Semaphore Central 1914

Competition : South Australian Amateur Football League

Finished : 1st
Captain : H. Duthie
Ground :  Alberton Oval. Largs Reserve – for training.

Semaphore Central 1914 - Undefeated Premiers - SAAFL Back Row LtoR R. Drummond, R.S. Moore, B. Jeanes, J. Dunstone, H.G. McEwen, E.D. Oldfield, S. Cobley (Trainer),H.B. Tobin, S. Donnell. Second Row. Kellett (Trainer), W.J. Quinn, A.E. Wilcox, M. Cooper, H. Green, M. Johnson, A. Limb, A Coleman, H Barreau (Trainer & Committee). Middle Row LtoR A. Motley, P.O’Grady, J.J. Quinn (Hon Sec & Treas), A. Donnell (V.C) R. Shearer (Pres), H. Duthie (Capt), J. Mulcahy (Committee), A. Channon, C. Drever. Front Row LtoR P.A. Channon, E. Bauer, A.R. Yeo, W. Forbes, H.E. Stone

Semaphore Central 1914 – Undefeated Premiers – SAAFL
Back Row LtoR R. Drummond, R.S. Moore, B. Jeanes, J. Dunstone, H.G. McEwen, E.D. Oldfield, S. Cobley (Trainer),H.B. Tobin, S. Donnell.
Second Row. Kellett (Trainer), W.J. Quinn, A.E. Wilcox, M. Cooper, H. Green, M. Johnson, A. Limb, A Coleman, H Barreau (Trainer & Committee).
Middle Row LtoR A. Motley, P.O’Grady, J.J. Quinn (Hon Sec & Treas), A. Donnell (V.C) R. Shearer (Pres), H. Duthie (Capt), J. Mulcahy (Committee), A. Channon, C. Drever.
Front Row LtoR P.A. Channon, E. Bauer, A.R. Yeo, W. Forbes, H.E. Stone

Download High Res Photo of Semaphore Central 1914 Premiership Team

On the 24th March 1914 the Semaphore Central Club held their Annual General Meeting at the Semaphore Coffee Palace in front of a large attendance.

The Advertiser
24th March 1914
Semaphore Central Football Club

The annual general meeting of the Semaphore Central Club was held at the Semaphore Coffee Palace on March 24; Mr. F. G. S. Cherry presided over a fair attendance. The following officers were elected:-Patron, Mr. T. Sobels president. Mr. W. A. Anderson; captain, Mr. H. Duthie; vice-captain, Mr. B. Donnell; Hon Secetary Mr. J. Quinn; general committee, captain, Vice-Captain, secretary, and Messrs. E. Stone and A. R. Yeo: selection committee, Captain, Vice-Captain, and Messrs. R. Moore, W. Bennett, and J. Mulcahy; delegates to association, Messrs. J. Quinn and W. Brunnell; auditors, Messrs. A. F. M. Stewart and F. G. S. Cherry. The report of the secretary showed the club to be in a sound condition. The prospects were bright for the coming season.

The final passage in this news report would prove to be extraordinarily accurate; for indeed the Semaphore club would have their best year since their inception, going the entire year and losing only a single game. Not only would it prove accurate for the junior club but also for the Port Adelaide senior and reserve teams at Alberton. The 1914 season would go down in local history as one of the most successful years the district would ever see at both an individual and team level.

Having said this, the season did not start well for the junior seaside club with an easy first up loss to their nemesis Adelaide University in the very first round 9. 9. (63) to 4. 7. (31). From this point forward for the team notched up an impressive 17 game winning streak not dropping a further game for the entire season.

For the second year running Semaphore Central would finish top at the end of the minor round with 15 wins for the season. The other finalists were University (14 wins), Kingswood (11 wins) and Kenilworth (10 wins). Both Semi Finals were close affairs. Semaphore defeated Kingswood at Unley Oval 7. 9. (51) to 7. 4. (46) and University defeated Kenilworth at Hindmarsh Oval 5. 13 (43) to 4. 16. (40) to set up a Semaphore Central final against Varsity on Saturday 19th September at the Norwood Oval.

