Exeter FC - SAAFL A1 Premiers 1939 (75th Anniversary)
Official SAAFL Programme 1939. Click above to see the full seasons fixtures for 1939.
Whilst most of the 2014 celebrations were taken up with the 100th anniversary of the Semaphore Central Football Club inaugural premiership, the year was also noteworthy as it also marked the 75th anniversary of the Exeter Football Club’s first every premiership in Amateur League in 1939. Poignantly both premiership victories preceded each of the two world wars and the subsequent departure to the front of many of the players – some who would later make the ultimate sacrifice.
Exeter who were formally known as Semaphore Central Juniors worked their way through the amateur lower ranks eventually making it into the top A1 Division in 1934. This would effectively have them competing against their own senior side. At this point it was decided mutually between the SAAFL and Semaphore Central that they would form a second club known as Exeter that would compete in A1 and cohabit the ground at Largs Reserve.
The year began well for both Semaphore Central and Exeter with the announcement in February by the Port Adelaide City Council for the call of tenders to erect a new dressing and training facility at Largs Reserve. Prior to this the clubrooms consisted of a tin shed with no electricity or running water. The new dressing and changing rooms were opened later that year by the Mayor of Port Adelaide Mr R. Wright and the President of the Amateur League Dr D. G. McKay during the half time break between Exeter and Semaphore Central on the 20th of June 1939.
Exeter performed soundly throughout the home and away season and with two games to go to complete the season Exeter were sitting in equal second position behind Semaphore Central and were a certainty to play finals football. Despite Semaphore Central being clear premiership favourite they were involved in numerous incidents, both on-field and off-field that involved the intervention of the League. This bad behaviour came to head in the second to last home and away game against Adelaide University. The following is an excerpt from Fred Bloch’s “A History of the SAAFL 1911 – 1994” which describes the events.
Semaphore Central Disqualification
“A less frivolous event was the suspension of Semaphore Central. As a result of incidents in the match against S.A. Railways Institute on June 3rd, two Semaphore players were suspended (for abusive language and “hacking an opponent”), and the Club secretary was disqualified from holding any official position in the Club until the beginning of 1940 for striking a Railways player during the first quarter. Then a few weeks later the Semaphore club was reported by the central umpire for the behaviour of the team, its coach and its supporters in a match against University. Umpire J.J. Quinn, a former S.A.N.F.L. umpire and Life Member of Semaphore Central, alleged that Semaphore coach FJ. Herde had menaced him during the match, that the Semaphore team had constantly disputed his decisions and used bad language, that supporters had used filthy and abusive language and had come onto the ground at three-quarter time and menaced him, and that several Semaphore players had attacked University players behind the play. After taking evidence from several witnesses, the Tribunal disqualified Semaphore for the remainder of the season. This meant that with only one minor round match left to play, Semaphore, who had been at the top of the premiership table and favourite for the flag, would miss the finals. Semaphore appealed the decision but the Executive Committee dismissed the appeal”.
As a result of Semaphore Central’s disqualification Exeter completed the season in equal top position with only percentage separating them and Payneham for the minor premiership. In the semi-final Exeter despatched Colonel Light Gardens 7.11 (53) to CLG 6.5 (41) to set up a Grand Final appearance against minor premiers Payneham. In a spiteful game at Prospect Oval which was marred with a number of incidents Exeter 15. 20. (110) defeated Payneham 14. 12 (96).
In a nasty incident in the last quarter during a particularly congested period of play a free was awarded to young rover Harry Vincent of Exeter. As he was walking back to take his free kick a
Payneham player walking back floored Vincent. Two trainers rushed towards Vincent who appeared to be unconscious and then with a spectator appeared to move towards the offending Payneham player. The umpire intervened and an ugly incident was avoided. Vincent in the meantime was still groggy but was eventually lifted to his feet, but after handballing to a team mate collapsed again.
The (above) team photo was taken the following day at McNeill Studios in Port Adelaide and Harry Vincent can be seen (front row seated - second from the right) sporting a shiner from the incident.
SAAFL A1 Grand Final
Exeter Finish Strongly and Outlast Payneham In Grade Al Final - (Grand Final)
The Mail 16th September 1939
In a fiercely contested game Exeter defeated Payneham, minor premiers of the Amateur League (Grade A1.) at Prospect. Faster and more systematic, Exeter finished all over Payneham, whose heavier team had not sufficient stamina in the heat. The teams will meet again in the challenge final next week.
