A fitting swansong
After consecutive 6th place finishes in 1971 and 1972 Glenelg re-emerged as a force in 1973 with the best minor round performance in the club's history. The Tigers' only minor round defeat came in round 7 at Prospect Oval when reigning premiers and Australian club champions North Adelaide kicked away in the 2nd half after the teams had been level at half time to win 14.13 (97) to 8.22 (70). Eight weeks later in the return meeting between the sides at Glenelg, the Bays showed what a powerful side they were by not only gaining revenge, but registering the highest score kicked against North up to that time. Glenelg won 33.20 (218) to 8.10 (58), with teenage centre half forward Peter Carey booting 11 goals, and the likes of Graham Cornes, Peter Marker, Rex Voigt and John McFarlane running riot. Former West Torrens and state great Geoff Kingston, writing in 'The Advertiser', reckoned that "most of the spectators had never seen anything like it - nor are they likely to see it again in a hurry. Glenelg was just something else!"¹
While Glenelg's 1971 and '72 performances had smacked mediocrity, grand final opponents North Adelaide had developed into one of the strongest teams in the land, winning flags in both years, as well as the aforementioned championship of Australia against Carlton. With triple Magarey Medallist Barrie Robran (right) in consistently superb form, the Roosters oozed panache and class. Not that they were a one man team: veteran full back Bob Hammond, livewire rovers Geoff Marsh and Terry Von Bertouch, and utilities like John Phillips, Barry Stringer and John Robinson ensured that the side was well served on every line, while Victorian coach Mike Patterson had instilled a touch of steel, previously lacking in the side's make-up, to transform them from the 'nearly men' of the mid to late 1960s to South Australian football's pre-eminent force, not only of the early 1970s, but in the view of some of all time.
The South Australian National Football League expanded its finals series to include a 5th team in 1973, following the example of the Victorian Football League which had pioneered the innovation a season earlier. Along with minor premiers Glenelg (Won 21 Lost 1) the inaugural 'final five' was made up of Sturt (17-1), North Adelaide (16-5), Port Adelaide (11-10) and Norwood, which qualified ahead of Central District only on percentage (10-11). In addition to the usual finals venue of Adelaide Oval, some of the finals matches took place at Norwood Oval, where home team the Redlegs ousted Port Adelaide from contention in the first ever SANFL elimination final by 6 goals. Sturt meanwhile defeated North Adelaide in the qualifying final at Adelaide Oval to set up a 2nd semi final clash with Glenelg which the Bays won easily, although coach Neil Kerley felt that that their level of attack on the ball left something to be desired.² North Adelaide, meanwhile, triumphed over Norwood at the Parade in a close, hard fought game to set up a preliminary final re-match with the Double Blues. The 1973 preliminary final between North Adelaide and Sturt was one of those wholly inexplicable, utterly unpredictable encounters that come along every once in a while in almost all sports. The Blues, having won all 3 meetings between the sides during the season, were narrowly favoured to win, but the Roosters not only overturned the odds, they did so in the most emphatic way imaginable, winning by 93 points, 25.18 (168) to 9.21 (75), leading many observers to regard them as a good chance to upset the hitherto seemingly invincible Tigers on grand final day.
The 1973 season saw another major innovation in the introduction of the centre diamond, which lasted for just one year before being replaced by the centre square. (The points of the diamond were directed towards both goals and both centre wing positions.) The ensuing reduction in congestion at centre bounces favoured skilful, running teams like North Adelaide and Glenelg, and helped make the 1973 SANFL grand final, in the words of former Essendon and Sturt strong man Wally May, who was a TV commentator for the big game, "the greatest grand final I have seen". Match umpire Murray Ducker was among many who later concurred with this assessment.³ Given that it was the last ever grand final to be played at the picturesque Adelaide Oval - the SANFL having procured its own, purpose-built stadium, Football Park, at West Lakes, which would be used to host grand finals from 1974 - it was, all things considered, a fitting swansong.
After winning the toss, North skipper Bob Hammond elects to kick to the southern end of the ground, which is favoured by a breeze reckoned by commentator Wally May to be worth "about 3 or 4 goals".
