Australian Rules Football has a rich history deeply rooted in the soils of Adelaide Oval. We take a trip down memory lane to some of SA’s coolest footy moments.
Most footy fans in SA remember their first. The first time at a footy match. The first time their club won the flag. The first time they laced up the boots and took to the field.
Meat pies on the boundary, merchandise stands drawing crowds, flags being waved at either end and beers on the hill – there’s nothing quite like watching local footy in SA.
With the inaugural AFL Gather Round drawing more than 220,000 people to the sold-out nine games played across one weekend, there’s never been a greater time to celebrate the sport many South Aussies love.
We look at some of the greatest moments of football in SA.
1. The inaugural AFL Gather Round: 2023
Little was known about the concept when the SA Government and the AFL announced the AFL Gather Round was to be hosted in South Australia. But on 13 April 2023, the siren sounded on game one, signalling the start of a record-breaking weekend of footy .
Across four days, all AFL teams took to Adelaide Oval, Norwood Oval and Mount Barker’s Summit Sport and Recreation Park in front of thousands of fans. Those who didn’t make it to the games got to join in the fun at the Festival of Footy on the banks of the River Torrens.
Adelaide was awash with the colours of football teams from across the country.
According to the AFL, the event drew more than 60,000 fans from interstate.
For South Australians, the AFL Gather Round was more than just a weekend of footy. It was an opportunity to toot our own horn, sound our siren, and kick goals nationally to show the rest of the country that AFL in this state is as much about the sport at an elite level as it is about building community.
In remaining true to its heritage, the SANFL used Gather Round as an opportunity to support its grassroots footy programs.
With reports claiming the AFL Gather Round had brought more than $80 million to South Australia and the event set to be hosted again in the state for the next three years, there’s no denying we’ve just lived through one of South Australia’s greatest footy moments.
2. The oldest state league in Oz: 1877
Did you know that the SANFL – previously called the South Australian Football Association (SAFA) until 1907 – is Australia’s oldest state league competition? While some of our neighbouring states can claim they had football first, South Aussies can own the bragging rights to this fun fact.
The SAFA was established one week before the Victorian Football Association (VFA) in 1877. The clubs that formed the league were Adelaide, Port Adelaide, South Park, Bankers, South Adelaide, Victorian (which would become North Adelaide in 1883), and Woodville.
3. Port Adelaide Football Club has changed its club colours a few times: 1902
Despite being one of the inaugural clubs, it wasn’t until 1902 that Port Adelaide finally landed on its famed black and white prison-bar guernsey. It was the fourth time the club had changed its team colours.
4. The game of football continued through the first couple of years of World War I: 1914-1918
For the first two years of World War I, the SAFA continued to compete. However, between 1916 and 1918, the league was suspended due to men being recruited to war.
5. Heritage at West End Brewery: 1954
Each year since 1954, the West End Brewery chimney has been painted in the colours of the SANFL premiership side. According to the SANFL archives, the tradition began when a brewery employee demanded the chimney be painted in red and black, because it was in the West Adelaide Football Club zone. Sir Roland Jacobs, Head of SA Brewing, agreed, providing that Westies triumphed over Port Adelaide in the grand final. Legendary Port coach, Fos Williams, joined the ledger and it was agreed that the winning team’s colours would appear on the chimney.
The Magpies ended the match three points up, and so, Adelaide’s favourite footy tradition began with black and white.
Today, the tradition continues at the Hoffmann Kiln at the Brickworks Marketplace.
6. The first female umpire in the AFL: 2017
In 2017, South Australian Eleni Glouftsis was elected as the first female field umpire in the AFL. It was a big step forward for women in the sport. Eleni had officiated in the SANFL since 2013.
7. The first AFLW grand final
Not only did the Adelaide Football Club win the first AFLW grand final in 2017, but in its third year, the grand final was played at Adelaide Oval in front of a record crowd.
Standing against Carlton on South Australia’s hallowed turf, Adelaide took home the premiership cup in front of a record crowd of 53,034.
No AFLW grand final attendance has come close to those numbers. A proud moment for SA.
What’s your favourite SA footy memory?
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