There has been an age-old debate within West Adelaide about our club’s birthday. Were we formed in 1887 or 1891/2?
It was common in the 19th Century for communities and delegates to advertise that they were forming a new sporting club or identity. It was also common practise to read brief articles pertaining to a club’s annual report in the early summer months recounting the performances and finances of the entity prior to a forthcoming season. Unfortunately, no such reports have been unearthed pertaining to West Adelaide and hence, an exact date of formation cannot be established. We can however confidently say that we were most likely formed between 1891 and 1892 as a junior side because of articles written some years later.
West Adelaide’s 1911 annual report has put beyond doubt that the current West Adelaide Football club was NOT founded in 1887. Our 1911 annual report states…
“It is appropriate that whilst we are recording the glorious victories of 1911, we are celebrating the Twentieth Birthday of our Club. Just 20 years ago our old friend Mr J McCabe (who throughout this long period has held office on the Committee of Management), was the principal factor in starting this club, and he had with him as Secretary Mr R. Mander, who piloted the Club through its first season. Our sincerest thanks are due to these two gentlemen who remain staunch supporters.”
Furthermore, an extract from a magazine titled, “The Official Souvenir of THE AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL CARNIVAL 1911” also supports the clubs origin post 1887. “Originally formed about 1890, chiefly through the instrumentality of John McCabe, the club (West Adelaide) won the 1895 premiership in the City and Suburban Association, and in the following year, on the introduction of the Electorate System, joined the Senior Association.”
In 1892, West Adelaide wore red and white and their home ground was opposite Annesley College in the South Parklands. (This was formerly known as Way College and Methodist Ladies College). In the second year of the clubs playing existence (1893), West Adelaide transferred its home ground to the West Parklands.
Adelaide City Council records confirm that the WAFC club wore a Red & White strip when it won the 1895 premiership in the City and Suburban Association with ten wins, one loss and a draw. West Adelaide went back-to-back winning the 1896 premiership and was recognised as the best side outside of the senior association.
On Wednesday March 31 of 1897, West Adelaide formally wrote to the S.A.F.A seeking admission to League football. This was duly granted on April 12 and hence the original programme circulated for the 1897 season was amended to six teams eliminating the weekly bye. West Adelaide had to change its colours from Magenta and White as it would have clashed with Port Adelaide and North Adelaide. The committee then decided to adopt the colours from the defunct Adelaide Football Club – Red and Black.
Unfortunately for West Adelaide and our historical record keeping, both Mr John Charles McCabe and Mr Reubner Milton Lavis Mander (co-founders of this proud club) passed away in 1933.
Boasting 14 Magarey Medal winners and 139 State Players, the Bloods also lay claim to some of the greatest names in SA Football history. Club legends like Dick Head, Bruce McGregor, Neil Kerley and Brain Faehse donned the Red and Black. Then there are the colourful characters like Jack Broadstock and Doug Thomas as well as greats like Fos Williams, Grant Fielke, Tony Modra, Mark Mickan and Shaun Rehn. We have a 4-time Ken Farmer Medallist in Adam Richardson and the club holds the honour of having the first Brownlow Medal winner from SA in Bernie Smith. This award has since been won by Westies Adam Cooney, Mark Ricciuto and Patrick Dangerfield who did play some footy for the Bloods.
West Adelaide’s home ground Richmond Oval was sodded and reticulated by the players and many loyal and devoted supporters in the 1950’s. Floodlit in 2010 and home to the 2013 State game, Richmond Oval was declared a top 10 AFL playing arena in 2014 after hosting the NAB Crows and Power match. A progressive club with a small but loyal band of supporters, West Adelaide has contributed 82 National and Rookie drafted players to the AFL since 1986. The club boasts one of the best past players’ bars and historical collections of any club in the land and welcomes everyone to be a part of one of the state’s historic football clubs.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, in 2015 the club broke a 32 year drought winning our 9th SANFL league Premiership at Adelaide Oval under the guidance of club great, Mark Mickan.
The club is undertaking the task of writing its 3rd History Book updating the ones written in 1964 by the Late Bill Kelly and Merv Agars 1987. If you have any memorabilia, annual reports or photographs you think might add to the clubs archives or could be useful for an updated publication, please make contact with the club.