20 secs After a cumbersome attempt to spoil by Wayne Phillis, Barrie Robran is awarded a free kick near the front point of the centre diamond and sends a high punt kick to within 20 metres of goal where brother Rodney marks uncontested, all other players having seemingly lost the flight of the ball in transit. Robran's kick for goal splits the centre for his 45th major of the season. North Adelaide 1.0; Glenelg 0.0
8 mins Glenelg's South Broken Hill recruit Stephen Hywood, whose right knee is heavily strapped, takes a free kick for out of bounds on the full on right centre wing, and propels the ball some 40 metres directly forward where it comes off hands to Carey, who quickly off loads to Wickens (right). Under intense pressure, the promising Bay teenager's flaccid looking left foot kick only travels forward some 15 metres but then deceives onrushing North defender Bob Hammond by bouncing high over his head straight into the hands of 'Fred' Phillis. Spotting Rex Voigt (above), unmarked, running in towards goal, Phillis spears out a handball in that player's direction, which Voigt, without breaking stride, smoothly collects before calmly registering his 57th goal of the year. Glenelg 1.2; North Adelaide 1.1
9 mins Millard's centre clearance sails towards Glenelg's left forward pocket where 'Fred' Phillis and Bob Hammond contest the ball in the air. The Tiger spearhead has better position, and manages to bring the ball to ground just in front of himself before collecting. Meanwhile 'Twiggy' Caldwell runs in and interposes himself between Hammond and Phillis, allowing the latter time to spin 'round and send a high left foot kick over his shoulder towards the front of the goal square where the inevitable pack of players has formed in anticipation. Running in towards goal, Bay rover Greg Bennett fortuitously finds himself in the perfect position to snatch up the ball as it tumbles off hands to the rear of the pack. With no opposition player within 5 metres of him, the former Perth premiership player has ample time to steady and blast home from near point blank range. Glenelg 2.2; North Adelaide 1.1
12 mins Peter Carey is awarded a free kick after his direct opponent Neil Sachse is adjudged to have struck the Bay centre half forward high during a marking contest. From a distance of 35 metres on a 45 degree angle to the left of goal, he effortlessly steers the ball home. Glenelg 3.2; North Adelaide 1.3
19 mins Marsh (left) collects the ball at half back left for North and thumps a high kick towards the left half forward flank area where Plummer and Hywood engage in an aerial contest which sees Plummer tap the ball over his own head towards the North goal. Swinging 'round, Plummer runs after his own tap, dives on the ball, and in the face of strenuous pressure manages to off load by hand to Payne, who is running through perfectly. From a distance of some 40 metres the ex-Essendon big man's kick is perfectly weighted and sails through the centre for the Roosters' 2nd major of the match. Glenelg 3.2; North Adelaide 2.5
21 mins Hammond's booming kick in after a Glenelg behind travels almost to the centre of the ground where a pack forms. Peter Carey manages to get a fist to the ball and it is collected at the front of the pack by Graham Cornes, who handballs back to the now running Carey. Carey in turn finds Kerry Hamilton, whose low kick travels barely 10 metres before being marked, centimetres above the turf, by a diving Rex Voigt. Despite being a good 60 metres from goal, Voigt lines up as though he means business, and his powerful right foot flat punt has 'full points' written all over it from the moment it leaves his boot. Glenelg 4.3; North Adelaide 2.5
22 mins North effect the quick reply in classically simple fashion as Plummer's centre clearance reaches centre half forward, where the ball bounces high and is collected by Marsh, who is amazed to find himself a good 5 metres clear of his nearest opponent. Swinging around onto his left foot he snaps truly to bring the Roosters to within less than a kick. Glenelg 4.3; North Adelaide 3.5
27 mins Tregenza spills a mark near the centre of the ground but quickly recovers to gather the ball and handball towards right centre wing in the direction of Bennett. Burns, however, anticipates superbly, and runs in to intercept the ball before steering a low pass in the direction of Denis Sachse (right) at centre half forward. The close attentions of Glenelg full back and Rooster Peter Anderson mean that Sachse is unable to get the ball under control, however, and it spins off his hands in a goalward direction, fortuitously landing right in the path of Charlie Payne who has no trouble in steering through his 2nd of the match from a distance of less than 20 metres. North Adelaide 4.5; Glenelg 4.3
28 mins Robran, who has been uncharacteristically quiet, fields the ensuing centre tap and, after sprinting to the front point of the centre diamond, launches into a prodigious right foot torpedo punt which sails through for the most spectacular goal of the match so far. North Adelaide 5.5; Glenelg 4.3
