SAAFL History – 1954

North Brighton Somerton departed after only two years in the Amateur League, but there were still four divisions of ten teams involving 1650 registered players plus Colts. As discussed in chapter 3, the A2 runners-up of the previous season (Teachers College) did not come up to A1, so Alberton Church United, second-bottom in A1 the previous year, retained an A1 spot.

Semaphore Central had been in the doldrums since its 1949 premiership, finishing in the finals only once in the previous four seasons. However, a reunion dinner at the Semaphore Hotel in July gave it the spark to rise to third position at the end of the minor round. Rosewater also performed extremely well in its first season in A1 to make the finals.

Premiership Tables

A1 Premiership Table

(as at the end of the minor round)

Team Gm W L D Pts
University 18 16 2 0 32
Walkerville 18 16 2 0 32
Semaphore Central 18 14 4 0 28
Rosewater 18 10 7 1 21
Flinders Park 18 7 10 1 15
Exeter 18 7 11 0 14
Woodville 18 7 11 0 14
St. Peters O.C. 18 5 12 1 11
Alberton Church United 18 5 13 0 10
Prince Alfred O.C. 18 1 16 1 3

Both Semi Finals were decided by less than a goal. University won by two points from Semaphore 11.13 to 10.17 despite a great game on the ball by Semaphore captain/coach Don Fletcher, and Rosewater surprised by defeating Walkerville 12.10 to 12.5. In the Final at Alberton Oval under Mr. F.K. Russell, the strong Varsity rucks led by captain Alistair McLeod and rovers Jerry Martin and Pat Pak-Poy were too strong for Rosewater, the Blacks kicking 8 goals with the breeze in the last quarter to win its eleventh premiership 19.11 to 10.4.

Henley, undefeated premiers in A3 the previous season, found the A2 competition also to its liking although not quite as easy as the previous year.

A2 Premiership Table

(as at the end of the minor round)

Team Gm W L D Pts
Henley 18 17 1 0 34
Payneham 18 15 3 0 30
Colonel Light Gardens 18 11 6 1 23
Kenilworth 18 10 8 0 20
Riverside 18 9 9 0 18
Goodwood 18 9 9 0 18
Kings O.C. 18 8 10 0 16
University B 18 6 11 1 13
S.A. Railways Institute 18 3 15 0 6
Teachers College 18 1 17 0 2

Henley, who had struggled to beat Colonel Light Gardens by a point in their previous encounter, defeated them comfortably in the Semi Final 10.19 to 3.8. In the other Semi Final, Kenilworth caused a bit of an upset by beating Payneham (thanks to the latter’s inaccuracy) 10.11 to 8.19. As Kenilworth had been beaten by 4 and 7 goals by Henley during the minor round, they were given little chance in the Final at Payneham Oval, but put up a strong effort to lose by only six points 12.7 to 12.13. Best players for the premier were Ardill, Gluyas and Prior. This was Henley’s second successive premiership since joining the Amateur League in 1953 from the West Torrens Association.

Only two of the five ‘A’ grade teams made the finals in A3, Exeter B winning its last five matches.

A3 Premiership Table

(as at the end of the minor round)

Team Gm W L Pts
Woodville B 18 16 2 32
Birkenhead Sports 18 15 3 30
Myer 18 12 6 24
Exeter B 18 11 7 22
University C 18 10 8 20
Commonwealth Bank 18 10 8 20
St. Peters O.C. B 18 7 11 14
Semaphore Park 18 5 13 10
Scotch O.C. 18 4 14 8
Semaphore Central B 18 0 18 0

Exeter continued its late run by defeating Birkenhead 7.10 to 6.11 while Myer surprised by beating Woodville 9.16 to 9.7. Exeter then won its seventh in a row by beating Myer in the Final 11.6 to 4.9, only to lose the Challenge Final at Alberton Oval to Woodville in a very low-scoring affair 3.10 to 3.6.

The final four after 18 rounds in A4 was Henley B (33), Payneham B (30), Pulteney O.S. (28) and Long Range Weapons (27), the remainder finishing in the order Goodwood B (22), Kenilworth B (14), Colonel Light Gardens B (10), Teachers College B (6), Rosewater B (6) and Prince Alfred O.C. B (4). Henley (13.11 to 10.6) and Payneham (11.12 to 7.5) won the Semi Finals, then Henley lost comprehensively in the Final to Payneham 5.13 to 13.12, but came back to win the Challenge Final at Goodwood Oval 11.11 to 10.8 to give the club two premierships in the same season, the first time this had happened in the Amateur League.

The Colts qualification was changed from under seventeen years of age on July 1st of the year of playing, to under seventeen as at January 1st. The premiership table at the end of 12 rounds listed Woodville (24), Payneham (18), Flinders Park (18), Colonel Light Gardens (12), Adelaide (6), Goodwood (6) and Henley (0). Flinders Park upset minor premier Woodville 8.4 to 7.5 in the Semi Final while Payneham beat Colonel Light 10.16 to 8.6. Flinders Park then beat Payneham by a point in the Final 8.5 to 8.4, but lost to Woodville in the Challenge Final at Goodwood Oval 7.9 to 10.15.

