Explore the History of australian football

Port Adelaide's Russell Ebert, who won his fourth Magarey Medal in 1980

Vics Back in the Box Seat

Following the significant financial loss incurred by the Western Australian National Football League over the staging of the 1979 carnival it was only after the procurement of a solid sponsorship deal that the 1980 championships went ahead. In the event, this proved to be a wise move as the 1980 carnival, which just as in 1979 took place at the end of the season, was poorly patronised, with an overall aggregate attendance of just 28,258 (337 spectators fewer than turned up for the SA-WA inter-league clash on 14 June).

On a more positive note, the quality of the football on display was arguably as high as had ever been witnessed in the history of the game. South Australia played brilliant, effervescent football to outclass Tasmania by 89 points in the opening game, while by contrast the Victorians' 35 point defeat of Western Australia was a quintessential example of tough, resolute, “pressure cooker” style football.

Tasmania fought hard against Western Australia in the third place final, only to lose in the end by 35 points. In the championship final, Victoria and South Australia staged a thrilling, electrifying tussle in which the result was in doubt until the closing moments, the Vics eventually nosing home by 17 points. The consensus of opinion after the game appeared to be that the South Australians were capable of matching their opponents in every facet of the game except fitness.

Despite the unarguable fact that the football being produced was of unequalled excellence, it was clear that the public's appetite for an end of season competition was limited. Accordingly, when the interstate championship series resurfaced in 1983 it was as a mid season, round robin affair between the three main states, with state of origin criteria applying only to matches involving Victoria.

VFL: Tigers Trounce Magpies

Richmond’s two seasons under Barry Richardson had been somewhat disappointing, yielding fourth and seventh place finishes, and when Tony Jewell, a defender in the club's 1967 grand final win over Geelong, took over the coaching reins in 1979 initial indications were not good, as the side plummeted to eighth, its lowest position since 1964.  The following year, however, everything miraculously clicked, the side comfortably qualified for the finals in third spot  with a 16-5-1 record, and in trademark Richmond fashion it peaked at just the right time, sweeping into the grand final on the back of impressive wins over Carlton (by 42 points) and minor premiers Geelong (by 24 points).

On the face of it, the Tigers' route to the 1980 VFL flag had been smoothed somewhat by virtue of the fact that their grand final opposition was being provided by a Collingwood side which had not only had to scramble its way through from the elimination final, but whose players were confronted by the immense psychological hurdle of the “Colliwobbles syndrome”, which centred on the discomfiting fact that the Magpies had lost their last six grand finals, most recently to Carlton the previous year.  Nevertheless, while the majority of pundits favoured a Richmond victory, few if any of them could possibly have imagined the scale of the massacre that was to unfurl before them on one of the blackest days in the history of the Collingwood Football Club, Saturday 27th September 1980.

Right from the outset, Richmond had too much pace, class and vigour for the Magpies. At quarter time, the Tigers led by 23 points; by half time it was a match-winning 43 points. (True, Collingwood had let slip a 44 point advantage against Carlton in the 1970 grand final, but such a capitulation was unimaginable for the club infused with the spirits of such as “Captain Blood”, “Mopsy” Fraser, Stan Judkins, Percy Bentley, Roy Wright, Bill Morris, Kevin Sheedy and Royce Hart.) In the end, Richmond's margin of victory was a record-breaking 81 points, with Norm Smith Medallist Kevin Bartlett (7 goals) and centre half forward David Cloke (6) alone responsible for more than Collingwood's entire score. With ruckman Mark Lee, rovers Robert Wiley and Dale Weightman, centreman Geoff Raines and wingman Stephen Mount among many other Tigers to shine, Richmond's 23.21 (159) to 9.24 (78) success represented yet another high spot in the club's already supremely proud, illustrious history.  Surely, as in the words of the song, “things could only get better”?

