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South Australian National Football League
Current season or competition:
2013 SANFL season
Formerly South Australian Football Association (1877–1906)
South Australian Football League (1907–1927)
Sport Australian rules football
Inaugural season 1877
No. of teams 9
Country  Australia
Most recent champion(s) Norwood
Most titles Port Adelaide (36)
TV partner(s) ABC1
Official website

The South Australian National Football League (SANFL) is an Australian rules football league based in the Australian state of South Australia. It is also the governing body for the sport of Australian rules football in South Australia.

Originally formed as the South Australian Football Association on 30 April 1877, the SANFL is the oldest surviving football league of any code in Australia and one of the oldest football competitions in the world, forming just a few years after the United Hospitals Challenge Cup (1874), the oldest rugby football competition, and over a decade before The Football League (soccer).

Consisting of a single division competition, the season is a 23 week "home-and-away" (regular) season from April to September. The top five teams play off in a final series culminating in the grand final for the Thomas Seymour Hill Premiership Trophy. The grand final is held at Football Park in October, generally the week after the AFL Grand Final.

The league also owns the sub-licences for South Australia's two AFL clubs - Adelaide Football Club and Port Adelaide Football Club. It is also responsible for the management of all levels of football in the state. This includes junior football, country football, amateur football and specific programs rolled out across schools, indigenous communities (including the APY Lands in the state's north) and newly arrived migrant communities.

The SANFL owns the 51,240 seat AAMI Stadium (Football Park), the largest stadium in South Australia. The stadium, which opened in 1974, is primarily used for Australian Football League matches, though is also used for SANFL games (including all finals) and is the headquarters for the league. The SANFL competition is the second highest attended Australian rules football league behind the AFL.

Current clubs

Colours Club Nickname Home ground Entered
Premierships Last
Central District Bulldogs Elizabeth Oval 1964 9 2010
Glenelg Tigers Glenelg Oval 1921 4 1986
North Adelaide Roosters Prospect Oval 1887 13 1991
Norwood Redlegs Norwood Oval 1878 29 2013
Port Adelaide Magpies Alberton Oval 1877 36 1999
South Adelaide Panthers Hickinbotham Oval 1877 11 1964
Sturt Double Blues Unley Oval 1901 13 2002
West Adelaide Bloods Richmond Oval 1897 8 1983
Woodville-West Torrens Eagles Woodville Oval
Thebarton Oval
1991 3 2011

*Home grounds are shown using their non-commercial names.

Up to the end of the 2013 season, when not playing with the two Adelaide-based AFL clubs, Port Adelaide Power or the Adelaide Crows, AFL-listed players would play for the SANFL clubs to which they were recruited from. Those recruited to these AFL clubs who had not previously played for an SANFL club were allocated to a club by means of a "mini-draft", or played as a "guest player" if they are not playing for their Adelaide based AFL club, and their SANFL club have a bye. AFL club listed players were required to play a minimum of five SANFL games for their club through the season in order to be eligible to play in the SANFL finals. This rule had been in effect since the Crows first entered the AFL in 1991.

From the 2014 season onwards and on a year-by-year reviewable basis, Adelaide and Port Adelaide will have reserves teams in the SANFL league division. The latter will play as the Magpies, with 15 dedicated SANFL players and the rest to be made up of Power-listed players. While the Crows will not take part in the other levels of competition, the SANFL reserves division will see a Magpies team under the banner of an "Academy" team, made up of players aged between 18-22 and any players from that pool of 15 that may be demoted. This season will also be the last that the Magpies are involved at SANFL Under-18's & 16's competitions.

