SANFL Round 16 – Nostalgia be damned

A rare Saturday afternoon at the football. Five SANFL games starting at 2.10pm. Last time this happened was in July but before that it was September 1990. The world has changed a bit since then.

In that round Norwood, on its way to losing the elimination final in Neil Balme’s last year as coach, was thrashed by Port Adelaide on its way to the premiership, fresh from its betrayal of South Australian football ( Graham Cornes’ ‘get stuffed’ post-Grand Final speech: Cornes coached Glenelg, captained by Chris McDermott, while Woodville and West Torrens played their last game as separate clubs (the Warriors won by 45 points). The average crowd at an SANFL minor round game was 6536 compared to this year’s 2896.

The two generations of Brown family, that in 1990 would have been spread across various tennis courts around Adelaide, have become three generations at the footy. When I first started thinking about writing up this game it was going to be a lament of what had been lost: a time when the SANFL was more important; a time in the full flush of youth; a time when football was the way we liked it – on the same time each week, all games at once. You needed the Budget to know who A ,B, C, D, E, F, G and H on the scoreboard were.

All the signs pointed to misty eyed regret. Getting the beers at the Sponsor’s Product Corner, the walls are adorned with photos of a packed Norwood Oval – a stark contrast to today’s crowd. The overheard comment of ‘See, look at all that grey hair in the crowd’ from a bloke, presumably arguing to his companion that the competition was in a steady decline. The arthritis in the big toe on my left foot that sends a bolt of lightning up my leg every time one of the kids stands on it.

Tempting as it is to bemoan what we have lost since 1990, that is just sepia-tinted tosh. In 1990 the crowds were diminishing in the SANFL, a victim of the readily available and higher standard AFL on Channel 7, the decampment of all quality players with the exception of McIntosh, Aish and Sewer, and the introduction Saturday afternoon trading in Adelaide shops. In fact when you add the 48,000 odd people at an AFL game in Adelaide each week at the moment that means 62,480 are going to AFL/SANFL football in Adelaide each weekend now compared to 32,680 in 1990.

I couldn’t get to the games in 1990 because they were all on Saturday afternoon and I was busy playing sport. My love for the Redlegs was largely by radio and newspaper reports. Even grand final weekend was inaccessible as we would be playing in the Port Augusta tennis tournament each year. Thankfully the Redlegs didn’t bother with making the grand final too much in that period (only 1993 and we lost by 12 goals, so no great loss). That games are on at different times across the weekend give many an opportunity to see footy that they never had in the past.

Sure, the SANFL’s status may be lower but the world was never going to stay the same and in many ways it has improved. The standard of play is better – that Norwood is able to effectively implement a forward press shows players are fitter and more disciplined than they have ever been before. Also tell me that Flipper’s torp goal from 60 out on the boundary ( and the marks by McGuinness ( and Still ( in the highlights package) were not quality. Nostalgia be damned.

In addition to that, the game itself saw a well-coordinated Redlegs unit dismantle a Bloods group that is good at the in-and-under stuff but is deficient beyond that. Halfway through the second quarter Norwood led 50 to 1 and the game was already done. Baulderstone dominated in ruck, Kirwan featured down back, Panos through the midfield and Phillips and Newton up forward. From my view in the outer, Newton came to Norwood as a victim of the Melbourne Football Club culture at its worst. He is now the key man up forward at the Parade and a quality kick on goal. He deserves real credit for that.

With an 89 point win on the day, Norwood move up to second place on the ladder with the minor premiership still a possibility, remarkably. West have kissed any finals ambitions goodbye with that performance. Sam Durdin will go relatively early in the draft but that is based upon his potential, not what he showed today.

The Parade – Norwood 23.9 – 147 def West Adelaide 8.10 – 58

Around the grounds

Unley Oval – Sturt 17.8 – 110 def North Adelaide 13.13 – 91

Straight kicking by Michael Coad (6.0) the difference, as ruckman Kurtze dominated with 21 disposals, 45 hitouts and a goal. Despite the win, Sturt slip to third on percentage while the Roosters drop to eighth, still in that twilight realm of mathematical possibility.

The Bay – Adelaide 15.12 – 102 def Glenelg 13.8 – 86

The young Bays fought bravely all day and lost narrowly to a Crows unit carrying a fair amount of AFL talent. Matt Crouch (31 possessions at 87% efficiency) and Shaun McKernan (17 possessions, 20 hit outs, 2 goals) the best for the Crows. Stretch (26 possessions, 2 goals) and Snook (27 possessions, 8 clearances) the best for the Tigers. The loss confirms the wooden spoon for the Tigers while the Crows are in the ‘mathematical possibility’ camp with the Roosters.

