South Adelaide Football Club

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South Adelaide
Full name South Adelaide Football Club
Nickname(s) The Panthers
Motto Visionary, Can-Do, United
2014 season
Leading goalkicker Brett Eddy (58)
Best and fairest Joel Cross
Club details
Founded 1876
Colours      Navy and      White
Competition South Australian National Football League (SANFL)
President Colin Francis
Coach Brad Gotch
Captain(s) Nick Murphy and Josh Thewlis
Premierships 11
1877, 1885, 1892, 1893, 1895, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1935, 1938, 1964
Ground(s) Hickinbotham Oval (capacity: 12,000)
Other information
Official website
South Adelaide Panthers Jumper.svg

The South Adelaide Football Club is an Australian rules football club that competes in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL). Known as the Panthers, their home ground is Hickinbotham Oval[1] (formerly Noarlunga Oval), located in Noarlunga Downs in the southern suburbs of Adelaide.


Nineteenth century[edit]

The South Adelaide Football Club is the second oldest football club in South Australia, and has held its colours longer than any other. South Adelaide was formed in 1875 and played their first game in June 1876, wearing blue caps and long white trousers.[2] South Adelaide was the first team to win a premiership in the (then) newly formed South Australian Football Association in 1877, and between 1892 and 1900 it won six premierships and was runner-up three times.[3] South Adelaide was led from 1888 to 1898 by captain and “proto-coach” Dinny Reedman who is generally seen as the first to view team combination and planning as a critical component of success in football. In 1896 they won sixteen and drew two of eighteen games.[4]

Decline after District Football[edit]

District football was introduced optionally in 1897 and became compulsory in 1899. This was difficult for South Adelaide, who had under Reedman obtained most of its top players from Christian Brothers College,[4] and even in 1899 when it won its sixth premiership in eight years half its side came therefrom. With the loss of Reedman and Jones to North Adelaide, and after one season goalsneak “Bos” Daly to West Torrens in 1900, the blue and whites declined steadily. This was exacerbated by the admission of Sturt in 1901. South Adelaide was runner-up in 1903 to Port Adelaide, but won only 26 and drew two of 108 games between 1906 and 1914, including a winless season in 1909 and two consecutive one-win seasons (both wins by less than a goal) in 1910 and 1911.[5] In 1915, South improved to second before lack of finals experience took its toll in the semi-final.

Following an enforced halt to SAFL football during World War I, the presence of champion defender Dan Moriarty made South highly competitive between 1919 and 1924, though it never rose above third in 1921. However, after his retirement South took four consecutive wooden spoons from 1926 to 1929 and did not finish above sixth in an eight-team competition between 1925 and 1934, winning only thirty and drawing three of 160 games. It was generally known that South had an unfairly small share of the area zoned between eight league clubs,[6] but the league committee refused to alter the status quo.

Brief Halcyon and Abrupt Fall[edit]

In response to South Adelaide’s limited metropolitan recruiting resources, the club began a concerted country recruiting campaign during the 1930s. This bore spectacular fruit between 1935 and 1940. Under coach Vic Johnson, South Adelaide after a slow start played impressive football throughout 1935 and ultimately upset Port Adelaide for its first premiership since 1899. Jack Cockburn at centre half-back was the team’s star and won the Magarey Medal. After two more seasons in the finals, South Adelaide reached a high point in 1938, losing only two games and swamping Port Adelaide with a 13-goal third quarter in the Grand Final.[7] Led by Clem Rosewarne, Max Murdy and Len Lapthorne, South averaged an amazing 132 points per game, and even without Rosewarne their attack remained extremely potent in 1939 and 1940, averaging 125 points over the minor round. The blue and whites failed badly in the 1939 finals, but won two finals before losing to Sturt in 1940.

1941 saw South slip to fifth with only six wins, but that could hardly have prepared them for the experiences of the following two decades after full-scale football resumed after World War II.[8] Between 1947 and 1951 South won only seven games out of eighty-six, and from 1945 to 1963 South never won more than six games in a season, nor finished above any rival except Glenelg and Sturt. Other clubs with greater financial resources duplicated South’s 1930s country recruiting campaigns and the club turned over coaches at an extraordinary rate. Eight coaches were employed in nine seasons from 1953 to 1961: even a spell by Port Adelaide legend “Fos” Williams in 1960 failed to raise them above second last, and neither did the adoption of the club’s current nickname “The Panthers” in 1957[9]

Kerley and Another Decline[edit]

