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North Adelaide's Grenville Dietrich marks against South Adelaide in the 1983 SANFL elimination final.

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VFL: On Fire Hawks Obliterate Bombers

Allan Jeans was a man with a formidable coaching pedigree. During a sixteen year stint at St Kilda he had masterminded that club's most successful ever period, including a first (and to this date only) premiership in 1966, and two other grand final appearances in 1965 and 1971. In 1980 Jeans was forty-seven years old and was coaching the New South Wales state side. Hawthorn President Ron Cook had earlier worked with Jeans when both men had had connections with the Victorian state side, Jeans as coach and Cook as chairman of selectors, and Cook was extremely keen to see Jeans appointed to the Hawthorn post. Other names bandied about by the media included Peter Hudson, and former Richmond champion Kevin Sheedy, but in the end it was Cook's judgement which held sway. "We wanted a fresh face, but someone mature and stable, someone who was terribly keen, who wanted to prove himself again,”[1] said Cook. As subsequent events were to show, the Hawks got precisely what they wished for.

After improving slightly in 1981 (13 wins for the year and sixth place on the ladder), the Hawks re-joined the September action in 1982 when they got as far as the preliminary final before succumbing to eventual premiers, Carlton. The Hawks were looking ominous again, and their achievements over the course of the next decade were to outstrip anything previously accomplished. By 1983 the Jeans roller coaster was hurtling along at full throttle and, in the grand final of that year, Essendon were the hapless recipients of a record 83 point mauling. Club captain Leigh Matthews led the way with 6 goals from a forward pocket, while pacy Tasmanian on baller Colin Robertson won the Norm Smith Medal for best afield. The half back line of Russell Greene, Mick McCarthy and John Kennedy junior was virtually impassable all day, while ruck rover Michael Tuck, centreman Terry Wallace, full back Chris Mew and back pocket Gary Ayres were others to star. The 1983 premiership was achieved by a side playing a brand of football which summarised Jeans' attitude to the game; every issue was contested to the ultimate, and the Bombers were almost contemptuously knocked out of their stride by a team which functioned like a well-oiled, impeccably serviced machine. It may not have been pretty football in the classical sense, but there was no denying it was impressive, at times almost awesome, to watch.

The appointment as Essendon coach of former Prahran and Richmond champion Kevin Sheedy in 1981 had heralded a change of fortune for the beleaguered club. Sheedy, a veteran of 251 games with the Tigers, had actually barracked for Essendon as a boy, and indeed the Bombers had previously sought to appoint him as coach as early as 1976.

Under Sheedy, in 1981 the Bombers won an unprecedented 15 home and away matches in a row between rounds 7 and 21. They also won 3 consecutive night series games during the same period, including a 24 point victory over eventual day premiers Carlton in the night grand final. The finals proved a major disappointment, however, with Essendon bowing out to Fitzroy, a team which often seemed to have Essendon's measure during this period, in the elimination final.

The 1982 season ended in similar fashion with North Melbourne ousting the Bombers from premiership contention in the elimination final, 19.14 (128) to 16.19 (115). In 1983, however, the Sheedy formula finally appeared to be working, and finals defeats of Carlton (by 33 points), Fitzroy (by 23 points) and North Melbourne (by 86 points) gave the club its first grand final appearance for 15 years. Once there, however, the Bombers lost the plot completely, succumbing to Hawthorn by a humiliating 83 points in one of the most embarrassingly one sided premiership deciders of all time. "I hope you're hurt," said Sheedy at the club's post match function. Sheedy himself most certainly was, and in 1984 he would ensure that everyone connected with the club embarked together on a single-minded crusade to erase the memories of the 1983 debacle.

After finishing fourth in 1982 North Melbourne went one better a year later but derived no satisfaction from the achievement. Far from it in fact, for having claimed the minor premiership, their finals form was woeful and they bowed out of contention meekly with straight sets losses to Hawthorn and Essendon. Ross Glendinning’s success in claiming the Brownlow Medal would have only provided minimal consolation at best.

Shortly after joining East Perth under the father-son rule (Dad Angus played 69 games for the Royals in 1941 and from 1945 to 1951) Ross Glendinning made his WANFL debut on ANZAC Day 1974 against Subiaco, and immediately seemed right at home.  Solidly built, he was nevertheless extremely quick, could take a grab, and kicked beautifully with both feet.