Michael Roach began his senior career with Longford in the NTFA where he played mainly as a wingman. However, it was as a full forward with Richmond in the VFL, where he moved in 1977, that he made his name. Supremely powerful overhead, he kicked both straight and long, and was a key figure in Richmond's pre-eminence during the early 1980s. His best year in front of the sticks was 1980, when his club record tally of 112 goals was good enough to top the league list. He was the league's top goalkicker again in 1981 with 86 goals, and he headed Richmond's list no fewer than seven times (once jointly). After representing Tasmania at the 1979 Perth state of origin carnival, Roach achieved All Australian selection. He retired in 1989 after precisely 200 VFL games and 607 goals. 

In 1980 Collingwood became the first VFL club to reach a grand final after finishing the minor round in fifth position on the ladder.  Indeed, they were also the first team to progress from the elimination final to the flag decider. Doing so required the Magpies to succeed in three cut-throat finals matches in as many weeks, and two of the three were tough, tortuous affairs. Only against Carlton in the first semi final was victory achieved with conviction, Collingwood ultimately winning by 50 points, 22.20 (152) to 15.12 (102). It was a high quality encounter affording a sharp contrast in styles, with Collingwood favouring a long kicking game, and the Blues relying on crisp, precise short passing and handball.

The Carlton match was sandwiched between two more closely fought affairs, an 8 point elimination final defeat of North Melbourne, and a 4 point triumph over a fast finishing Geelong in the preliminary final. On grand final day, however, the Magpies simply did not have the legs to compete with Richmond and the Tigers won with ease. Almost any other club would have been relatively pleased with a season that culminated in a grand final appearance but from the Collingwood perspective it was yet another in a long list of failures stretching back two entire decades. For Magpies coach Tom Hafey the loss was especially galling as he had been at the helm at Richmond in 1967, 1969, 1973 and 1974 when the Tigers had won premierships. By contrast, during his time with the Magpies he would oversee grand final losses in 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1981.

Geelong, who had finished sixth in 1979, won 5 more minor round matches in 1980 to capture the minor premiership. The Cats had the best defensive record in the competition but ultimately their finals inexperience cost them dear. In the second semi final they matched Richmond until half time but thereafter were distinctly second best with the Tigers winning by 24 points, 14.11 (95) to 11.5 (71). The preliminary final clash with Collingwood saw the Cats finish strongly only too succumb in the end by 4 points. At no stage of the match did Geelong lead, with the loss through injury of Malarkey in the first term and Hawkins at three quarter time arguably being the difference between defeat and victory.

Carlton finished the minor round with an identical 17-5 record to Geelong which was good enough to procure second place on the premiership ladder. However, again like the Cats they underperformed in the finals, losing by 42 points to Richmond in the qualifying final, and, as mentioned above, by 50 points to Collingwood in the first semi final.

For the first time since 1973 North Melbourne failed to qualify for the grand final. The ‘Roos finished fourth after the home and away rounds and battled hard against a wayward Collingwood in the elimination final only to go down by 8 points. North did achieve premiership success of a sort in 1980, however, as they scored a 3 point win over Collingwood in the VFL night series grand final played at VFL Park. Scores were North Melbourne 8.9 (57) defeated Collingwood 7.12 (54) with a record crowd for a night match of 50,478 in attendance. A record thirty-four teams from all over Australia entered the night competition this year.

The season’s main surprise packets were South Melbourne who won 13 matches - 7 more than in 1979 - to finish a creditable sixth. Among their victories was a 9 goal thumping of eventual premiers Richmond in round twenty-two. The Swans also achieved victories during the season against Geelong, Collingwood and North Melbourne, all of whom eventually contested the finals.

Seventh placed Essendon and eighth placed Hawthorn both managed 10 wins, a return that was especially disappointing in the case of the Hawks who had won the premiership a year earlier. The Bombers’ best win for the season came in round two when they overcame Richmond on the MCG by 7 points. Hawthorn’s most noteworthy triumph came at the expense of Carlton at Princes Park in round seven. The Hawks won by 2 points, 16.17 (113) to the Blues’ 14.27 (111).

The VFL in 1980 was a very lop-sided competition with the bottom four clubs - Melbourne (5-17), Footscray (5-17), St Kilda (4-16-2) and Fitzroy (4-17-1) - all finishing ‘way off the pace. Only Footscray had any real cause for celebration; their prolific key position forward Kelvin Templeton was the club’s sixth winner of the Brownlow Medal. (The key points in Templeton’s career are summarised in the review of the 1978 season.)

