John Riley (Australian footballer)

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For the similarly named footballer who played from 1962–1969, see John Reilly (Australian footballer).
John Riley
Born (1958-04-23) 23 April 1958 (age 59)
Nationality Australian
Occupation Scientist and footballer
Spouse(s) Dianne[1]
Children Alexandra, Katherine and Andrew[1]
Scientific career
Fields atomic physics, sonar, signal processing
Institutions Defence Science and Technology Organisation
Education Flinders University Ph.D.
Thesis Coherence in inelastic electron scattering from sodium (1985)
Known for sonar
Notable awards
  • Aeronautical and Maritime Research Laboratory Best Research Award (1996)

Australian rules football career
Personal information
Original team(s) Broadview
Height / weight 178 cm / 80 kg
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1977–1990 North Adelaide 250 (31)
1984 Footscray 001 0(0)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1990.
Sources: AFL Tables,

John Riley (born 23 April 1958) is an Australian scientist at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation and former Australian rules footballer who played with Footscray in the Victorian Football League (VFL) and North Adelaide in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL).[1]


Riley played football for North Adelaide Football Club while he was studying at Flinders University. He was still finishing off his Ph.D. in atomic physics when he was recruited to the Footscray Football Club in the Victorian Football League (VFL). He returned to Adelaide after only playing one match for Footscray.[1]

Riley completed an Australian Research Grants Scheme research fellowship, then worked in the development of instrumentation for the mining industry.[2]

Riley moved to the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), the research arm of the Australian Department of Defence, in 1988, initially working on sonar signal processing which improved the performance of towed array and sonobuoy systems.[2]

Riley was awarded a Defence Science Fellowship in 1993, leading to two year at the Defence Research Establishment Atlantic in Nova Scotia, Canada, and subsequently to the Aeronautical and Maritime Research Laboratory Best Research Award in 1996.[2] Riley worked as the Navy Scientific Adviser in 1997 then was appointed as head of Airborne Sonar leading a research programme in support of the RAAF P3-C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and RAN Seahawk helicopters.[2]

Riley spent a year based in Washington DC as Defence Science Attaché supporting liaison between Australia, the USA and Canada. He then returned to Australia to lead submarine operations research for DSTO, based at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia. This included improvements to the Collins-class combat and sonar systems. He then moved to Research Leader of Maritime Combat Systems, which included support for the Air Warfare Destroyer project. He has also chaired the Maritime Systems Group of The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP).[2]

As of 2015, Riley is back in Adelaide, as Chief of the Weapons and Combat Systems Division of DSTO.[1][2]


Originally from Broadview, Riley made his SANFL debut in 1977 and by 1982 was North Adelaide captain. In 1982 he also won the club's 'fairest and most brilliant' award and took part in South Australia's interstate fixtures.

He was lured to the VFL in 1984 when Footscray signed him and made his first appearance in the opening round of the 1984 VFL season, with eight disposals in a win over Richmond.[3] However he had not been granted a clearance by North Adelaide and the club were successful in getting a Supreme Court injunction to prevent him playing more games at Footscray.[4]

Riley finished the season with North Adelaide and remained with the club until 1990, amassing 250 games. After playing in their 1985 and 1986 Grand Final losses, Riley was on the half back flank when they won the 1987 premiership decider. He was later named at the same position in the North Adelaide 'Team of the Century'.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ryan, Peter (1 May 2015). "The man Mick almost coached: the story of John Riley". Telstra Media. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Dr John Riley". Defence Science and Technology Organisation. 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  3. ^ "John Riley". AFL Tables. 
  4. ^ The Age, "Riley stays", 13 April 1984, p. 24
  5. ^ "John Riley - Player Bio".