Former clubs

  • Adelaide – formed in 1860; disbanded in 1873; reformed in 1876; merged with Kensington in 1881; disbanded in 1882; reformed and merged with North Park in 1885. Their colours were black, red and white and they were premiers in the SAFA in 1886.In 1888 the touring British Rugby team played South Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Norwood and Adelaide at Australian Rules. They defeated Port by a goal.[1] The tourists played 19 games of Australian Rules overall, winning six and drawing one. They were coached by two Essendon footballers, Jack Lawlor and FG McShane.
  • Bankers – formed in 1877 and after losing all 15 of the matches it contested that year it disbanded at the end of the season.
  • Kensington – formed in the early 1870s, Kensington affiliated with SAFA in 1877, but by 1881 it had merged with the Adelaide club. The clubs colours were scarlet and white and its home ground was Kensington Oval.
  • South Park – formed in 1877 and disbanded in 1884.
  • Victorian – formed in 1877 and with their home ground at Montefiore Hill, the Victorian team were premiers in 1877 (equal with South Adelaide). The clubs colours were orange and black. The club changed their name to North Adelaide in 1883, although it was not linked to the modern day North Adelaide, which formed from the Medindie club. Victorian disbanded after the 1884 season.
  • Willunga – formed in 1874, and affiliated with SAFA from 1877 to 1885. Willunga then joined the newly formed Southern Football Association, a rural league.
  • Woodville (the original club) – formed about 1868 and affiliated with SAFA 1877, the club forfeited two matches in its first season due to lack of numbers and disbanded at the end of the season. Many of the Woodville players then moved to the newly formed Norwood club.[2]
  • Kapunda – formed in 1866 and is possibly the oldest football club in Australia to enjoy an uninterrupted identity.
  • Gawler – formed in 1868, joining the SAFA in 1887 until 1890, folding by 1894. The Gawler Football Association was created out of its demise.

At the end of the 1990 season the Woodville and West Torrens clubs merged for Woodville-West Torrens which competed for the first time in 1991.


League administration

The league's revenue is derived from its paid attendance, media and payments from both the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide AFL clubs for use of Football Park.

The SANFL is classed as a semi-professional competition. In 2008 the league had a salary cap of $400,000 (excluding service payments).[3] This is the second highest in Australia for an Australian rules football competition, after the AFL.

SANFL Ladder

South Australian leagues (including the SANFL) award two points for a win, and one for a draw. Elsewhere in Australia generally four points are awarded for a win and two for a draw. In addition, percentage is calculated as "For" ÷ "For and Against" × "100". Elsewhere in Australia it is generally calculated as "For" ÷ "Against" × "100".


The SANFL match-day program is called the Football Budget and is sold at all SANFL matches. A special edition is produced for the grand final.

The SANFL competition's "match of the round" is broadcast weekly in South Australia on ABC Southern (ABC1 South Australia). Until early 2008, it was also broadcast nationally on ABC2 television. In 2012, nationwide SANFL match replays resumed on ABC2. Match replays are also available nationally on ABC iView. In 2007, the SANFL measured a record 1,415,000 total television viewers.[4]

The SANFL competition is covered by local radio stations Life FM (live) and 5RPH (live). ABC Local Radio and FIVEaa broadcast the SANFL Finals Series.


Although SANFL crowds now competes heavily with the two AFL national league clubs, the SANFL still has the second highest attendance of any Australian rules football league and the highest attendance for any regional league of any football code. It continues to publish attendance figures.

The record attendance for an SANFL fixture was set at the 1976 SANFL Grand Final between Sturt and Port Adelaide at Football Park which saw 66,987 crammed into the stadium, though some estimate the crowd to have been as high as 80,000 with thousands turned away at the gates.[5] The largest attendance for a minor round fixture was set in Round 19, 1988 for a double header at Football Park. 38,213 fans saw Sturt play Port Adelaide in the early game while reigning premiers North Adelaide faced ladder leaders Central District in the late game.[6] The record suburban ground attendance was an estimated 24,000 who saw Sturt and Norwood at Unley Oval on 9 June 1924.[7] A verified attendance of 22,738 saw Port play Norwood at Alberton in Round 11, 1977*.

* South Adelaide played Port Adelaide in front of 30,618 at the Adelaide Oval in Round 2, 1965. At the time the Adelaide Oval doubled as both league headquarters and South Adelaide's home ground. South Adelaide would move to Hickinbotham Oval in 1995. The Unley Oval record is for current SANFL team home grounds, though the figure was only an estimated amount.

The following are the most recent attendance figures

Home &
Grand Final
2013 TBA TBA 96 TBA TBA 36,685


2012 259,242 52,309 96 311,551 3,245 29,661


2011 291,209 52,387 96 343,596 3,579 25,234


2010 276,583 67,308 96 343,891 3,582 34,355


2009 263,125 68,230 96 331,355 3,452 35,647


2008 275,842 86,367 96 362,209 3,773 34,128


2007 258,308 64,527 96 322,835 3,165 30,493

[14] [15]

2006 255,446 54,406 96 309,852 3,228 25,130


2005 259,331 44,023 96 303,354 2,974 28,637


2004 253,597 59,200 96 312,797 3,258 24,207

[18] [19]

2003 260,137 53,078 94 313,215 3,332 28,199

[18] [19]


Before 1877

The earliest recorded football club in South Australia was Adelaide Football Club, formed in 1860.[20] The early years of football were poorly organised and dogged by argument over which set of rules to adopt. In fact, after a match between Port Adelaide and Kensington in 1873, it was remarked that neither side understood the rules clearly.[21] However, as the years progressed, there became a growing push for uniformity and structure in South Australian football.