In 1959, after doubting whether the club was viable as a league team, the SANFL granted South Adelaide a substantial area of newly developing southern Adelaide suburbs. During the early 1960s it became apparent that South Adelaide, though only marginally better statistically than the dreadful late 1940s and early 1950s teams, was possessed of enough talent to move beyond the bottom couple of placings. In 1963, South Adelaide sought the services of proven West Adelaide player/coach Neil Kerley after he was controversially sacked by the Bloods, and despite being sceptical Kerley did accept and put the team on an intense training schedule during the 1963/1964 off-season.[6]

South Adelaide rose rapidly in 1964, losing only three minor round games before defeating Port Adelaide by 27 points in the Grand Final. It remained prominent for the remaining two years of Kerley’s stint but failed to make the grand final. However, under champion player Peter Darley as captain-coach the Panthers declined very quickly owing to the loss of key followers Kerley and David Kantilla,[10] winning only two games in 1969 for another wooden spoon and not improving until another renowned coach in Haydn Bunton, Jr. took over the reins in 1975. Under Bunton, the Panthers, playing fast, skilful football firmly rooted in the South “tradition”,[6] contested the major round for the first time in eleven years in 1977 and reached the Grand Final in 1979. However, on an appallingly windy day and muddy ground the experienced Port Adelaide, aided by winning the toss, were too good, winning 9-9 (63) to 3-14 (32). The Panthers fluctuated in yo-yo fashion under Bunton, never playing in two consecutive finals series before he departed to return to Subiaco after a sabbatical at the end of 1982.


In 1979, South Adelaide’s recruiting zone in the southern suburbs was extended to cover all the developing areas around O‘Halloran Hill, giving the club a potential community base for the first time in its long history. It continued to play at Adelaide Oval until 1994 (the oval was ironically located on the northern side of the City of Adelaide and River Torrens), and its fortunes fluctuated, with two unsuccessful finals appearances under future Adelaide Crows coach Graeme Cornes in 1983 and 1984 being followed by free-fall under the coaching of former Hawthorn (VFL) ruckman Don Scott and Sturt champion full forward Rick Davies to a wooden spoon in 1987. South was under severe pressure to enter into a merger with another SANFL club, but was argued that if South made the long-proposed move to Noarlunga it would be able to capture expanding suburbs in the future.

Under John Reid, South developed rapidly after a one-win season and twenty-six successive losses during 1988 and early 1989. After this disastrous losing streak, South rose to contest each SANFL finals series between 1990 and 1992, with a minor premiership in 1991 the highlight, the Panthers being bundled out by West Adelaide in the Preliminary Final. However, the Panthers have been a disappointment in the two decades since the formation of the Adelaide Crows in 1991, with fourth place finishes in 2006 and 2011 its highest placings, and some dubious coaching changes such as the sacking of former St Kilda coach Ken Sheldon in 1996, and briefly employing seventy-one-year-old veteran John Cahill during 2008. After this, the Panthers won only four games in the 2009 and 2010 seasons for their worst two-season record since the dark days of 1950 and 1951.

Three South Australian Premiers have had a close association with the South Adelaide Football Club: Charles Cameron Kingston (Premier 1893-1899), Dean Brown (1993-96) and Mike Rann (2002-2011). Kingston played for South Adelaide, Dean Brown became Patron and Mike Rann was Number One Ticket Holder. During his Premiership Rann presented the Club with a 100 year peppercorn lease over the Noarlunga Oval site owned by the State Government in what he described as 'land rights for the Panthers'. The club presented the Premier with 100 peppercorns.

Home Grounds[edit]

  1. Adelaide Oval (1882–1903, 1905–94)
  2. Jubilee Oval (1904)
  3. Hickinbotham Oval (1995–present)

South Adelaide’s clubrooms were based at Panther Park at the inner-southern Adelaide suburb of St Mary’s until 1995 when the club moved to Noarlunga and its new ground Hickinbotham Oval (then called Noarlunga Oval). Prior to 1995, with the exception of 1904 when they played at the now defunct Jubilee Oval, the Panthers played all their home games at the Adelaide Oval (ironically located on the northern side of the Adelaide city centre) while in 1992 and 1993 they played two games at the Bice Oval in the southern suburb of Christies Beach to gauge support in the area for the Panthers. The oval, located only 1 km from where Hickinbotham Oval now sits, was packed to capacity in 1993 with approximately 8,000 crammed in to see Souths take on 'local' rival Glenelg. It was following this game that the South Adelaide Football Club made the decision to move permanently to Noarlunga.

