A Game To Remember | 1963 SA v VIC


For many years South Australia had been unsuccessful in State games against Victoria in Melbourne – and 1963 wasn’t expected to be any different. 

In preparation for the game, the Vics, for the first time, had decided to select their best side possible rather than the usual practice of two players from each of the VFL teams. This resulted in four players from each of Carlton, Essendon and Geelong.

They were red-hot favourites to such a degree Jack Dyer was asked on television that, if he were coach, what he would say to the players before they went on the ground. He said: “I would say, “enjoy the run”. And then I would go off to the races!”

However, they had not done their homework.

The SA side was composed of a large group of players who had been playing together regularly in the State team since the beginning of the 1960s. They knew the strengths and weaknesses of their team-mates and how to work effectively together.

Early in the first quarter Neil Hawke kicked a magnificent goal from a tight angle in the forward pocket. However, he injured his knee and was replaced by Don Lindner.  We lost nothing because Don caused them a constant headache.

SA was in the ascendancy for most of the first half, leading 4.1 to 2.1 at quarter-time and 8.3 to 3.4 at half-time.

Yet, despite that scoreline, the crowd of almost 60,000 Victorians virtually treated us with disdain, giving us a little clap after we did something well, as if to say “well done boys, you are doing quite well against our champions”.

Then, at half-time, it seemed they realised we were matching the Vics in every aspect of the game. Their responses in the second half became quite vocal and abusive. The Vics closed the margin to seven points by three-quarter-time, 9.4 to 7.9.

In the last quarter the Vics went to the lead and many would have thought the expected result was going to occur.


''As the siren sounded there was a deathly silence. Almost 60,000 Victorians stuck dumb. It was wonderful!''

1963 South Australian great John Halbert

However, at three-quarter-time the Victorian coach, Bob Davis, made a terrible mistake. John Benetti was injured after a collision with Neil Kerley and did not return for the last quarter. Davis had moved Kevin Murray to the back pocket on to Kerley and Bills. Murray had been having a great tussle with Lindsay Head and had kept Lindsay reasonably quiet. Davis brought on John Henderson to stand Lindsay.

Henderson mouthed off to Lindsay about how he was going to bury him and he upset the magician. Lindsay quickly kicked two goals that put us back in front and we held on to win by seven points.

As the siren sounded there was a deathly silence. Almost 60,000 Victorians stuck dumb!  It was wonderful!

We had confounded the critics. It was a wonderful moment as we gathered together in the centre of the oval to enjoy a very special victory.

After celebrating in the rooms we all adjourned to Lou Richards’ pub on Flinders Street to remind him of some remarks he had made about our chances before the game and then moved on to our hotel for a victory  dinner.

When we returned to Adelaide on Sunday morning we were staggered to be greeted at the airport by 8000 supporters who had come to welcome us home and congratulate us on our wonderful victory.

This had truly been a great victory. A game to remember.

MCG, 15 June 1963

SA                 4.1    8.3     9.4      12.8      (80)
Victoria      2.1    3.4     7.9      10.13    (73)
BEST – SA: Barbary, Wedding, Eustice, Motley, Bray, Cahill, Kerley, Sawley. Victoria: Murray, Dixon, Nicholls, Wade, Skilton, Lord, Baldock, Farmer.
SCORERS – SA: Lindner 3.1, Sawley 2.3, Head, Potter 2.1, Hawke Kernahan, Oatey 1.0, Wedding 0.2. Victoria: Wade 4.2, Skilton 3.3, Capuano, Farmer, Fraser 1.0, Baldock 0.2, Barassi, Birt, Law, Morrow, Nicholls 0.1, rushed 0.1.
Crowd – 59,260.


F: Harry Kernahan (Glenelg), Neil Hawke (WT), Robert Oatey (Nwd)
HF: Lindsay Head (WT), Ian Hannaford (PA), Brian Sawley (Nwd)
C: Barrie Barbary (NA), John Halbert (Sturt), John Cahill (PA)
HB: Ken Eustice (WA), Jeff Bray (WA), Geof Motley (PA)
B: Fred Bills (WT), Bob Hammond (NA), Bob Shearman (WT capt)
1R: Bill Wedding (Nwd), Neil Kerley (WA), Jeff Potter (PA)
Reserves: Robert Day (WA), Don Lindner. (NA). Emerg: Ron Benton (WA)
Coach: Fos Williams (PA)

Sign up to receive the latest SANFL news straight to your inbox.