SAAFL History – 1927

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Team Gms W L Pts
University 18 16 2 32
Semaphore Central 18 14 4 28
South Adelaide Ramblers 18 14 4 28
Kenilworth 18 13 5 26
Kingswood 18 12 6 24
Teachers College 18 7 11 14
Prince Alfred O.C. 18 6 12 12
Henley and Grange 18 6 12 12
Marryatville 18 1 17 2
Y.M.C.A. 18 1 17 2


Professor H. Darnley Naylor, the Professor of Classics at Adelaide University who, with the exception of a few years abroad, had held the position of President of the SAAFL. since its inception in 1911, departed for England and was succeeded by Dr. F. S. Hone. Hence the Naylor Medal for the best and fairest player in the SAAFL (as voted by the umpires) was replaced by the Hone Medal. New club South Adelaide Ramblers was admitted from the Y.M.C.A. League where it had been a dominant force, not having lost a match on its home ground for 8 seasons, and Henley & Grange was re-admitted after the West Torrens District Association folded, giving a 10-team competition. An application from the strong Underdale United club was rejected, even though it had been the dominant team in the West Torrens District Association. It was said that preference was given to Ramblers & Henley because of the ‘Dales’ reputation for a rough style of play.

Underdale spent the season in the Mid-Southern Association before making a successful application to the SAAFL in 1928. Ramblers’ ground was in the South Parklands and Henley and Grange was still at Grange Oval, while PAOC played its matches at the school and Teachers College was using Jubilee Oval. Some interesting highlights for the year follow.

On 14th May University kicked a record score of 41.42 against Y.M.C.A. who failed to score. This score (288 points) remained the highest in the SAAFL until 1949, the highest in A1 until 1988, and is still the highest winning margin (288 points) in A1 as at the time of writing. Another unusual score on the same day was recorded by Semaphore Central who kicked 3 goals 26 behinds defeating Kingswood 2.11. The Register (20/5/27) said “this [the shocking kicking by both teams] may be accounted for to some extent by the fact that the backmen of both teams played so effectively.

In the match on June 7 between Kingswood and Henley and Grange, “Moore [Kingswood] was ‘out’ on three occasions, and transferred forward he kicked the winning goal” (Advertiser 17/6/91). On the same day University inflicted the first defeat that South Adelaide Ramblers had suffered on its home ground for nine years. Y.M.C.A. had difficulty fielding a full side all season, and in the match against University on July 23rd, its ruckman McRostie had to go to hospital to have four stitches inserted in his mouth, but returned in the last quarter and finished the match! Teachers College had a casual approach to the competition as it took three weeks off in August, spending one week in Melbourne playing Melbourne Teachers College and the next two on College vacation.

A record attendance for a home-and-away match since 1911 was set on 13th August at University Oval when approximately 1000 people witnessed the clash between the top and second teams, namely University and South Adelaide Ramblers. The lead see-sawed throughout and a behind just before the siren gave the match to University. Later in the season, W. R. James of University kicked a record 16 goals against Marryatville.


The outcome of the finals was something of a surprise. University easily defeated Ramblers in the Semi Final at Prospect Oval 17.11 to 9.15, aided by an outstanding game at centre half back by C. B. Sangster. Kenilworth, who was not even in the top four with one round to play, caused an upset by beating Semaphore Central in the other Semi Final (despite hitting the goal post five times) 12.8 to 11.10, with Harry A. Krome dominating in ruck. It then caused an even bigger upset by beating University in the Final at Prospect Oval by ten points, 9.16 to 9.6, forcing University to challenge. However, because of the lateness of the season (October 1st) the SAAFL had trouble in securing a ground for the Challenge Final, as most grounds had been booked for cricket or had their goal posts removed. The only suitable ground available was Main Oval at National Park Belair, which fortunately was in good condition. To complete an amazing end to the season, Kenilworth proved beyond doubt that its form in the previous two finals matches had been no fluke by defeating University again, 10.18 to 10.9.


A dinner was held at the end of the season at the Earl of Zetland Hotel for the delegates from the clubs “to celebrate in a sociable and harmonious manner the close of what has probably been the most successful year in the history of the league” (Advertiser October 19th). Trophies were awarded to Bert Mitchell, the vice captain and centre half back from Teachers College, who won the Hone Medal, to ‘Jogger’ James of University, the leading goalkicker with a record 124 goals (beating his previous season’s record by 46), and to Bert Mitchell again for the Best Placed Man. Presentations were also made to the S.A.A.F.L. secretary Hugh Millard and Treasurer L. S. Walsh. “The enjoyment of the evening’s proceedings were enhanced by a musical programme contributed to by Messrs. D.C. Lane (songs) and T.C. McGregor” (ibid).


The interstate selectors again had the advantage of observing a trial match at University Oval in May between two teams selected from the amateurs. The interstate match against the Victorian amateurs was played at the Albert Cricket Ground on the King’s Birthday holiday, Monday June 6th. The SAAFL team, managed by Hugh Millard, was as follows:

  • Amies, Ossie fp Sth. Adelaide Ramblers
  • Booker, Bob centre University
  • Geue, V. A. chf Semaphore Central
  • Grundel, Cliff hb Semaphore Central
  • Jordan, Fred wing Sth. Adelaide Ramblers
  • King, Laurie rover Kenilworth
  • Krome, Harry ruck Kenilworth
  • Lee, J. hb Marryatville
  • Manuel, Howard hf Prince Alfred O.C.
  • McGregor, Jock v.c. foll Kingswood
  • Montgomery, Bill fb Semaphore Central
  • Moore, N. A. wing Kingswood
  • Murray, George capt. chb Kenilworth
  • Roberts, R. bp Henley and Grange
  • Sawyer, R. hf Kenilworth
  • Symons, A. bp Kenilworth
  • Tully, Claude rover Sth. Adelaide Ramblers
  • Wilke, Les ff Kingswood

The reserves were Arthur Waldeck (PAOC), Don Clarke (Semaphore Central) and A.S. Nicholls (Marryatville). The team departed on the Melbourne Express on the Friday evening of the long weekend (June 3rd), and on Saturday was welcomed by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne at a reception at the Amateur Sports Club. The team was outfitted with a new state guernsey featuring a large white monogram of the letters ‘S’ and ‘A’ on a dark background.

The game was played in front of a crowd of around 2000 people. A stirring struggle ensued all day, with the S.A. team displaying greater speed but the Vic’s dominating in the air. The S.A. rucks played well and the scores were level at three-quarter time, but the heavier Victorian team proved too strong in the crushes in the last quarter when the S.A. players began to tire. Again it was said that the absence of the ‘kicking in the ruck‘ rule handicapped the S.A. team.

Team 1Q 2Q 3Q Final
Victoria 1.3 8.6 10.9 13.17 (95)
S.A. 2.2 6.5 10.9 11.11 (77)
  • Goalkickers: Geue 4, Manuel 2, Amies, King, Sawyer, Tully, Wilkie.
  • Best Players: Geue, Tully, Krome, Roberts, Sawyer, Manuel, Montgomery.

In the evening the visiting team was entertained at a ‘Smoke Night’ where “the speakers were unanimous in praising the excellent match in the afternoon, and especially the spirit in which it was played. Both players and spectators found it most enjoyable” (Melbourne Argus 7/6/27). Speakers also addressed the advantages that the amateur game offered over the professional, particularly the pleasure and benefit one received from playing the game purely for the sake of it.

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