In 1975 he finished as a runner up to team mate Alan Quartermaine in the Sandover Medal and VFL talent scouts began to take notice.  Courted by several Victorian clubs, Glendinning ultimately opted to join North Melbourne in time for the 1977 season, but East Perth, understandably, refused to clear him.  Having played only 46 WANFL games the Royals' hierarchy felt that Glendinning owed them at least another season, and so, after sitting out of the game until July, the prodigal son returned to play out the remainder of the year with East Perth.  The understanding was that, in return for this comparatively meagre display of loyalty, Glendinning would be cleared to the Kangaroos in 1978, and this indeed was what transpired.

Sadly for Glendinning, playing the 1977 season with East Perth instead of North Melbourne meant involvement in a losing WANFL grand final team rather than, possibly, a VFL premiership.  Glendinning did get to front up at the MCG on that 'one day in September' the following year, but North lost to Hawthorn, and it would be the club's last grand final appearance for two decades.

Possessing all the physical attributes necessary to succeed, the only question mark was over his mental qualities.  Here, too, however, it soon emerged that North Melbourne had procured a winner.  If beaten early, he would almost invariably fight back with tenacity and resolve; only seldom - if ever - was Glendinning comprehensively beaten over four quarters of football.

Twice North Melbourne's club champion, Glendinning also caught the eyes of the umpires, finishing 2nd in the 1982 Brownlow, and winning the award the following year.  He proved himself extremely versatile, playing in a number of positions with the 'Roos, although it would probably be fair to suggest that he was most widely renowned as a defender.

Ross Glendinning was a regular interstate representative, and, with 13 appearances, holds the record for the most state of origin games for Western Australia. 

In 1987 he returned to his home state to join the newly formed West Coast Football Club which would be participating in the VFL that year.  Playing mainly in key forward roles he topped the Eagles' goal kicking list in both 1987 and 1988, before retiring.

Ross Glendinning's auspicious league career involved a total of 286 games comprising 56 for East Perth, 190 for North Melbourne, and 40 with the Eagles.

He was chosen at centre half back in both the Kangaroos' official Team of the Century and East Perth's equivalent combination for the period from 1945 to 2005.

Under the astute and innovative coaching of ex Carltonian Robert Walls Fitzroy were a force to be reckoned with in the early 1980s. Walls came up with some ground-breaking ideas of which perhaps the most celebrated and successful was the implementation of “huddle” tactics when the ball was being brought back into play from the goal square after a behind had been scored.

In its most basic form a group of players would gather at centre half-back after an opposition behind, leaving the flanks vacant. Most teams were taught to play man-on-man at all times, so they knew their opponents would invariably follow them into the huddle. A Fitzroy player, aided by blocks from his teammates, would then break into the open space to receive an uncontested mark from the kick-in. The player kicking in, who was usually Grant Lawrie or Gary Pert, would hold the ball in either his left or right hand to signal which side it was going to.[2]

This innovation “took the VFL by storm”[3] not least because it was so hard to counter. Walls also took steps to ensure his players were not only extremely fit but fit in ways which enabled them to play better football. For instance, sprint sessions were tailored to replicate the demands of actually playing in a game rather than simply to improve general aerobic fitness.

In 1983 Fitzroy qualified for the finals in third place after winning 15 out of 22 home and away matches. Some of the wins were quite amazing. For instance, in round thirteen Fitzroy, standing third on the ladder, fronted up to top team North Melbourne at the Junction Oval and handed out the mother and father of all hidings to the hapless Kangaroos. Final scores were Fitzroy 34.16 (220) to North 10.10 (70), a victory margin of an incredible 150 points. Fitzroy’s 1981 Brownlow Medallist Bernie Quinlan was the VFL’s top goal kicker for 1983. He booted 116 goals.

Once the finals started the Lions were competitive but unfortunate. In the qualifying final they ran Hawthorn mighty close, finishing strongly and losing a high scoring thriller by just 4 points. In the following week’s first semi final against Essendon the roles were reversed with the Bombers finishing all over Fitzroy after the latter had led by 7 points at the final change.