29 mins Wickens tries to evade Burns at half forward right but is solidly tackled by the experienced North defender, who promptly receives a free kick for holding the ball. Burns' kick reaches half forward right where it comes off hands to Marsh, who just manages to get boot to ball before being flung to the ground. Luckily for North, Marsh's kick travels straight down Terry Von Bertouch's throat, and from 40 metres out on the slightest of angles the South Australian state rover has no trouble in converting. North Adelaide 6.5; Glenelg 4.3
31 mins Payne and Tregenza engage in a ruck contest at half forward left for North which results in the latter being 'pinged' for over the shoulder. Payne attempts to go the distance with a spiral punt but it spins off the side of his boot. Fortunately again, however, the ball travels straight to a team mate in Marsh, whose carefully measured shot never looks like missing. North Adelaide 7.6; Glenelg 4.3
As Bob Hammond comes careering out of the goal square to gather up the ball and clear with a low, raking drop kick, the siren sounds bringing to an end a quarter of football which has seen 9 minutes of 'time on' added. Glenelg barrackers will be disappointed to have seen their side's early dominance overhauled by a Roosters team playing fast, systematic, aggressive football of the sort that brought them both the 1971 and '72 premierships, as well as the 1972 championship of Australia. A key to North's overall supremacy in the opening term was its winning 'centre diamond' combination which was responsible for 10 of the 12 centre clearances effected during the quarter.
QUARTER TIME: North Adelaide 7.6 (48); Glenelg 4.3 (27)
4 mins In a move which will prove highly significant in the overall context of the game, Glenelg coach Neil Kerley replaces the injured Tardif with Sandland.
5 mins Wayne Phillis'(left) left foot clearing kick from half back left travels almost to half forward left and is tapped to ground by Marker, right into the path of the running Bennett who sends a high, looping handball some 15 metres forward to Caldwell. With his back to goal, Caldwell feeds off to the goal-bound Hamilton, who pirouettes around Neil Sachse before handballing to Voigt, who has found space 30 metres from goal directly in front. Taking his time and with great deliberation, Voigt pierces the centre of the goals with a low, stabbing drop punt. North Adelaide 7.6; Glenelg 5.5
8 mins Marsh clears the ball for North Adelaide from half back left. The ball travels towards the centre of the ground where Bay defender Hywood dashes in and marks on his chest. Handballing to McFarlane, Hywood runs on and collects a quick return before pumping the ball high towards the goal square. A split second later, Burns runs in and sends Hywood clattering to the ground, whereupon umpire Ducker awards a free after disposal to Hywood's team mate, Peter Carey. From a starting position deep in the left forward pocket, Carey runs in field to narrow the angle and kicks truly. North Adelaide 7.6; Glenelg 6.5
20 mins Marsh on left centre wing for North sends a left foot kick forward some 40 metres, only to see Bay half back flanker Colbey win the race to collect the ball. Hotly pressed by Rodney Robran, the 1969 All Australian just manages to get boot to ball before being flung to the ground. Fortunately for Glenelg, the ball travels straight as a die in the direction of Sandland (right) at centre half forward, who is able to mark uncontested. From a distance of 45 metres from goal on a 45 degree angle, Sandland's 3rd kick of the game since coming onto the ground elicits 2 flags from the goal umpire to level the scores. Glenelg 7.8; North Adelaide 7.8
21 mins From the ensuing centre bounce, John Spry collects his own ruck tap and sends an ungainly looking tumble punt some 20 metres goal ward where it is intercepted by Wayne Phillis. Throwing the ball immediately onto his boot, Phillis finds Bennett in the centre of the ground, who in turn pinpoints Carey at the true centre half forward position. Carey, who has probably been the dominant player on the ground to date, makes light of his task by effortlessly splitting the centre to regain the lead for his side. Glenelg 8.8; North Adelaide 7.8
22 mins North manufacture an immediate response as Marsh fields Spry's hit out from the ensuing centre bounce and kicks high towards centre half forward. In a pack of 4 players, Rooster spearhead Dennis Sachse uses his body adroitly to ensure he has best position, and takes a solid mark. His flat punt shot for goal looks untidy but does the business. Glenelg 8.8; North Adelaide 8.8
23 mins Sandland restores Glenelg's lead with a minor score. Glenelg 8.9; North Adelaide 8.8
27 mins Carey (left) marks a pass from Colbey 15 metres ahead of the centre circle and most spectators are probably surprised to see him lining up a shot for goal. Reinforcing his reputation as one of the most exciting young talents in the game, however, Carey's towering 70 metre torpedo punt comfortably avoids the flailing hands of the goal line pack to register full points. Glenelg 9.10; North Adelaide 8.9
The Roosters add one further behind to their tally before the siren sounds a minute and a half later, bringing to an end an absorbing quarter of football which has left the outcome of the game very much in the balance.
