Sturt Football Club
|Full name||Sturt Football Club|
|Leading goalkicker||Benjamin Hansen (23)|
|Best and fairest||Zane Kirkwood|
|Colours||Light Blue and Navy Blue|
|Competition||South Australian National Football League|
1915, 1919, 1926, 1932, 1940, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1976, 2002, 2016
|Ground(s)||Unley Oval (capacity: 15,000)|
The Sturt Football Club, nicknamed The Double Blues, is a semi-professional Australian rules football club based in the affluent suburb of Unley, South Australia, which plays in the South Australian National Football League.
Founded in 1901 by the Sturt Cricket Club, the club initially struggled to make the finals, however in 1915 they won their first Premiership. After several decades of substantial finals appearanaces and a few premiership wins, Sturt entered a period of success, winning seven premierships from 1966 to 1976 under coach Jack Oatey.
Sturt has a total of fourteen premierships, eleven Magarey Medallists and two Night Premierships.
Sturt wear Oxford and Cambridge Blue reflecting the street names on which their home ground is based. Sturt play their home games at the 15,000 capacity Unley Oval and their club song is named It's a grand old flag.
The club was established in 1901 when the Sturt Cricket Club decided to form a football club in the Unley (suburban Adelaide) area in the Division of Sturt (named after Australian explorer Charles Sturt). The club used the two shades of blue of Oxford and Cambridge Universities as its home ground, Unley Oval, is situated on the junction of Oxford Terrace and Cambridge Terrace, hence the nickname of “Double Blues”. Sturt played its first game against Norwood, losing by 33 points.
Sturt enjoyed little success initially and struggled to make the finals. In 1909, the club was strengthened by a number of interstate players enticed by offers of employment and accommodation and in 1910, Sturt played in their first Grand Final, losing to Port Adelaide.
The first premiership came in 1915 with a two-goal Grand Final win over Port Adelaide. The competition was suspended during the First World War, being restablished in 1919 when Sturt faced North Adelaide in the Grand Final. Despite giving up a big lead early, Sturt fought back and forced a draw. In a low scoring replay the following week, Sturt kicked its only three goals of the match in the last quarter (the last coming with thirty seconds remaining) to win by five points (23–18) and secure consecutive premierships four years apart.
Between 1930 and 1941, Sturt played in five Grand Finals, winning in 1932 (v. North Adelaide by 110–69) and 1940 when the team beat South Adelaide (100–79). From 1942 to 1944, Sturt combined with South Adelaide to compete in a restricted wartime competition.
From 1945 to 1961, despite the efforts of triple Magarey Medalist Len Fitzgerald, Sturt performed poorly, “winning” five wooden spoons and failing to make a Grand Final. In 1962, former Norwood and South Melbourne player and West Adelaide coach Jack Oatey was appointed coach and began to institute an innovative style of play that would modernise the game and influence the style of football played Australia wide.
Sturt showed gradual improvement in Oatey’s first years, finishing 6th in 1963 and third in 1964. In 1965, it reached the grand final and before 62,543 (a SANFL record until 1976 and the highest Adelaide Oval crowd to this day), fell short by just 3 points against Port Adelaide. In 1966, Sturt gained revenge on Port Adelaide, doubling its score (16.16 to 8.8) winning its first premiership in 26 years and entering a period of dominance that saw them win seven premierships in eleven years, including five in a row between 1966 and 1970.
Sturt’s 1967 and 1968 grand final wins were again at the expense of Port Adelaide. Sturt won the 1969 Grand Final beating Glenelg who had included the Richmond star Royce Hart for his only game for the club. Hart was eligible to play in the SANFL due to his posting to Adelaide as a National Service soldier. Sturt completed its fifth successive premiership with another win over Glenelg in a rain-affected 1970 grand final.
