In­sight into the golden era of South Aus­tralian club foot­ball

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bran and got the same ef­fect,” he grins. “Patto was tough. He came from Rich­mond, a very pow­er­ful side where you had to earn your keep – and he made sure we earnt ours.

“He came with a big rep­u­ta­tion, and didn’t let him­self down in any way, shape or form.”

Pat­ter­son also brought with him to Prospect Oval a le­gacy that lives on to­day, and will be on dis­play in the Roost­ers’ semi-fi­nal clash with Sturt at Ade­laide Oval.

The club’s red and white colours had been worn in vary­ing com­bi­na­tions on guernseys across the decades, in­clud­ing a white “V” that dropped from the shoul­der line. Pat­ter­son, in a nod to his Vic­to­rian her­itage, tweaked the “V” so that it re­sem­bled his home state’s fa­mous “Big V” uni­form.

“Psy­cho­log­i­cal? It was to make the team look and feel stronger, and to make the op­po­si­tion aware of them,” Ham­mond says.

“I don’t think it’s any co­in­ci­dence that the cur­rent North Ade­laide side is wear­ing that ‘V’.”

North Ade­laide, un­der Pat­ter­son, beat Port Ade­laide in each of the 1971 and ’72 grand fi­nals be­fore los­ing the 1973 de­cider to Glenelg.

Ham­mond was 31 at the end of that sea­son, and was again fo­cused on his young fam­ily’s se­cu­rity and life after foot­ball.

He ac­cepted a po­si­tion as ex­port man­ager with a fur­ni­ture com­pany – a role that was to in­volve reg­u­lar vis­its to Ja­pan.

But a shock of­fer from Nor­wood to coach the Redlegs in the 1974 sea­son was enough to keep him in SA foot­ball. It also served as an un­ex­pected spark to his sto­ried post-play­ing ca­reer.

The dual premier­ship reign that fol­lowed at Nor­wood for­ever en­shrines Ham­mond as a pil­lar in the Redlegs’ proud his­tory.

“We who played and coached in that era did so, I think, in the best pe­riod of SA foot­ball,” Ham­mond says.

“What­ever part you played – sig­nif­i­cant or in­signif­i­cant – you could feel proud of where foot­ball was at that time.”

HAM­MOND, along with in­au­gu­ral Crows chief ex­ec­u­tive Bill San­ders, was cen­tral to build­ing the Ade­laide Foot­ball Club as SA was el­e­vated to the AFL for the first time in the 1991 sea­son.

SANFL tra­di­tion­al­ists will ar­gue Ade­laide’s ar­rival was a death blow for the “old” SANFL – that the start-up club pil­laged its best lo­cal play­ers and ir­re­versibly forced fans’ fo­cus off the com­pe­ti­tion.

Ham­mond ac­knowl­edges the com­plaints, but in­sists the move was one of sev­eral brave calls that en­sured a bright fu­ture for SA foot­ball.

“In my life­time, the two most sig­nif­i­cant foot­ball de­ci­sions were the build­ing of Foot­ball Park and then its demolition,” he says.

“I was on the AFL Com­mis­sion when that de­ci­sion was made (to up­grade Ade­laide Oval and re­lo­cate AFL matches from Foot­ball Park).

“It cost me some ca­sual friends who couldn’t see beyond what they were used to.

“Now, I won’t be smart and say I en­vis­aged what it is to­day – but I cer­tainly en­vis­aged it to be stronger than the con­sen­sus was.”

Ham­mond will to­day be watch­ing in­tently on TV when North faces Sturt in their knock­out fi­nal, be­fore Nor­wood takes on the Ea­gles for a short­cut to the grand fi­nal. He prefers the com­fort of home over the crush of crowds as he con­tin­ues his 10year fight with prostate can­cer, now bol­stered by pi­o­neer­ing treat­ment. “The foot­ball that was played last Sun­day was of a fine stan­dard,” Ham­mond says. “It ap­pears to me that those play­ing now are play­ing just as hard as we did, and that’s great recog­ni­tion for the hard work that has gone in. “(The SANFL) went down be­cause the sides were gut­ted (by es­tab­lish­ing SA’s two AFL teams) and it’s taken a cou­ple of decades to bring it back to the level it is now. “But I watched the four teams last week and all of them should be proud of what they’re do­ing.”


WIN­NERS: SA foot­ball great Bob Ham­mond (left); North Ade­laide’s 1972 Cham­pi­ons of Aus­tralia side (above); and Ham­mond hugs Nor­wood player Mike Poul­ter after the Redlegs’ vic­tory over Glenelg in the 1975 grand fi­nal (be­low)

FLY­ING HIGH: Coach Ham­mond raises his arms in tri­umph after Nor­wood wins the 1978 grand fi­nal.

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