Ken Farmer

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For the 1936 Olympic silver medalist in hockey and former president of the Canadian Olympic Association, see Kenneth Farmer.
Ken Farmer
Ken Farmer SANFL.jpg
Farmer pictured in 1933
Personal information
Full name Kenneth William George Farmer
Date of birth (1910-07-25)25 July 1910
Place of birth Adelaide, South Australia
Date of death 5 March 1982(1982-03-05) (aged 71)
Place of death Adelaide, South Australia
Position(s) Full-forward
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1929–41 North Adelaide (SANFL) 224 (1,417)
Coaching career
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
1949–52 North Adelaide (SANFL)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1941.
Career highlights





Kenneth William George "Ken" Farmer (born 25 July 1910 in Adelaide, South Australia – died 5 March 1982 in Adelaide) was an Australian rules football player in the South Australian National Football League during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. He was a prolific goalscoring full forward and successful premiership winning coach for North Adelaide.

Early life[edit]

Farmer grew up in the North Adelaide area and attended North Adelaide school, where he played Australian rules football on Fridays, and soccer on Saturdays. His early prowess in the round ball code resulted in being selected in the State Schoolboys soccer team.

Farmer left school at 14 and did not play football again until 1927, when he played with North Adelaide Ramblers Seconds and the Marryatville amateur team. In 1928 he was invited to play with the North Adelaide juniors, where he demonstrated some talent at marking and goalkicking, winning the best and fairest award.

SANFL career[edit]

In 1929 the 18-year-old Farmer debuted in the North Adelaide League side. Playing at full-forward in his first season, he kicked an impressive 62 goals in only 14 games. In 1930 he became the first SANFL player to kick over 100 goals in a season. He repeated this feat for the next ten seasons.

He played in the winning 1930 Grand Final side despite the great personal distress of his brother Elliot's death weeks earlier from a motorcycle crash that also involved Ken. In 1931 he kicked his 125th goal (exceeding Gordon Coventry's VFL record of 124) in a winning Grand Final performance.

Farmer captained North for five seasons (1934–1935, 1937–1938, 1941) and was club best and fairest in 1936.

Farmer's great goal scoring came from many attributes. His goals came readily, from superb concentration and the ability to read the play and be in position. Not only was he a brilliant fast lead, but Farmer was described as having a very powerful grip and hence a strong mark. He was unnervingly accurate shooting for goals with the screw and flat punts (drop punts not being part of the game at that time).

Farmer's goalscoring prowess was also evident when representing South Australia in interstate matches, where he averaged five goals per game.

Farmer's playing career ended when he went into the wartime RAAF. He took over the reins of coach for North Adelaide for four seasons from 1949, winning the premiership twice (1949, 1952).


In South Australia Farmer was known as "The Bradman of Goal kickers", a reference to the contemporary prolific cricket run scorer, Donald Bradman. Farmer's goal kicking was certainly prolific.

Farmer's SANFL goal kicking record:

  • 1929 - 62
  • 1930 - 105
  • 1931 - 126
  • 1932 - 102
  • 1933 - 112
  • 1934 - 106
  • 1935 - 128
  • 1936 - 134
  • 1937 - 108
  • 1938 - 112
  • 1939 - 113
  • 1940 - 123
  • 1941 - 86

In 13 seasons and 224 games for North Adelaide, Farmer kicked 1419 goals, making him the highest goal scorer in the history of the SANFL, a record that stands to this day. His total and average of 6.33 goals per game exceeds that of even VFL legends such as Peter McKenna, Gordon Coventry and Tony Lockett (VFL/AFL record 1360 goals), and also that of Bernie Naylor. On 35 occasions he kicked 10 goals or more. In 224 games he was held goalless only once, when he was carried off injured after 10 minutes of play. His Highest in a year was 134, but rather than kicking more in a season, he kicked 100 goals 11 times.

Ken Farmer 17 representative games for South Australia yielded a further 81 goals, giving him a career total of 1500 goals; he places second behind only Peter Hudson as the highest goal-scorer in top-level senior Australian rules football history.

He holds the equal record for most goals kicked in a SANFL match with 23 goals against West Torrens. His 23.6 were a contribution to his side's winning score of 26.11.

Highest tally against other SANFL Clubs


Farmer was made a Life Member of the North Adelaide Football Club in 1937. In 1980 the "Ken Farmer Gates" were dedicated on the eastern side of North Adelaide's home ground, Prospect Oval. Since 1981 the leading goalkicker in the SANFL each season has been awarded the "Ken Farmer Medal".

Farmer and triple Magarey Medallist Barrie Robran have been named as Icons of the North Adelaide Football Club. In 2012, the club also named the northern end of the Prospect Oval the "Ken Farmer End", while naming the southern end the "Barrie Robran End".

Surprisingly left out of the initial inductees to the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996, he was inducted in 1998.

In 2000 Farmer was the inevitable selection as full forward in North Adelaide's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.

Farmer was an inaugural inductee to the SANFL Hall of Fame in 2002.


  • Ross, John (1999). The Australian Football Hall of Fame. Australia: HarperCollinsPublishers. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-7322-6426-0. 
  • North Adelaide Football Club,"Icons of the Club" Retrieved 16 October 2006