Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
William John Ashley

Known as
Jack Ashley


Senior clubs
Port Adelaide

Recruited from
Balmain (1910); East Sydney (1912)

Jack Ashley

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
East SydneyNSWANFL1910-1911
Port AdelaideSAFL1912-1915, 191970650.93
Total1907-1915, 191970650.93

His type of game was a pleasure to behold. Strong and vigorous,. and though conceding a few inches to most of his rivals, he, with great anticipation and ball sense, outplayed the vast majority of them. A wizard in getting the ball to his rover.¹

Popularly known as ‘Spud’, Jack Ashley was a formidable follower for Port Adelaide in the years leading up to and just after World War One. Although he was born in Port Adelaide, he actually played his early senior football in Sydney between 1908 and 1911, representing his adopted state at the inaugural Australian interstate championship series in Melbourne. On his return home to South Australia he joined his local club, and quickly made an impression. After just five league games he was chosen in the state team for a match against the VFL.

Playing in the unenviable position of ruck shield (or ruck shepherd), he was resolute, forceful and clever. Despite conceding quite a few centimetres to most opponents, he used a combination of strength and great anticipation and awareness not only to keep them out of the contest, but also to win more than his share of the hit-outs himself. There was said to be no better ruckman than Ashley at steering the ball to his rovers.

In 1914, ‘Spud’ Ashley enjoyed a dream year. He was chosen in the South Australian squad for the Sydney carnival, won the club’s best and fairest trophy, and helped the Magpies to the greatest single season enjoyed by any club in league history, during which they won every match played, including the championship of Australia clash with Carlton. To top it off, Ashley became the fourth Port Adelaide player to win the Magarey Medal.

When football resumed in 1919, Ashley was one of several pre-war stalwarts to front up once more. He quickly proved that he had lost none of his prowess or guile by again achieving selection in the state side - a dozen years after making his interstate debut with New South Wales - and by claiming a second club champion award. Presumably satisfied that he had now ‘done it all’, at the conclusion of the 1919 season he announced his retirement from league football. He later umpired in the Adelaide suburban competition.

Author - John Devaney


1. South Australian Football: The Past - and the Present, page 72.


Full Points Footy's SA Football Companion, Crème de la Crème


* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.