When Roost­ers crowed and the Redlegs danced

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - SCOTT WALSH SPORTS ED­I­TOR

BOB Ham­mond ad­mits that at the time, while just a kid of 18, he couldn’t fully ap­pre­ci­ate the enor­mity of it. “I knew that 1960 grand fi­nal was an im­por­tant game – more im­por­tant than the one be­fore, and the one be­fore that,” the Aus­tralian Foot­ball Hall of Fame in­ductee says.

“But it was just an­other game of foot­ball.

“I’d come out of se­nior colts with North Ade­laide the year be­fore, so you’re as free as a breeze and just do­ing your best ev­ery week.

“As the fi­nals de­vel­oped, I think my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties be­came much clearer to me, along with the re­al­ity that this is the grand fi­nal and there’s 54,000 peo­ple here at Ade­laide Oval – so you’d bet­ter smarten up your foot­work.

“In the end, we got the siren at the right time.”

Ham­mond, 76, re­mains one of the most-re­spected fig­ures in South Aus­tralian foot­ball, as chair­man in Ade­laide’s first 10 years as an AFL club and sub­se­quent decade-long ten­ure as a cus­to­dian of the game, serv­ing on the AFL Com­mis­sion. Be­fore that, he de­liv­ered two pre­mier­ships as Nor­wood’s coach, in­clud­ing end­ing the club’s 25-year drought in 1975 in just his sec­ond sea­son at the helm.

But per­haps in­ad­ver­tently out­shone in the glit­ter­ing ar­ray of off-field suc­cesses is an on-field record that, even in iso­la­tion, stands up as a strong ar­gu­ment in any Hall of Fame dis­cus­sion. It’s a ca­reer that boasts seven state matches and 234 league games in North’s red and white colours, high­lighted by three SANFL pre­mier­ships.

The 1960 flag in Ham­mond’s de­but sea­son was fol­lowed by back-to-back vic­to­ries in 1971 and ’72.

The 1972 sea­son will for­ever re­main a high-wa­ter mark in SA foot­ball after the Roost­ers later de­feated that year’s VFL pre­miers Carl­ton by a point to be crowned club cham­pion of Aus­tralia.

“It was like a state game, so there was im­mense pride shared by all within SA,” says Ham­mond, a back pocket in North’s hon­orary team of the cen­tury.

“It also gave the other clubs the feel­ing of ‘If we’d won it (the premier­ship), we could’ve done that’.

“But it’s only North Ade­laide that did do it.”

Ham­mond’s foot­ball jour­ney traces back to Ade­laide’s post-war north­ern sub­urbs, and the Kil­burn Hous­ing Trust home where he spent most of his child­hood.

To the west was the sewage farm that would later be­come Re­gency Park. Closer, to the south­west, was the noise of the Is­ling­ton Rail­way Work­shops, while the busy fac­to­ries of the Bri­tish Tube Mills stood in the north of the in­dus­trial sub­urb.

“It was a tough up­bring­ing, but we never con­sid­ered our­selves poor,” says Ham­mond.

“My brother and sis­ter and I, we were rich in the sense that we had push­bikes and a pad­dock close by. We had a footy, a cricket bat – maybe not a tra­di­tional bat, but one carved out of pal­ing.

“And we had par­ents who en­cour­aged us and (in­stilled) that some­one be­ing bet­ter dressed than you didn’t mean a thing. We were proud of what we had.”

IT WAS in neigh­bour­hood games of kick-to-kick that Ham­mond cred­its his development as a key back­man, as well as his trade­mark turn of speed that be­lied his im­pos­ing frame.

“My brother was four years older, so when the footy was around you had to be on your met­tle to get a kick,” he says.

“That ed­u­ca­tion I had in the pad­dock with my brother and his mates stood me in good stead as far as my in­tro­duc­tion to (North Ade­laide) un­der-17s went.”

Ham­mond – part of the all-star SA side that fa­mously beat Vic­to­ria at the MCG in 1963 – had es­tab­lished him­self as a vi­tal part of North Ade­laide’s league side by the mid-’60s. Flanked by un­com­pro­mis­ing back pocket Hank Lind­ner and club cap­tain Don Gil­bourne, Ham­mond’s long kick-ins and bat­tles with star goal­kick­ers, in­clud­ing West Tor­rens’ Ge­off Kingston and Port Ade­laide great Rex Johns, are part of the SANFL’s early-1960s fab­ric.

But in 1966, his work with the Dun­lop tyre ser­vice pre­sented a two-year ap­point­ment in Port Pirie.

Keen to se­cure his fam­ily’s fu­ture, Ham­mond ac­cepted the move and cap­tain­coached Ports to a premier­ship in his first sea­son in coun­try foot­ball.

He re­turned to Ade­laide in 1968 and a North side men­tored by Mag­pies leg­end Geof Mot­ley, be­fore Roost­ers team of the cen­tury coach and 1967 Rich­mond premier­ship ruck­man Mike Pat­ter­son was ap­pointed for the 1970 sea­son.

“Of course, any­one could’ve coached Barrie Ro-

STATE PRIDE: Ham­mond ac­cept­ing the Aus­tralia Club Cham­pion tro­phy from Deputy Premier Des Cor­co­ran after the Roost­ers de­feated Carl­ton at Ade­laide Oval in 1972.

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