HALF TIME: Glenelg 9.10 (64); North Adelaide 8.10 (58)
30 secs Glenelg effect a copybook centre clearance which culminates in Hamilton's bulletlike pass finding Carey at centre half forward, and many members of the crowd probably have a '1' next to the Bay big man's name in their Budgets even before the inevitable goal (Carey's 5th of the game) is kicked. Glenelg 10.10; North Adelaide 8.10
3 mins John McFarlane, who is gradually coming into the game after a quiet first half, marks the ball at right centre wing and is awarded a 15 metre penalty after Plummer oversteps the mark. McFarlane's kick to half forward right is met by a fast moving Kerry Hamilton who spears the ball in field toward Sandland, who gathers on the first bounce and kicks high towards the goal square. Amazingly, there is no one home for North, and Rex Voigt is able to mark uncontested on the chest, a bare 15 metres from goal on the slightest of angles. He effortlessly steers it through and the Bays have some valuable breathing space. Glenelg 11.10; North Adelaide 8.11
5 mins Running back in the direction of the Glenelg goal, Terry Von Bertouch gathers up the ball near the boundary at half back left, wheels around onto his right foot, and clears towards the centre circle where stringer is in prime position to mark. Playing on quickly, Stringer kicks towards centre half forward, finding Rodney Robran, who skirts around Colbey's attempted tackle and gets boot to ball centimetres shy of Hywood's desperate lunge. The kick is true, and the Roosters have given notice that they have no intention of succumbing meekly to the Bay steamroller. Glenelg 11.10; North Adelaide 9.11
As the ball is ferried back to the centre of the ground by the boundary umpire, North half forward Phillips (right), who took a heavy knock late in the 2nd term, is replaced by Adrian Rebbeck.
7 mins Wayne Phillis stampedes through the centre of the ground, leaving opponents and team mates alike in his wake, before snatching up the ball and feeding off by hand to Hamilton. The Bay centreman is flattened moments after getting his kick away and the umpire awards a relayed free kick to Sandland in the left forward pocket. Sandland, who has replaced 'Fred' Phillis at full forward, with the 1969 Magarey Medallist moving into a forward pocket, converts easily. Glenelg 12.10; North Adelaide 9.11
9 mins Hywood meets the ball strongly at centre half back and looks for Carey at centre half forward, who is too strong yet again for Neil Sachse, and marks strongly. Playing on right away, Carey handballs to the running Wickens who has time to take a bounce before bisecting the uprights with a low, punching kick. Glenelg 13.10; North Adelaide 9.11
10 mins Plummer fields Spry's centre tap and launches a high kick in the direction of centre half forward where North's burly full forward Dennis Sachse maneuvers himself in front of Peter Anderson and manages to knock the ball to ground. Showing a surprising turn of pace, Sachse then tears after the ball and, aided by a misjudgement from Tregenza, who allows the ball to bounce past him, is able to gather it up and fire home from 20 metres, with Anderson nowhere in sight. Glenelg 13.10; North Adelaide 10.11
Moments later, Charlie Payne squanders an excellent opportunity to maintain the Roosters' momentum when, from 25 metres out almost directly in front, under no perceptible pressure, he misses everything, sending the ball out of bounds on the full in the right forward pocket.