The Advertiser
21st September 1914
Premiership Match

Semaphore Central and University fought out the premiership of the Amateur League on Saturday on the Norwood Oval. A fair crowd witnessed the match, which resulted in a win for Semaphore after a strenuous game. In winning the premiership Semaphore have a fine record. They lost their first match of the season against University, but they went through the remaining seventeen contests without a loss. University had the advantage of a strong wind during the first quarter, but it was some time before they could break through the defence of Wilcox and Channon. After some up and down play Limb received a free right in front and a goal resulted. Semaphore forwarded the ball on several occasions, but Pellew was in form, and he always cleared with a fine kick down the centre. It was through one of his long kicks that Blackett received the ball, and another goal was scored. Although Semaphore failed to score they did well to keep Varsity down to 2 goals. Semaphore was the first to attack, but they could not break through the defense. Duthie received a free, and their first goal was hoisted. Varsity forwarded, from the bounce, and a behind was scored. From the kick-off Steele secured, and from a running kick scored the maximum. Semaphore now attacked strongly, but their kicking was wretched, and out of six scoring shots only one goal was obtained (Channon). At half time the scores were Semaphore, 2 goals 5 behinds: Varsity, 3 goals 2 behinds. Semaphore were first to attack after the long interval and had the ball in their opponents territory for some considerable time but could not score. At last they scored a behind, and with half the quarter gone they were only 2 points behind. Varsity now took a turn, but their kicking was not accurate, and they could only score a goal out of six shots. At ‘”lemons” they were leading by 2 goals 1 behind. Semaphore have earned the “reputation of a last quarter team and their opponents were confident that they would wipe off the deficiency. They started the quarter in a sensational manner. Peters secured from the bounce, and with a mighty punt landed the ball a few yards in front of the sticks, and Forbes, rushing in punted it through. Varsity forwarded from the bounce, but it was returned, and Limb secured right in front scored a goal. Semaphore were now only 1 point behind and both teams were fighting desperately. Semaphore came again, and Channon made the scores level by scoring a behind. Semaphore were now having most of the play, and scored 2 goals (Channon and Green) and several behinds which put the issue beyond doubt. Varsity made their last effort but from a shot right in front only a minor was scored. The bell then went, leaving Semaphore winners and premiers. Final scores: Semaphore 6 goals 12 behinds, Varsity, 4 goals 11 behinds. Best Players: Winners: Channon (Best on Ground) Stone, Peters, McEwen, Wilcox, Moore, Johnson, Quinn, Yeo. Losers: Pellew (best on side), Sard, Northey, Hayward, Blackett, Williams, Limb, Holmes and Cole. Goal kickers:-Semaphore: Channon (2), Green, Limb, Duthie, and forbes (1). Varsity: Limb, Blackett, Steele, and Northey (each 1). Mr Bailey gave every satisfaction as umpire.

Known players in 1914:

Birt, B. H. Butler, A. R. Baker, E. Bauer, P. H. Blackham, H. Barreau, A. Channon, P. A. Channon, A. W.  Coleman, M. C. Cooper, S. Cobley, Dounese, A. G. Donnell, S. Donnell, C. drever, H. Duthie (Captain), J. Dunstone, R. Drummond, Fraser, Forbes, H. Green, B. Jeanes, M. Johnson, W. Kellet, Linklater, L. L. Lackmann, A. Limb, H. G. McEwen, Mead, R. S. Moore, R. G. McLeod, A. Motley, W.J. Quinn, J. Quinn, E. D. Oldfield, Robertson, P. O’Grady, Punkey, E. C. Sage, H. E. Stone, H. B. Tobin, Weir, Williams, A. E. Wilcox.

