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1926 heralded the arrival of the first South Australian old scholars football club in Prince Alfred Old Collegians. In its first season of competition it played at the ‘Police Ground’ (Park 19 on Greenhill Road, between Hutt Street & Unley Road) before moving to the School oval in 1927. Ill-fated Marryatville from the East Torrens Association and playing at Victoria Park was also admitted, but unlike long-serving PAOC, was to last for only two years before disbanding. Goodwood left the amateurs for the first of three times when it seems that its application for re-affiliation was refused because of an infraction by its supporters. With two in and one out the competition was restored to 8 teams.
The development of the Amateur League continued with the formation of an Umpires’ Committee to select umpires. Apparently, this task had been performed previously by the Executive members, which, given the traditional irrationality of clubs when appraising umpires, must have caused some interesting debates.
New ovals were also brought into use. The Wayville Showgrounds was used as a home ground for one season by Teachers Training College, and the ‘Police Ground’ was used by PAOC, also for just one season.
During the year a conference was held with the SANFL to discuss free interchange of players between the two bodies. The extant SAAFL rule stated that “no person shall be reinstated more than twice each year, the first before the commencement of the playing season, the second during the playing season.” It was hoped that free interchange would allow an aspiring SANFL player to return to the amateur ranks whenever not selected by the senior team.
A 6-match suspension of a player made headlines in the Advertiser when the player’s delegate criticised the handling of the hearing. Unlike the previous year when a three-man tribunal heard charges, the SAAFL had reverted to placing the charges before the full Delegates’ Meeting. It was argued that this system was unjust, particularly as the umpire was not present at the hearing and one of the witnesses in the hearing was also a delegate with a vote in the matter. The player’s delegate argued that the full 16-man committee comprised mainly of players was an unsuitable forum for such hearings, and that the SAAFL should revert to the system used the previous year. However, the three-man tribunal was not restored until 1930.
On the lighter side, probably the youngest player ever in a senior team in the SAAFL, 14-year old K. Jones of Woodville High, played for Semaphore Central and “played like a veteran”: and it was reported that Ron Mitton of Teachers College kicked six goals against University, “one, a place kick from the boundary, being remarkably accurate.”
Semaphore Central, premiers in 1923, 1924 and 1925, was seeking its fourth successive premiership. With two rounds to go,University and Semaphore Central played each other for the minor premiership (and so the right of challenge, crucial as it turned out). University won, even though a feature of the game (according to the Advertiser) was that “Salvemini (Semaphore) played a strong game … He was more conspicuous when he played barefooted“!
University had finished its minor round games two weeks before the other teams to allow it to compete in the inter-university match against Melbourne during the University holidays. It then beat Kenilworth narrowly 15.13 to 14.14 in the Semi Final at Glenelg Oval where its captain Doug McKay practically carried the team on his shoulders during the closing stages, and capped his performance by kicking the winning goal right on time. His total was eight for the match. (Advertiser 10/9/26)
The other Semi Final at University Oval saw Semaphore 11.6 beat Kingswood 8.15. University then lost to Semaphore (coached during the finals by Shine Hosking) in the Final at Unley Oval, umpired by S. A. D. Hill, 5.15 to 8.14, the issue being in doubt until a few minutes before the bell. One prominent player for Semaphore was Tim Wall the interstate cricketer, who dominated at centre half forward and kicked two goals from long drop-kicks.
University exercised the right of challenge, and the Challenge Final was played at Norwood Oval under umpire W. E. Blumberg before a large crowd. The match was close throughout, and only a late goal by Uni decided the issue and so denied Semaphore a record-breaking fourth successive premiership. The scores were Uni 9.15 Semaphore 7.18. Best for University were Frank Finlayson at half forward and McKay in ruck, while the star for Semaphore was again Tim Wall who marked brilliantly, gave the forwards many opportunities and kicked three goals.
The News reported on September 20th that University’s recent form had been below that displayed half-way through the season.
The cause was that the players looked upon the inter-university match with Melbourne as the match of the season, and everyone focussed his attention on that game. Then followed a vacation of three weeks. The result was that there had been little practice during the five weeks preceding the match on the Saturday.
The Naylor Medallist was Kenilworth and State captain and centreman George Murray, and the leading goalkicker ‘Jogger’ James of University who kicked a record 74 goals, receiving a medal in recognition thereof. The interstate selectors had the advantage of observing a trial match at University Oval in May between two teams selected from the amateurs. No. 2 team easily beat the No. 1 team 15.15 to 6.8. The best players for No. 2 were Lambert, Goldfinch, Grundel, Nesbitt, Montgomery and King, and for No. 1 Murray, Brunt, Main, Rule, Trevorrow and Clarke.
The interstate match against the Victorian amateurs was played at University Oval on the King’s Birthday holiday, Monday June 7th. The South Australian team, managed by Hugh Millard, was as follows:
- Brunt, Bill Kenilworth
- Clarke, Don Semaphore Central
- Grundel, Cliff Semaphore Central
- Gunning, Norm University
- Hone, Brian University
- King, Laurie Kenilworth
- Krome, Harry Kenilworth
- Main, Hibbel Kenilworth
- McRae, W. Y.M.C.A.
- Mitton, Ron (vice captain) Teachers College
- Montgomery, Bill Semaphore Central
- Murray, George (captain) Kenilworth
- Nesbitt, Harry Kingswood
- Palmer, George Kenilworth
- Richmond, B. Kingswood
- Sawyer, P. Kenilworth
- Smith, Harry Semaphore Central
- Walsh, Laurie University
The reserves were originally Krome, Gunning and Norm Walsh (University), but Gunning and Krome were included in the team when Chris Sangster and N. H. Stuart, both of University, had to withdraw.
For this match the South Australian guernsey was two blues (the new Kingswood strip), and local umpire W. E. Blumberg was in charge. The Victorians kicked away to lead by five goals at half time, but S.A. fought back, and with rain falling in the last term, just failed to win the match.
- Goalkickers: Hone 5, Mitton 3, Brunt 2, Clarke 2, McRae 2, King, Krome
- Best Players: Brunt, King, Hone, Sawyer, McRae, Krome
In the evening the visiting team was entertained at dinner at the Aurora Hotel. On Wednesday August 18, Adelaide University played Melbourne University at University Oval. On the following day at the same venue, another match was played between the state amateurs and a combined team from the two universities, the latter winning 25.16 to 11.8. The goalkickers for the SAAFL were Dodd 3, Koerner 2, Hogan 2, Sawyer, Treloar and Salvemini, while the best players were Goldfinch, Hogan, Koerner, Sawyer, Treloar, Beatty and Salvemini. W. R. James of Adelaide University kicked 9 goals for the universities.