South’s began the 1940’s season promising much and rapidly settled into hard football under the guidance of coach L Reeves. Several juniors made their debut in 1939 and the club looked forward with confidence to the year ahead. The next decade including the war years bought limited success with only winning 1 Premiership in 1942 however the club was very competitive also playing grand finals in 1941, 1943, 1944, and 1949. South’s had better success in the B Grade winning premierships from 1946 to 1949.

Officials who featured during this period included J Shinnick who was President from 1940 to 1941, N Brearley who coached from 1940 to 1942 and 1945 to 1946 including a premiership. R Miller who coached from 1943 to 1944, F Rooney in 1947 and K Walkington in 1948 and 1949. Club Champions included N Brearley, F Woodforde, R McDonald, K Walkington and Magarey Medallist, J Pash. The Port Augusta teams suffered greatly with lack of numbers during the war with one shining light for South’s being the recruitment of J Pash, the 1939 Magarey Medallist who was a new school teacher in town. Pash actually tied for the award in the first instance with West’s R McArthur, whereupon the SANFL conducted a poll among all of the field umpires who had officiated in at least one match involving each player as a means of determining the winner. The award was given to Pash, but almost sixty years later the SANFL awarded retrospective Magarey Medals to all players who had originally lost the award either on a back count or by means of a vote of some kind, including McArthur.

Pash played for South’s from 1941 to 1943 but in 1944 he resumed with the Norwood/North Adelaide combined team that won that year’s flag.  The resumption of full-scale league football the following year saw Pash, playing mainly across half forward or on a wing, and once his football career, which included 4 interstate appearances for South Australia, was over Pash continued to provide sterling service to the sport he loved as a football writer for ‘The News’ from 1950 to 1964. In 1941 South’s only won one game throughout the season however they still managed to make the grand final but then losing to Central’s 13-8 (86) to 4-6 (30). Best players in the grand final included: H Zanker, L Reeves, J Fullerton, E Barry, P Robinson and R Young. In 1942 South’s won their 5th premiership and 3rd in 5 years with a close win over Central’s 8-6 (54) to 7-8 (49). The team was undefeated throughout the season and the best player in the grand final was T Curyer. H Nicholson was awarded Highest Association goal kicker with 41 goals.

South’s also lost grand finals in 1941, 1943 and 1944 with Pash and Brearley among the best players for those years and as the A grade Captain, N Brearley also won the Hooker medal for the best player in the Association. The league in their wisdom, thought South’s were too strong in this period so they imposed a ban for 2-3 years that any player new or returning to Port Augusta could not play for South’s. One that had a major impact on the league was T Curyer, who played 1941/42 for South and left the town for several years. When he came back to Port Augusta he could not play for South so went to West Augusta. He was the driving force that enabled West to be a great team as he was a very good footballer, with great organizing and leadership skills. In the War years Port Augusta was a big Railway Hub and many good players came here for work. South’s did not have the same access to players as Central and West and because of their success ban and in the next 4 years they finished last on the premiership table. During this time the league at the time was so strong that a combined West Adelaide and Norwood played the Port Augusta side and finals were different to what is played now with the 2nd and 3rd ranked teams playing in the preliminary finals. The winner played the minor premier in the grand final with the minor premier able to request a replay if they lost. 

One year Centrals were minor premiers and strong favorites to beat South’s. There was unprecedented betting on the game and South came out as comfortable winners. In the replay normality returned and Centrals won easily. South was a well run club with a good committee in this decade. They had presentation cabarets in the Buff‘s Hall, social trips down the Gulf and played games in Quorn and Whyalla. In 1946 South organised a Debutante Ball in the Catholic Hall where 350-400 people attended and they raised funds for new jersey’s. (Red with white band on sleeve, a big white V and white collar). Life member for both the league and South’s J Fullerton was tenacious and hard at it, something his son Geoff “ching” was to replicate in the 60’s and 70’s. H Barton was thickset, fast and a great centre half back, S Zanker was one of the best screw punters the club had seen and was a mark and kick player almost never a ground runner or chaser. H Zanker was a dasher and ground runner, able to cover a lot of ground quickly. W Rasmus was tenacious and other good players were F Rooney and K Higginson. F ‘squagger’ Woodforde, was also a fierce contender and was a Best and Fairest recipient.

P Clarke who started as a 15 year old for South’s in 1945 also rates N Brearley and K Walkington as the 2 best players of the 40’s, together with other players T Shinnick, R Cogler, W McEwin, A Stuchbury, A McKerlie and Rex Gellard who later became President and life member in the 60’s. Another player to note was Ray Miller, who is the oldest living Life Member of the club and also a Life Member of West Augusta.  Miller is well known in the SGL and a renown junior coach who originally came from Nedlands in WA.  Miller was invited to trial with Claremont and played under 19’s, before going back to Nedlands. Miller came to Port Augusta to work, watched South’s train and thought he can make that side. He played between 1942 to 1944 and was Captain and Coach for 2 years. He then broke a different wrist in two consecutive years but was an excellent Ruckman and leader who battled through bad ankle injuries which highlighted his true value. After 2 years out of the game, he wanted to play B Grade to make his A Grade return slow, ensuring his body was truly ready for the competition. Centrals protested saying he was an A Grade player and too good, he wasn’t allowed to play B Grade so Ray never tried again.

