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Sturt Football Club

Full nameSturt Football Club
Nickname(s)Double Blues
2022 season
Leading goalkickerAbaina Davis (20)
Best and fairestCasey Voss
Club details
Founded1901; 123 years ago (1901)
Colours  Light Blue and   Navy Blue
CompetitionSouth Australian National Football League
PresidentJason Kilic
CoachMartin Mattner
Captain(s)James Battersby
1915, 1919, 1926, 1932, 1940, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1976, 2002, 2016, 2017
Ground(s)Unley Oval (capacity: 15,000)
Other information

The Sturt Football Club, nicknamed The Double Blues, is a semi-professional Australian rules football club based in the suburb of Unley, South Australia, which plays in the South Australian National Football League.

Founded in 1901 by the Sturt Cricket Club, the club initially struggled to make the finals, however, in 1915 they won their first Premiership. After several decades of substantial finals appearances and a few premiership wins, Sturt entered a period of success, winning seven premierships from 1966 to 1976 under coach Jack Oatey.

Sturt has a total of 15 premierships, eleven Magarey Medallists and two Night Premierships.

Sturt wear Oxford and Cambridge Blue reflecting the street names on which their home ground is based. Sturt play their home games at the 15,000 capacity Unley Oval and their club song is named It's a grand old flag.



The Sturt Football club was established on 14 March 1901 following a meeting convened at the Unley Town Hall by the Sturt Cricket Club (established on August 9, 1890 by Arthur C Thomas[1]) and attended by delegates from local junior teams, footballers and residents it was decided to establish a senior football club in the Sturt Electoral Division based around Unley to join the SAFA.[2][3] Sturt is named after the Australian explorer Charles Sturt. The club used the two shades of blue of Oxford and Cambridge Universities as its home ground, Unley Oval, is situated on the junction of Oxford Terrace and Cambridge Terrace, hence the nickname of "Double Blues". Sturt played its first SAFA game against Norwood at Norwood Oval, losing by 33 points.[4]

Sturt enjoyed little success initially and struggled to make the finals. In 1909, the club was strengthened by a number of interstate players enticed by offers of employment and accommodation and in 1910, Sturt played in their first Grand Final, losing to Port Adelaide.

First success

The 1919 premiership team.

The first premiership came in 1915 with a two-goal Grand Final win over Port Adelaide. The competition was suspended during the First World War, being established in 1919 when Sturt faced North Adelaide in the Grand Final. Despite giving up a big lead early, Sturt fought back and forced a draw. In a low scoring replay the following week, Sturt kicked its only three goals of the match in the last quarter (the last coming with thirty seconds remaining) to win by five points (23–18) and secure consecutive premierships four years apart.

Sturt won another premiership in 1926 defeating North Adelaide again by 64–51, with Vic Richardson after he was not selected for the 1925 Ashes cricket tour of England.

Between 1930 and 1941, Sturt played in five Grand Finals, winning in 1932 (v. North Adelaide by 110–69) and 1940 when the team beat South Adelaide (100–79). From 1942 to 1944, Sturt combined with South Adelaide to compete in a restricted wartime competition.

Golden era

From 1945 to 1961, despite the efforts of triple Magarey Medalist Len Fitzgerald, Sturt performed poorly, "winning" five wooden spoons and failing to make a Grand Final. In 1962, former Norwood and South Melbourne player and West Adelaide coach Jack Oatey was appointed coach and began to institute an innovative style of play that would modernise the game and influence the style of football played Australia wide.

Sturt showed gradual improvement in Oatey's first years, finishing 6th in 1963 and third in 1964. In 1965, it reached the grand final and before 62,543 (a SANFL record until 1976 and the highest Adelaide Oval crowd to this day),[5] fell short by just 3 points against Port Adelaide. In 1966, Sturt gained revenge on Port Adelaide, doubling its score (16.16 to 8.8) winning its first premiership in 26 years and entering a period of dominance that saw them win seven premierships in eleven years, including five in a row between 1966 and 1970.