War Time Patriotic Match

Carlton 1914 Victorian Premiers. Port Adelaide easily dispatched Carlton on the Adelaide Oval on the Adelaide Oval 9. 16. (70) to 5. 6. (36).

Carlton 1914 Victorian Premiers. Port Adelaide easily dispatched Carlton on the Adelaide Oval on the Adelaide Oval 9. 16. (70) to 5. 6. (36).

Following the conclusion of the local competitions the Port Adelaide team in particular still had an extremely heavy schedule of matches to complete. War had broken out in Europe and already troops were departing for the front and accordingly the League had organised some fund raising matches to contribute to the cause. A number of games were to take place after the conclusion of the Australian Championship against a combined South Australian side and then a fund raising match against Semaphore Central – as reported in the Football “Snippets” section of The Mail published on the 1stOctober 1914.

Port Adelaide has quite a football program to carry out yet. On Saturday they will meet the formidable Carlton team for the Australian Club Championship of Australia on the Adelaide Oval. In the following weeks they will have the unique distinction of playing against a combined (South Australian) league team on Eight Hours Day with 50 per cent, of the takings going to the Eight Hours Union and 50 per cent, to the Patriotic Fund. A further match has been scheduled against Semaphore Centrals on the Alberton Oval in aid of the Port Adelaide Patriotic Fund. 

The Mail went onto schedule Port Adelaide’s busy timetable:

The Semaphore Central team is training hard, and expects to give the senior team a good game.  The Carlton Club, premier of the Victorian Football League, will arrive on Friday and stay for about five days. The South Australian League has chosen a very strong state side to play Ports on Eight Hours Day. These players are training in earnest at the Jubilee Oval under the management of Mr J. Dawes. The finest exhibition of the season should be the outcome. J. Ashley, the Magarey medal winner, who injured his ankle at practice prior to the final match, is still suffering from the injury. It is hoped that he will be able to take his place in the team against Carlton on Saturday. Next Saturday’s championship match against Carlton was arranged and terms agreed to during a three minutes telephone conversation between Melbourne and Adelaide.

Port Adelaide went on to win the Australia Championship against Carlton on the Adelaide Oval 9. 16. (70) to 5. 6. (36) with J. W. Robertson winning the Carnival Medal for the Best Player in the Carnival. All in all a very fruitful year for the Port Adelaide teams.

Subsequent to this game Port Adelaide went on to play the combined South Australian League State Team on the Jubilee Oval on 15th October. The match was an extremely one sided affair with Port Adelaide 14. 14. (98) easily defeating the State Team 5. 10. (40).

The 1914 Port Adelaide was held in such high esteem that it prompted the Australian Football ( website to write this about this exceptional team:

Port Adelaide’s 1914 combination remains unique in SA(N)FL history for its feat of going through the entire season without losing. For that achievement alone, it deserves to be ranked alongside the greatest teams ever to play the game, such as the Essendon sides of the 1890s, Phil Matson’s East Perth of the years following World War One, Collingwood (1927-30), South Fremantle (1947-54), Melbourne (1954-60) and Richmond (1967-74). However, in Port Adelaide’s case, highlighting the 1914 team’s accomplishment in going through the season unbeaten only really scratches the surface of its greatness; it fails, for example, to depict the magnitude of the team’s superiority over every other team in the SAFL, for not only did Port Adelaide emerge victorious from a total of 14 minor round and finals matches, it did so by an average margin of 49 points which, given the low scoring which prevailed at the time, was probably the equivalent of about 100 points in today’s ‘currency’. Its 13.15 (93) to 1.8 (14) annihilation of North Adelaide in the season’s premiership deciding match was arguably comparable to a modern day win by somewhere in the region of 160 points, which would put it in the same ball park as, for instance, Hawthorn’s 32.24 (216) to 8.8 (56) defeat of Essendon in 1992, which is one of the heftiest dozen or so AFL wins of all time.