The 1976 Grand Final win over Port Adelaide was dominated by ruckman Rick Davies. Before a record Football Park crowd of 66,897, Sturt entered the final as rank outsiders. Davies, sensing early pressure from Port, positioned himself in the back lines in the first quarter. In an often quoted anecdote, coach Jack Oatey turned to runner David ( Daffy ) Edwards and said:'What's he doing down there? I didn't put him down there. I run this side. Go and ask him what he thinks he's up to." After Davies had taken his fourth strong mark, Edwards came back with the news: “He says he's down there getting kicks, that's where the ball is.” Oatey‘s response: “Course he is. He’s a champion isn’t he?” Rick Davies dominated the final with 21 kicks, 21 handballs, 21 hit outs and 15 marks, with Sturt winning by 41 points. Captain Paul Bagshaw described the win as “Sturt’s finest hour.”
Jack Oatey’s legacy has continued to influence football in South Australia. Since their inception into the AFL, the Adelaide Crows have embodied much of the approach to the game that Oatey pioneered. Oatey is also credited with popularising the checkside punt, a kicking style that causes the ball to bend away from the body. In the 1968 Grand Final against Port Adelaide Football Club, Peter Endersbee used the checkside punt to kick two goals in the space of a few minutes turning the game in Sturt’s favour. Since 1981, the Jack Oatey Medal has been awarded to the best player in the SANFL Grand Final.
After Oatey’s retirement at the end 1982, Sturt under coaches John Halbert and former Richmond star Mervyn Keane reached the Grand Final of 1983 with a reinvented Davies kicking 151 goals, but fluctuated in the following five years. Committee dissatisfaction with Keane, however, led to Sturt churning through five coaches and receiving a SANFL record eight consecutive wooden spoons between 1989 and 1996, including a winless season in 1995 when the team actually did not get within four goals of any of its twenty-two opponents. A joint bid with Norwood in 1994 to enter the AFL was rejected in favour of Port Adelaide. Facing financial difficulties, mergers with South Adelaide (“Southern Blues”) and North Adelaide were proposed by the SANFL and the club’s board. This was opposed by supporters who, along with former players, raised the required $250,000 in two weeks to keep the club in existence. Sturt returned to its original home ground Unley Oval in 1998, having moved its home games to Adelaide Oval from 1986.
Under Phil Carman, Sturt reached the Grand Final in 1998, losing to Port Adelaide by nine points. Damian Squire was recruited from North Adelaide the following year and won consecutive Magarey medals in 1999–2000. Jade Sheedy and Tim Weatherald went on to share the award in 2002. Sturt, under first year coach Brenton Phillips, played Central Districts in the 2002 SANFL Grand Final. After struggling to beat Central Districts in four prior attempts in the 2002 season, the Double Blues emerged triumphant on Grand Final day, doubling the Bulldogs’ score to win by 47 points. It was the club’s first premiership in 26 years.
Six days after the win, several of the club's players and support staff were celebrating the win at the Sari Club in Bali when the Bali bombing incident occurred. Player Josh Deegan and trainer Bob Marshall were killed.
The Sturt Football Club has had a see-sawing past couple of seasons, finishing fifth in 2010 and 9th in 2011. After champion goal kicker Brant Chambers departed at the end of Season 2010, the club endured disappointing seasons in 2011 and 2012, finishing bottom in each year. Sturt finished seventh in 2013, but returned to the finals in 2014 finishing 3rd after the minor round only to lose in straight sets to Norwood and South in the Qualifying and 1st Semi Finals. 2015 saw Sturt suffer from poor recruiting which made on-field success rare and finished 8th. 2016 saw Sturt mounting a mini-resurgence under new coach and former premiership player Martin Mattner. The Blues Finished 3rd after the home and away season and started the finals by beating favourites South Adelaide. That gave the Double Blues a chance to play in the Grand Final when they took on the Eagles but lost to set up a Preliminary Final against the Adelaide Crows which the Blues Won by 35 points to set up a Grand Final match against Woodville West Torrens. They then went on to win the 2016 premiership.