Carlton finished with a 13-9 record to qualify for the finals in fifth place. However, the reigning premiers then bowed out of the flag race against Essendon surprisingly meekly, scoring just 4 second half goals to 4 to go down by 33 points. The Blues did have the distinction of claiming their first ever night flag, however. Opposed in the final by arch rivals Richmond, the team they had beaten in the previous season’s grand final, they eased home by 34 points, 14.16 (100) to 10.6 (66). The match, which was played at VFL Park, was watched by 32,927 spectators.

Collingwood finished a win plus percentage outside the five. The Magpies scored some big wins, but these were mostly against fellow non-finalists; when opposed by leading sides they tended to be outgunned.

Seventh placed Footscray managed 10 wins, 2 fewer than Collingwood. The Bulldogs managed to defeat Fitzroy twice and Hawthorn and Carlton both once, but also suffered some calamitous hidings, including a 132 point reversal at the hands of Essendon at Windy Hill in round six, and a 115 point loss to North Melbourne two rounds later.

Melbourne had an mediocre season, winning 9 and losing 13 matches. The Demons were consistently capable of defeating the teams ranked below them on the premiership ladder, but their only win against a top five side came in round fifteen against Carlton at Princes Park. After a closely fought first half the Dees pulled away to win convincingly by 39 points, 15.16 (106) to 9.13 (67).

Geelong began the season well with 4 straight wins but only managed another 4 for the year. Best of these were probably their defeats of Carlton by 10 points in round six and Hawthorn by 7 points in round eleven. The Cats were the away team in both fixtures.

Richmond, runners-up in 1982, tumbled down the list to tenth a year later after managing just 7 wins. The Tigers began the season with 5 consecutive defeats before scoring an upset win, by 3 goals, against Hawthorn in round six. They also claimed a massive 74 point win over Essendon in  round eighteen, but overall it was an immensely forgettable season for the men in black and yellow. At season’s end the Tigers’ champion rover and forward Kevin Bartlett announced his retirement after 403 VFL games.

The club formerly known as South Melbourne, and referred to simply as Swans in 1982, was this season renamed Sydney, thereby indicating, or at least strongly implying, that the Harbour City was to be its long term home. The team proved quite difficult to beat at the SCG where they were victorious 6 times out of 11, but away from home they were successful only once, against Geelong at Kardinia Park in round eight. Among the tall timber they toppled on home turf were Essendon by a point in round one and Fitzroy by 30 points in round fifteen.

St Kilda won just 5 matches to end up with what would prove the first of four successive wooden spoons.  The hapless Saints lost their first 8 matches of the season before downing Richmond. Between rounds fifteen and seventeen they produced their best football of the season overcoming, in turn, as they overcame Geelong at Kardinia Park, Sydney at Moorabbin the following week, and Fitzroy at the Junction Oval. Perhaps their best win of the year came in round twenty at VFL Park when they trounced Richmond by 75 points. 

WAFL: Back to Back Flags for Swans

Just as in 1982 Swan Districts finished the 1983 minor round with 16 wins but this time round this was not good enough to procure the double chance. Undaunted by this, however, the Swans then proceeded to display some of their best football of the season to overwhelm East Fremantle by 59 points in the first semi final and minor premiers South Fremantle by 74 points in the preliminary final to qualify for a third consecutive premiership play off. Once again the opposition was provided by Claremont, and once again Swan Districts proved too strong, leading at every change by 10, 23 and 30 points before consolidating in the final term to run out winners by 21 points, 15.14 (104) to 12.11 (83). A crowd of 47,760 spectators saw rover Brad Shine win the Simpson Medal with sterling support from ruckman Peter Sartori, back pocket Bill Skwirowski, centre half back Murray Rance, ruck rover Jon Fogarty and half back flanker Don Langsford.

Second after the minor round Claremont moved straight into their third straight grand final thanks to a 21 point defeat of a wayward South Fremantle. The Tigers won 20.11 (131) to 14.26 (110). Their opponents in the grand final proved to be Swan Districts whom Claremont had defeated in two out of three minor round meetings between the sides, but on this occasion Swans were comfortably superior. Claremont full forward Warren Ralph booted a personal best tally of 128 goals for the season to top the WAFL goal kicking ladder for the third successive time. Ralph’s senior football career is summarised in the entry for the 1981 season.

After losing only 3 out of 21 home and away matches South Fremantle suffered a disappointing and inexplicable fade out in the finals, losing first to Claremont by a 21 point margin which in truth probably flattered them, and then by 74 points to Swan Districts. The next few seasons would be very bleak for South.