State player Jim Farr was the Hone Medallist for 1954, Lance Poulton of Kenilworth the A2 Chambers Medallist, the appropriately named Max ‘Moggie’ Myers of Myer the A3 McKay Medallist (his second medal in succession), Tom Jeffree of Henley the A4 Treloar Medallist, and future West Torrens League star ‘Big’ Bob Morrell of Woodville the Colts Nazer Medallist. University’s Geoff Krieger won the War Memorial Medal. Charley Irvine the Semaphore Central and state goalsneak led the A1 goalkicking with 67 goals, while Graham Nash of Payneham kicked 118 in A2.

State football was again prominent with matches in Victoria and W.A. and two All-Australian matches. The S.A. squad was as follows:

  • Akkermans, Charlie University
  • Caire, Kevin Woodville
  • Davies, Don Prince Alfred O.C.
  • Delo, John Walkerville
  • Edwards, Brian Walkerville
  • Fitch, Ken University
  • Fletcher, Don vice capt. Semaphore Central
  • Gregory, Leon St. Peters O.C.
  • Gross, Claude Walkerville
  • Harbison, Peter St.Peters O.C.
  • Hill, Peter Prince Alfred O.C.
  • Irvine, Charlie Semaphore Central
  • Jacquier, Colin Exeter
  • Jarratt, Claude Walkerville
  • Johnson, Ross University
  • Koch, Dean Semaphore Central
  • Krieger, Geoff University
  • Martin, Jerry University
  • McDonald, Ian Semaphore Central
  • McLeod, Alistair capt. v Vic University
  • Miatke, Brian Walkerville
  • Myers, Max Myer
  • Natt, Merv capt. v W.A. Exeter
  • Parkinson, Dave Kings O.C.
  • Poulton, Lance Kenilworth
  • Saul, Ron Walkerville
  • Sawford, Jim Semaphore Central
  • Shields, Ray Rosewater
  • Simmons, Kevin Semaphore Central
  • Thomas, Billy Myer
  • Tuckwell, Roger University
  • Walsh, John University
  • Wilkinson, Ken Walkerville

The first match was against Victoria at the St.Kilda Cricket Ground. George Tilley was coach and S.A. was keen to atone for its relatively poor display against Victoria the previous year. Fifteen of the players in the twenty came from three clubs, University (7), Semaphore Central (4) and Walkerville (4).

Monday June 14th 1954

S.A.Team v Victoria

St.Kilda Cricket Ground

S.A. kicked with the aid of a strong breeze in the first quarter and its inaccuracy in this quarter probably cost it the match. Even then a seven-goal third quarter had it leading by nearly four goals at the beginning of the last quarter. However a late four-goal burst by crack Victorian full forward Duncan Anderson stole the match in the dying stages.1Q 2Q 3Q Final Victoria 0.0 5.9 6.10 12.14 (86) S.A. 1.11 2.12 9.15 10.15 (75)

  • Goalkickers: Walsh 3, Davies 2, McLeod 2, Gregory, Gross, Wilkinson
  • Best Players: Wilkinson, Fletcher, Sawford, Gross, Tuckwell, Walsh, Simmons

Ruckman John Walsh was awarded the Victorian’s trophy for the best S.A. player.

For the first time outside of a carnival, S.A. accepted an invitation to play in W.A. and so travelled to Perth at the end of July. The players were billeted out and each contributed £15 towards travelling expenses. There were twelve new players in the final twenty.

The S.A. team apparently included some players who were not fully fit. Certainly some such excuse would have been looked for to explain the thrashing

Saturday July 31st 1954

S.A.Team v W.A.

East Fremantle Oval

S.A. received. It was notable that five of the six best players at St. Kilda did not make the trip to Perth.1Q 2Q 3Q Final W.A. 4.0 8.3 13.7 17.8 (110) S.A. 0.1 1.5 1.10 7.10 (52)

  • Goalkickers: Irvine 2, Fletcher, Jacquier, Jarratt, McDonald, Thomas
  • Best Players: Simmons, Myers, Jarratt, Jacquier, Thomas, Gregory

A regional knockout A.N.F.C. Section 2 carnival was held in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne to decide a Section 2 champion to challenge bottom Section 1 team Tasmania in Tasmania for a place in the next Section 1 carnival.

As reigning Section 2 champions, the All-Australian Amateurs did not have to play until the last round against Queensland at Richmond Oval in Melbourne on July 7th, and they duly won easily. Seven South Australians were selected for the match but Claude Gross and Merv Natt had to withdraw because of injuries so we had five representatives – ‘Wimpy’ McLeod (chf) (captain),Jim Sawford (centre), Kevin Simmons (hb), John Walsh (ruck) and Ken Wilkinson (ruck).

1Q 2Q 3Q Final Aust. Amateurs 8.8 11.10 14.15 17.17 (119) Queensland 2.1 2.4 2.6 5.10 (40)

Jim Sawford and Wimpy McLeod made the best players.

As Section 2 champions, the All-Australian team played Tasmania (coached by the legendary Roy Cazaly) at North Hobart Oval the following Saturday in front of a crowd of 10,300 people and played like a very tired team to go down 16.21 to 9.10. Our representatives in this match are not known except for McLeod and Gross.

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