Woodville Oval – South Adelaide 9.11 – 65 def Woodville West Torrens 8.11 – 59

The Panthers stole a close one at Woodville Oval to leapfrog the Eagles into fourth spot. As usual it was the Cross (24 disposals, 8 clearances), Liddle (22 disposals, 7 clearances) and Brooksby (49 hit outs, 7 clearances) show for South while Lewis (26 disposals, 8 clearances) was prominent for the Eagles. Both teams could still finish top three or not in the five at all.

The Ponderosa – Central Districts 16.8 – 104 def Port Adelaide 15.11 – 101

The Doggies kept the minor premiership alive as Kyle Jenner kicked the match winner just seconds before the final siren. Amazing they came that close to losing after leading by 42 points at half-time and trailing by 3 at three-quarter time. Tom Logan had a massive game for the Magpies with 40 possessions and 2 goals while Schiller was best for the UDogs with 26 possessions and 8 clearances. Port remain on top, leading Norwood and Sturt by a game and percentage while Centrals are one game out of the five and playing Glenelg this week.

About Dave Brown

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


  1. Dave- Interesting comments on how we colour the past. Years ago a mate was telling me about catching a really old VFL grand final from the 1960’s during the grand final TV marathon. He remarked that it was a terrible game with dreadful kicking and sloppy play. I looked it up on youtube and he is correct. That said, I do like viewing games from the 1990’s with their direct, attacking footy and frequent pack marks!

    Thanks Dave.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Good write up Dave yes I am in the past and it was a rare Sat arvo game for me and we were good but the lack of atmosphere at the parade was depressing give me a passionate and loud crowd any day . This week we play a side which will be more interested in game time re Aaron Young etc than winning the game nup a real competition for me ! Thanks Dave

  3. sanfl footy is a better game to watch then the afl,better umpiring,game more free flowing,less kicks going backwards,played at correct time being Saturday arvo etc

  4. Very thoughtful and perceptive Dave. Love the names of all the old SANFL stars. Hadn’t realised that 1990 was the last year of my West Torrens Eagles as an independent club. But as you say, time stops for no one and nothing. Hopefully we gain more than we lose.
    The main thing I miss is the inter-fan banter of the local comps. Fans in Melbourne still get it when local clubs play each other, but I find the atmosphere of all Eagles/Dockers/Crows/Port stadiums very sterile. Christians v Lions. I guess it’s the same when our teams play away, but that is small compensation for the 50/50 crowds of yore.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Dave, you must have been at the I v J game then.

    How much AFL (as it had become by 1990) was available on Ch7 each week? I don’t remember live games into Adelaide back then. Of course all that changed in 1991.

    But I do remember the Player Retention Scheme, that probably only retained players that weren’t going to go anyway (e.g. M Aish).

    My watershed moment was when Steven Stretch went to Melbourne – he was possibly the first player the make the move eastwards that had never played a State game. The rest was, perhaps, inevitable.

  6. Dave Brown says

    Sadly the Budget stuffed it up, Swish. The scores on the board didn’t align with what was on the page (for the record I think we were A & B and, yes, I did miss i & j). As a sign of the times the scores were much more easily followed on the smart phone – we had a particular interest in the Dogs v Magpies game.

    By 1990 it would have been at least two games of AFL into Adelaide – on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and possibly also Friday night (my memory fails me). Although it could still have been Channel 10 then – remember how they swapped numbers at some point? Spot on re. the retention scheme.

    With you on the Christians v Lions analogy, PB. That said there’s not much banter to be had at the SANFL either. North / Norwood games at Prospect are an exception as there is always a healthy crowd that would be about 50/50 and for whatever reason there seems to be a bit of feeling on the ground to fire passions off it.

    I’m going to be optimistic, Rulebook, and say that Sunday’s game will have a bit of interest to it. Whiskas’ interest in winning may not be 100% but the faithful at Alberton are a different matter.

    One stat I left out of my analysis on 1990 v 2014, Mickey, was that in the 5 games in 1990, a combined 1189 points were scored. Last weekend that figure was 923. Scoring is, no doubt, less a feature of today’s game.

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I now remember that the Swans game was always live if they were playing in Sydney

  8. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    And yep, the Friday night game too

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    And I wonder if Nipper Christie now uploads the scores on his iPad rather than being crossed to “around the grounds”

  10. Karen Patterson says

    Hi , could you tell me when the little kids will be back in the ads, playing AFL i loved it . and im sure others did too.

  11. I believe they’ve just called for youngsters to audition. They are terrific ads. Max Gawn, Josh Kennedy, G. Ablett, Cyril et al must get a buzz too.

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