SANFL: Port Go Back to Back

Port Adelaide’s 1980 premiership winning combination was, by common consent, one of the greatest in the club’s illustrious history. The Magpies won 19 and drew 1 of their 22 minor round matches and finished with an outstanding 65.31 percentage, the second highest in league history.  Ten of the team’s wins were by margins of 90 points or greater and in round three against Woodville they posted a club record tally of 37.21 (243). The ‘Peckers managed 13.4 (82). The Magpies also became the first team in SANFL history to post in excess of 3,000 points during the minor round.

When the finals got underway Port’s dominance showed no signs of abating. In the second semi final they managed to shake off the challenge of Sturt by midway through the second quarter and went on to procure a seemingly effortless victory by 63 points, 24.10 (164) to 15.11 (101). This put the Magpies straight into the grand final where, somewhat surprisingly, they would be opposed by a Norwood side which had only qualified for the finals in fifth place but then scored fighting wins against West Torrens in the elimination final, Glenelg in the first semi, and Sturt in the preliminary final. In the grand final the Redlegs more than matched Port for three quarters before ultimately succumbing by 18 points. It was far from the Magpies’ best performance of the season, but that scarcely mattered as a win by any margin in a grand final provides exactly the same reward: a premiership.

The SANFL Annual Report eulogised about the Magpies:

It was not …… their number of wins but the manner in which they went about them which raised comparisons with the great teams of the past.


……. their grace, individual flair and imagination besides the precision of their movements enraptured the South Australian football public.[1]

It is arguable that no other team but Norwood would have been capable of running the Magpies so close when it really mattered. The rivalry between the Redlegs and Port was one of the fiercest in Australian sport and dated back more than a century. During the late 1960s when Norwood were struggling they would almost invariably pull out all the stops when facing Port, belying their lowly ladder position. In 1980 they only qualified for the finals in fifth position but this was deceptive. During the first half of the season the Redlegs were beset by injuries to key players and as a consequence struggled. However, once the injured players returned to the fray there was a noticeable upswing in performance level resulting in 9 wins from the last 10 minor round matches. The Redlegs continued their improvement in the finals; one by one they overcame Torrens, Glenelg and Sturt to set up a grand final clash with the Magpies. Had the Redlegs been fresher they might conceivably have won, but a loss by just 3 goals was far from ignominious.[2]

After failing to qualify for the finals in 1979 Sturt returned to the September fray and went very close to reaching what would have been their tenth grand final under the coaching of Jack Oatey. In their preliminary final clash with Norwood the Double Blues went into the last change against Norwood with a 3 point advantage but the Redlegs finished more strongly and ultimately got home by 16 points. Sturt were possibly the most inconsistent side in the competition, scoring at least 1 win against every opponent, but also losing to all bar Woodville.

Glenelg were magnificent during the 1980 minor round, winning 19 out of 22 matches, but they inexplicably fell apart in the finals. Against Sturt in the qualifying final the margin of defeat was only 29 points but this was deceptive as the Blues were comprehensively better almost everywhere. In the following week’s first semi final the Bays kept pace with Norwood until half time but thereafter were overrun. Thus, despite winning more matches than any other team in the competition bar Port Adelaide, Glenelg finished a somewhat ignominious fourth.

If, from the Bays’ perspective, fourth place was ignominious, fifth place represented a creditable achievement for West Torrens in that it was only the Eagles’ third finals appearance since 1969. Their elimination final loss at the hands of Norwood probably owed much to finals inexperience as the Eagles had comfortably won both minor round clashes between the two sides, by 46 points at Thebarton in round five, and by 32 points at Football Park in round fourteen. Torrens began the year in formidable form, winning their first 5 matches. They spent most of the season hanging on to third spot on the ladder only to slump to fourth after a final round which saw them go down to Glenelg and get leapfrogged on percentage by Sturt who annihilated West Adelaide by 123 points.

