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When the main show was SANFL

For South Australian footballers and supporters, the SANFL was the main show in town through the 1980s.

Sure, we kept an eye on the VFL – especially all the SA boys – but our hearts were with Norwood or Sturt, Port Adelaide, Glenelg, North Adelaide, Woodville, South Adelaide, West Adelaide, Central District and West Torrens.

The football landscape in this State changed dramatically with the birth of the Adelaide Football Club to play in a national competition in 1991.

But the strong links to the SANFL remained and are underlined by the backgrounds of many of the people who have been involved with the Crows.

For example, remember 1984? Neil Craig played his 100th game for Sturt and captained South Australia against Victoria. Steven Trigg was captain of Central District, where Alan Stewart was chairman of selectors and Stephen Schwerdt was in the junior ranks. Malcolm Blight was in charge at Woodville, with John Reid as his assistant coach. Also down at Woodville, Bill Sanders was chairman and Ron Kinsman was team manager and on the club board. First Crows coach Graham Cornes was learning the coaching game at South Adelaide. Neil Kerley was still coaching West Adelaide after winning a flag the previous year, a triumph also enjoyed by team manager Barrie Downs.

James Fantasia was playing some league footy at Norwood and Craig Burton was doing the same at West and Mick Redden was in the ruck for North Adelaide. Dr Brian Sando was looking after the Norwood players, Trevor Jaques was team runner at Glenelg, where Rex Leahy was team manager.
And in 1984, Andrew Payze (now on the AFC Board) made his debut for West Torrens, where Gary Goudge was assistant head trainer. Many others who have been through the Adelaide Football Club also had close affiliation with one or more SANFL clubs.

To keep with the Heritage Week theme, we want to hear your greatest SA football moment from the 1980s.

Was it the Tim Evans and Craig Balme scrap before the 1984 grand final? Or how about the introduction of lights at Football Park, Woodville’s exciting finals run in 1986, or Russell Ebert’s fourth Magarey Medal win in 1980? How about John Platten winning a Magarey Medal and then three years later a Brownlow Medal? And who could forget Stephen Kernahan’s 10 goals against Victoria – or his seven goals (and clash with David Wildy) in the 1985 grand final?

And to help with the memories, here are some of the vital stats from the SANFL in that decade.

Magarey Medals
1980 – Russell Ebert
1981 – Michael Aish
1982 – Tony McGuinness
1983 – Tony Antrobus
1984 – John Platten
1985 – Grantley Fielke
1986 – Greg Anderson
1987 – Andrew Jarman
1988 – Greg Whittlesea
1989 – Glbert McAdam

Leading goalkickers
1980 – Tim Evans (Port)
1981 – Tim Evans (Port)
1982 – Tim Evans (Port)
1983 – Rick Davies (Sturt)
1984 – Tim Evans (Port)
1985 – Malcolm Blight (Woodville)
1986 – Stuart Nichols (Woodville)
1987 – John Roberts (North)
1988 – Stuart Nichols (Woodville)
1989 – Rudi Mandemaker (Central)

Premiers
1980 – Port
1981 – Port
1982 – Norwood
1983 – West
1984 – Norwood
1985 – Glenelg
1986 – Glenelg
1987 – North
1988 – Port
1989 – Port