|Venue: Adelaide Oval||Date: 15th October 1972|
|Result: Lost by 1 point||Crowd: 23,213|
|Goalkickers: R. Walls 3.2, G. Kennedy 2.1, S. Jackson 1.2, Warden 1.2, G. Crane 1.1, T. Keogh 1.0, J. Nicholls 1.0, A. Jesaulenko 0.1, Rushed 0.2.|
|Best Players: G. Crane, T. Keogh, J. Nicholls, S. Jackson, J. O'Connell, P. Jones.|
|Reports: Nil||Umpire: Bill Deller|
Championship of Australia Final
The 1972 Championship of Australia was the 16th edition of the Championship of Australia, a ANFC-organised national club Australian rules football tournament between the champion clubs from the VFL, the SANFL, the WANFL and the Tasmanian State Premiership. In what was a thrilling game of football and a triumph for the North Adelaide Football Club, the Roosters won the Championship of Australia by one point over the Blues.
Despite going into the final quarter with a five point lead and a strong wind at their back the Blues could not finish off the dogged Roosters. Carlton scored a goal in the first few minutes of the last quarter to take an 11 point lead but the Roosters hit back and goaled within a minute (Dennis Sachse). North goaled again in the 17th minute and kept Carlton scoreless for the final 12 minutes of the game to record a dramatic one point victory. Some of the best for North Adelaide on the day were Barry Robran, Garry Sporn, Adrian Rebbeck and Barry Stringer.
From a Carlton perspective some small solace could be gleaned from the fact that six of it's players from the 1972 Grand Final were missing from this game. Interestingly this was the first time a major game of football had been played in South Australia on a Sunday.
When the North Adelaide Roosters were kings
By Michael Sexton (24th August, 2012).
Darryl Webb is a business manager with Regional Development Australia these days. His office is on the Adelaide road at Murray Bridge so when a semi-trailer thunders past outside, the walls gently vibrate. He is in his sixties and the mop of curly blond hair from his playing days is now sandy and trimmed. Forty years ago he launched one of the best-worst kicks ever seen on Adelaide Oval. It made Barrie Robran curse under his breath, thousands of fans scream in horror and excitement and confirm that in 1972 North Adelaide had the bragging rights over any side in the country. “I marked on the wing,” he remembers “and was going to kick a big, long screwie toward full forward of course. Now sometimes my kicks are great sometimes not so great and this one went off the side of the boot out on the full. I thought no I have turned it over and then the siren went and it was such relief quite frankly.” But this story is getting ahead of itself.
In the late 1960s North Adelaide were a good side but like everyone else in the SANFL at the time couldn’t get past Port Adelaide or Sturt. Port played ugly winning football while Sturt played beautiful winning football. The other eight sides played on Saturdays. Geof Motley was in charge of the Roosters and saw some good kids arriving at Prospect Oval. The greatest was Robran who came from Whyalla where he had honed his natural skills with hours of practice. Like Bradman in Bowral hitting the golf ball with a stump against the rainwater tank, Robran tossed the footy onto the roof of the family home in the steel city and as it rolled off would leap up the drain pipe and snag it mid air. He was comfortable on both sides of his body and developed a long left foot kick. What wasn’t taught was the balance and poise that allowed him to play the game in his own orbit. When he came to Adelaide, North recognized the ability and played him at centre half forward. By his own admission Robran didn’t find the position easy but applied himself. That first year he shared the best and fairest award with his idol Don Lindner. He won the next six on his own as he played wherever the side needed him from ruck to rover. “Only position he couldn’t play was 19th man,” said West Adelaide’s Doug Thomas.
There was also a clutch of teenagers from a club on the outskirts of Adelaide at Gepps Cross who had grown up playing footy with the smell of the stockyards and abattoirs in their nostrils. Dennis Sachse was a bear who filled the goal square and kicked a ton in a season. His brother Neil was a cat like jack-of-all-trades who was prepared to hurt someone if it meant having a touch. Darryl Webb’s plan for footy was: see ball get ball. There was also Garry Sporn leading the rucks, Bohdan Jaworskyj across half back, a wiry wingman Barry Stringer and Bob Hammond who had size, strength and smarts in the defensive goal square.