South Adelaide christened their new home at Noarlunga in Round 8 of the 1995 SANFL season. The opening game at Noarlunga also saw the ground record crowd of 10,123 when Glenelg defeated the Panthers by 47 points. Originally called Noarlunga Oval, the name was officially changed to Hickinbotham Oval in 2005 to honour former Panther and successful property developer, the late Alan Hickinbotham.[1]

In late 2010 the South Adelaide Football Club obtained permission from the City of Onkaparinga to install four light towers at the oval with the intent to host night SANFL games at the venue. Unlike other SANFL grounds which had lights installed, Hickenbotham Oval is not surrounded by housing and permission to build the lights was easily obtained as they were ruled to have minimal impact on the local residents. The first game played under lights on 9 April 2011 saw South defeat North Adelaide in front of 2,630. The record night attendance at the oval was set just a few weeks later in Round 4 of the 2011 SANFL season when 2,700 saw the clash between the Panthers and Port Adelaide.

Club Records[edit]

Individual honours[edit]

Magarey Medallists[edit]


League top goalkickers[edit]

Year Goals Player
1882 14   R. Wardrop[11]
1885 19   H. Hill[12]
1887 25   Alf Bushby[13]
1896 25   Jack Kay[14]
1898 35   Jack Kay[14]
1902 28   Jack Kay[14]
1935 115   Chris Munro[15]
1945 54   S. Scott[16]
1995 95   Danny Del-Re
2011 67   Michael Wundke

'Greatest Team'[edit]

The South Adelaide Team of the Century is officially called the 'Greatest Team'.[17]

Greatest Team
B: Jack Reedman (captain) Bill Oliver[18] George Mulcahy[19]
HB: Bob Schmidt[20] Dan Moriarty Jack Cockburn
C: Laurie Cahill Jim Deane Mark Coombe[21]
HF: Max Murdy[22] Don Pryor[23] Alf 'Bulla' Ryan
F: Mark Naley Chris Munro[15] Jack Dawes[24]
Foll: Peter Darley Jack Tredrea[25] Frank Tully[26]
Int: Lindsay Backman[27] Ray Linke[28] Len Lapthorne[29]

Honour board 1945–2014[edit]