With seven rounds remaining Central District, who had an 8-7 record, looked to be likely finalists. However, the Bulldogs then suffered an inexplicable slump in form, losing all but one of their remaining fixtures to drop to sixth. Coach Darryl Hicks blamed this disappointment on a lack of key position players.

Seventh placed South Adelaide (8-14) and eighth placed North Adelaide (6-16) were both highly inconsistent. South managed to defeat both Norwood and Sturt during the minor round, but they also suffered quite a few ignominious defeats. The Roosters meanwhile managed to do likewise, but their worst was very poor indeed, as for example in their 122 point loss to Port in round nine, and their 52 point reversal against wooden spooners Woodville in round thirteen. 

Ninth placed West Adelaide's best performance probably came in round four at Richmond Oval when they trounced Sturt to the tune of 96 points, 24.13 (157) to 7.19 (61). This was 1 of just 6 wins for the season, however, and the club responded by installing favourite son Neil Kerley as coach for 1981.

Woodville, who had qualified for their first ever finals series in 1979, slumped to a more accustomed last place finish a year later after managing just 4 wins, all at the expense of teams from the lower half of the premiership ladder. This was the 'Peckers' seventeenth season of league football and their fourth wooden spoon. They had finished second from last seven times.

WAFL: Bulldogs Bounce Back

Although football in Western Australia in 1980 remained in a superficially healthy state, attracting considerable media attention and enormous crowds, the signs of an imminent decline were already visible. Each year, more and more prominent players elected to head east in order to participate in a competition which was beginning its transformation from a local, suburban concern to one with overtly national pretensions. That competition, of course, was the Victorian Football League, and its inimical effect on Western Australia's major football competition, which in 1980 dropped the word “national” from its name to become simply the Western Australian Football League, would end up being considerable. In 1980, however, there were still sufficient players of the very highest quality fronting up each Saturday afternoon on grounds like Fremantle Oval, Bassendean and Leederville to make the football on display the equal of that being played anywhere.  

Proof of the quality of Western Australian football is easy to uncover: at the previous year's national state of origin carnival, for instance, the Western Australians, with a predominance of home based players, had conclusively defeated Victoria in the final to secure the championship. Further evidence came in 1980, when Claremont, which ultimately finished fourth in the WAFL, reached the semi finals of the VFL night series with wins over Geelong (by 5 points) and Hawthorn (by 32 points). The fact that Geelong went on to secure the VFL minor premiership in 1980 bears stark testimony to the quality of Claremont's football.  

Equally impressively, in the same competition eventual WAFL premiers South Fremantle handed out a 23.19 (157) to 9.12 (66) hiding to reigning VFL premiers Carlton before bowing out by 39 points in the next round against Essendon in Melbourne. Had the game with the Bombers been played in the west, however, there is little doubt that a different result would have obtained.

With teams of this calibre on their doorstep it is small wonder that Western Australian football fans turned out in record numbers to witness the opening round of the 1980 WAFL season. In a round which was split between Easter Saturday and Easter Monday, a total of 51,042 spectators paid to view some scintillating football, none more so than that provided by John Todd's Swan Districts, which laid down the gauntlet for the forthcoming season in style with a 111 point annihilation of 1979 premiers East Fremantle.

Swans it was who rapidly emerged as the team to beat in 1980, winning their first 13 games in succession before going under to virtually the only team which would prove to have their measure all year, South Fremantle. The Bulldogs, coached by former East Perth champion Mal Brown, finished the season just as impressively as Swan Districts had started it, winning their final 12 games in a row to qualify for the finals in second place, just 1 win behind the rampant Swans.

The second semi final between the 2 sides was tough and closely fought, with South Fremantle emerging winners by just 10 points. In the following week's preliminary final, Swan Districts emphasised the gap in class between the top two and the rest with a crushing 28.13 (181) to 15.15 (105) defeat of East Perth. 

