SANFL Round 1: a series of unfortunate events

It was one of those nights of football where nothing quite went right. As the SANFL’s biggest draw card (Crows don’t count) and current premiers, Norwood enjoyed the privilege once more of hosting the season opener. Despite all roads leading out of Adelaide on a Maundy Thursday evening, nearly 7000 people fronted up to watch.

What followed was a series of unfortunate events (apologies to Daniel Handler).

Event 1
As has become tradition at the Parade in recent years, non-current players (in this case Anthony Wilson and Andrew Kirwan) raised the premiership flag on a temporary flagpole on the ground… this time upside down. That would never have happened in Brett Zorzi’s day!

Event 2
Not a spectacle I got to enjoy first hand, sadly, as I hurried across town from fantasy footy draft night at Richmond. Honestly, who are these people that do not schedule their lives according to Norwood’s draw? A scan of radio channels eventually found commentary of the game; Norwood establishing an early dominance and three goal lead before Sturt got one back late in the quarter. Surprisingly, Kurtze getting the better of Baulderstone in the ruck.

Eventually finding a park in the shadow of the foothills, I got into the ground just in time to see Bartlett mark on the lead and goal early in the second.

Event 3
The next challenge was beer and chips. A five minute wait for me to get beer and 20 minutes for Brother Brown and the chips. Just as the half time siren sounded we were ready to watch football. Ah well, we had only missed a fairly scratchy affair full of skill errors, fast running and failed attempts at fast ball movement. As Norwood threatened to pull away, Sturt pegged them back.

Event 4
I’m a bit worried about the effect success is having on some of us Norwood types. As far as I can tell others see us as an insufferable, arrogant and entitled bunch. Judging by some of the commentary from the terraces, after three straight some of us are doing our darnedest to resemble the caricature. Although from that general direction came the best sledge of the night: a wag loudly asking new Sturt recruit Angus Bruggemann how he rated the indignity of being dropped from the Port Magpies grand final team for John Butcher.

The other side of that coin is there has been a greater sense of camaraderie amongst Redlegs fans in the last few months than I have ever witnessed in my time in the frog cake state. A stranger shook my hand in the lift at work the other day having spotted my tie. Brother Brown was hugged by a security guard at the airport due to his polo shirt. And I have no doubt the Big Issue vendor on the corner of Waymouth and King William Streets does better business on the days he wears his Redlegs guernsey. Pride does different things to different people.

Event 5
The standard of play remained pretty poor – both teams more capable of flooding defensively than executing by hand and foot. More basic skill errors from both teams as they tried to hem each other in. All 36 players between the goal and edge of the centre square happened more than once.

Event 6
The umpires looked like they had been dressed by the 1980s. Lime green tops with canary yellow socks clearly put them off their game. More than once a free kick for high contact appeared to be paid for a collision between teammates. In the third quarter Michael Newton was paid a free kick, which the umpire bafflingly decided was actually a mark, recalling Bartlett’s play-on stroll into an open goal. Thankfully for most involved, Juice went back and kicked it.

Event 7
Complaints about only lager being left in the nearest bar were followed by the slamming of its shutters early in the last quarter. 7000 people clearly had a greater thirst than Coopers Stadium had beer. Norwood kicked the first goal of the last quarter to gain sufficient breathing space to put down their own shutters – no doubt thinking of beer as well.

Event 8
The siren went, confirming a three goal Norwood win, followed by a rousing rendition of John Cage’s 4’33” through the ground’s speakers. The sizeable Sturt cheer squad, clearly upset at not hearing the Norwood club song, got involved in a stoush. They eventually took security staff’s assertively put suggestion to leave the ground and left singing a song about how much they dislike us; presumably because of the umpiring in the 1978 grand final. Not that people hold grudges around here or anything. They probably had to wait longer than 20 minutes for those chips on their shoulders.

From a Norwood perspective winning ugly is a mark of a good team and there is improvement to come in team composition, fitness and execution. Allan, Panos and Bode the better players. Sturt wouldn’t be too discouraged – their structures are sound and they had 15 more forward 50 entries than Norwood and an extra shot on goal. A bit more polish and they’ll be a real threat this year. After Kurtze, former Magpies Beard and Kirkwood good for the Double Blues.

Norwood 13.6 – 84 def Sturt 9.11 – 65

Around the ground

We always have to be a little bit different in South Australia. Despite a 10 team competition, Round 1 featured just two games (presumably a strategy to make the 18 minor round games stretch through enough of the season to meet the needs of the AFL clubs). With the WAFL round also finishing on the Friday, I smell an AFL conspiracy.

After 7000 at the Parade the SANFL would have been just as happy to get over 5000 at Glenelg Oval on Good Friday. They saw an entertaining game between last year’s wooden spooners and preliminary finalists. Glenelg has done a lot of recruiting in the offseason (and one important discard in former coach and all round top bloke Nick Stevens) and will be a lot more competitive this season. South’s midfield class was enough in the end (don’t tell Matt Zurbo), though, as they ran out 20 point winners.

Glenelg 12.5 – 77 def by South Adelaide 14.13 – 97

About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"


  1. Could you hear Rulebook sledging from
    The crowd ?

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Plug you no me very quiet . Dave it was a strange game some good passages of footy , combined with some horrendous clangers . As a fellow umpire , that was mystifying to say the least , with some appalling positioning followed by the inevitable shocking decision .

  3. James Pelvis Lewis says


    Loving the slightly one-sided commentary. Fantastic read for a Norwood man!

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