They were all there in 1970 when the committee appointed Mike Patterson as coach. The Swamp Fox had won a couple of flags with Richmond and brought their plan which he believed would match the ball control of Sturt and the intensity of Port Adelaide. Robran describes Patto as a “fairly ruthless player” who set an example for all of them. Ultimately, he says, he was such a good leader of men that they would have done anything for him. In the first half of the 1971 grand final they destroyed Port Adelaide. The Magpies had just three points on the board at half time as they trudged in. Their full forward Eric “Fritz” Freeman had his face buried in a towel. He had collided with Patterson in a marking contest moments before the siren. Port coach Fos Williams demanded Freeman follow the Magpie creed and ignore the injury. Then the trainers pulled the towel away to reveal what remained of his lower jaw and the coach turned to the 19th man and told him to get ready.
The Roosters repeated the dose in 1972 with an even greater humiliation of the Magpies, winning by 56 points. Patterson had retired as a player and the club has recruited the gargantuan Jack Spry from Claremont to fill the breach. Dennis Sachse kicked six. After the grand final, North took part in the Champions of Australia series. This competition had first been played at the turn of the century with the idea of pitting the best clubs from the football states. South Australian teams had done remarkably well over a decade with Norwood, West Adelaide and Port Adelaide sharing the spoils with Essendon and South Melbourne.
When the series was revived in 1968 the Victorians were far too strong. The Sturt machine that befuddled all sides in the SANFL was walloped by Carlton and Richmond. Hawthorn took care of North Adelaide in 1971. The 1972 tournament began on the Saturday. North Adelaide took care of Tasmanian Premiers City-South and Carlton beat East Perth but not before the Royals Captain-coach Mal Brown turned the match into his own episode of TV ringside. It’s become a favourite of footy violence montages over the years – Brown like a villain in a western bar slowly being backed into a corner by the opposition and so decides to come out blazing. Bruce Doull, Percy Jones, Ian Robertson all get a whack and then Trevor Keogh gets a mighty smack in the chops. Forty years later Geoff Southby gets the giggles at the memory. “He didn’t break his jaw but I remember poor old Trevor reeling back as one of his teeth flew out.” The organizers hastily put together a tribunal sitting after the match where Brown put in some of his best work, splashing cold water on his face and trembling to the judiciary that he was concussed and in shock. He got off. Richmond got in contact with him.
The next day the black and blues faced North Adelaide. It was a miserable afternoon with a blustering southerly and showers. Carlton couldn’t get into high gear but still held a five point lead at the final break kicking home with the wind. Jaworskyj remembers it was one of those days where you struggled to get possession and when you did you just tried to slam the ball forward 20 or 30 yards to the next contest. Win the ball and get it on to your mate like Patto drummed into them. The Roosters had players like Neil Sachse, Jaworskyj, Arch Wilkey and Webb who could do that. While the others grafted in the mucky conditions, Robran glided across the surface. There are only a few seconds of film that survive but they show him sure handed and elusive. It is said that after one sublime moment Alex Jesaulenko applauded Robran. Both sides managed only one goal in the last quarter as the needle clicked into what would be a small amount of time on. Rover Adrian Rebbeck found the ball in the forward pocket, handballed to Webb who shunted through a goal that gave the home side a one point lead. “Oh what a boil over this is?” cried Mike Williamson to the TV audience as the ball was returned to the centre and came loose. Webb took a strong mark on the wing and was collected by Doull. He straightened himself up and looked for Sachse at full forward. The heavy ball corkscrewed off his boot out on the full. Robran cursed. Webb thought he had blown it. The ball didn’t get back to the Carlton defender before the siren went. No Victorian had ever coached an SANFL side to a flag before Patterson did at North Adelaide and now he had beaten Carlton too.