The West Side and Central ovals were both used in the 1940’s. Bill Applebee indicated that the West side oval was shell grit one end and razor fish shells the other and that Central oval was just flat dirt.  Footy boots had the stops or sprigs removed and leather cleats were tacked on like rubber tractor treads. Today we take for granted the change rooms, medical staff and every ready supply of electric heated hot water etc.  Up until the early 60’s these ovals had boilers that had to be lit and stoked at each training or game for showers. As a 15 year old, Applebee thought of and remembered with affection Wally McManus, the trainer who performed this task. Wally was a player in the 30’s and trainer in the 50’s and 60’s and was inducted as a Life Member. Jack Fullerton, interviewed in the 2000’s before his death stated that clubs were not rich and social life was limited. Often awards for players were quarts of beer and the like and conditions were harsh with games on hard gritty ovals. There were limited coaching and junior development but players were generally fit and strong through boxing and cycling which were popular together with many players being occupied in hard working industries such as the railways and wharf.

1941
Position: 2nd.
• Club President: J Shinnick.
• South’s finish last on season ladder however still made the grand final but lost to Central 13-8 (86) to 4-6 (30).
• Best players in the grand final included H Zanker, L Reeves, J Fullerton, E Barry, P Robinson and R Young.

1942
Position: 1st.
• President: HT Luke.
• A Grade Captain: H Zanker.
• A Grade Coach: J Rodriquez.
• South’s win the grand final against Central’s 8-6 (54) to 7-8 (49).
• Undefeated throughout the season.
• Grand final best player: T Curyer.
• Association highest goal kicker: South’s H Nicholson with 41 goals. 

JEFF PASH – Magarey Medalist

Jeff came from a football, and more particularly a North Adelaide background. Both of his uncles, Norman and Harold played with distinction for the club for more than a decade, with Norman also representing South Australia. After playing amateur football for a couple of years, Jeff Pash followed in his uncles’ footsteps by lining up with the red and whites against Port Adelaide at Alberton in the opening league match of the 1938 season.

It was not a winning start, as the Magpies edged home by 17 points, but the twenty-two year old Pash served notice that he was destined for an illustrious league career with a performance full of guile, vim and adroitness.  He went on to win North’s Best and Fairest award that year, a success he repeated after an even more auspicious 1939 season which also saw him land South Australian football’s most celebrated individual award, the Magarey Medal. Pash actually tied for the award in the first instance with West Adelaide’s Ray McArthur, whereupon the SANFL conducted a poll among all of the field umpires who had officiated in at least one match involving each player as a means of determining the winner. That winner was Pash but almost sixty years later the SANFL awarded retrospective Magarey Medals to all players who had originally lost either on a countback or by means of a vote of some kind, including McArthur.

Jeff’s league career was interrupted from 1941 to 1943 when he had to move to Port Augusta because of teaching commitments but in 1944 he resumed with the Norwood combined team that won that year’s flag. The resumption of full-scale league football the following year saw Pash, playing mainly across half forward or on a wing, continuing where he had left off five years earlier, albeit in a team that tended to struggle. In 1948 it seemed his career was as good as over as, aged thirty-two, his form deteriorated and he was dropped to North’s Association team. However, following the appointment of former team mate Ken Farmer as coach in 1949 Pash was given another chance, on which he seized with great tenacity and eagerness. In what proved to be a dream finale to his career, he played his best and most consistent football since his Magarey Medal win to help the club to its first flag for almost two decades.  In the grand final against West Torrens he was moved from a half forward flank into the centre when the game still hung in the balance and provided a match-winning lift to his team that enabled it to pull away to win by a deceptively comfortable margin of 23 points. Jeff Pash, in his final game of league football, was most observers’ choice as the best player afield, although in those days there was no Jack Oatey Medal with which to reward him.

Once his football career, which included 4 interstate appearances for South Australia, was over Pash continued to provide sterling service to the sport he loved as a football writer for ‘The News’. From 1950 to 1964 his eloquent and informed commentaries on the game delighted football supporters of all persuasions, and the summary of his writings that was recently published as The Pash Papers arguably constitutes the most important and certainly one of the most vividly evocative appraisals of the game in South Australia during that particular era.

1943
Position: 2nd.
• A grade Captain: R Miller and J Marshall.
• A grade Coach: R Miller.
• A grade Best and Fairest: J Pash.
• South’s lost the grand final to Central 11-12 (78) to 5-11 (41).

1944
Position: 2nd.
• Club President: C Saint.
• A grade Captain: N Brealey, also the winner of the Hooker Medal for the association best player.
• South’s lost the grand final to Central after a ‘poor form reversal game’  13-23 (101) to 3-12 (30).

1945
Position: 3rd.
• Club President: C Saint.
• A Grade Best and Fairest: N Brearley.
• South win B grade premiership.
• Association A Grade Leading goal kicker: P Welsh with 24 goals.

1946
Position: 3rd.
• A Grade Captain: N Brealey.
• South’s lost semi final to West 19-12 (126) to 5-10 (40).
• South’s wins B grade premiership.

1947
Position: 3rd.
• South’s lost semi final to Central 12-20 (92) to 11-14 (80).
• South B grade win premiership.

1948
Position: 3rd.
• A Grade Captain and Coach: K Walkington.
• A grade Best and Fairest: R McDonald and K Walkington.
• South’s lost in preliminary final to Central 11-10 (76) to 11-7 (73).

1949
Position: 2nd
• A Grade Captain: K Walkington.
• South’s lost the grand final to West 12-6 (78) to 6-10 (46).
• Best for South’s: K Higginson, P Clarke, Daniels, N Brearley, B Fountain, C Grantham and R Bowers.
• South’s win B Grade premiership.

1950
Position: 2nd.
• Club President: J Beerworth.
• A grade Captain: J Clarke.
• A Grade Coach: B Lehman.
• South’s lost the A Grade grand final to West 13-12 (90) to 9.8 (62).
• Best players: B Fountain, T Latham, C Chalmers, P Clarke, N Brearley, E Rowe and R Gellard.
• South’s win B grade premiership.
• A Grade Best and Fairest: B Fountain.