East Fremantle were very much the ugly ducklings of the 1983 WAFL finals series. The side managed just 10 minor round wins, which was 6 fewer than the team which qualified in third place, Swan Districts. True to form, Swans prevailed in the first semi final with considerable comfort, leading at every change by 31, 27 and 64 points en route to a 21.25 (151) to 13.14 (92) triumph. Better fortunes lay just around the corner for the Sharks as East Fremantle became known in this year.

East Perth’s round twenty-one clash with East Fremantle at East Fremantle Oval was a de facto elimination final with the winners guaranteed a berth in the top four. The Sharks it was who triumphed, pulling away after a closely fought first half to win by 49 points. The highlight of the season for the Royals was John Ironmonger’s Sandover Medal win.

Massively built at 200cm and 105kg, Ironmonger was a tap ruckman par excellence who made his league debut with East Perth in 1980, having been recruited from Margaret River. Less imposing and adept in his general field play than he was when engaged in straight ruck contests, Ironmonger nevertheless caught the eyes of the men in white with sufficient frequency to secure the 1983 Sandover Medal. Widely expected to join Richmond in 1984, he actually ended up in Sydney with the Swans, where he added 54 VFL games over the ensuing three years to the 62 WAFL appearances he had accumulated with the Royals. He finished his career by producing some of his most consistent and telling football during an injury-interrupted four season, 43 game stint with Fitzroy. John Ironmonger represented his state, Western Australia, on 4 occasions.

After finishing a creditable third in 1982 West Perth dropped down the list to sixth after winning just 7 matches. The Falcons’ opening to the season was solid enough as they won 3 of their first 4 games. Thereafter, however, they produced good football only spasmodically.

Subiaco (4-17) and Perth (3-18) finished ‘way off the pace in 1983. Things would soon improve for the Lions, and although they most emphatically would not for the Demons, paradoxically they would still have have reason to celebrate the ’83 footy season - eventually.

Armadale boy Bryan Cousins made his league debut with Perth in 1970, the same season that saw him win the club's fairest and best trophy at reserves level, and went on to become one of the club's most noteworthy and respected performers.  Dynamic, pacy and a penetrative kick, he won the Demons' fairest and best award in 1972, and played in the centre in the losing grand final of 1974 against East Fremantle.  In 1975 he moved to VFL club Geelong where he spent five seasons and played 67 games.  For most of that time he played as a rover/forward pocket and enjoyed only modest success, but in his final season he was a highly conspicuous contributor from a wing.  He continued to play good football when he returned to Perth in 1980 although he had had the bad fortune to miss the club's halcyon spell of the late 1970s.  He won a second club fairest and best award in 1982, the same season that saw him assume the senior team captaincy, a role he retained for three years.  In 1983 he lost the Sandover Medal to East Perth's John Ironmonger on a countback; fourteen years later he joined all other such runners-up in being awarded a retrospective Medal by the Westar Rules authorities.  Cousins continued playing with the Demons until 1987, by which time he had amassed 238 senior games for the club.  After playing as a centreman or on-baller for the majority of his career, he developed into a solid, rebounding back pocket player in his later years.  Somewhat surprisingly, Bryan Cousins made just one interstate appearance for Western Australia, against South Australia at Subiaco in 1985.

SANFL: Brilliant Bloods

West Adelaide’s first senior grade premiership for twenty-two years was orchestrated by the same man who had masterminded their 1961 triumph, Neil Kerley. Under his expert and inspirational tutelage the Bloods were imposing and worthy premiers. After winning 18 of their 22 minor round matches to top the ladder West comfortably accounted for Norwood in the second semi final with scores of 24.16 (160) to 13.8 (86), a victory margin of 74 points. This was despite the absence through injury of the player who would later win the Trebilsie Medal as West’s best and fairest player for the season, ruckman Mark Mickan. In the grand final, which Mickan also missed, the Bloods were opposed by Sturt, and after trailing narrowly at the first change they again dominated, winning in the end by 34 points, 21.16 (142) to 16.12 (108). It was arguably the most dominant of their eight league premierships up to that point. Ruck rover and skipper Ian Borchard won the Jack Oatey Medal for best afield, and he was ably assisted by Geoff Morris, Peter Meuret, Leon Grosser, Randall Bennett and John Kantiflas, among others. The grand final was watched by 47,129 spectators, the lowest attendance at a premiership decider since 1962.

