By Peter Argent
Known as “The Brooks” or the “The Brookers” and currently competing in the Hills Football League Division 2, Kersbrook is a famous family club in Adelaide Hills footy territory.
Club historian Matthew Coad says the club has many strong family connections that permeate across a number of generations.
“Family (names) like James, MacDonald, Pearce, Scott and Checker all have a big connection … and I could probably list another 10,” Coad said.
The MacDonald-Kersbrook connection dates back to siblings Bruce, Robert, John and Trevor McDonald’s great-grandfather, Evan Powell, the inaugural president of the club (and a relative of the James clan).
Trevor MacDonald is a life member of not only Kersbrook, but also the Hills Football League, Masters (Super) Rules Footy and the Hills Football League’s Umpires Association, in which he is still officiating.
The Pearce family’s patriarch is Kym who holds the club record for most number of senior games (517), while his son Bradley was the Mail Medalist in 2007 and 2008. Brad’s sibling, Nathan, is a three-time A Grade premiership player and a 300-plus game footballer as well.
Then there is the James family which is synonymous with Kersbrook FC and the SA football landscape.
The James boys’ father Adrian and Neville played upwards of 350 games each for Kersbrook.
Brett and Roger James both had successful SANFL and AFL football careers and are recognised for their outstanding achievements as SA Football Hall of Fame inductees.
Brett – who still donned the boots this year in Kersbrook’s C grade at age 46 – played 118 games with Collingwood and Adelaide Football Clubs and was a member of both the 1997 and ‘98 Crows flags. He also notched up 234 games with Norwood, was captain of the club for five years and best and fairest on three occasions.
Roger James debuted with the Port Adelaide Football Club during its inaugural AFL season and was noted as a tough inside midfielder who tallied 147 games in the black, white and teal until knee problems forced him into retirement from the top level of the game in 2005 at 29 years of age.
A key member of the Power’s breakthrough 2004 AFL premiership, Roger also played 76 games for Norwood and was a member of the SANFL 1995 Team of the Year.
Roger and Brett shared the ’97 SANFL League premiership over Port Adelaide for the Redlegs.
Roger subsequently went to Barossa District in the neighouring Barossa, Light and Gawler competition, leading them to back-to-back flags as playing coach in 2012 and ’13.
He is currently assistant to four-time Central District premiership player Scott Dutschke at the Freeling Football Club.
The youngest of the three brothers, Paul, also played 38 games of SANFL League football with North Adelaide in 2002 and 2003, along with 54 at Norwood.
Now aged 39 and still playing A grade at “The Brook”, Paul was co-captain of the 2008-09 premiership teams with Nathan Pearce and won the Mail Medal in ’09.
Brett, Roger and Paul’s elite footy connections also continue on mother Janice’s side of the family. Her father, Claude Greening, originally with the Chain of Ponds – the team Kersbrook amalgamated with in the 1940s – played league football for Port Adelaide before World War II and later returned as coach of “The Brook”.
Brett James is the current senior coach, having been in the role since 2007, whilst club captains are Matt Gardener and former CMS Crow Leyton McMahon.
A proud history
The club has a proud and successful history dating back to pre-World War 1 when purple and white coloured guernseys are believed to have been worn.
“I’ve never found a photo of that jumper but have seen a newspaper excerpt that mentions us playing in those colours,” Matthew Coad says.
“The chocolate and blue guernsey initially worn in the 1920s is the one we have played some reunion games in.”
According to Coad, it wasn’t until 1957 that Kerbrook won its first flag, when the club’s first XVIII defeated Mount Torrens in empathic style – 14.14 (98) to zero – in the Torrens Valley Football Association.
Moving across to the Hills Football League, the first A grade competition flag was against Birdwood in 1972. The Brookers were victors by 20 points after losing the previous year to Mount Torrens by a single straight kick.
Further Premiership triumphs came in 1974, 1986, 1993 and 1997. Most memorable is the back-to-back flags of 2008 and 2009 against the highly-fancied Torrens Valley Mountain Lions side, with all three James brothers playing in both and Roger James delivering a best on ground performance in the latter.
This decade Kersbrook has enjoyed a further three A Grade titles, with premierships in 2012 and again in 2015.
“On that day (in 2015) our A grade, B grade and under 17s all won the flag,” Coad said.
“Our A grade and B grade netball teams also won titles that year with the C grade netball side participated in the Grand Final.
“Not a bad result for a small town.”