By ZAC MILBANK
A tribute match honouring the late ”King” of South Australian football, Neil Kerley, will be among four regional games to be played across the 2023 Hostplus SANFL League season.
Two of the clubs Kerley was heavily involved with throughout his illustrious career, West Adelaide and Adelaide, will face off in the “Neil Kerley Memorial Match” in Murray Bridge on Sunday August 13.
The Round 16 clash will be played in the heart of the Bloods’ new country recruiting zone, which was expanded to include the River Murray Football League and its clubs in November last year.
A member of the Australian and South Australian Football Hall of Fames, Kerley coached West Adelaide to premierships in 1961 and 1983 while playing a vital role as the Crows’ inaugural Football Manager upon the club’s AFL inception in 1991.
”SANFL is very pleased to support this wonderful initiative which will bring together community football and the SANFL Hostplus League to fittingly pay tribute to Kerls’ remarkable contribution to football, and in the region where it all started for him,” said SANFL Executive General Manager Football Matt Duldig.
“Given Kerls’ love of the Murray River region – he treasured his Walker Flat home – the match will provide locals with something to cheer about after enduring significant flooding during the Christmas-New Year period.”
SANFL Executive General Manager Football Matt Duldig
“Given Kerls’ love of the Murray River region - he treasured his Walker Flat home - the match will provide locals with something to cheer about after enduring significant flooding during the Christmas-New Year period.”
West Adelaide CEO Conny Wilson said the inaugural Memorial Match was an ideal opportunity to reflect on Kerley’s wonderful contribution to South Australian football.
“The West Adelaide Football Club and Neil share a wonderfully successful and colourful history,” Wilson said.
“So many knew Neil and his family and has a story to tell. His passion for the game, and inspiration to be the best, reached far and wide.
“With the Club now extending its zoning into The Murraylands, we want to demonstrate our presence and commitment to developing our local players.
“Neil’s home is one of many areas affected by the recent floods and we hope this game will help lift the spirit of his neighbours and communities who are doing it hard.”
Adelaide Football Club Head of Football Adam Kelly said community engagement in regional areas was of high importance.
“As a Club we embrace the opportunity to visit and play in regional areas, with this game taking on particularly significance, not only due to it being played in the memory of Neil, who is an icon of our game, but also that it will be played in a flood affected region,” Kelly said.
“Following from player visits to the Riverland in early December last year and those which will be happening on February 6th and 7th , in Waikerie, Barmera, Loxton, Berri and Renmark, this is an opportunity for us to further engage with communities that have very much been in our thoughts and were much loved by Neil.”
Round 4 (Sunday April 30) – West Adelaide v Port Adelaide in Loxton
Round 6 (Saturday May 13) – Norwood v West Adelaide in Port Lincoln
Round 12 (Saturday July 8) – Central District v Adelaide in the Barossa Valley
Round 16 (Sunday August 13) – West Adelaide v Adelaide at Murray Bridge
After its successful introduction last year, the Russell Ebert Tribute Match – featuring West Adelaide and Port Adelaide – will continue in 2023.
The Bloods and Magpies will again lock horns in the Riverland’s Loxton Oval, this time in Round 4 on Sunday, April 30.
Norwood will return to its regional heartland of the Eyre Peninsula to host West Adelaide Bloods in Port Lincoln on Saturday May 13.
The Redlegs’ Round 6 contest follows a positive experience hosting West at the Centenary Oval for the first time in 2022.
In Round 12, Central District will roll out the welcome mat for Adelaide in its regional recruiting zone of the Barossa Valley.
The Bulldogs’ clash with the Crows on Saturday July 8 will be a feature of the 2023 Think! Road Safety SA Country Championships.
“The Country Championships has become a major event for football in regional South Australia, with the aim of showcasing country football at its best. We’re therefore thrilled to continue to feature a Hostplus SANFL League game as part of this footy extravaganza in the Barossa,” Duldig said.
The full 2023 Hostplus SANFL League fixture will be released by the SANFL tomorrow.