|SANFL Clubs||North Adelaide|
Memorably dubbed 'Swamp Fox' by Lou Richards, apparently because 'he reckoned that when I was in a pack there'd always be a couple of bodies strewn beneath me', Mike Patterson was a doggedly resolute ruckman who played 152 VFL games for Richmond between 1959 and 1969. His finest two hours in a black and yellow jumper came when he deputised to telling effect for suspended team mate Neville Crow in the 1967 grand final against Geelong. Opposed by legendary ruckman 'Polly' Farmer, Patterson performed heroically to stymie the 'Big Cat's' impact, and make a sterling contribution to his team's nine point victory.
In 1970, Patterson crossed to North Adelaide as captain-coach, and over the next couple of seasons he gradually introduced a heightened level of toughness to the Roosters' game, transforming them from a flamboyantly talented but ultimately vulnerable final four proposition to back to back premiers in 1971-2. A VFL side in all but name, North also famously secured the Australian club championship under Patterson's guidance with a stirring one-point win over Carlton in 1972.
After steering North Adelaide to a seven-point grand final loss against Glenelg in 1973, Patterson retired as a player, but stayed on as non-playing coach of the club for another two years. He was considerably less effective in this capacity, however, both at North, and later in the VFL with St Kilda (1978-80), in the VFA with Frankston (1981-3), and back in the VFL with Richmond (1984).
In 2001, shortly before his premature death, Mike Patterson, the first Victorian to steer an SANFL club to a premiership, was selected as coach of North Adelaide's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.
Author - John Devaney
Full Points Footy's SA Football Companion