In 1877, 12 of South Australia's football clubs met to develop a uniform set of rules and establish a governing body. The South Australian Football Association was formed at a meeting at the Prince Alfred Hotel in King William Street, Adelaide[22] on 30 April 1877,[23] the first governing body of its type for football in Australia, and adopted rules similar to those used in Victoria. The inaugural 1877 season was contested by those 12 clubs: South Park, Willunga, Port Adelaide, Adelaide, North Adelaide, Prince Alfred College, Gawler, Kapunda, Bankers, Woodville, South Adelaide and Victorian.

Norwood joined the Association the following season in 1878, and went on to win the next six premierships. Norwood, South Adelaide and Port Adelaide together won 23 of the first 24 premierships. South Park, Willunga, North Adelaide, Prince Alfred College, Gawler, Kapunda, Bankers, Woodville, and Victorian all left the Association within the first 10 years. By 1886, the Association had been reduced from 12 to four clubs.

The Association experienced a resurgence in the late 1880s and early 1890s. The addition of North Adelaide (1893), West Adelaide and West Torrens (1897) and only the demise of Adelaide (1893), meant the Association comprised six clubs by the turn of the century. In 1898, the Magarey Medal was awarded to the fairest and most brilliant player for the first time.


Sturt joined the Association in 1901, but performed poorly initially, finishing last in its first three seasons. In 1902, Port Adelaide adopted its now famous black and white colours. In 1907, the Association changed its name to the South Australian Football League.

Norwood and Port Adelaide continued their domination of the league, and were joined by West Adelaide and North Adelaide; between them, the four clubs won all premierships between 1901 and 1913. West Adelaide followed three straight wooden spoons from 1904–06 with four out of the five premierships from 1908–1912, the most successful period in West Adelaide's history.

The SAFL maintained competition for the first two years of World War I, 1914 and 1915, with Sturt winning their first premiership in 1915, but from 1916 the competition was suspended and did not resume until 1919.

Sturt won the first premiership of the post-WWI era, beating North Adelaide in the Challenge Final replay. Glenelg became the newest addition to the league in 1921 and started poorly with five consecutive wooden spoons. In 1927, the South Australian Football League was renamed the South Australian National Football League. Port Adelaide won five premierships in the period 1919-1939, appearing in 12 grand finals.

The SANFL continued normal competition for the first few years of World War II, but from 1942 to 1944 operated on a reduced basis with clubs merged on a geographical basis - Port Adelaide / West Torrens, West Adelaide / Glenelg, Sturt / South Adelaide and Norwood / North Adelaide.


The immediate post-war period was dominated by Norwood, with three premierships to 1950. Port Adelaide, led by Fos Williams, dominated the 1950s winning seven premierships, including a record-equalling six in a row from 1954–59. This record, originally set by Norwood in 1883, still stands in the SANFL and AFL, and no other team in any other professional or semi-professional league has managed to break it.

Port Adelaide continued their dominance of the competition in the early 1960s with three more premierships by 1965. In 1964 the SANFL admitted two new clubs, Central District and Woodville. Both clubs performed poorly, and many questioned the purpose of introducing two more teams, in particular Woodville, who were closely surrounded by existing clubs, Port Adelaide and West Torrens. A resurgent Sturt under coach Jack Oatey won five straight premierships from 1966–70, sharing a fierce rivalry with Port Adelaide whom they met in four consecutive Grand Finals.


Sturt began the 1970s by defeating Glenelg in a rain-affected Grand Final by 21 points. North Adelaide secured back-to-back premiership victories over Port Adelaide in 1971 and 1972 and defeated VFL premier Carlton by one point in the end-of-season Championship of Australia match. Port Adelaide continued their success, winning two premierships themselves (1977, 1979), and finishing lower than 3rd only once for the decade. Other premiership winning clubs in the 1970s were Sturt (1970, 1974, 1976), Glenelg (1973), and Norwood (1975, 1978). On 4 May 1974, Central District and North Adelaide played the first game at newly opened Football Park at West Lakes. SANFL moved its administration to the new stadium, and 58,042 attended the first Grand Final at the ground later that year, with Sturt defeating Glenelg by 15 points despite kicking into a stiff breeze in the last quarter after leading by 5 points at three-quarter time. The 1975 season was highlighted by Glenelg's score of 49.23 (317) against Central District, with a winning margin of 238 points which was larger, at that time, than the previous highest score ever recorded by a side in a single game. In 1976, Sturt defeated Grand Final favourites Port Adelaide by 41 points in front of a record Football Park crowd of 66,897. Norwood won the 1978 premiership in their centenary year by beating Sturt in the Grand Final by one point after Sturt had lost just one game for the entire season. During the 1970s, an increasing number of SANFL players moved to Victoria to play in the VFL competition.