Second after the minor round Sturt overcame the setback of a losing qualifying final against Norwood to turn the tables on the Redlegs when the sides met again a fortnight later in the preliminary final. In between the Double Blues comfortably overcame the challenge of North Adelaide in the first semi final.

The qualifying final was a match that Sturt really ought to have won. Ahead by 4 goals at three quarter time of a low scoring contest they seemed home and hosed but the Redlegs surged back and ultimately took the spoils by 4 points, 13.12 (90) to 12.14 (86). The preliminary final was a close affair for two quarters at the end of which Norwood enjoyed a 6 point advantage. This time, however, it was Sturt who produced a dominant finish, adding 9 third quarter goals to 3 and then another 6 as against 4 in the final term to ease home by 44 points, 23.8 (146) to 15.12 (102). The grand final clash with West proved a bridge too far, though, despite the fact that the Blues battled hard until the end.

If he is probably best remembered today for his Herculean performance for Sturt against Port Adelaide in the 1976 SANFL grand final, Rick Davies nevertheless enjoyed numerous other highlights during the course of his 370 game league career with three clubs.  Far and away the majority of those games (317) were played with the Double Blues, for whom he made his debut as an eighteen year old during a 1970 season that brought the club the last of its extraordinary, near record breaking sequence of five premierships.  Davies did not participate in that season's winning grand final against Glenelg, but from 1971 he became a regular fixture in a Sturt team that would spend the next three seasons re-building before re-emerging as the state's definitive football force in 1974.  

Having played much of his early football as a forward, Davies had developed into a top notch ruckman by the time of the 1974 grand final which saw the Double Blues overcome the challenge of reigning premier Glenelg by 15 points.  Davies was a widespread choice as best afield that day, the perfect consummation of a season which had also seen him claim the second of an eventual seven club best and fairest awards.

Two years later, the SANFL grand final saw a Sturt side which, in the public imagination at least, occupied the role of 'David', fronting up to Port Adelaide's 'Goliath' in front of an all time record crowd officially given as 66,897, but almost certainly at least 10,000 more.  It proved to be one of the most memorable afternoons in South Australian football, with Davies' deceptively casual 21 kick, 21 handball, 15 mark, 21 hit-out performance the most eye-catchingly significant feature of the Double Blues' eventual 41 point win.  "From the beginning of 1974 to the end of 1976 he (Davies) controlled every match he played in," recalled team mate Phil 'Sandy' Nelson years later.  "For those 60 or 70 games he had football by the short and curlies.  Very few people could do that.  Rick did it." [4]

When Sturt next contested a grand final, in 1978, Rick Davies was again prominent, but on this occasion it was Norwood which assumed the role of indefatigable underdog to perfection in scoring an improbable come from behind victory by the narrowest margin.

Despite the fact that he was clearly nearing the end of his career, Davies opted to spend the 1981 season with Hawthorn in the VFL.  Playing mainly as a forward pocket, he booted 37 goals in 20 games and, if his abilities had dimmed somewhat since his halcyon phase of the mid-1970s, he nevertheless looked totally at home in a competition which was on a fast track towards unrivalled national pre-eminence.

The closing seasons of Davies' league career saw him acquire a new reputation as one of the most damaging key position forwards around, topping Sturt's goal kicking list every year from 1982-4, and that of South Adelaide, where he went as captain-coach after Don Scott was sacked in 1985, both that year and the next.  In 1983, he topped the SANFL's goal kicking with 151 goals, a new league record.

A regular South Australian interstate representative (20 appearances) in both the pre- and post-state of origin eras, Davies was selected as captain of the 1980 All Australian team after that year's Adelaide carnival.  His inclusion in Sturt's official Team of the Century as first ruckman was presumably almost automatic.

Reigning premiers Norwood dropped to third in 1983 after failing to reproduce the consistently high performance level of the previous year. The Redlegs were favourites to defeat Sturt in the preliminary final having earlier downed them in the qualifying final. However, they proved unable to contain Double Blues full forward Rick Davies who booted 10 goals to help his team to a 44 point win.

