article by Roy Marten (Semaphore Central Treasurer and Secretary & former Mayor of Port Adelaide) c1965
The area of land known as the Largs Reserve, now more familiarly as the Largs Oval, was dedicated for public use in 1881. It was a rather picturesque stretch of wooded and grassed land, and was and has proved of inestimable benefit to the community for many years.
The Semaphore Central Football Club trained on various flat areas of land and finally the Alberton Oval, which they used as their Head Quarters, before moving to the Largs Reserve in 1926 in an endeavour to obtain their own ground. The Largs Reserve was then just a rough paddock with a galvanised iron shed serviced with a wood chip bath heater for the use of the players.
The late Mr. Arthur Upton, the then Town Clerk, was approached by Roy Marten, the Hon Secretary of the Semaphore Central Football Club, for Council’s help to improve the ground and the facilities. The Town Clerk agreed to help and approached the late ex-Mayor Bill Gilbert, who at that time was a Councillor for West Ward, and finally 600 pounds was borrowed from the allocation of West Ward for the necessary work. The oval was grassed and fenced, and a brick building erected equipped with lockers and electric water heating in the shower room.
The Semaphore Central Football Club was the oldest amateur club in the Port District, and produced many outstanding players including “Shine” Hosking (Magarey Medalist), Bill Musson, Tom Quinn, Bill Montgomery and Casey Cooper. Other well-known people connected with the club were Hugh Dunchue, Harry Slade (a former Mayor), Frank Heritage and Arthur Samuels, and many more too numerous to mention.
The Semaphore Central Football Club won many premierships, and supplied the Port Adelaide Football Club with many of its best recruits. The Club’s successes included being the only one to win the Champion of Champions title in the Amateur League. Some years later the Exeter Football Club was formed, and shared the Oval with the Semaphore Central Football Club.
However, in the immediate post war period of the 1939/45 War some members of the sporting clubs using the ground became concerned by the lack of suitable facilities and banded themselves into a Committee to further its progress and development.
The Committee was representative of the four cricket clubs, 2 football clubs, tennis clubs and the Semaphore Bowling Club. The Chairman was Mr. E.P. Nazer, and the Secretary, the late Mr. H.S. Walker. These two gentlemen later became members of the Port Adelaide City Council.
The Reserve was put into recess for a year, ploughed, harrowed and re-grassed. The two concrete pitches at the northern and southern ends were dug up and replaced by turf wickets.The clubs mostly concerned (the cricket clubs) went out to the South Australian Cricket Association’s turf pits at Athelstone, dug out the soil, and laid down the wickets at the Oval. A new picket fence was placed around the ground, and later painted by the members of the committee. The clubroom was improved, and later was replaced by a more modern building.
To finance these improvements Gala Days were conducted. To initiate thee annual proceedings processions assembled at Exeter, went through Semaphore, then along the Esplanade via the Largs Pier Hotel, where school children (under control of the late Mr. Fred Vickery) joined the procession, and proceeded to the Largs Oval. These Gala Days included trotting events, bicycle racing, log chopping and draught horse derbies. They were supported by many stalls, and always concluded with evening concerts when variety programmes were presented.
The activities of the Committee, during its life span, promoted a great deal of improvements to the Oval, but with the passage of time most of the members retired, and the committee regrettably has now ceased to function.
The stone fence on the Woolnough Road boundary of the Reserve was erected to commemorate the late Mr. H.S. Walker’s contribution towards the development of the Largs Oval.
Former Mayor of Port Adelaide
Secretary of the Semaphore Central Football Club
This article was written by Roy Marten in the mid 60’s and from a Semaphore Central view point. Roy is correct in acknowledging the many fine footballers the club has produced, but from a modern day perspective with the merger of Exeter and Semaphore Central we see our history as a single club – Port District. Exeter spawned out of Semaphore Central’s dominance in the 1920’s and the formation of Port District in the 1970’s merely returned the club to its origins.
With the benefit of hindsight and some easier researching methods we can expand on Roy’s findings by laying claim to no fewer than 10 Magarey Medals the “Port District” Club (Exter & Semaphore Central) has produced since its inception in the 1870’s.
These players are: Stan Malin – 1898, Jack Mack – 1907, Sampson ‘Shine’ Hosking – 1910 & 1915, Charlie Adams – 1921, Peter Bampton – 1925, Robert Quinn 1938 & 1945, Dave Boyd – 1956, Greg Anderson – 1986.