Year Pos Win/Loss (Minor Round) Coach Captain Best & Fairest Top Goalkicker Goals
1945 8 3-14 L Ashby C Ames M Doherty S Scott 64
1946 7 5-12 M Murdy J Templeton K Brown L Lapthorne 29
1947 8 2-15 Laurie Cahill D Pryor A Hickinbotham D Pryor 51
1948 8 0-17 L Cahill D Pryor J Deane L Lapthorne 23
1949 7 4-13 J Dawes L Lapthorne J Deane M Merchant 35
1950 8 0-17 J Dawes L Lapthorne R Linke L Lapthorne 27
1951 8 1-17 J Deane J Deane J Deane L Lapthorne 47
1952 7 5-12 J Deane J Deane R Linke M Read 47
1953 8 5-13 J Deane J Deane J Deane M Read 47
1954 7 5-13 Alan Hickinbotham A Hickinbotham R Linke M Read 46
1955 8 2-15 Jack Graham R Hewitt D Polden J Judd 25
1956 7 6-12 P Hunt J Deane J Deane J Judd 38
1957 8 2-16 L Cahill J Deane J Deane K Peucker 37
1958 6 6-11-1 R Reiman R Reiman G Christie J Judd 37
1959 8 3-15 R Reiman R Reiman R Jackson J Judd 52
1960 7 3-15 Fos Williams D Panizza D Panizza D Panizza 22
1961 6 5-14 W Sutherland G Christie David Kantilla D Kantilla 31
1962 8 3-16 W Sutherland G Christie D Kantilla L Backman 45
1963 8 2-18 W Sutherland
D Parham
I Day P Darley L Backman 34
1964 1 17-3 Neil Kerley D Kerley P Darley I Day 35
1965 3 15-5 D Kerley D Kerley R Schmidt L Backman 41
1966 4 14-6 D Kerley D Kerley P Darley A Skuse 38
1967 5 11-9 Peter Darley P Darley P Darley L Backman 31
1968 6 9-10-1 P Darley P Darley P Darley P Jones 32
1969 10 2-18 P Darley P Darley M Coombe L Backman 42
1970 10 3-17 Jim Deane L Backman L Backman P Howlett 60
1971 9 6-15 J Deane P Darley P Haines P Howlett 50
1972 9 5-16 D Darcy D Darcy P Darley P Jones 30
1973 9 4-17 D Darcy D Darcy P Darley M Dittmar 60
1974 8 7-15 P Darcy R Keddie D Young P Darley 44
1975 8 5-13 Haydn Bunton, Jr. R Keddie R Keddie Graham Robbins 50
1976 7 9-11-1 H Bunton R Keddie R Hateley A Bennett 67
1977 4 14-8 H Bunton G Robbins G Baynes Wayne Slattery 54
1978 7 8-13-1 H Bunton G Baynes G Baynes G Linke 38
1979 2 14-8 H Bunton G Baynes G Baynes W Slattery 61
1980 7 8-14 H Bunton G Baynes S Butler Geoff Linke 84
1981 4 15-7 H Bunton G Baynes Robb Hawkins G Linke 74
1982 8 8-14 H Bunton S Palmer R White C Reynolds 70
1983 5 12-10 Graham Cornes S Palmer R Hawkins J Schneebichler 65
1984 5 13-9 G Cornes S Palmer Mark Naley D Harris 57
1985 8 8-14 Don Scott
Rick Davies
J Schneebichler D Kappler R Davies 72
1986 9 7-14-1 R Davies J Schneebichler Darren Troy R Davies 72
1987 10 5-17 R Davies J Schneebichler D Kappler D Stoeckel 55
1988 10 1-21 J Reid S Butler D Kappler S Schmid 38
1989 9 6-16 J Reid S Butler M Whitford D Stoeckel 50
1990 4 9-11 J Reid M Bennett Darren Trevena D Stoeckel 52
1991 3 16-6 J Reid M Bennett D Kappler S Schmid 40
1992 5 11-11 J Reid M Bennett M Grummet Randall Bone 35
1993 6 9-11 J Reid D Kappler M Dillon Peter McIntyre 79
1994 7 9-13 Ken Sheldon D Trevena C Wittman P Keam 35
1995 6 11-11 K Sheldon D Trevena J Polkinghorne Danny Del-Re 92
1996 8 6-14 K Sheldon
S Butler
D Stoeckel Andrew Osborn C Cameron 20
1997 9 4-14-2 K Applegarth D Stoeckel J Polkinghorne C Cameron 20
1998 7 9-11 K Applegarth Andrew Osborn D Talbot Ryan Fitzgerald 40
1999 8 2-18 K Applegarth Andrew Osborn K Cobb D Hams 43
2000 6 9-10-1 Greg Anderson Andrew Osborn D Talbot M Demasi 39
2001 7 7-13 G Anderson Kym Koster D Morgan Clay Sampson 28
2002 8 4-16 G Anderson Kym Koster S Sampson M Demasi 25
2003 7 6-13-1 G Anderson C Sampson C Hall R Tregenza 59
2004 8 7-13 Robert Pyman C Sampson C King R Tregenza 39
2005 7 7-13 R Pyman C Sampson M Davis B Warren 60
2006 4 11-9 R Pyman C Sampson R Archard B Warren 64
2007 8 4-15-1 R Pyman
Gary Cameron
C Sampson S McGlone B Warren 27
2008 8 5-14-1 John Cahill
Clay Sampson
Jason Torney J Boyd B Warren 42
2009 9 2-18 C Sampson J.Torney M Sandery B Warren 48
2010 9 2-17-1 R Fuller B Warren N Liddle B Warren 32
2011 4 8-11-1 R Fuller N Murphy J Cross M Wundke 67
2012 8 7-13 R Fuller N Murphy N Liddle M Wundke 55
2013 8 6-14 R Fuller / K Cobb J Thewlis N Liddle M Wundke 52
2014 3 11-7 B Gotch J Thewlis / N Murphy

Notable players[edit]