Port Adelaide, Norwood and Glenelg dominated the SANFL in the 1980s, accounting for eight premierships. The exodus of quality players to the VFL continued in the 1980s. In 1981 the VFL rejected a SANFL bid to enter a composite South Australian team to its competition. The SANFL introduced a player retention scheme in 1988 in an attempt to maintain the quality of the competition in the face of falling attendances. Night football was introduced in 1984 after floodlights were installed at Football Park.


On 31 July 1990, Port Adelaide surprised the SANFL by making an independent bid to the join the AFL. The SANFL was left with little option but to submit its own bid to enter the AFL. In a thirty-minute meeting the SANFL formed the Adelaide Football Club. While Port Adelaide had by far the largest supporter base in South Australia, it could not compete with the SANFL's offer of a composite club and the use of Football Park, and in November 1990, following a legal battle, the AFL announced the Adelaide Football Club had been granted a licence and would enter the competition in 1991.

The Adelaide Crows debuted in 1991 wearing the state colours of navy blue, red and yellow. While the Adelaide Crows enjoyed crowds of over 40,000 every week and dominated local media coverage, crowds at local SANFL matches suffered substantially.

In 1994 after a tender process put to all the SANFL clubs, the Port Adelaide Football Club secured a licence to enter the AFL. The Port Adelaide chose the nickname of 'Power' since 'Magpies' was already used by Collingwood. Port Adelaide wished to maintain its presence (as the Magpies) in the SANFL, which was agreed to on the basis that Port Adelaide's SANFL and AFL entities operate independently. The club in the SANFL was renamed "Port Adelaide Magpies Football Club" to reflect this separation.


Central District appeared in every Grand Final from 2000 to 2009, collecting eight premierships (2000-1, 2003–5, 2007–2009). Only Sturt (2002) and Woodville-West Torrens (2006) have interrupted Centrals' run during this period. Under-age divisions were restructured, with under 17 and under 19 competitions dissolved in favour of under 16 and under 18 leagues, the latter coming into line with Victoria's TAC Cup competition and under the sponsorship of McDonalds would be known as the Macca's Cup. The former would become the Macca's Shield, the season length is around half that of the other levels of competition. Night games would become a feature at Elizabeth Oval, with Central District hosting Saturday night matches from 2006.


Central District appeared in the 2010 & 2011 Grand Finals, with a victory over Norwood for their ninth flag then a loss to Woodville-West Torrens. The 2012 season saw them exit the finals in straight sets after defeats by West Adelaide and then North Adelaide. The 2012 and 2013 premierships were both won by Norwood, firstly defeating West Adelaide by 49 points to win their 28th flag and then subsequently defeating North Adelaide by 40 points for their 29th flag. This was the first time Norwood had won back to back flags for 90 years, when coincidentally they also beat West Adelaide (1922) and North Adelaide (1923).

With Norwood and Elizabeth's night match experiment largely successful and popular, West Adelaide (2010), South Adelaide (2011) and Glenelg (2012) would follow suit by installing their own lighting systems at their respective grounds while Woodville-West Torrens had hoped to play under lights at Thebarton Oval, which to date have only done so once in 2012 during their premiership defence.

In 2011, AFL-based Port Adelaide and SANFL-based Port Adelaide Magpies merged in order to address losses at both clubs, however in 2013 the club announced that the Magpies would officially become the reserves team for Port's AFL players, joining the Adelaide Football Club in fielding a reserves team in the SANFL in time for the 2014 season. These moves caused some furore in some fan circles, especially from the supporters of the Magpies who have resolved to not support the Power. The 2013 Grand Final was the last SANFL match at AAMI Stadium, with league headquarters to return to the new and improved Adelaide Oval from 2014.