With both teams relying solely on long kicks to drive into attack, play was even during the first
term. In the second term Payneham succeeded only once in moving past centre until near the end, when Loader’s two goals brought them within touch again. Indecision in their forward lines, coupled with a sterling Payneham defence, had kept Exeter’s scoring down to 2 goals 5 points.
Solidly plugging away, Payneham made full use of their attacking opportunities in the next quarter. Exeter moved with brilliant system along the wings, but broke down at forward, where Kinlough was out of touch. Payneham took the lead for the first time on the bell with Loader’s sixth goal. Exeter, although they did not add to their score as often as they should have, outpointed Payneham in the last quarter.
Goal Kickers:- Exeter: Doyle 4, Rose and Vincent 3, Kinlough 2, Schedlick. Nelson, Talbot. Payneham: Loader 7, Ware, Palmer, Le Cornu 2, Schulze.
Best Players: Exeter: Doyle. Rose. Kay, Anderson. Vincent, Nelson, Sangster. Payneham: Palmer. Lawrence. Beames, Schulze. Wilton, Loader.
Payneham having finished minor premiers exercised their “Right of Challenge” for a rematch the following week which would again be played on Prospect Oval.
SAAFL A1 - Rematch Challenge Grand Final
Exeter Amateur Premiers - (Challenge Grand Final)
The Advertiser 25th September
Exeter Thrilling 2-Point Win Over Payneham
The Amateur League challenge final went the same way as the final to Exeter, but only by two points alter it was either side’s game in the last quarter, which Payneham started with a lead of 4 goals 1 behind.
Exeter took the lead for the first time in the match when only six minutes remained for play and with a point lead. The enthusiasm of both sides which seemed to give them phenomenal staying
powers reached a climax and although Payneham had two good chances of winning when loader was freed five minutes before time, and kicked into his man and when Le Cornu kicked the ball out of bounds from a running angle shot almost on the bell Exeter increased its lead by a point and won its first premiership. It was runner up in A2 in 1934 and has been playing in Grade A1 since.
Phenomenal kicking by Payneham In the first quarter with eight straight goals in a row with Loader five threatened to make the game one-sided and although Exeter was winning in the rucks bad kicking in its hall-forward lines prevented forward systems. In the second quarter it was a different tale, and Exeter opened up the game, and by half-lime Kinlough its full forward, had five goals on the board as well as Loader, and the side was only two points behind.
Payneham played the same game with telling affect in the third quarter and with Payneham’s finding its forwards with particularly fine kicking. Exeter’s chance was not bright when the last quarter opened. Payneham did not fade out as the previous Saturday: it was rather that Exeter’s forwards played amazing football, with Doyle in a mixed role of centre half forward and ruckman getting three times as many kicks as anyone else and fittingly putting his side in the lead:
Exeter 15.11 (101 points)
Payneham 15.9 (99 points)
Scorers: Exeter Kinlough 9 goals, Doyle 5 goals, ShedIich 1 goal. Payneham: Loader 8, Lecornu 3 goals, Ware 2, Holland 2 goals.
Best Players: Exeter: Doyle, Kinlough, Reinberg, Vincent, Kellaway, Talbot, Swanson, Sangster. Payneham: Lecornu, Titus, Loader, Ware, Plamer, Whittaker, Lawrence, Frost.
So Exeter won its first ever A1 Premiership - the first of 5 they would win over the next 9 years which was an impressive feat considering the cessation of games during the war years. All in all 1939 proved to be extremely successful year for Exeter with Full Forward Alec Kinlough kicking 118 goals for the season – which up until that point was the highest amount of goals ever kicked in a season.
Celebrations of their victory did not last long as the following week they had to honour a previous commitment to play an end of season football match in Port Pirie against Proprietory. In a high standard game Exeter defeated Proprietory by 27 points – 12.9 (81) to 7. 12. (54). The game played at Memorial Oval would prove to the last for Captain Augy Reinberg having announced his retirement after 20 years of football including games with the senior Port Adelaide side as well as Semaphore Central in the 1920’s.
To close out the year a Victory Ball was held at the Port Adelaide Town Hall in honour of their victory. The ball was attended by the Mayor Mr Ralph Wright along with club President Harold Tapping who made a special speech thanking the Port Adelaide Council for the provision of their modern training facility at Largs Bay.
In the final club notes for the year it was announced that the annual club picnic would be held at Hahndorf on October 15th, the official team photograph for players and officials would be taken on September 17 and the wind up social would be held at the Semaphore Soldiers Memorial Hall on November the 2nd.