From the club's inception in 1901 until 1986, the Sturt Football Club played their home games at the Unley Oval. The largest attendance at Unley was set in Round 9 of the 1968 season when 22,015 crammed into the oval to see Sturt play long time rivals Port Adelaide. The unofficial ground record attendance at Unley was set on 9 June 1924 when an estimated 24,000 saw Sturt play Norwood.
In 1987 the club moved its home games to the Adelaide Oval, a move that proved unpopular with fans. After the move, the City of Unley turned the oval into a public park by removing the boundary fence, though the Jack Oatey Stand and the Members Stand remained in place. In 1996, the club negotiated with the Unley council for a return to Unley and after playing a couple of games there in 1997, Sturt permanently moved back to their original home in 1998 which coincided with the clubs first Grand Final appearance since 1983.
Before 2014, Sturt was forced to hire Unley Oval for each SANFL home game, due to the councils wish that the oval remain a public park as well as paying for temporary fencing to be erected for each home game. The use of temporary fencing ended in 2014 when a white picket fence was erected at the oval.
Unley Oval was renamed Peter Motley Oval in 2015 in honour of the former two-time Sturt club champion.
- Record Attendance at Unley Oval (confirmed): 22,015 v Port Adelaide in Round 9, 1968
- Record Attendance: 66,897 v Port Adelaide at Football Park, 1976 SANFL Grand Final
- Record Attendance since Adelaide Football Club formation (1991): 44,838 v Port Adelaide at Football Park, 1998 SANFL Grand Final
- Most Games: 360 by Paul Bagshaw (1964–80)
- Most Goals in a Season: 151 by Rick Davies in 1983
- Most Goals for the Club: 672 by Brant Chambers (2001–10)
- First player to kick 100 goals in an SANFL season: Ted Biggs (1934)
- Most Years as Coach: 21 by Jack Oatey (1962–1982)
- Most Years as Captain: 8 by Paul Bagshaw (1973–1980) and Chris Thredgold (1995–2002)
- Most Premierships as Captain: 3 by John Halbert (1966, 1967, 1968)
- Most Best & Fairest Awards: 7 by Rick Davies (1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1980)
- Highest Score: 32.19 (211) v Woodville 19.14 (128) at Woodville Oval in Round 4, 1974
- South Australian National Football League (14): 1915, 1919, 1926, 1932, 1940, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1976, 2002, 2016
- SANFL Night Premiers (2): 1954, 1975
|2002||Tim Weatherald & Jade Sheedy|
Team of the Century
|Sturt Team of the Century|
|B:||Brenton Adcock||Frank Golding||Horrie Riley|
|HB:||Bob Shearman||Len Fitzgerald||Rick Schoff|
|C:||Tony Burgan||Vic Richardson||Clarrie Scrutton|
|HF:||Michael Graham||John Halbert||Tony Goodchild|
|F:||"Taffy" Waye||P.T. (Bo) Morton||Norman Barron|
|Foll:||Rick Davies||Paul Bagshaw||Gil Langley|
|Int:||"Vic" Cumberland||Bill Mayman||Peter Motley|
The Sturt Football Club's song is "It's A Grand Old Flag".
Sung to tune of "You're A Grand Old Flag".
It's a Grand old flag, It's a high-flying flag
It's the emblem for me and for you
It's the emblem of the team we love
The team of the old Double Blues
Every heart beats true for the old Double Blues
As we sing this song to you………what do we sing?
Should old acquaintance be forgot
Oh keep your eye on the Old Double Blues!
- "About Adelaide Oval". SACA. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
- Lysikatos.J :True Blue: The History of the Sturt Football Club page 254, Sturt Football Club, 1995
- Sunday Mail, page 1, 26 September 1976
- Lysikatos; True Blue pp. 301-303
- The Advertiser, June 12, 1995; p. 19
- "Unley Oval". austadiums.com. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- "Team of the century". Sturt Football Club. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
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