Sturt's 1967 and 1968 grand final wins were again at the expense of Port Adelaide. Sturt won the 1969 Grand Final beating Glenelg who had included the Richmond star Royce Hart for his only game for the club. Hart was eligible to play in the SANFL due to his posting to Adelaide as a National Service soldier. Sturt completed its fifth successive premiership with another win over Glenelg in a rain-affected 1970 grand final.

The 1976 Grand Final win over Port Adelaide was dominated by ruckman Rick Davies. Before a record Football Park crowd of 66,897, Sturt entered the final as rank outsiders. Davies, sensing early pressure from Port, positioned himself in the back lines in the first quarter. In an often quoted anecdote, coach Jack Oatey turned to runner David ( Daffy ) Edwards and said:'What's he doing down there? I didn't put him down there. I run this side. Go and ask him what he thinks he's up to." After Davies had taken his fourth strong mark, Edwards came back with the news: "He says he's down there getting kicks, that's where the ball is". Oatey's response: "Course he is. He's a champion isn't he?”[6] Rick Davies dominated the final with 21 kicks, 21 handballs, 21 hit outs and 15 marks, with Sturt winning by 41 points. Captain Paul Bagshaw described the win as "Sturt's finest hour".[7]

Jack Oatey's legacy has continued to influence football in South Australia. Since their inception into the AFL, the Adelaide Crows have embodied much of the approach to the game that Oatey pioneered. Oatey is also credited with popularising the checkside punt, a kicking style that causes the ball to bend away from the body. In the 1968 Grand Final against Port Adelaide Football Club, Peter Endersbee used the checkside punt to kick two goals in the space of a few minutes turning the game in Sturt's favour. Since 1981, the Jack Oatey Medal has been awarded to the best player in the SANFL Grand Final.


After Oatey's retirement at the end 1982, Sturt under coaches John Halbert and former Richmond star Mervyn Keane reached the Grand Final of 1983 with a reinvented Davies kicking 151 goals, but fluctuated in the following five years. Committee dissatisfaction with Keane,[8] however, led to Sturt churning through five coaches and receiving a SANFL record eight consecutive wooden spoons between 1989 and 1996, including a winless season in 1995 when the team actually did not get within four goals of any of its twenty-two opponents. A joint bid with Norwood in 1994 to enter the AFL was rejected in favour of Port Adelaide. Facing financial difficulties, mergers with South Adelaide ("Southern Blues")[9] and North Adelaide were proposed by the SANFL and the club's board. This was opposed by supporters who, along with former players, raised the required $250,000 in two weeks to keep the club in existence. Sturt returned to its original home ground Unley Oval in 1998, having moved its home games to Adelaide Oval from 1986.[10]


Under Phil Carman, Sturt reached the Grand Final in 1998, losing to Port Adelaide by nine points. Damian Squire was recruited from North Adelaide the following year and won consecutive Magarey medals in 1999–2000. Jade Sheedy and Tim Weatherald went on to share the award in 2002. Sturt, under first-year coach Brenton Phillips, played Central Districts in the 2002 SANFL Grand Final. After struggling to beat Central Districts in four prior attempts in the 2002 season, the Double Blues emerged triumphant on Grand Final day, doubling the Bulldogs' score to win by 47 points. It was the club's first premiership in 26 years.

Six days after the win, several of the club's players and support staff were celebrating the win at the Sari Club in Bali when the Bali bombing incident occurred. Player Josh Deegan and trainer Bob Marshall were killed.

Near-closure and Back-to-Back Premierships

Sturt finished fifth in 2010 and 9th in 2011. After champion goal kicker Brant Chambers departed at the end of Season 2010, the club endured disappointing seasons in 2011 and 2012, finishing bottom in each year. Poor results in both seasons plus off field mismanagement resulted in a club debt of $2.2 million and almost saw the club to the grave, as reports in early 2013 stated that the club "went perilously close to closing its doors".[11] Sturt finished seventh in 2013, but returned to the finals in 2014 finishing 3rd after the minor round only to lose in straight sets to Norwood and South Adelaide in the Qualifying and 1st Semi Finals. In 2015, Sturt finished 8th with the poor result bringing on the departure of then part-time coach Seamus Maloney.