The Roosters collected $10,000 and title of “Champions of Australia” and they didn’t celebrate alone. The entire SANFL shared their moment as a high water mark for the league. At Prospect the match has become a revered moment. Tony Bowering who is the man who wears the mascot “Rocket Rooster” suit at home games has a son who is an artist. His painting of the game is a glossy Technicolor with the bright red of the north jumpers against Carlton’s navy blue. Players tangle in front of a capacity crowd on the canvas. A scene of the impossible becoming real. Unknown at the time was that the match signaled the final point of this brief brilliant era. In 1973 the Roosters lost a heart-breaking grand final to Glenelg and then key players were injured, transferred or retired. Robran’s knee was smashed in a collision with Leigh Matthews during a state game in 1974 and he limped out the remainder of his career. Patterson finished up after the 1977 season with the club eighth. The last Champions of Australia series was played after the 1976 season with the VFL clubs never being challenged again. The series was replaced by various night competitions until the national league arrived. This year the surviving members of the North Adelaide side will remember when they were the best club in the country. It will be a popular reunion.
At the conclusion of seasons 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1971 the Premier Teams of the Victorian and South Australian Leagues played off at Adelaide Oval for the title of 'CHAMPIONS OF AUSTRALIA'. This competition was extended in 1972 to include the Premier Teams of Western Australia and Tasmania. The matches were delayed because of a 'draw' in the Victorian Football League Major Round, but a successful Championship Series was played on 14th and 15th October, 1972, although the weather was unkind on the second day (a Sunday). After a tremendous struggle in the Final, North Adelaide covered itself with glory and brought great distinction to South Australian Football by defeating the Victorian Premiers, Carlton, by one point. North Adelaide had previously defeated City-South (of Tasmania) and Carlton had beaten East Perth (of Western Australia). The North Adelaide victory triggered a tremendous demonstration by thousands of spectators, the players being surrounded by overjoyed supporters. The handsome Championship Cup (presented jointly by the Victorian and South Australian Leagues) was presented to North Adelaide Acting Captain, Bob Hammond, by the Deputy Premier of South Australia, the Honourable J.D. Corcoran M.P. While the League hopes that presentations of this nature will always be carried out in a circumspect fashion, it realises, of course, that this particular occasion was rather special. - The South Australian National Football League Annual Report 1972
As a natural progression from the matches which have been played annually since 1968 between the Premiership teams of the Victorian and South Australian Leagues, a knock-out series between the Premier teams of the four major football States, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, was played in Adelaide on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th October. The series was originally set down for decision on Saturday 7th and Monday 9th (a Public holiday in Adelaide) but was delayed for one week following the draw in the VFL Semi Final match between Richmond and Carlton. The compulsory change in programme dates meant that the competing teams were faced with playing matches on successive days. North Adelaide (S.A.N.F.L.) won the title as 'Australia's Champion Team' by defeating Carlton (V.F.L.) by one point in a tense and exciting game. After appearing to be in a winning position at the last interval, Carlton tired badly and failed to take advantage of a strong wind advantage. North Adelaide thoroughly deserved their victory, but may have been fortunate to meet a Carlton which had lost many players through injury after a strenuous match against East Perth (W.A.N.F.L.) on the previous days (sic.).
Prize money was divided as follows:
- North Adelaide (winners) $10,000
- Carlton (runner up) $3,000
- East Perth (3rd) $2,000
- City-South (4th) $1,000
Attendances were somewhat disappointing although heavy rain on the final day greatly reduced the numbers of patrons attending the all-important final match between North Adelaide and Carlton.
- The Victorian Football League 76th Annual Report 1972
North Adelaide shocked the football world when it toppled Carlton by a point (10.13 to 10.12) in the Australian club championship final at Adelaide Oval. It was an historic victory, being the first time that a major match had been held in SA on a Sunday. Trailing by five points at three-quarter time, North seemed in a hopeless position when it headed for home into a five-goal wind.