12 mins Anderson's kick in after a North behind is marked at half forward right by Stringer who, as he falls to his knees, handballs to his left to Plummer, who from a distance of 40 metres on no appreciable angle makes no mistake. Glenelg 13.10; North Adelaide 11.12
14 mins As the North Adelaide players continue to outhustle and out-pace their opponents, Stringer overtakes Hywood at centre half forward and, while shepherding that player, knocks the ball on into the path of Plummer. Plummer runs onto the ball, collects it, and from deep in the right forward pocket steers it through for a superb angled goal. Glenelg 13.10; North Adelaide 12.12
17 mins Hamilton (right) marks comfortably on his chest near the rear point of the centre diamond and casually prods out a high kick towards left centre wing. Running with the flight of the ball, Colbey marks on his chest and immediately sends a high, looping handball some 15 metres forward to Cornes, who returns it to Colbey on the 'one-two'. Dashing on, Colbey steadies and finds Sandland at centre half forward with a low, stabbing drop punt. Sandland, who is comprehensively outpointing the experienced Bob Hammond at this stage, makes no mistake from 45 metres out directly in front. Glenelg 14.10; North Adelaide 12.13
27 mins Neil Sachse meets Wayne Phillis' clearing kick on right centre wing and skips 'round Peter Marker's attempted tackle before firing the ball back towards centre half forward where Sporn leaps high to thump the ball aggressively back over his head towards the North goal. Dennis Sachse dashes out from the goal front ahead of Peter Anderson, gathers up the ball, and spears a left handed handball across his body to Rebbeck whose left foot snap from 30 metres out, straight in front, bounces over the goal line to bring the Roosters back to within 2 points. Moments earlier, Rebbeck (left), under fierce opposition pressure, had fumbled the ball just outside the goal square, allowing the Tigers to clear; his sense of relief as he trots back to his position after making amends is palpable. Glenelg 14.10; North Adelaide 13.14
29 mins Dennis Sachse and Hywood wrestle for possession just outside the North Adelaide goal square and the umpire steps in and declares "that's mine". Sachse duly lobs the ball across to the umpire, whereupon Hywood playfully ruffles the big fella's hair. Sachse looks momentarily nonplussed, but has no time to conceive an appropriate retaliatory gesture as umpire Ducker bounces the ball, and Sachse is forced to contest the hit-out. Standing rooted to the spot, Sachse proves too strong for any of the North players, and deftly taps the ball to Von Bertouch, who sprints into the clear and kicks truly from near point blank range. North Adelaide 14.14; Glenelg 14.10
31 mins Umpire Ducker bounces the ball at centre half forward for Glenelg, and Spry out-jumps Carey to punch the ball away towards left centre wing. Hamilton, however, is first to reach it, and his calculated left foot kick finds a fast leading Rex Voigt some 30 metres from goal on a negligible angle. The man nicknamed 'Noddy' by team mates and fans brings up his 5th major of the afternoon with no trouble whatsoever. Glenelg 15.10; North Adelaide 14.14
33 mins Wickens in the centre of the ground kicks in the direction of McFarlane at half forward right. Unable to hold onto the mark, McFarlane nevertheless keeps the ball under control as he taps it ahead of himself before finally picking it up just inside the boundary. Showing great awareness, he hooks the ball back in field over his head to Rex Voigt, who has no difficulty marking on his chest 40 metres from goal on a 45 degree angle. The ensuing goal is Voigt's 62nd of the season. Glenelg 16.10; North Adelaide 14.14
The siren sounds moments later with the ball near the centre wing boundary in front of the temporary stand.
THREE QUARTER TIME: Glenelg 16.10 (106); North Adelaide 14.14 (98)
2 mins After being held when not in possession of the ball by John Sandland, John Robinson takes a free kick from just inside the boundary, deep in the left back pocket. His kick sails towards the left half back flank area where a large pack forms, and Graham Cornes, rising a good metre or more off the ground, gets both hands to the ball but is unable to hold onto it. After returning to earth, however, Cornes finds himself in pole position to snatch up the ball, and is just able to squeeze out a left foot grubber before being tackled. The kick travels 10 metres forward and is met by Rex Voigt, who spins around onto his left foot and nonchalantly snaps his 7th major of the game. Glenelg 17.10; North Adelaide 14.14
5 mins Five metres clear of his nearest opponent Barrie Robran picks up the ball near the front point of the centre diamond and has plenty of time to look up and measure his options before finding Adrian Rebbeck with a pinpoint drop punt pass midway between half forward right and the right forward pocket. Rebbeck appears to play on by running forwards some 6 or 7 metres, only to stop when confronted by Bay defender Rawson. Umpire Ducker, however, decides to give Rebbeck the benefit of the doubt by allowing him to go back and take his kick, with which he gratefully and gleefully splits the centre. Glenelg 17.10; North Adelaide 15.14
