Back to the future at Adelaide Oval
The first AFL match for premiership points at Adelaide Oval was a huge success. A bumper crowd of 29,314 turned up for the Port Adelaide versus Melbourne clash, more than double the Power’s previous home game against the Western Bulldogs.
Port got up by eight points, a rare highlight in a dismal year, avoiding the club’s first wooden-spoon since 1900.
Channel Seven commentator Bruce McAvaney, an old Adelaide boy, compared the electric atmosphere to the glory days of the SANFL, when 50,000-plus would cram into Adelaide Oval on grand final day. The record crowd for the venue is 62,543 for the 1965 grand final between Port and Sturt. Port won a nail-biter that day, too.
Nine years later, the SANFL moved to the state-of-the-art Football Park, 15 minutes out of the city in fast-growing West Lakes. To cut a long, angry, bitter, story short, the winter tenants finally got jack of being been treated like second-class citizens by its summer landlords.
The last SANFL grand final at the Adelaide Oval in 1973 between perennial strugglers Glenelg and North Adelaide, reigning back-to-back premiers and Champions of Australia, is one of the best games of footy ever played.
It was an epic, see-sawing, high-scoring affair. North led by five points deep into time-on of the last quarter. A hat-trick of premierships was in the bag.
Enter star Glenelg ruck-rover Graham Cornes.
“Studley” had been pretty quiet for most of the day but as the clock ticked past 32 minutes he took an absolute screamer. Exhausted, Cornes calmly went back and kicked truly from thirty metres out, giving the Tigers a one-point lead.
Glenelg held on in the final frantic, desperate minutes to win their first premiership since 1934.
Call The Mad Chatter sentimental, a sports romantic, a big girl’s blouse if you must, but it would’ve been a nice touch to see Studley’s son Kane, who’s been putting up big numbers for Glenelg in the SANFL in recent weeks, out on the hallowed ground in a Port guernsey rather than up in the stands in a hoodie.
Nearly 30 years later, the warring parties of cricket and Aussie rules have called a truce and are once again co-tenants at Adelaide Oval. AFL boss Andrew Demetriou has stated that ending the civil war between the SACA and the SANFL will be his greatest legacy as CEO.
South Australian footy, cricket and sports fans in general will be big winners for years to come.
What are your thoughts on the move back to the Adelaide Oval?