Herbert Harry Handby
3 September 1903
Place of birth
Adelaide, SA (5000)
2 October 1991
South Adelaide (1925)
State of origin
Hall of fame
South Australian Football Hall Of Fame (2002)
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Blessed (or laden) with the forenames ‘Herbert Harry’, but invariably referred to simply as ‘Jim’, Handby enjoyed a noteworthy league football career at two clubs. Beginning with South Adelaide in 1922, he quickly developed into one of the foremost defenders in South Australia, and when regular state half back flanker ‘Snowy’ Hamilton moved to Perth in 1923, Handby put his hand up as a ready made replacement.
In 1925, after 32 games in three seasons with South, Handby joined Glenelg, which had yet to procure a win in four seasons in league ranks, but after a brilliant Handby-inspired triumph over the previous year’s premier, West Torrens, in round one the Seasiders’ supporters could be forgiven for imagining that their new recruit was the football equivalent of a winning lottery ticket. Sadly, it did not quite prove that way, as Glenelg still had several years of apprenticeship to serve, but the fact that Handby himself was a footballer of the highest order became increasingly difficult to refute as he put in performance after performance of immense resolve, conviction and fortitude.
Handby won Glenelg’s club champion award (the first of two) in 1925, and represented South Australia with distinction on 5 occasions. In 1926 and ‘27 he served as the club’s captain-coach, a role he resumed after a two season break in 1930. When he finally retired in 1932 he had played a total of 123 games for the Bays.
Never what you would describe as a classically brilliant player, there were few who could match him for perseverance and all round effectiveness. His Magarey Medal win in 1928 was generally lauded, and although he had retired by the time of Glenelg’s sensational 1934 grand final defeat of Port Adelaide, there can be little doubt that he materially paved the way for that triumph by his efforts as club coach during the early ‘30s.
Author - John Devaney