With both grand finalists favouring a skilful, free running style of football the scene was set for a classic encounter.  Although flag favourites South Fremantle led 3-1 in head to head meetings between the sides during 1980, there was no doubt that Swans had both the necessary mental capacity, and the players, to overturn the odds.  Among these players were: flamboyant full forward Simon Beasley, who had netted 82 goals during the qualifying rounds, and had already added a further 13 in his side's 2 finals to date; the classy Narkle brothers, Keith and Phil; tough, clever and tenacious on baller Gerard Neesham; talented half forward Don Holmes; and smooth running defender Craig Holden.

South Fremantle, coached by a larger than life figure in the shape of “Mad” Malcolm Brown, too possessed an abundance of talented individuals, most notably a scintillating quartet of aboriginals in the shape of 1980 Sandover Medallist Stephen Michael, live-wire wingman Benny Vigona, the dazzlingly skilful Maurice Rioli, and energetic and combative utility Basil Campbell.  South's captain, Noel Carter, who had finished second to Michael in the 1980 Sandover count, gave the side considerable experience and know how, which was augmented by former Victorians in the shape of Derek Shaw (ex Collingwood) and Wayne Delmenico (ex Melbourne).  In addition, the southerners' grand final team had been boosted by the return after a bout of glandular fever of an 18 year old flame-haired prodigy called Brad Hardie, who would make a significant, if brief, contribution to the game, before going on to even greater things in future.

A crowd of 46,208 turned up for the grand final expecting a similarly close tussle to the second semi, but when the Bulldogs rattled up 8.7 to 1.5 in the second term the contest was effectively over. Live-wire South centreman Maurice Rioli won the Simpson Medal for best afield, while rover Noel Carter, centre half back Joe McKay, ruckman Stephen Michael, wingman Benny Vigona and centre half forward Wayne Delmenico were among the others to shine. 

Somewhat surprisingly, the 1980 grand final represented the zenith of South Fremantle's achievements under Malcolm Brown who coached the side from 1978 to 1984. In 1981, the side again reached the grand final, but effectively kicked itself out of contention, registering 12.24 (96) to Claremont's 16.15 (111).  Thereafter, however, with the exception of an unconsummated minor premiership in 1983, the Bulldogs returned to the fold.

Swan Districts, by contrast, would emerge as Western Australian football's dominant side of the early '80s, perfecting the pacy, tenacious run on game which had been witnessed in embryonic form in the 1980 grand final, and winning three successive premierships between 1982 and 1984. The supreme irony from South Fremantle's point of view, of course, was that Swan Districts' mentor during this halcyon phase was former red and white legend John Todd.

As for Western Australian football itself, the decline brought about by player leakage to the VFL would rapidly accelerate, so that when the West Coast Eagles, containing a predominance of local players, entered the prototype national competition in 1987 it proved incapable of anything more than mid-table mediocrity.  Had a composite Perth-based side been admitted to the VFL as early as 1980, however, it seems logical to assume, given the preponderance of local talent then available, that it would have challenged strongly for the premiership, a state of affairs which would not have gone down at all well with the VFL's parochially purblind authorities who, even at that point in time, were plotting an interstate expansion of their competition, one which would be undertaken in a spirit of unmitigated conquest and control rather than co-operation.[3]

South Fremantle’s Stephen Michael had all the attributes of the complete footballer.  His strength and prodigious springing ability meant that he could compete on more than equal terms with opposition ruckman, while his pace, poise and consummate ball skills enabled him to beat virtually any opponent at ground level.  Added to these attributes was an astonishing consistency which saw him rarely fail to perform to standard.

Over the course of eleven seasons with South Stephen Michael played 243 games, and achieved virtually everything the game at the time had to offer.  Sandover Medallist in 1980 and 1981 he also won a Tassie Medal and five club fairest and best awards. He was named in the 1983 All Australian team as captain, and was a prominent member of South Fremantle's 1980 premiership team.

Not surprisingly, Michael received a large number of offers to move to other clubs, with Geelong's approaches being especially persistent. In an era when the concept of loyalty was increasingly being undermined by the influx into the game, for the first time, of appreciable sums of money, Michael stayed faithful to the Bulldogs throughout his career.