Port also dominated in terms of individual player achievements, courtesy of three ‘Jacks’: Jack Ashley won the Magarey Medal, Jack Dunn booted 33 goals to top the league list, and Jack Robertson, one of 7 Magpie players chosen to represent South Australia at the Sydney carnival, earned a prestigious Referee Medal for the best South Australian player at the championships.

Once the season proper was over, Port Adelaide provided further evidence of their pre-eminence, first by coasting to a 34 point win over Carlton in the championship of Australia play-off, and then by comprehensively defeating a combined State team comprising top players from the other 6 SAFL clubs, 14.14 (98) to 5.10 (40).

Had the war not intervened and deprived the club of many of its key players, it seems reasonable to suppose that Port Adelaide would have carried on dominating South Australian football for many more years.

With such an imposing reputation and having watched the Port Adelaide juggernaut march through the season undefeated the Semaphore Central team must have been somewhat apprehensive about what was install for them when they met Port Adelaide for the Patriotic Match on the Alberton Oval. The Port Adelaide team was at full strength with all of its stars included – with the exception of the Magarey Medalist – J. Ashley who was still suffering from his ankle injury.

As it turned out the seaside team was more than competitive as can be seen from the report published in The Register on the following Monday.

The Register

12th October 1914

It was a happy idea that suggested the meeting of the premiers of the Senior League (Port Adelaide and those of the Amateur League – Semaphore Central) in a game the proceeds of which will be devoted to the Port Adelaide Patriotic Fund. The match was played at the Alberton Oval on Saturday afternoon.  Although the ground was hard, the weather conditions were fairly favorable for the contest.  The Semaphore team with the advantage of a strong wind quickly piled on five goals, while there more experienced rivals succeeded in scoring only one major.  In the next term, however, Port with a magnificent series of passes added 3. 10. To their total and kept the foe on the defensive.  After the long interval Semaphore again took control and added 3 more goals against the Magpies 2.  The quarter ended: Semaphore Central 8 goals 3 behinds to Port Adelaide 6 goals 4 behinds.  In the last term Port took command, and the game finished with the score showing 9 goals 17 behinds to 8 goals 4 behinds in their favor.  Best players for the winners: Boon (Best on Ground), Middleton, Adams, Wisdom, Bailey, Robertson.  Losers: Donnell, Duthie, Bauer, Robertson, P. O’ Grady.  Goalkickers:  Port Adelaide: Drummond (4), Bailey (2), Woolman, Anderson and Congear (1).  Centrals: C. Channon, Forbes and Linklater (2), Donnell and Duthie. Mr. J.  Curtin gave a satisfactory exhibition of umpiring.

The “Brilliant Ports”

Some of the years achievements can be best summed up by this article that appeared in The Register on December the 4th 1914 bearing the headline “The Brilliant Ports”. The article refers to not only Port Adelaide senior teams but also junior teams of the district.


Port Adelaide 1914 - Champions of Australia. Top Row: Maynard, Boon, Dunne, Anderson, Pope, Watson Middle Row: Magor, Middleton, Oliver, (VC), Londrigan (Capt), Ashley, Robertson, McFarlane. Bottom Row: Hosking, Eaton, Congear, Chaplin, Drummond

Port Adelaide 1914 – Champions of Australia. Top Row: Maynard, Boon, Dunne, Anderson, Pope, Watson
Middle Row: Magor, Middleton, Oliver, (VC), Londrigan (Capt), Ashley, Robertson, McFarlane.
Bottom Row: Hosking, Eaton, Congear, Chaplin, Drummond

