By ZAC MILBANK
Sturt captain Paul Bagshaw is a man of few words but none were more poignant than those spoken after the 1976 SANFL Grand Final.
”There’s just one more thing I would like to say,” Bagshaw said on the turf of Football Park surrounded by adoring Double Blues fans.
”I feel that this is Sturt’s finest hour in the history of the club.”
Nearly 44 years have passed but it is difficult to argue with Bagshaw’s statement after his side upset arch-rival Port Adelaide in front of the largest crowd – 66,897 – to watch a game of Australian Football in South Australia.
Having lost the Qualifying Final to Glenelg, Jack Oatey’s team embarked on a remarkable run of successive finals victories against Norwood, the Tigers and then the Magpies in the space of four weeks.
With spectators lining the boundary line at West Lakes, Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee Rick Davies put on a masterclass in the ruck for Sturt as it overcame an eight-point deficit at the first break.
Davies finished with the extraordinary statistics of 21 kicks, 21 handballs, 21 hit outs, 15 marks and a goal to be the dominant figure on the ground as the Double Blues engineered their historic win on the back of a six-goal-to-one second term.
The Jumbo Prince had plenty of fine assistance though, with Bagshaw kicking three goals while Michael Graham – flattened in the first term by Port’s Dave Granger – responded with three majors of his own, including one fine finish to the northern end as a result of his extreme pressure and skill.
Sturt forward Robbert Klomp kicked two goals while playing a constructive role in many others while a tenacious Michael Nunan was heavily involved at the bottom of the packs.
It was to be a seventh premiership for both Oatey and Bagshaw, with the latter taking pride of place as a jubilant onlooker in the Double Blues’ changerooms when the club’s 26-year flag drought was finally broken in 2002.
Saturday September 25
Sturt 1.3 7.6 11.8 17.14 (116)
Port 2.5 3.8 7.13 10.15 (75)
BEST – Sturt: Davies, Bagshaw, Graham, Klomp, Murphy, Howard, Miels, Nunan, Barton, Sims.
GOALS – Sturt: Baghsaw, Graham 3, Klomp, Barton, Murphy, Wild 2, Nunan, Miels, Davies.
CROWD – 66,897 at Football Park
1976 Sturt Premiership Team
F: Sims, Wild, Barton
HF: Graham, Klomp, Murphy
C: Burgan, Howard, Miels
HB: Lloyd, Nelson, Sanders
B: Wark, Casey, Lauder
R: Davies, Bagshaw, Nunan
INT: Hill, Heinrich
COACH – Jack Oatey
CAPTAIN – Paul Bagshaw