By Peter Argent
The Southern Eagles entered the Yorke Peninsula Football League with a bang in 1994, kicking off its first match in the League with a 101-point away victory over Moonta.
It was Saturday, April 9 that year and the Eagles scored a memorable 29.20 (194) to the Demons 14.9 (93), with Jason Aldenhoven marking everything that came his way and booting seven goals. Teammates Craig Hickman and Darren “Dutchie” Holland also chipped in with four-goal hauls.
Daniel Goldsmith was mentioned as best in the YP Country Times, but it was John Reuther who was given the three votes by the Times scribe Les Pittaway who was reporting on the game.
However, there was a bit of a reality check the next Saturday when the Eagles went down to Wallaroo by 84 points in its first home game at Yorketown Oval.
Round three of the season was the first clash against fellow South Yorke Peninsula rivals, the CMS Crows, also new arrivals to the League in ’94. And it proved to be a thriller.
As reported in The Times:
“The Crows into time on, five points up.
When Daniel Goldsmith marked the ball 30 metres out dead in front, with approximately 10 seconds to go, the Crows fans died as one (a goal could see them lose) – he missed!
The Crows had stolen a win by four points.
Final scores: CMS 11.10 (76), Eagles 9.18 (72).”
The Eagles were formed by an amalgamation of three local football clubs – Edithburgh, Yorketown and Western United (a merger of Warooka and Sunbury back in 1926) – during a time of dramatic change in Yorke Peninsula football.
“We believe, but are not 100 per cent sure, that the Southern Eagles name came from the (SANFL) Eagles in Adelaide, being our zone club. And the ‘Southern’ part as we are the southern most club on the Yorke Peninsula,” long-time secretary at the Southern Eagles, Cheryl Hayes explained.
“Back in that opening season of 1994, our first A grade captain was Michael Hoile, with John Reuther as his deputy and the inaugural coach was former Woodville 137-game player Eddie Holland.
“Our first President was (Joseph) ‘Sparkes’ Harris (the father of state cricketer Daniel) and the Secretary was Maurice Johnson.”
Among the other initial committee members were Dean Murdock, Peter Tonkin, Colin Dodd, Peter Hickman, Peter Lukeman, Allan Goodwin, Wayne Hickman, Dean Hoare, Garth Robbie, Graham Hart (as Treasurer) and Geoff Trengove.
Darren Holland, who secured the honour of the Eagles’ inaugural best and fairest winner at the age of 21, recalls his best memory of the first victory against the Demons at Moonta in 1994.
“Sparkes Harris reversed his car up to our visitors change rooms and belted out the song from his stereo system,” Holland said.
“Naturally, being a new club, no one knew or had rehearsed the club song to this point. It was actually very similar to the Woodville West Torrens club song.
“I played again in ‘95 and a couple of teenagers were very good in that grand final win.
“Josh Altman was best on ground at the age of 16 in the back pocket and Kane Aldridge was impressive on his wing.”
In his final game with the Southern Eagles, Holland kicked five goals in that 1995 season-deciding premiership win over Wallaroo, the Eagles victorious at Minlaton Oval, 17.10 (112) to 12.8 (80).
Noted for his supreme pace and strong foot skills, Holland went on to play SANFL State League football with Woodville West Torrens.
“My league debut was at Football Park against Central District in ‘97 and we got smashed,” Holland said.
“It was the curtain raiser to the inaugural Crows verses Port Showdown clash.”
The Southern Eagles – which had already won a B grade premiership in its first season – won its 1995 A grade flag after being undefeated for the season.
The ’95 Premiership team was coached by local Southern Yorke Peninsula legend Greg Germain. Captain John Reuther remembers a pivotal game at Warooka Oval late in the regular season against the other contender, Wallaroo.
“There was only a couple of regular season matches left and I was looking after the training in town for the 15 blokes who were based in the city,” Reuther said.
“We decided we’d commit to driving down to Warooka for training on the Thursday evening – we had 100 per cent commitment from the squad.
“Everyone found a way and got to Warooka Oval, trained and had a feed and then drove back to Adelaide that night.
“We came back on the Saturday and won, in one of the best team efforts I’d ever played in. From that point I was always confident of success.”
In the final minor round game of the 1995 season, the Eagles defeated Ardrossan 40.22 (262) to 5.6 (36), kicking 10 goals in the first term, 12 goals in the second quarter and another 13 in the last.
The Southern Eagles went on to win A grade flags in 2008 and 2009, defeating Moonta both years, and only recently celebrated a 10-year premiership reunion.
Perhaps the club’s greatest export is rucking goliath Jarrad Redden, currently playing at Woodville West Torrens alongside CMS Crow Matthew Goldsworthy.
Standing at 205cm, Yorke Peninsula’s Redden was a member of the SANFL Eagles’ thrilling 2011 premiership over Central District. First drafted by Port Adelaide back in 2008 and making his AFL debut in round 1 of the 2012 season against St Kilda, Redden was considered unlucky to play only 16 AFL games, being delisted at the end of 2015.
The Southern Eagles have not only soared on the football field, but on the netball court too. The club’s netball program, which currently has seven senior and junior teams competing in the Yorke Peninsula Netball Association, has also enjoyed much success with numerous premierships across the grades since that foundation year of 1994.