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Magarey Grove

Tarntanya Wama (Park 26)

A living tribute to South Australia's football heroes

photo-icon William Ashley Magarey, State Library of South Australia, B 56106, circa 1920
photo-icon Distant view of a game of football being played between England and Australia held at the Adelaide Oval, State Library of South Australia, PRG 280/1/29/151, circa 1920

South Australian National Football League (SANFL)

South Australia boasts a rich sporting history and few organisations have played a more significant role in this story than the SANFL. Founded as the South Australian Football Association in 1877, the SANFL is the oldest surviving football league of any code in Australia.

In modern times, the SANFL is the governing body for football in South Australia and is responsible for the promotion and development of Australian Rules Football in South Australia across all levels of competition.

Each September, the SANFL Finals Series is played here at Adelaide Oval as the top ranked teams battle for premiership glory.

William Magarey

In 1898, in an effort to stamp out the violent conduct that marred the early years of competition in the South Australian Football Association, the League’s first chairman, William Magarey, established an award for the ’fairest and most brilliant player’ each season.

Named in his honour, the Magarey Medal is the oldest medal in Australian Rules Football and has been awarded every year since 1898, with the exception of 1900, 1904 and during the two World Wars.

Magarey is considered amongst the most influential sporting administrators in South Australia’s history and personally presented the annual award from 1898 until his death in 1929. Magarey Grove celebrates this prestigious award.

Famous Names

The Magarey Medal honour roll includes some of the most recognisable figures in South Australian football. Sculptures around Adelaide Oval recognise the achievements of household names and medal winners Malcolm Blight, Barrie Robran and Russell Ebert.

Recognised in this photo is Gilbert McAdam from Central District Football Club. McAdam, who won the award in 1989, is widely recognised as one of the most talented and consistent Aboriginal players to play SANFL. He was drafted by St Kilda in 1990 and went on to play more than 100 Australian Football League (AFL) games.

Aboriginal influence in football can be traced back to the traditional Indigenous games known collectively as Marngrook, which played a role in the early development of Australian Rules. Today, Aboriginal players continue to inspire and thrill generations of Australian football fans.

Magarey Grove

Established in 1988 as a joint venture between SANFL and the Charles Sturt Council, Magarey Grove was envisaged as a living celebration of the history and winners of South Australia’s most prestigious individual football award, the Magarey Medal. Each medallist was represented with a commemorative plaque and also planted a tree to add to the grove.

Originally located along West Lakes Boulevard near Football Park in Adelaide’s west, the game’s headquarters for 40 years, Magarey Grove was relocated to Adelaide Oval in 2017 so it could be admired and enjoyed at South Australia’s home of football.

The original plaques that lay beneath the trees at West Lakes were returned to the Magarey Medallists or their families. Fresh plaques were forged and are now in place here at the new Magarey Grove.

City of Adelaide acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today. We also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.

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