An injury sustained in a shooting accident in October 1983 was to impede Michael over the remaining two seasons of his WAFL career, as well as his single season with Boulder City in 1986, and the odd game he played while coaching Collie side Mines Rovers during the early nineties.  The best was over and, like another football great who resisted the overtures of VFL clubs, Barrie Robran, Michael's football career ended prematurely.  For half a dozen seasons though, there were few who could match him.

Fast on the lead, strong in the air, and an accurate kick, Simon Beasley was one of the most effective full forwards of the 1980s. He first caught the eye at Swan Districts, where he topped the club's goal kicking list with 97 goals in 1980 and 119 the following year. He crossed to Footscray in 1982, just as Swans were about to embark on a sequence of three successive premierships. The Bulldogs, by contrast, never looked like winning a flag, but Beasley's heroics at the goal front ensured that the club was often in the headlines. In 154 VFL games between 1982 and 1989 he booted a club record 575 goals, heading the league ladder with 105 goals in 1985, and topping Footscray's list every season except his last. On three occasions he booted 12 goals in a match, with his success being attributable more to persistence and determination than any innate natural ability. He played 4 interstate matches for Western Australia, booting 9 goals. In 2002, Simon Beasley was chosen, one presumes almost automatically, at full forward in Western Bulldogs’ Team of the Century.

South Fremantle and Swans were head and shoulders above every other WAFL team in 1980. Swans emphasised this when they amassed 28.13 (181) against East Perth in the preliminary final - and this despite taking their foot off the accelerator in the last term. The Royals had earlier downed Claremont by 32 points in the first semi final after scores had been deadlocked at three quarter time. The Royals won just 11 minor round matches for the season and scraped into fourth place on the ladder ahead of West Perth only on percentage.

Claremont won 13 minor round games to qualify for the finals in third place, but the Tigers then wilted when it mattered against East Perth in the first semi final. The club was most definitely on an upward trajectory, however, engendered by players like  ruckman Graham Moss, who won his fourth straight club fairest and best award in 1980, young centreman Steve Malaxos, the explosive Krakauer brothers, Phil and Jim, and dogged and courageous utility Wayne Blackwell.

West Perth went into their round twenty-one clash with arch rivals East Perth needing a big win to leapfrog the Royals and claim fourth spot on the ladder and a place in the finals. The Cardies ultimately won the match, but their victory margin of 30 points was nowhere near big enough to provide them with the necessary percentage boost. The 1980s would prove to be a predominantly bleak decade for West Perth who would only contest the finals three times and not finish higher than third.

Sixth placed Perth managed just 7 wins to finish a long way off the pace. Their best performances came against East Perth in rounds five and twelve when they won by 24 and 37 points.

Reigning premiers East Fremantle plummeted to seventh spot after winning just 5 of their 21 minor round games. There is no doubt that the club was heavily hit by injuries but such an alarming slump suggests there may also have been a prevailing attitude of complacency.

Wooden spooners Subiaco were competition easy beats for much of the season and only managed to defeat East Fremantle in round seven and West Perth in round fifteen. Many of their losses were hefty, and they conceded in excess of 3,000 points for the season. Better fortunes would not be long in arriving, however.

VFA: Borough Do It At the Death

Coburg dominated play against Port Melbourne for almost three and a half quarters of a low scoring 1980 VFA first division grand final. The Lions led at every change by 15, 17 and 17 points before eking out a 20 point advantage ten minutes into the final term. Then, inexplicably, Port found another gear. Stymied all day across half forward and well beaten in the air the Boroughs, to a man, lifted and seized the initiative. During the run in Port booted 6 goals to 2 to win by 11 points, 11.15 (81) to 10.10 (70).

The second division grand final between Brunswick and Yarraville was a closely fought affair for two quarters, at which stage the Magpies led by 8 points. Thereafter, however, Brunswick dominated, and but for some wayward kicking for goal might have won by considerably more than their eventual victory margin of 49 points. It was the Magpies’ fifth VFA flag and their second in second division.

Other Grand Finals

In the TANFL Hobart won their eighth senior grade premiership when they accounted for Glenorchy in the grand final. Both sides had 23 scoring shots but Hobart won by 35 points, 14.9 (93) to 7.16 (58). In the north of the state premiership success was achieved by North Launceston (NTFA) and Penguin (NWFU).

