The SANFL and SA Football Commission are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of one of the greats of South Australian football, Neil Kerley AM.
SA Football Commission Chairman, The Hon. Rob Kerin, paid tribute to “Knuckles” Kerley, who was widely regarded as a legend of football in South Australia.
“A League Life Member, SA Football Hall of Fame Member and Australian Football Hall of Famer, Neil was a tough but fun, larger-than-life character who became one of the best-known personalities of football and the SANFL,” Mr Kerin said.
”Over many years, Neil made an outstanding contribution to South Australian footy, not only through his on-field presence and ability, but also his illustrious coaching career across five SANFL Clubs, as well as at State level.
“My thoughts are with the Kerley family, Neil’s many great friends and all those in the football community who had the pleasure of knowing Kerls in some way.
“SANFL and the SA Football Commission today honours the life of Neil Kerley and his remarkable contribution to our game in South Australia as a legendary player, coach and administrator.”
SANFL CEO Darren Chandler said it was a sad day for the League, the SANFL Clubs where Kerley played and coached and for the many supporters in football who were touched by him in some way.
“Neil will be remembered for the enormous impact he had on all those who played alongside him and the fans who grew up watching him,” Mr Chandler said.
“He had a tough-as-nails approach to the game but was a loveable personality in football who became ‘Mr Football’ through all his humour and antics in the media.
“It is a sad day for football. On behalf of everyone at SANFL, we express our deepest sympathies to Neil’s wife, Barb, and family.”
Kerley’s 275-game SANFL playing career began in 1957 with West Adelaide where he played 165 games, before moving to South Adelaide in 1964, featuring in 56 games for the Panthers over three seasons. The final three seasons of his playing career were at Glenelg where he notched up a further 55 games. For much of this period in the SANFL, Kerley was also Captain/Coach.
“On behalf of the Government I extend my sincere sympathies to Neil’s family and friends,” said Premier Peter Malinauskas.
“South Australia has lost an icon. Australia has lost a football legend.
“Donald Neil Kerley AM made a huge contribution to not only SA footy but Australian football, on and off the field.
“To South Australians, he was a football legend – but to his family, he was so much more.”
His coaching career, which continued through to the 1980s, saw him coach four Premiership sides – two with West Adelaide in 1961 and 1983 and one each with South Adelaide (1964) and Glenelg (1973).
He also played a remarkable 32 matches for South Australia, captaining the State side on six occasions, and went on to coach the State team seven times between 1967 and 1978.
Neil Kerley AM Honours
- 165 games and 87 goals for West Adelaide, 1957 – 1963
- 56 games for South Adelaide 1964 – 1966
- 55 games and 36 goals for Glenelg 1967 – 1969
- Captain/Coach of West Adelaide 1959 – 1962
- Captain/Coach of South Adelaide 1964 – 1966
- Captain/Coach of Glenelg 1967 – 1969
- Captain/Coach of premiership team for West Adelaide, 1961
- Captain/Coach of premiership team for South Adelaide, 1964
- Premiership Coach of Glenelg, 1973
- Premiership Coach of West Adelaide, 1983
MATCHES FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA
- 32 – Captain of South Australia 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966
- Best and fairest for West Adelaide, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962
- Best and Fairest for Glenelg, 1967
- All Australian vice-captain 1961
- O’Halloran Trophy 1963 (for best player in interstate match)
- Player Life Member of SANFL
- SANFL League Life Member, 1985
- Member of Australian Football Hall of Fame (inducted 1997)
- Inaugural Member of SA Football Hall of Fame (inducted 2002)
- Awarded Order of Australia Medal, 2007
- Coach of West Adelaide, 1961 – 1962 , 1981 – 1984, 1992 – 1993
- Captain/Coach of South Adelaide, 1964 – 1966
- Coach of Glenelg 1967 – 1976
- Coach of West Torrens, 1977 – 1980
- Coach of Central District, 1988 – 1990
- SANFL State Coach 1967, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1978
- South Australian State of Origin Coach 1979, 1980, 1984
- Coached All Australian team on 3 occasions in Ireland, series winners 1987
- Football Manager of Adelaide Football Club, 1991