The Register
4th December 1914
The Brilliant Ports

Although the football season is over the brilliant performance of the Port Adelaide team in going through the whole of the contests without a defeat is still fresh in the memory of the club’s supporters and football followers generally.  Apart from the honor accruing from the annexation of the State and Australian championships the individual members of the team have received or are about to receive the following list of trophies. Silver Cup to J. Ashley as the Fairest and most Brilliant player; silver rose bowl presented by Mr. W.  H.  Job, to W.  H.  Oliver, for consistently good play, Gold Medal presented by Ezywalkin Ltd, to J.  C.  Watson, as the most improved player (by several supporters) to J.  W.  Robertson, A. Congear, H.  V.  Pope, and S. Hosking, for valuable services rendered; trophies by Mr. H. Lewis, to J.  W.  Robertson, S. Hosking for training; £20 and £5 (Ozone Picture Company), to J.  Ashley and  R. W. Drummond respectively, best two players during the season, as adjudged by the audiences weekly; trophy (PAFC), to Mr. J. Londrigan as a memento for leading the team to 31 out of 33 first class victories including two Australian Championships; framed enlarged photo of the team and offices of PAFC; to each player, trainer, and officer, as souvenirs of the record performances; special framed photographs (a supporter), to J. Ashley and J.  W. Robertson, for winning respectively the Magarey medal and the Referee Medals, 20 Gold Medals (Eight Hours Celebration Union), to 20 players for defeating the combined South Australian team on Eight Hours Day.  Ashley won the Magarey Medal for being a Fairest and most Brilliant player in the state, and Robertson gained the Referee Medal for being the best South Australian player at the Sydney Carnival.  Most of the prizes mentioned will be presented at a dinner early in the New Year given to the club by Mr. J. W. Anderson, for having been one of the first four teams in last season’s final matches. P. Crowley, of Port II won the Magarey medal for being the Fairest and most Brilliant player in the B Grade Association.  D. Adams of Port II won the W.  B.  Carr Medal, for the best all round player in the B Grade Association.  Semaphore Central won the South Australian Amateur League premiership losing only one game for the entire year and H. G. McEwen of Semaphore Central Club won a medal for the Fairest and most Brilliant player in the South Australian Amateur League.  Each of the three players trained with the Ports and have represented that club in senior matches.

Collectively the three teams had won all three premierships, accumulated all available association medals – Magarey Medal – J. Ashley, Referee Medal – J. W. Robertson, P. Crowley won the Reserves Magarey Medal, D. Adams the Reserves W. B. Carr Medal (Umpires Votes) and H. G. “Harry” McEwen won the Amateur League Association Medal for the Semaphore Club. The three teams had scooped the trifecta as far as team and individual awards were concerned.

H. G. McEwen – SAAFL Medalist 1914

Harry McEwen - The first recorded SAAFL Medalist 1914.

Harry McEwen – The first recorded SAAFL Medalist 1914.

Harry McEwen moved to Adelaide from Port Pirie in 1909 with a big reputation and a desire to play for Port Adelaide. He was extremely athletic having excelled at running – Port Adelaide had him earmarked as a wingman. In 1909 he debuted on Alberton Oval in a trial game of combined juniors (Semaphore Central & Portland Imperial) against Port Adelaide. Despite the combined juniors coasting to a surprisingly easy victory over the senior team and Harry receiving a mention in the best players – he struggled to crack the senior Port Adelaide side. In this game the newspapers spoke highly of his athleticism, speed and ability and left no doubt he would be under serious consideration as a regular inclusion in the senior side.

Harry came back and played for Semaphore Centrals for most of the 1909 season and with some consistent performances finally had his chance late in the 1909 season. By 1910 he was a regular choice in the Port Adelaide side. Between 1909 and 1913 he played 64 games for Port Adelaide including the 1910 and 1913 Premierships as well as the Champions of Australia for the same years.

In 1914 he struggled for inclusion in the Port Adelaide team which possibly says more about the caliber of players available that year rather than poor form on Harry’s part. The Port Adelaide team of 1914 was one of the best ever. Even champion goal kicker Frank Hansen who had won the association goal kicking award for the previous 4 consecutive years only managed to play a single game in 1914. Harry’s bad luck was Semaphore Central’s good fortune – they were the beneficiary of his exclusion with Harry playing virtually a full season with the Junior club. H. G. McEwen of Semaphore Central has his name on the board as the first ever (known) SA Amateur League medalist.