Fifth after the minor round North Adelaide comfortably downed South Adelaide in the elimination final but then were no match for Sturt in the following week’s first semi. Nevertheless it was a promising season for the Roosters who had not qualified for the major round since 1975.

There are many footballers who, despite enormous natural ability and all or most of the right mental ingredients, ultimately encounter so many obstacles outside of their control that they fail to realise more than a modicum of their potential.  One such footballer, arguably, was Tony Antrobus.

Blessed with tremendous pace, immense skill and a well harnessed aggressive impulse, Antrobus exploded onto the SANFL scene with three appearances for North Adelaide in 1981.  'Exploded' is not an overstatement - in each of those three appearances, Antrobus was rated as best afield by the field umpires, accumulating 9 Magarey Medal votes as a consequence.  The following season, however, he was beset by a succession of niggling injuries, and played only intermittently.

In 1983, Antrobus and North Adelaide played some stellar football, with 'the Ant', as he became known, becoming the Roosters' tenth Magarey Medallist.[5]  Unfortunately, he was prevented by recurring injuries from building on his success in either of the next two seasons, but in 1986 he enjoyed another excellent year, persuading Essendon, which had secured his signature as long ago as 1982, to invite him over to Windy Hill in time for the 1987 season.

In five seasons in the VFL Antrobus endured a horrendous time, and managed only 28 games - 22 with the Bombers, and half a dozen in 1991 with St Kilda.  In addition to the constant niggling injuries which had plagued him almost throughout his senior career, he began to acquire a reputation as something of a larrikin, earning himself six visits to the Tribunal and the modified nickname of 'The Angry Ant'.  It was the injuries, however, which ultimately brought an untimely end to Antrobus' career.  He returned for one last season with North Adelaide in 1992, but the sparkle was well and truly gone, and he retired at the end of the year.

At his prime, and injury free, Tony Antrobus had the ability to hurt teams with his sure handling, exceptional speed and bite around the goalmouth.  No lesser experts than Barrie Robran and Jim Deane (with five Magarey Medals between them) rated the dual-sided Antrobus as the fastest footballer they had seen over the first ten metres. [6]

This was an assessment with which the committee responsible for selecting North Adelaide's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century' obviously concurred, given that they saw fit to include 'the Ant' in the side ahead of such fine players as Terry Von Bertouch, Darel Hart, Geoff Marsh, Darcy Cox, Harold Pash, Josh Francou and Haydn Bunton junior.

South Adelaide performed commendably up to the finals but then were unceremoniously ousted from the flag race by North Adelaide. In front of a meagre crowd of 17,535 spectators the Panthers managed to keep in touch on the scoreboard until half time but were then blown away as the Roosters added 11 third quarter goals to 1. North eventually won by 40 points, 20.13 (133) to 14.9 (93).

Port Adelaide failed to contest the finals for the first time since 1969. The Magpies began the season reasonably well, winning 6 of their first 8 matches, but thereafter the wheels fell off quite spectacularly and they managed only 4 more wins for the year. For first year coach Russell Ebert it was a sobering baptism.

Glenelg dropped from second in 1982 to seventh after losing their first 8 matches and overall managing just 9 wins. The Tigers could still compete with the best though as they proved with defeats during the second half of the season of the likes of West Adelaide, Norwood and Sturt.

The bottom three of Central District, West Torrens and Woodville were significantly weaker than the other teams in the competition and finished well off the pace.

VFA: Bullants Bounce Back

Devastated and despondent after the 1982 VFA first division grand final which saw them lose to Port Melbourne by 7 points, Preston reacted in the best possible fashion by again reaching the grand final and this time emerging triumphant. opposed by Geelong West, the Bullants led narrowly at every change in securing a 14.10 (94) to 12.15 (87) success. Preston ruckman Geoff Austen won the inaugural Norm Goss Memorial Medal for the best player afield in the first division grand final. Centreman Rob McEwan, centre half forward Paul Bolger and 6 goal forward pocket John Bourke were also prominent.

The Roosters played well in defeat, particularly in the last fifteen minutes of the game when their repeated use of incisive, intelligent handball had the Bullants defence in disarray. Had they used similar tactics earlier in the match the result might well have been different.

The Second division grand final saw Springvale and Brunswick in opposition. The ‘Vales, in only their second season in the VFA, claimed the premiership with a 17.9 (111) to 13.16 (94) win. It was a fiery contest, with four Brunswick players being reported. The ‘Wicks had their chances to win in the final term but kicked execrably for goal - 2.7 as opposed to 2.3.

