The West End Chimney

Not every South Australian knows that the West End SANFL chimney ceremony, one of Adelaide’s greatest footy traditions, was started by a brewery worker with a loud mouth.  It all began in 1954 when the chimney was at SA Brewery on Hindley Street, and an employee argued for the chimney to be painted red and black in recognition of the brewery being in West Adelaide Football Club territory.  The head of SA Brewing, Sir Roland Jacobs, agreed but only if the Blood and Tars beat Port Adelaide in the upcoming SANFL Grand Final.  

Magpies coach Fos Williams heard about the deal and demanded Port Adelaide’s black and white colours be splashed on the chimney instead if the flag went back to Alberton.  Williams’ Magpies won that year, grinding out a nail-biting three-point victory at the Adelaide Oval.  On the Monday after the Grand Final, Williams turned up at the Brewery to stir the paint and watch the chimney be lathered in black and white.   

In a tradition that has remained every year since, he argued for West Adelaide’s colours to be represented on the chimney as well in recognition of the courageous fight put up by West Adelaide.  

Thus started the SANFL Chimney Ceremony, an Adelaide ritual, that has taken place every year over past 67 years.  The SA Brewing Co chimney would be painted black and white for the next five consecutive years with Port Adelaide going on to win six back-to-back premierships, from 1954 – 1959.  In fact, the Magpies’ record of six straight from the very first year of the chimney ceremony has never been repeated by any club. 

Over the years since then the Premiership may have changed hands many times, but the tradition has remained the same. 

In 1982, when the South Australian Brewing Company moved from Hindley St to West End Brewery’s new home at the Southwark Brewery Port Road site, the chimney ceremony went with it. That year’s Premiers Norwood had the new Port Road chimney adorned in red and blue, much to the annoyance of tens of thousands of motorists heading down Port Rd on the west side of Adelaide’s CBD. 

The fact a premiership winning team’s colours were on permanent display, rain or shine, and could be seen from kilometres away, has made the chimney tradition one of a kind throughout Australia. It’s one thing to win a trophy but it’s another thing to drive past a reminder every day that your team won, or lost, the Grand Final.   

In 2020, when West End announced it would be closing its Port Road brewery and brewing elsewhere, SANFL fans feared that the time may be up for the much-loved chimney ceremony.  The partnership between the SANFL and West End had endured for nearly seven decades since 1954, with West End the major sponsor of the state’s top-tier competition. Given the prominent role West End was keen to play with the SANFL for years to come, this was a tradition that was worth fighting to continue. 

The majestic Hoffman Kiln was constructed in 1913 and it stands at the Brickworks Marketplace towers just across the road from Thebarton Oval, and a stone’s throw from West End’s Port Road Brewery was considered suitable. The owners of the Kiln, West Torrens City Council, were supportive of the idea, and work got underway on a concept for the 2021 chimney ceremony to be the first held at the Kiln. 

Given its heritage status, detailed plans needed to be drawn up to ensure it would not be damaged as part of any proposal.  Painting the structure itself was out of the question. West End worked with the SANFL, West Torrens City Council and engineering experts on a concept that would see SANFL Premier’s colours unveiled in a fibreglass shell which would be attached to the top of the kiln, which was attached to the Kiln’s existing metal collars. The tower was so high that approval from the Adelaide Airport needed to be given in order for the work to be undertaken.  The hard work was a success, with the project coming together just in time for the colours of 2021 Premiers Woodville-West Torrens to be hoisted to the top of the Kiln. 

The tradition of the West End SANFL Premiers Chimney Ceremony, made strong over 67 years, lives on. 


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