The odds of victory lengthened when Carlton goaled in the first five minutes to widen the gap to 11 points. To the crowd of 23,213 it just seemed a matter of time. But a minute later North battled against the elements to goal through Dennis Sachse. That was the spark that the SA premiers needed. Displaying tremendous fighting spirit, and with reserves of stamina, North scored again through Darryl Webb in the 17th minute to hit the front. Play fluctuated from end to end, but that was the final score after magnificent defence by North led (by) Bohdan Jaworskyj, Bob Hammond and John Spry. There were other factors in North's great win - the dynamic ruckwork of Gary Sporn, the brilliance of centreman Barrie Robran and wingman Barry Stringer, the evasion in attack of Adrian Rebbeck and the solidity at centre half-forward of Neil Sachse. In addition, there was the battering that Carlton had taken a day earlier against WA premiers East Perth - a tough match that had caused a Carlton reshuffle for the final through injuries and had left many other players stiff and sore. - South Australian Football Record Year Book 1973.
North Adelaide, coached by former Richmond stalwart Mike Patterson, came from behind into a five goal wind to beat Carlton by a solitary point. Carlton was depleted, no doubt - and with its six missing grand final stars in the team probably would've beaten North by a couple of goals. But the way North swamped the Blues in that torrid last quarter (it held Carlton scoreless for the last 12 minutes), showed that SA was capable of pressure football. Even if it took an ex-Victorian to make the point. Patterson, who played 167 games for Richmond, says that (Barrie) Robran is the best player he's ever seen. Alex Jesaulenko is reputed to have stood and clapped after a piece of Robran wizardry during (this) match. A dual Magarey Medallist and winner of just about every award, Robran is not vaguely interested in playing VFL football. - Inside Football's' Football Close-up 1973
Hard, skilled, well coached, full of courage and deserving. No praise can be too big for the North Adelaide team that contested Carlton to determine the Club Champions of Australia. North, it seemed, had booted away its chances with some appalling kicking for goal in the third quarter. At the last change North was down five points. Carlton goaled at the 5 minute mark, but North refused to give way. Dennis Sachse replied with a goal, and, 12 minutes later, Darryl Webb ran into an open goal and North were 1 point up. The North Adelaide backmen defended in a fanatical manner, refusing to allow Carlton to score again. The crowd of 23,213 were hysterical as the siren sounded, showing North 1 point in front, and Club Champions of Australia. - Football in South Australia 1907-1972
Football continued on an upward march throughout the 1970s. The decade first saw the resurgence of North Adelaide, coached by ex VFL (Richmond) ruckman, Mike 'Swamp fox' Paterson, underpinned by the star that was Barrie Robran, three-time Magarey Medalist, who in the years 1970 to 1974 was arguably the outstanding footballer in Australia. In a 'Championship of Australia' match played between the SANFL premier North Adelaide and the VFL premier Carlton in 1972 at the Adelaide Oval, a virtuoso performance by Barrie Robran got the Roosters over the line. Spectators recalled the unforgettable sight of Carlton champion Alex Jesaulenko (Jesaulenko, You beauty!) literally applauding Robran’s brilliance. - AustralianFootball.com
Goal Kickers: A. Rebbeck 4.6, J. Plummer 2.0, D. Sachse 1.3, D. Webb 1.1, D. Marsh 1.0, B. Robran 1.0, Hearl, N.Sachse, Von Bertouch 0.1.
Best Players: .Robran, Sporn, A. Rebbeck, Stringer, N.Sachse, D. Webb.
Winfield Cup - 1972 Champions of Australia Series.
Dates: 14–15 October 1972
Champions: North Adelaide (1st title)
Third place: East Perth
Fourth place: City-South
Attendance: 42,812 (10,703 per match)
14th October, 1972
SF#1: Carlton 20.15.135 d East Perth 12.12.84
SF#2: North Adelaide 20.23.143 d City-South 11.8.74
15th October, 1972.
Third Place Play-off
East Perth 11.13.79 d City-South 10.12.72
YouTube Match Footage
Source: Pictures and content used from FullPointsFooty.