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Grassroots: SA footy wrap


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In today’s wrap-up of local footy news, a fourth generation SANFL player makes his debut, the growing legions in a special club and much more.

A fourth generation in the SANFL

Making his league debut for the Roosters in last Saturday’s round six clash against West Adelaide, Kym Edwards added to a family heritage in the SANFL that goes back four generations to before the start of World War II.

While North went down by 78 points, Edwards was solid first up, grabbing 18 possessions and engineering a pair of clearances.
His older sibling, 26-year-old Shane who played league footy a North at 17, is now a 150-plus game AFL veteran with Richmond.
His father Greg, known through the football world as “Meggsy” is the CEO at Prospect and has his own football tale of success and sorrow.

A knockabout lad from Salisbury North, Meggsy played 42 games with Central District in the SANFL between 1980 and 1982. In 1982 he became the first and, to this stage, only Central District player at league level to achieve the full forward’s “holy grail” – a 100-goal league season.

At the height of his powers, the following season he lost the sight of an eye in a freak accident during a trial game.
He attempted a comeback in 1985 but after one league game, his 43rd, his coach Alan Stewart said he wasn’t prepared to pick him again, so Meggsy went and played with his mates at Freeling in the then Barossa and Light competition.

Meggsy’s brother Russell played alongside him at the Ponderosa, but didn’t receive opportunities, so went to Port Adelaide to play league football.

Their father Doug was a league footballer with West Torrens and North Adelaide during the 1950s, along with being a SACA district A grade cricketer alongside Mick Clingly and Barry Jarman at Woodville.

Doug’s father Alan got to reserves level with Norwood before World War II.

SA under 18s start well

Brenton Phillips’ SA under 18s had a solid four-goal win against a Norwood reserves team in wet and wintry conditions at The Parade last Friday night.

The SA side was inaccurate, but still had control of the game from the outset against a high-class opponent that included league premiership midfielder Mat Suckling.

“There were a number of positive signs with this first hit out, especially in those conditions,” Phillips said.

“I was really happy with the quality of the Norwood side we had as opponents.

“We have seven that are playing (SANFL) league football this weekend to add to his squad.”

North Adelaide small man Mark Quinn produced a best on ground effort.

Blood Riley Bonner wasn’t far behind and gave plenty of offensive run from defence, while Eagles Kyle Broadwood and over-ager Harrison Westhoff played important roles in the back half as talls.

Isaya Mckenzie injected pace around the ball, while his Bulldogs teammates Brendan Dew and Kyle Presbury both won plenty of contested possessions.

Billy joins that special club

Billy Stretch joined a special club on Saturday when he goaled for the Demons with his first kick in the AFL.

Other relatively recent South Australian members in this “club” include current West Coast Eagles captain Shannon Hurn, Power swingman Justin Westhoff, and upgraded rookie at the Gold Coast Suns, Josh Glenn, just a week previous.

But the 18-year-old’s penchant for kicking goals on debut is a part of a rich family history that included his father Steven, who played 164 games with Melbourne as well as a further 25 with Fitzroy.

“Firstly, we were all very pleased for Billy and his first game was a special Mother’s Day present for this mother, with her name, Leona on his special jumper,” Steven said.

“There were a large contingent of family and friends over for the game including (former teammates) Andrew Obst and Des O’Dwyer, who had a role in Billy’s growing up.”

Back in 1986, Steven Stretch had his own chance to join the “goal with his first kick in the AFL/VFL” club.

“I had a shot from the goal square – about 10 to 15 metres out – in round one against Richmond, and it was at the MCG as well,” Stretch explained.

“I was very early in the game and I was under ‘some’ pressure.

“I received a handball from dual best and fairest Alan Johnson and he was pretty livid to be honest that I missed.”

This father/son combination does share a piece of SANFL history in this genre together.

Last year in his initial league game for Glenelg, Billy calmly slotted through a major with his first kick.

Back in 1982 with West Torrens, Steven kicked a goal with his first kick at for the Eagles at Thebarton Oval.

“What I remember about that day was Peter Motley absolutely dominated that game,” Stretch recalled.

“And we certainly got towelled up by the Double Blues.”

The final score on that late August early 80s afternoon was Sturt 28.25 (173) to West Torrens 9.11 (65).

Billy Stretch’s South Australian Under 18 team mate last winter Ryan Burton , who was regarded as a top 10 hopeful this year, before his broken leg, is also in a member of this ‘club’ at SANFL level.

Playing his first game for the Roosters against West Adelaide last year, Burton slotted through a pair of majors, with his first being with his initial kick at league level.

His father, a footballer and surf lifesaver Craig Burton, started at the Bloods before moving across to North and becoming a premiership player in 1987 and 1991.

You guessed it – he also kicked a goal with his first kick in in the SANFL.

Star search nominee not so inexperienced

The SANFL’s Round six Powerade Star Search nominee is Eagles midfielder/forward Nick Hayes.

The former Brisbane Lion-listed player finished with 23 disposals, 14 marks, six inside 50s and a goal in his team’s win against Glenelg last Saturday. It was a performance that made him a worthy nominee.

However, does Hayes’ nomination represent a disrespect of the NEAFL competition that covers New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory?

Hayes played two years of NEAFL football, was selected in their representative side against South Australia at Richmond Oval in 2013, and was a Lions NEAFL best and fairest.

Nick Hayes shoots out a handpass for the Eagles.

Nick Hayes shoots out a handpass for the Eagles.

What is pleasing is he comes from good rural football stock in the Mid North of this state.

His father Frank played in five flags with the Brinkworth-Spalding-Redhill Tigers in the North Eastern competition, being a tough and classy ruck rover.

Fellow sibling Jack is currently in the reserves and is looking to follow Nick into league company this year.

The third boy Luke is playing first XVIII football with Sacred Heart, like his older brothers did.

And there is more to come.

Cooper and Ryder are played through the junior grades at BSR Tigers and have already shown an aptitude for the contest.

Grassroots is published each Wednesday.

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