5 mins Within 10 seconds of the re-start the Bays have restored their 14 point advantage as Cornes, having sharked Sporn's (right) centre tap, unleashes a hefty torpedo punt which travels deep into the right forward pocket. Rex Voigt runs after and collects the ball and, as he crashes into Rooster back pocket John Robinson, off loads a handball over his head to 'Fred' Phillis, who immediately relays it to Peter Carey. Running into the goal square Carey just manages to prod the ball home despite a despairing lunge from Spry. Glenelg 18.10; North Adelaide 15.14
8 mins Barrie Robran marks strongly at half back left and steers the ball elegantly towards the centre of the ground where Marsh has found space, and marks. Marsh's 30 metre left foot kick hits Stringer on the chest near the front point of the centre diamond, and Stringer off loads towards a pack of players at centre half forward in the midst of which Rodney Robran, showing great courage as well as superb anticipation, gets high off the ground to hang on to a robust mark. Robran's kick arrives in the goal square at markable height, but the stolid figure of Dennis Sachse provides an impenetrable barrier for 2 Glenelg defenders in the shape of Colbey and Rawson, and the ball sails through for a goal. Glenelg 18.11; North Adelaide 16.14 15 mins Tardif, having marked on left centre wing, sends a high, booming torpedo punt into the right forward pocket where the ball tumbles off hands to Spry, whose attempted clearance is smothered by Hamilton. Sprinting after the ball, Hamilton reaches it a split second ahead of Spry, and as he stoops to gather it up the former Claremont ruckman pushes him in the back to concede an obvious free kick. From a distance of les than 20 metres out almost directly in front, Hamilton is never going to miss. Glenelg 19.11; North Adelaide 16.14
16 mins The ensuing centre bounce by Ducker evades both teams' ruckmen and the ball is thumped forward by Barrie Robran, right into the path of John Plummer. Plummer's centre clearance is marked on the chest at centre half forward by Adrian Rebbeck after Dennis Sachse had done just enough to keep Colbey out of the contest without conceding a free kick. Rebbeck duly nabs his 4th goal of the game, making him North's top scorer. Glenelg 19.11; North Adelaide 17.14
20 mins After several minutes of sustained North Adelaide pressure Glenelg break away in a swift move which culminates in Rex Voigt's goal bound kick being shepherded over the line, à la Dennis Sachse, by 'Fred' Phillis (left). The umpire, however, rules that Phillis' endeavours were illegal, and awards a free kick to his opponent, Bob Hammond.
23 mins After taking a typically resolute mark 25 metres from goal directly in front, North full forward Dennis Sachse registers his 105th goal of the season to bring the Roosters to within a point. Glenelg 19.11; North Adelaide 18.16
29 mins Rebbeck's kick from left centre wing eludes a pack of players and bounces straight into the path of Barrie Robran near the front point of the diamond. Robran's high left foot kick travels almost to the goal square and is marked by Plummer who, despite apparently suffering from cramp, has no difficulty in giving the Roosters the lead for the first time since the equivalent stage of the 3rd quarter. As Plummer marks, the North Adelaide coaching bench explodes in a tumult of delight, with coach Mike Patterson (right) leaping to his feet and raising his hands to the skies in a mixture of jubilation and obeisance. He then runs to the boundary and can be seen gesticulating urgently towards his players, presumably urging them to retain their focus and dig deep for one final, match-winning effort. North Adelaide 19.16; Glenelg 19.11
32 mins After 3 minutes of tense, exhilarating, end to end action, it is the Tigers' turn to attack, but their thrust deep into the right forward pocket is repelled by Bob Hammond, easily the best player on view in this final term, who knocks the ball ahead of himself towards the boundary line, only to overrun it at the last moment, allowing a scrimmage to form. Moments later the ball pops out to Marriott, whose hurried over the shoulder kick floats high in the direction of the right point post where Graham Cornes (above left), who has scarcely been sighted all afternoon, soars high over the pack to take an acrobatic mark. With commentator Wally May opining that "any player who takes a mark like that is never going to miss the goal", Cornes duly steers the ball home, eliciting an ecstatic roar from the Tiger faithful, who have been waiting 39 years since their last senior flag. Cornes himself, however, trots casually back to his position as though taking stellar marks and kicking grand final wining goals are everyday occurrences. Either that, or he is too stunned to react. Glenelg 20.11; North Adelaide 19.16
34 mins For the remaining 90 seconds or so of the match, Glenelg successfully play 'keepings off', culminating in a long, speculative kick from half forward left towards the goal square by Wayne Phillis, which is marked unchallenged by John Sandland. As Sandland steadies to take his kick, the final siren sounds and, amidst the inevitable eruption of celebratory acclaim, it seems scarcely anyone is watching as he casually steers his kick through the centre to make the final margin 7 points.
