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SANFL hopes rise after historic Magarey Medals fail to sell

Football

The SANFL will seek to buy two gold Magarey Medals awarded to a pioneer South Australian footballer after they remained untouched at auction on Thursday night.

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After no bid was made on the two of the three Magarey Medals awarded to Hall of Fame footballer Tom McKenzie in an online auction on Thursday night, the SANFL is still the leading contender to reclaim the treasured trophies.

The football league tried to buy the 1902 and 1905 Magarey Medals hours before the gold trophies were auctioned with a reserve price of $32,000 each – the price paid by Adelaide coin dealer Grant Morton at a Sydney auction in July 2005.

Morton told InDaily the Magarey Medals will remain on sale – with a price tag of $32,000 plus a commission to auctioneer Michael Treloar – for the next few weeks.

“If they don’t sell, I will hang on to them for a little longer – so be it,” Morton said.

“They will stay online for offers until Monday. And if they don’t sell over the weekend, I will be open to offers for a few weeks.”

The online auction marked the third time Magarey Medals were put up for public sale. The first time was in 2005 when Morton returned the McKenzie medals to Adelaide. Later, the 1932 Magarey Medal awarded to West Torrens centreman Max Pontifex – sold for $37,000.

Morton said he felt the $32,000 reserve on each Magarey Medal was “right”.

“It was not over the top,” he said.

Other sporting memorabilia related to McKenzie, a champion of the pioneer days of league football in South Australia before World War I, did sell. This included McKenzie’s plaque recognising his induction in the Australian Football Hall of Fame (for $320), his junior medal at the West Torrens Football Club (for $1600) and his discharge papers after serving in World War I. A presentation photograph of McKenzie sold for $3200.

McKenzie, born in 1882, played 175 senior SANFL games with West Torrens and North Adelaide before he served in France and was seriously wounded during World War I. He was awarded the Magarey Medal – South Australian league football’s highest individual award since 1898 and Australian football’s oldest trophy – in 1902, 1905 and 1906. The 1906 Magarey Medal is lost, believed to have been melted down for gold value during the Depression years.

Morton put all of his grand collection of sporting memorabilia – assembled across three decades – on auction. There was keen bidding on several items, such as a picture of the 1886 Australian Test cricket team that sold for $5000 and a Port Adelaide Football Club membership ticket from 1889 that sold for $4000.

“I am pleased with what has sold,” Morton said.

The unsold Magarey Medals will remain keenly sought after by the SANFL, which wants to add the trophies to its display at Adelaide Oval.

But Morton is highly unlikely to sell the medals at a loss.

On Thursday, league chief executive Darren Chandler contacted Morton to confirm the SANFL’s interest in buying the Magarey Medals. Earlier, Chandler told InDaily: “We would certainly be interested to discuss with any potential owner the possibility of adding (the McKenzie medals) to the collection at Adelaide Oval.

“The SANFL history committee has worked to establish an extensive collection of Magarey Medals, dating back to the first (won by Norwood player Alby Green) in 1898.”

The league on Thursday night reiterated it remained interested in securing the two Magarey Medals to keep them in Adelaide.

The SANFL history committee also is planning to seek public donations through the Australian Sports Foundation to increase league funds to buy both Magarey Medals.
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