2016 saw Sturt mount a resurgence under new coach and former premiership player Martin Mattner. The Blues Finished 3rd after the home and away season and started the final series by beating South Adelaide in the Qualifying final. They then lost to the Eagles in the second semi final but won the Preliminary Final against the Adelaide Crows a week later, by 35 points to set up a Grand Final match against Eagles. They then went on to win the 2016 premiership. The following year the Double Blues recovered from a disappointing start to their season going 0-4 to finish in the top 3 once again. They accounted for Central in the Qualifying final, lost to Port Adelaide in the Second Semi final and beat the red hot favorites the Eagles in the Preliminary final to set up a Grand Final against arch rival Port Adelaide. Sturt then went on to claim a thrilling one-point win against Port Adelaide in the 2017 Grand Final, achieving the rare back-to-back premiers feat.

Sturt entered a team in the SANFL Women's competition in 2018.

Home Grounds

From the club's inception in 1901 until 1986, the Sturt Football Club played their home games at the Unley Oval. The largest attendance at Unley was set in Round 9 of the 1968 season when 22,015 crammed into the oval to see Sturt play long time rivals Port Adelaide. The unofficial ground record attendance at Unley was set on 9 June 1924 when an estimated 24,000 saw Sturt play Norwood.

In 1987 the club moved its home games to the Adelaide Oval, a move that proved unpopular with fans. After the move, the City of Unley turned the oval into a public park by removing the boundary fence, though the Jack Oatey Stand and the Members Stand remained in place. In 1996, the club negotiated with the Unley council for a return to Unley and after playing a couple of games there in 1997, Sturt permanently moved back to their original home in 1998 which coincided with the club's first Grand Final appearance since 1983.

Before 2014, Sturt was forced to hire Unley Oval for each SANFL home game, due to the councils wish that the oval remain a public park as well as paying for temporary fencing to be erected for each home game. The use of temporary fencing ended in 2014 when a white picket fence was erected at the oval.

Unley Oval was renamed Peter Motley Oval in 2015 in honour of the former two-time Sturt club champion.

Club records



Competition Level Wins Years Won
SANFL Seniors Seniors 15 1915, 1919, 1926, 1932, 1940, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1976, 2002, 2016, 2017
SANFL Reserves Reserves 8 1909, 1913, 1949, 1977, 1999, 2008, 2017, 2022
SANFL Under 19s
Under 19s 5 1951, 1958, 1964, 1984, 1987
SANFL Under 17s
Under 17s 8 1941, 1949, 1963, 1974, 1976, 1980, 2003, 2008
SANFL Under 18s
Under 18s 1 2017
SANFL Under 16s
Under 16s 1 2015
Other titles and honours
Stanley H Lewis Trophy Multiple 4 1968, 1978, 1983, 2008
SANFL Night Premiership Seniors 2 1954, 1975
Finishing positions
SANFL Minor premiership 9 1910, 1919, 1926, 1933, 1966, 1968, 1974, 1978, 1998
Runners-up 11 1910, 1924, 1931, 1936, 1941, 1965, 1978, 1983, 1998, 2009, 2023
Wooden spoons 20 1901, 1902, 1903, 1907, 1908, 1949, 1952, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2011, 2012
SANFL Women's League Minor premiership 0 Nil
Grand Finalists 1 2022
Wooden spoons 0 Nil


Magarey Medalists

1903 Hendrick Waye
1911 Vic Cumberland
1920 Vic Richardson
1923 Horrie Riley
1933 Keith Dunn
1952 Len Fitzgerald
1954 Len Fitzgerald
1959 Len Fitzgerald
1961 John Halbert
1988 Greg Whittlesea
1997 Brodie Atkinson
1999 Damian Squire
2000 Damian Squire
2002 Tim Weatherald & Jade Sheedy
2008 Luke Crane
2014 Zane Kirkwood
2016 Zane Kirkwood

Jack Oatey Medalists

2002 Matthew Powell
2016 Jack Stephens
2017 Fraser Evans

Hall of Fame

Sturt launched its Hall of Fame in 2004, with 19 inaugural inductees. There were further inductions in 2006 and 2009. Like other SANFL clubs, the players and officials are divided into broad historical eras during which they represented the club.

