closed on the Sunday night,Geoff Wilson and I walked to footy park got in to the ground and slept the night so we could be 1st in line to buy grand final tickets. When Sturt were thumping us in the prelim final we sold them to Sturt supporters
    The West Adelaide side were brilliant just so good offensively, Luders, Lindner,Meuret, Morris, Grosser and Conlen are as good a forward line as we have seen in SA footy.Neville Roberts had a great year and how Michael Aish didn’t bolt the Magarey medal in was bizarre. I umpired Greg Anderson and Tim Ginever playing for Woodville High during the season, thanks Swish

  13. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    McA – I can only think of Blight and S Nicholls twice. Who am I missing? (Jakovich was 1990)

    Rulebook – just checked that prelim final – Davies kicked 10 !!!

  14. bernard whimpress says

    Sorry I only just came across this Swish. Five years at SANFL turned out to be the best five years of major working life. 15 years at SACA not a third as good.

  15. bernard whimpress says

    John as well

    Many thanks for comments above except for the sliced drives – mainly draws, occasionally a push – but yes, you’re right. The impulse to write remains as strong as ever.

  16. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I love your Budgets Bernard, but you (and everyone else on this site) already know that.

  17. Bernard Whimpress says


    Just bounced on to this again and realised I ought to drop you a few lines.

    First I’m interested in your signature as I once wrote a story titled ‘I was 6% of a Test crowd’. The official attendance was 17 for the final day of the Adelaide Oval India Test of 1967 which resumed with Australia requiring to take one Indian wicket. The crowd was much bigger than this but that became the crux of the story.

    The second thing is to answer what happened to the SA Football Historical Society. Swish is correct that a football historical group has been ramped up again. This is organised by Christine Halbert but contains only a few members of the original group so that at a meeting last year I thought it worthwhile pointing out the endeavours of the body formed in 1983.

    Just recently I posted on Facebook a photo of those who attended the first meeting held in the League board room at Football Park. For the record they were Rob Winter who became the first president, Ian Everett who succeeded him, John Wood, 1939 Magarey Medallist Jeff Pash, 18-year-old Michelangelo Rucci, Adrian Slape and myself. Leigh Whicker (then Catering Manager) provided nibbles for us. An ambition was to have historians recognised at each club and among early attendees was John Lysikatos (second meeting), Chris Lane, Trevor Gyss and then later Rob Laidlaw, John Althorp, John Stoner and Mark Beswick who took over the main running of the group from the mid-1990s to the early 2010s. I was secretary for the first decade or so. A number of members of the group have also been regular attendees at meetings of the SA chapter of the Australian Society for Sports History that I have been convening since 1996.

  18. Jacquie Schneider says

    Hi! Just letting you know , I found a letter from Norwood footy club, to my mother who was in hospital at the time, all the players signed it for her, thank you for making her last few days important xxx

Leave a Comment