Expansion plans

There were suggestions in 2007 to include a Northern Territory team in the SANFL, following trial games between composite Northern Territory Football League teams and SANFL clubs.[24] Darwin and Alice Springs were cited as competing for a licence, with the Northern Territory government supporting Darwin and business people such as Dick Pratt supporting Alice Springs.[25][26][27] However, a composite Northern Territory side, Northern Territory Football Club eventually joined the North East Australian Football League in 2011.

There was also a proposal to include a team representing Adelaide's north-eastern suburbs, which includes Modbury, Golden Grove and Tea Tree Gully. Federal MP for Makin, Tony Zappia made this proposal in 2009, arguing that "only one of nine (SANFL) sides is based north of Grand Junction Road, yet a third of the city's population is in that region, and under the State Government's 30 year plan most of the growth is likely to be in the north."[28]



The Grand Final winners each season are presented the Thomas Seymour Hill Premiership Trophy, named after administrator Thomas Seymour Hill. The Stanley H. Lewis Memorial Trophy, awarded annually since 1962, recognises the best combined record in all levels of SANFL competition.[29]


The Magarey Medal is awarded to the fairest and most brilliant player in the SANFL each season and is the oldest individual football award in Australia.[30]

The medal was originated by and is named after William Ashley Magarey who, in 1897, was the inaugural chairman of the South Australian Football Association (as the SANFL was then known). In 1898, in an effort to stamp out rough play and improve respect of umpires, Magarey instituted the medal to be awarded to the player deemed by umpires to be the fairest and most brilliant for that season. The inaugural winner of the medal was Norwood's Alby Green. Magarey presented every medal until he died in 1929, but the Magarey Medal is still awarded to the fairest and most brilliant SANFL player each season. The Reserves Magarey Medal recognises the standout performers of that level as well.

The Ken Farmer Medal, much like the Coleman Medal in the AFL, is awarded to the league player with the most goals in a season. Named after North Adelaide's most prolific goal-kicker before World War II, the medal was introduced in 1981 with Port Adelaide's Tim Evans winning the inaugural award.

There are also the McCallum and Tomkins Medals, which up until the 2008 season were awarded to the best and fairest players of the U-17 and U-19 divisions respectively. These awards were merged in 2009 when the two under-age competitions were replaced with an U-18's league, similar to those adopted in the West Australian Football League and the VFL's TAC Cup. The first winner of the newly created McCallum-Tomkins Medal was South Adelaide's Luke Bowd.

The Jack Oatey Medal is awarded to the player voted best on ground in the SANFL Grand Final, first awarded in the 1981 premiership decider to Russell Ebert of Port Adelaide. In the same year, the Fos Williams Medal was also commissioned to recognise the standout performer for South Australia in interstate football, the first of which was awarded to Peter Carey of Glenelg. Despite State of Origin football disappearing from the AFL calendar in 1999, the medal continues to be awarded to the best player for the SANFL representative team in interstate football.

The Bob Quinn Medal is awarded to the player voted best afield in the Anzac Day matches between the Grand Finalists of the previous year. Commissioned in 2002, the medal was first won by James Gowans of Central District.

Interteam wins

Eagles[32] Glenelg[33] North
Norwood[35] Port
Sturt[38] West
Woodville TOTALS
- wins
Central District x 55% 52% 56% 47% 35% 57% 52% 58% 57% 59%[40] 52%[41]
Eagles 45% x 67% 67% 63% 40% 79% 77% 63% x x 62%
Glenelg 48% 29% x 43% 40% 26% 55% 42% 47% 43% 83% 43%
North Adelaide 43% 28% 56% x 42% 32% 66% 48% 59% 56% 78% 51%
Norwood 55% 41% 61% 55% x 42% 68% 57% 62% 64% 70% 58%
Port Adelaide 67% 60% 75% 68% 56% x 77% 67% 66% 75% 86% 69%
South Adelaide 44% 23% 45% 33% 32% 22% x 39% 44% 42% 65% 37%
Sturt 49% 23% 74% 49% 43% 33% 60% x 52% 54% 76% 50%
West Adelaide 44% 39% 54% 41% 37% 33% 55% 47% x 43% 67% 45%
West Torrens 42% x 57% 42% 35% 25% 55% 44% 53% x x
Woodville 41%[42] x 17% 22% 30% 12% 35% 22% 32% x x
Played 985 405 1698 1929 1993 2027 1877 1869 1885

See also




External links

  • 2013 SANFL Season
  • The official SANFL website

Club websites

  • Central District
  • Glenelg
  • North Adelaide
  • Norwood
  • Port Adelaide
  • Sturt
  • South Adelaide
  • West Adelaide
  • Woodville – West Torrens
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