1953 SANFL Grand Final
Date and Held
Date: Sat 3 Oct 1953 2:10 pm, Adelaide Oval
Field Umpires
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9.13 67 West Torrens 8.12 60 Port Adelaide
Television broadcast
Most Goals
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Best on Ground
West Torrens: Clingly, Cockshell, Coverlid, Prior, Pyatt, Bradford, Head. Port Adelaide: Clift, Motley, Parham, Russell, Jaggard, Boyd
West Torrens Win

The 1953 SANFL Grand Final would be played against Port Adelaide and West Torrens. The match was played on Saturday 3 October at Adelaide Oval and West Torrens won by 7 point. Although this was a Port Adelaide loss, this was a start of Grand Finals that the Magpies would play back-to-back this would also be West Torrens' last grand final win before merging with Woodville Warriors to become the Woodville-West Torrens Football Club.

1953 SeasonEdit

West TorrensEdit

West Torrens was second on the ladder and had 15 wins and 3 losses.

Port AdelaideEdit

The Magpies had similar stats to the Eagles, with also 15 wins and 3 losses.

1953 FinalsEdit

West TorrensEdit

The Eagles would play the Magpies in the second semi final and stage a come back win against the Magpies advancing them to the Grand Final.

Port AdelaideEdit

The Magpies lost to West Torrens in the second semi final and then played in the Preliminary final against Glenelg, the Magpies won and would play West Torrens.

1953 SANFL Grand FinalEdit

The 1953 SANFL Grand Final was packed with elite players like Fos Williams, John Willis, Mick Clingly and Jim Coverlid. On paper the Magpies were stronger but the Eagles were just as strong and what is marked today is one of the most epic matches of the SANFL history.

First QuarterEdit

Contemporary reports described the pace of the game as the fastest in living memory. Both sides went in hard but fair from the start, with Port tending to win the aerial duels, but Torrens looking stronger when the ball was on the ground. Fos Williams was being alternately tagged (although the actual term was not yet in vogue) by Charlie Pyatt and Bill Hank (pictured right), while, for good measure, Jack Carr was weighing in with some relentless sledging. Whether because of this, or for some other reason, the Port supremo never quite managed to exert his usual influence on the game. Midway through the term Torrens led 2.1 to 1.0, but then Port, with Dave Boyd a dominant figure in the centre, hit back strongly. Deep into time-on the scores were deadlocked - as they had been on no fewer than five previous occasions during the term - but with moments to go before the siren, 'Chicken' Hayes snapped truly to give the Magpies a 6 point advantage at the first change. However, given the strength of the breeze, most observers probably felt that, on balance, it had been Torrens' quarter.

Second QuarterEdit

The second quarter was just as fiercely contested as the first, with play continually rocketing from end to end. The Magpies were still on top in the air, except when they managed to get the ball near goal, where big, bullocking Mick Clingly was proving virtually impassable. Shortly after the resumption, Torrens levelled the scores, and thereafter there was never more than a straight kick between the teams. The blue and golds had winners in ruckman Jim Coverlid, centre half back Ron Ashby, and rovers Charlie Pyatt and Jim ‘Nipper’ Bradford, while Port was being well served by Roger Clift at centre half back, Geof Motley on a half forward flank, Dick Russell in a back pocket, and Basil Jaggard on a wing. Torrens finished the term strongly, and by the half time break had captured the lead by the narrowest of margins.

Third QuarterEdit

Heavy rain commenced during the half time break, and continued throughout the 3rd term. Despite this, the game continued to be played at a frenetic pace, and the skill levels of both sides remained high. The defences of the respective teams - notably Clingly, Ashby and Thiele for Torrens, and Clift, Russell and Parham for the Magpies - were well on top, and scoring opportunities were at a premium. The wind was much less of a factor this quarter than it had been early on, and indeed it now appeared to be blowing across the ground. As the playing surface became more slippery, so the play of both sides became more aggressive and, on occasion, acrimonious. When Port back pocket Dick Russell flattened ‘Nipper’ Bradford with what the umpire judged to be an overly vigorous hip and shoulder, the Magpie fans whistled their indignation, as well they might given that the resultant easy goal would, in the end, more or less comprise the difference between the teams. In the short term, however, it spurred the Magpies on to enhanced effort, and they dominated play for the remainder of the quarter.

Fourth QuarterEdit

The final term proved to be one of the most thrilling seen in a South Australian grand final, either before or since. The tempo of the play remained hectic, as Port dominated the opening minutes without being able to register a major score; nevertheless, a couple of behinds gave the Magpies an 8 point advantage. Torrens’ edge in pace then came to the fore and a goal to Lindsay Head followed by a near miss from Don Prior reduced the margin to a solitary point. The play then see-sawed for several minutes, with both teams’ defences on top, before a long, speculative kick from John Willis floated through for a behind to level the scores for the eleventh time in the match. Time-on was now approaching, and given the lack of scoring there were unlikely to be many minutes left. From the kick in after Willis’ point Torrens managed to lock the ball into their forward lines, and a sequence of disjointed play culminated in a snapped behind to Head. The crowd, most of whom were barracking for the blue and golds, roared its approval, but the Magpies were not finished. With barely two minutes left to play, they forced the ball deep into their forward lines. Neville Hayes collected the ball, and looked to off-load a handball into the path of Ron Leaver, who would have had the easiest of tasks to run into an open goal and score full points. However, Torrens half back flanker Frank Graham anticipated Hayes’ intentions perfectly, and dashed in to intercept the ball. He then cleared to right centre wing where Errol Lodge marked before finding Doug Cockshell near centre half forward. Cockshell’s kick fell well short of the pack of players waiting near the goal line, and the race was on to collect it. Running as swiftly now as he had been during the opening minutes of the first term, Ray Hank managed to get to the ball first and throw it desperately onto his boot. The Torrens players then watched in delight as, from a distance of about 25 metres, the ball wobbled and stuttered its way through the central uprights for a match-sealing goal. The blaring of the siren moments later heralded a mass invasion of the oval by thousands of delirious West Torrens supporters who swarmed around their heroes, and gleefully chaired skipper Bob Hank from the arena.


West Torrens Port Adelaide
3.3 21 Q1 4.3 27
6.8 44 Q2 6.7 43
7.10 52 Q3 8.10 58
9.13 67 Q4

8.12 60

Goal ScorersEdit

West Torrens: Bradford, Head, Willis 2; Cockshell, R.Hank, Pyatt

Port Adelaide: Dittmar, Motley, Williams 2; Hayes, Jaggard

Best on GroundEdit

West Torrens: Clingly, Cockshell, Coverlid, Prior, Pyatt, Bradford, Head

Port Adelaide: Clift, Motley, Parham, Russell, Jaggard, Boyd

SourcesEdit - Game analysis taken from article 'Torrens' last hurrah - the 1953 SANFL grand final' by John Devaney