Sturt Football Club Hall of Fame
1901–1920 Era
Frank Golding Bill Mayman Vic Richardson Arthur C. Thomas
Hendrick Waye
1921–1960 Era
Norman Barron Allan Colquhoun Len Fitzgerald * Tony Goodchild
Jack Halliday Gil Langley PT "Bo" Morton Horrie Riley
Clayton Thompson Eddie Tilley Jack Wadham
1961–1980 Era
Brenton Adcock Paul Bagshaw * Tony Burgan Colin Casey
Tony Clarkson Rick Davies * Malcolm Greenslade John Halbert *
Daryl Hicks Brendon Howard Ray Kutcher Brenton Miels
Sandy Nelson Jack Oatey * Roger Rigney Rick Schoff
Bob Shearman Terry Short Ross Tuohy Leigh Whicker
1981–2000 Era
Michael Graham

Team of the Century

Current playing list

Senior list Coaching staff
  • 1 Manguru Fredrick
  • 2 Tom Lewis
  • 3 Henry Carey
  • 4 Joel Thiele
  • 5 Josh Hone
  • 6 Connor McFadyn
  • 7 James Matthews
  • 8 Angus Anderson
  • 9 Sam Breuer
  • 10 Charlie Molan
  • 11 Josh Shute
  • 12 Malachy Carruthers
  • 13 Patrick Wilson
  • 14 Josh Rentsch
  • 15 Luke Edmonds
  • 16 Jared Daikin
  • 17 Zac Becker
  • 18 Daniel Fahey-Sparks
  • 19 Daniel Schoell
  • 20 Hamish Allan
  • 21 Lian Puncher
  • 22 William Coomblas
  • 23 James Battersby (C)
  • 24 Will Spain
  • 25 Guy Page (VC)
  • 26 Jack Lewis
  • 27 Charlie Fryer
  • 28 Charlie Parker
  • 29 Chad Reschke
  • 30 Oliver Grivell
  • 31 Lachlan Burrows
  • 32 Rory Illman
  • 33 Heath Wingard
  • 34 Casey Voss
  • 35 Nick Sadler
  • 36 Luke Giacometti
  • 37 Will Crane
  • 38 Dailan How
  • 39 Steven Slimming
  • 40 Ned Walter
  • 41 Stirling Phipps-Parsons
  • 42 Willa Taylor
  • 43 Brad Jefferies
  • 44 James Richards
  • 45 Amos Doyle
  • 46 George McLeod
  • 47 Hugo Kittel
  • 48 Hugo Kelly
  • 49 Jordan Hein
  • 50 Blake Tabe

Head coach

  • (c) Captain(s)
  • (vc) Vice-captain(s)

Club song

The Sturt Football Club's song is "It's A Grand Old Flag".

Sung to tune of "You're A Grand Old Flag".

It's a Grand old flag, It's a high-flying flag
It's the emblem for me and for you
It's the emblem of the team we love
The team of the old Double Blues
Every heart beats true for the old Double Blues
As we sing this song to you.........what do we sing?
Should old acquaintance be forgot
Oh keep your eye on the Old Double Blues!'


  1. ^ "1901–1919 – Sturt Football Club".
  2. ^ "15 Mar 1901 – FOOTBALL. - Trove". Register. 15 March 1901.
  3. ^ "15 Mar 1901 – FOOTBALL. - Trove". Express and Telegraph. 15 March 1901.
  4. ^ "04 May 1901 – THE FOOTBALL SEASON. - Trove". Advertiser. 4 May 1901.
  5. ^ "About Adelaide Oval". SACA. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  6. ^ Lysikatos.J :True Blue: The History of the Sturt Football Club page 254, Sturt Football Club, 1995
  7. ^ Sunday Mail, page 1, 26 September 1976
  8. ^ Lysikatos; True Blue pp. 301-303
  9. ^ The Advertiser, 12 June 1995; p. 19
  10. ^ "Unley Oval". Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  11. ^ Sturt in fight for future lifeline The Advertiser [dead link]
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Sturt Football Club
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