A: Wally Allen[30] Len 'Buck' Ashby[31]
B: Lindsay Backman[27] Frank 'Dinky' Barry Andy Bennett Mark Bickley Randall Bone
B: Dean Brogan Keith Brown[32] Alf Bushby[13]
C: Laurie Cahill Alipate Carlile Arnold Caust[33] Graham Christie[34] Matthew Clarke
C: Craig Cock[35] Jack Cockburn Mark Coombe[21] Graham Cornes Damian Cupido
D: Anthony Daly[36] 'Jack' Daly[37] Dave Darcy Luke Darcy Peter Darley
D: Alwyn Davey Rick Davies James 'Jim' Dawes[38] John 'Jack' Dawes[24] Ian Day[39]
D: Jim Deane Danny Del-Re Michael Doughty Stephen Doyle
F: Ashley Fernee Ryan Fitzgerald Eddie Fry[40]
G: Simon Goodwin Jack Graham Ryan Griffen Chris Groom
H: Jim Handby Frank Hansen[41] 'Jack' Hansen[42] 'Barney' Haussen[43] Robb Hawkins[44]
H: Glynn Hewitt Alan Hickinbotham[1] Clem Hill H. Hill[12] Michael Handby
J: Dick Jackson[45] Stan Jaffer[46] Vic Johnson[47] Ernie Jones John Judd[48]
K: David Kantilla Darren Kappler Barry Karklis[49] Jack Kay[14] Bob Keddie
K: Neil Kerley Ron Kitchen[50] Kym Koster
L: Brendon Lade Len Lapthorne[29] Ray Linke[28]
M: Ron McGowan[51] Cory McGrath Bruce McGregor Peter McIntyre George Margitich
M: Dan Moriarty George Mulcahy[19] Max Murdy[22] Chris Munro[15]
N: Mark Naley
O: Bill Oliver[18] Andrew Osborn
P: Stuart Palmer Des Panizza[52] Denis Parham Bryan Ploenges[53]
P: Ian Prendergast Don Pryor[23]
R: Jack 'Dinny' Reedman Brian Roberts Matthew Rogers Lester Ross[54] Alf 'Bulla' Ryan
S: Clay Sampson Joe Scanlon[55] Bob Schmidt[20] John Schneebichler[56] S. Scott[16]
S: Alf Skuse[57] Nigel Smart Frank Spiel[58] Chris Stasinowsky
T: Jim Templeton[59] James Tierney Jason Torney Jack Tredrea[25] Frank Tully[26]
V: Nathan van Berlo John Vickers[60]
W: George Wallace[61] H. Wardrop[11] Alan White[62] Robin White[63] Malcolm Whitford[64]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Alan Hickinbotham,
  2. ^ SAFC History (Club Website)
  3. ^ History of the South Adelaide Football Club, SANFL website. Retrieved on 2009-05-01.
  4. ^ a b South Adelaide Premiership Panels
  5. ^ See South Adelaide in 1911
  6. ^ a b c South Adelaide Club Biography
  7. ^ South Swamps Port
  8. ^ Between 1942 and 1944 the SANFL contested a restricted, four team competition with its eight member clubs paired off geographically: Port Adelaide-West Torrens; Norwood-North Adelaide; West Adelaide-Glenelg and South Adelaide-Sturt
  9. ^ SA Memory
  10. ^ David Kantilla: Indigenous Pioneer
  11. ^ a b R. Wardrop, League top goalkicker 1882 (14 goals)[citation needed]
  12. ^ a b H. Hill, League top goalkicker 1885 (19 goals),[citation needed] should not be confused with Clem Hill, born 1877 and an active South Adelaide footballer of the 1890s.
  13. ^ a b Alf Bushby, League top goalkicker 1887 (25 goals)
  14. ^ a b c d Jack Kay, League top goalkicker 1896 (25 goals), 1898 (25), 1902 (28)
  15. ^ a b c Chris Munro, League top goalkicker 1935 (115);[citation needed] Full Forward, Official "Greatest Team"
  16. ^ a b S. Scott, League top goalkicker 1945 (54)[citation needed]
  17. ^ Official 'Greatest Team'
  18. ^ a b Willian "Bill" Oliver
  19. ^ a b George Mulcahy[citation needed]
  20. ^ a b Bob Schmidt
  21. ^ a b Mark Coombe
  22. ^ a b Max Murdy
  23. ^ a b Don Pryor[citation needed]
  24. ^ a b Jack Dawes
  25. ^ a b Jack Tredrea,
  26. ^ a b Frank Tully
  27. ^ a b Lindsay Backman
  28. ^ a b Ray Linke
  29. ^ a b Len Lapthorne
  30. ^ Wally Allen
  31. ^ Len Ashby
  32. ^ Keith Brown
  33. ^ Arnold Caust
  34. ^ Graham Christie
  35. ^ Craig Cock
  36. ^ Anthony Daly
  37. ^ John W. Daly
  38. ^ James 'Jim' Dawes
  39. ^ Ian Day
  40. ^ Eddie Fry
  41. ^ Frank Hansen
  42. ^ John Hansen
  43. ^ Keith Haussen
  44. ^ Robb Hawkins
  45. ^ Dick Jackson
  46. ^ Stanley Jaffer
  47. ^ Victor Johnson
  48. ^ John Judd
  49. ^ Barry Karklis
  50. ^ Ron Kitchen
  51. ^ Ron McGowan
  52. ^ Des Panizza
  53. ^ Bryan Ploenges
  54. ^ Lester Ross
  55. ^ Joseph Scanlon
  56. ^ John Schneebichler
  57. ^ Alf Skuse
  58. ^ Frank Spiel
  59. ^ Jim Templeton
  60. ^ John Vickers
  61. ^ George Wallace
  62. ^ Alan White
  63. ^ Robin White
  64. ^ Malcolm Whitford

External links[edit]