FINAL SCORE: Glenelg 21.11 (137); North Adelaide 19.16 (130)
The longest grand final in SANFL history (it included 34 minutes and 55 seconds of time-on) has also been arguably the greatest. It was also arguably a game which genuinely warranted the over-used expression "neither side deserved to lose".
The fortunes of the 2 competing clubs after the 1973 grand final were, inevitably, vastly different. Glenelg retained a position of some prominence for the following 2 decades, only to garner an unfortunate reputation for 'freezing' on the big occasion. This is exemplified by its record of losing 9 of the 11 grand finals in which it competed between 1973 and 1992. Only in 1985 and 1986 (both times against North Adelaide) were the Bays successful.
North, by contrast, fell on hard times. The unfortunate injury sustained by Barrie Robran while playing for South Australia against the VFL at Sydney in 1974 deprived the team of both its inspiration and its primary playmaker, not to mention the game of football itself of one of the most prodigious talents ever seen. The gradual retirement of other key players over the next 2 to 3 seasons also weakened the side, as they were not immediately replaced. The Roosters came to the fore again under Mike Nunan during the 1980s when, playing an exhilarating brand of attacking football, they contested 4 grand finals between 1985 and 1989, albeit for just 1 win (in 1987). A further premiership followed in 1991.
Many of the key figures in the 1973 grand final went on to make noteworthy additions to their curriculum vitae. North full back Bob Hammond coached Norwood to flags in 1975 and 1978, and was later General Manager of the Adelaide Football Club. Match winner Graham Cornes later worked with Hammond at Adelaide as that club's inaugural coach, having earlier won the 1980 Tassie Medal, and masterminded Glenelg's regular assaults on the premiership between 1985 and 1990. Neil Kerley (right) continued to coach with verve, determination and intermittent success at Glenelg, West Torrens, West Adelaide and Central District, before carving out a career for himself in the media.
Undoubtedly the saddest tale, however, attaches to North defender Neil Sachse (left). After transferring to VFL side Footscray in 1975, Sachse sustained a serious neck injury in just his second game for the club and was rendered quadriplegic, a stark reminder that, along with the glamour, excitement, occasional majesty and allure, football sometimes requires a heavy price of its participants.
On Saturday 29 September 1973 at approximately eight minutes past five, however, it was all
worth it for thousands of success starved supporters of the Glenelg Football Club.
Glenelg: 4.3 9.10 16.10 21.11 137
North Adelaide: 7.6 8.10 14.14 19.16 130
Glenelg: Carey, Hamilton, Tregenza, Voigt, Anderson, Colbey, W.Phillis
North Adelaide: Hammond, Marsh, Howard, Sporn, Robinson, Stringer, Von Bertouch
Glenelg: Voigt 7.1; Carey 6.1; Sandland 4.3; Wickens 1.2; Bennett, Cornes, Hamilton 1.0; Caldwell 0.2; Marker 0.1; rushed 0.1
North Adelaide: Rebbeck 4.1; D. Sachse 3.3; R.Robran 3.1; Marsh 2.2; Plummer 2.1; Payne, Von Bertouch 2.0; B.Robran 1.2; Stringer 0.3; Hearl 0.2; rushed 0.1
ATTENDANCE: 56,525 at the Adelaide Oval
Video of the last 10 minutes of the match:
- 'The Advertiser', Monday 23 July 1973.
- Knuckles - the Neil Kerley Story by Jim Rosevear, page 129.
- Ibid, page 130.
Ron Shaw 7 July 2012
A wonderful summary of a superb match.
Some legendary names featured.
Thanks for a great read John.
Michael Rees 10 July 2012
Marvellous work John. Saw this game many years ago (on VHS), one of the best I've seen. Glad you mentioned Cornsey did precious little in the '73 decider. Still, he got the goal that counted. The Neil Sachse story is indeed tragic, I was in attendance the afternoon (12/4/75) of the accident. Neil and Peter Featherby (WA) were our star recruits that season, the Dogs looked like they could go a longway that year. After a so-so first up effort in his first game he was terrific against the Lions. Very sad.
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