The NSWAFL grand final was an extraordinarily one-sided affair with East Sydney running up a record score of 30.24 (204) in downing reigning premiers North Shore by 121 points.

Kedron won their seventh QAFL flag with a resounding 20.19 (139) to 13.13 (91) grand final victory over Coorparoo.  It would prove to be the Lions’ last ever such premiership triumph.

For the second successive year Ainslie won the ACTAFL premiership. Opposed in the grand final by Manuka, they eased home by 49 points, 21.10 (136) to 12.15 (87). The Tricolours were unbeaten all year.

In  the NTFL grand final Darwin scored a comfortable 12.11 (83) to 6.10 (46) defeat of North Darwin.

Interstate Football

It was a particularly busy season on the interstate football front. In addition to the state of origin carnival (covered above) another eight interstate fixtures took place with all states and territories apart from the Northern Territory taking part. Seven of these fixtures were inter-league affairs with the Victoria-Western Australia match in Melbourne being conducted under state of origin rules. Victoria won this game by 21 points, 18.15 (123) to 15.12 (102).

One of the biggest interstate football shocks of all time took place in Canberra where the ACT overcame a star-studded VFL combination, captained by 1978 Brownlow Medallist Malcolm Blight, by 13 points. Scores were ACT 13.17 (95) defeated VFL 11.16 (82).

Earlier in the year the ACT had taken on New South Wales in an Escort Cup match at Wagga. New South Wales won by 41 points, 17.10 (112) to 10.11 (71).

South Australia engaged in three fixtures in 1980, all at Football Park. All three matches were won fairly comfortably, against Queensland (margin 198 points), Western Australia (81 points) and the VFA (30 points).

Perhaps surprisingly, Queensland fared rather better against the VFL than they did against South Australia losing by “just” 80 points. The match was played at Brisbane, which may have helped the Queenslanders a little, but it was nevertheless a meritorious performance which showed just how much the game in Queensland was improving.

Grand final results - VFL: Richmond 23.21 (159) d. Collingwood 9.24 (78); SANFL: Port Adelaide 11.15 (81) d. Norwood 9.9 (63); WAFL: South Fremantle 23.18 (156) d. Swan Districts 15.8 (98); VFA: Division One - Port Melbourne 11.15 (81) d. Coburg 10.10 (70); Division Two - Brunswick 20.27 (147) d. Yarraville 14.14 (98); TANFL: Hobart 14.9 (93) d. Glenorchy 7.16 (58); NTFA: North Launceston 15.13 (103) d. City-South 11.13 (79); NSWAFL: East Sydney 30.24 (204) d. North Shore 12.11 (83); NTFL: Darwin 12.11 (83) d. North Darwin 6.10 (46); QAFL: Kedron 20.19 (139) d. Coorparoo 13.13 (91); NWFU: Penguin 12.11 (83) d. Wynyard 11.5 (71); ACTAFL: Ainslie 21.10 (136) d. Manuka 12.15 (87).

Adelaide State of Origin Carnival results - Semi Finals: South Australia 22.18 (150) d. Tasmania 8.13 (61); Victoria 14.20 (104) d. Western Australia 9.15 (69); 3rd Place Play Off: Western Australia 17.23 (125) d. Tasmania 12.18 (90); Final: Victoria 15.12 (102) d. South Australia 12.13 (85)


[1] South Australian National Football League Annual Report 1980, page 2.

[2] For comparison, the three minor round clashes between the two sides had resulted in wins to Port by margins of 108, 90 and 55 points.

[3] At the end of the 1980 season, East Perth submitted an application to field a team in the VFL. In typically arrogant fashion, the VFL peremptorily declined the application, and returned it to the Royals without comment, clearly implying that the promulgation of any formal response on their part would be conferring a credibility on the application which it did not warrant - in other words, it was beneath their (imagined) dignity.

A Review of the 1980 Football Season

BACK TO:   Season Reviews 2

Stephen Michael (South Fremantle)

Richmond's Kevin Bartlett