Other States and Territories

In Hobart, Glenorchy romped to victory over New Norfolk in the TFL grand final to claim their first senior grade flag since 1975. It was the Magpies’ eleventh league premiership.

Meanwhile in northern Tasmania captured the NTFA premiership thanks to a 14.14 (98) to 10.10 (70) grand final defeat of Longford. The NWFU flag went to Smithton after a bone fide classic of a grand final. Opposed by Cooee the Saints won by a single point, 20.17 (137) to 21.10 (136). It was the club’s first NWFU premiership. It had been members of the competition from 1949 to 1951 and had rejoined in 1980.

In the QAFL Southport, playing in the competition for the first time, scored a surprise grand final triumph over Morningside. It would be the prelude to a sustained period of dominance for the Gold Coast based club.

East Sydney went top in the SFL downing Balmain by 38 points in the grand final. It was the Bulldogs’ fourth successive premiership.

Ainslie went back to back in the ACTAFL after overcoming Eastlake in the grand final by 32 points. It was the Tricolours’ thirteenth senior grade flag - which might be unlucky for some, but most emphatically would not for Ainslie.

In Darwin Wanders also won a second successive premiership after downing St Mary’s in the grand final by 11 points.

Interstate and Representative Football

The twenty second Australian interstate championship series was held, this time on round robin, 'mixed' basis featuring Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia only; Western Australia emerged as the undefeated winners. The two matches involving Victoria were played on a state of origin basis but the Western Australia-South Australia match was inter-league only. Results were:

  • South Australia 26.16 (172); Victoria 17.14 (116) in Adelaide
  • Western Australia 16.22 (118); Victoria 16.19 (115) in Perth
  • Western Australia 20.14 (134); South Australia 16.14 (110) in Perth

Section two of the championships was also held, with Queensland triumphing. Full results were:

  • Queensland 20.16 (136); New South Wales 17.20 (122) in Sydney
  • Tasmania 26.21 (177); New South Wales 13.9 (87) in Hobart
  • Queensland 20.15 (135); ACT 15.17 (107) in Brisbane
  • ACT 12.12 (84); New South Wales 9.12 (66) in Canberra
  • Tasmania 15.24 (114); ACT 15.9 (99) in Canberra
  • Queensland 13.23 (101); Tasmania 12.24 (96) in Hobart

Grand Final results - VFL: Hawthorn 20.20 (140) d. Essendon 8.9 (57); SANFL: West Adelaide 21.16 (142) d. Sturt 16.12 (108); WAFL: Swan Districts 15.14 (104) d. Claremont 12.11 (83); VFA: Division One - Preston 14.10 (94) d. Geelong West 12.15 (87); Division Two - Springvale 17.9 (111) d. Brunswick 13.16 (94); TANFL: Glenorchy 28.19 (187) d. New Norfolk 14.11 (95); NTFA: North Launceston 14.14 (98) d. Longford 10.10 (70); SFL: East Sydney 18.23 (131) d. Balmain 15.3 (93); NTFL: Wanderers 14.8 (92) d. St Marys 12.9 (81); QAFL: Southport 13.12 (90) d. Morningside 12.7 (79); NWFU: Smithton 20.17 (137) d. Cooee 21.10 (136); ACTAFL: Ainslie 18.13 (121) d. Eastlake 13.11 (89). 


[1] The Hard Way by Harry Gordon, page 190.

[2] Time and Space by James Coventry, page 246.

[3] Ibid, page 246.

[4] Quoted in True Blue: the History of the Sturt Football Club by John Lysikatos, page 255. 

[5] Technically, following Don Lindner's retrospective elevation to the ranks of Magarey Medallists in 1998, Antrobus should now be regarded as the eleventh North Adelaide recipient of the award. 

[6] North Adelaide's Greatest by the North Adelaide Football Club History Committee, page 14.

John Ironmonger (East Perth)

North Melbourne's Ross Glendinning

Preston's Geoff Austen, pictured earlier in his career when he was with VFL club Collingwood

Western Australia's Ron Boucher wins a ruck contest during his state's 3 point win over Victoria in a 1983 interstate championship series match at Subiaco Oval.

A Review of the 1983 Football Season