The Bonny Boys of Black & Gold - Allan Russell
The Exeter A1 Premiership was met with genuine excitement and joy by supporters throughout the district. The club having played second fiddle to the older and more senior club - Semaphore Central for some years had surpassed them by winning the A1 Premiership.
The excitement of the occasion prompted former player and supporter Allan Russell to pen “The Bonny Boys of Black and Gold” to mark the occasion of Exeter's magnificent victory.
The Bonny Boys of Black & Gold
The bonny boys of the Black & Gold
Deserve a word of praise,
For all their dashing courage bold
Their manners and their ways.
I’ll make a very feeble attempt
Their efforts to extol,
But as a poet I’m exempt
From the top notch honour roll
Sept 23, One nine three nine
To Prospect full of Glee
And how they made those colours shine
In a brilliant victory
I must admit the margin small
Too close for a certainty
But it proved the courage of them all
Each a champion to me
Augy Reinberg – a Captain great
Played his part as number one
They rightly chaired him through the gate,
Good luck old chap – well done
Charlie Anderson – it would seem
Needs no praise to show
His A1 value to our team
He played for the state you know.
Then there is that grand full back,
I refer to Hughie Kay
Never a time does Hughie slack,
He’s good for many a day
Another is that pacy chap
Who bears the name of Powell
He quickly covers any gap
And hands his man the towel
Harry Vincent is good anywhere
A real good boy our Harry
There’s nothing that he would not dare
And he does not stop or tarry
We now review that quiet lad
Ralph Jamieson from birth
He can play the game by Gad
Yea – always proves his worth.
Jimmy Brown is another name
With a style that’s all his own
He too has carved a niche in fame
With the efforts he has shown.
Cyril Sangster on the pivot
Is always on the move
He starts a system with it
Fool proof – like tongue in groove
Gordon Watson on the wing
Is as fast as a bird in flight
He’s really only a little thing
But quality offsets his height
Jack Swanson on the other flank
A footballer of brains I’d deem,
Dame Fortune we must verily thank
He chose to play in our team
Attention now to the ruck we’ll turn
I’ll mention Harold Schedlich first
Always keen and anxious to learn
But much too big to be nursed
Clive Kelleway is the next on the list
A lad from the Burra (Burra Burra)
When he belts the ball with his fist
You would think it’s India rubber
One of the biggest boys of all
Alf Talbot known as Turk
His efforts I would always call
Cool, neat precisive work
Speed you want – all speed today
We have it in Jimmy Rose
I’ve often heard his opponents say
Here he comes – blimey there he goes
And now we come to a well-built chappy
By the name of Jimmy Doyle
He’s at his best and very happy
When the game is full of toil
Lenny Nelson – we can’t miss him
A boy with a perfect style
Always displaying plenty of vim
And moving all the while
I’ll tell you about a lad who can fly
His name is Arthur Gower
I’ve often seen him fly so high
That he fetches back a shower
Alec Kinlough the next to call
A younger brother of Joe’s
Every time he gets the ball
Standby – through it goes
Blackwell, Carlson, Montgomerie & Powell
Were others to do their share
We never heard them grizzle or howl
Or give up in despair.
Twenty two of the best I’ll say
Each one a gentle-man
And now I’ll close till another day
I’ve said it as best I can.
Allan Russell (1939)
- on the occasion of the Exeter Football Club’s 1939 A1 Grand Final victory.
Allan Russell - played for Exeter from approx 1930 - 1935 and penned "The Bonny Boy's of Black & Gold".
Allan Russell was born in 1911 in Petersburg (Peterborough), the
third of three boys of Jack Russell, a railway engine man. In 1916 when he was 5 his father transferred down to Adelaide to take up work on the Outer Harbor line, and built his new home at 20 Light St Exeter. He went to LeFevre School and then Thebarton Tech. As a junior Allan loved his football and was captain of the Peterhead Junior Football Club, situated on the western side of Fletcher Road on the corner of Wills Street. It was just a short walk to the Largs Oval.
In 1937 he married Mollie Stapledon and had two daughters. Over the years he worked as a Clerk for Lloyds Timber Mills, GMH at Woodville and finally at the Advertiser as Storeman, becoming Head Storeman and retiring after 35 years there in 1975 due to ill health. During those years he was also a Bookmaker's Clerk, working every Saturday at the Races and "Trots", also working country meetings when possible. He remained in the house his father had built from the age of 5 until his death in 1982 aged 71.