See what we do for our guests today, the Willunga Football Club – even paint one of the gate pillars red and white to welcome them! Yeah, in your dreams!!

In actual fact, red and white were the traditional colours of our own club, and those guernseys were worn with some pride from 1922 until 1954, when we slipped into some fairly new blue and gold jackets that the Valleys Club had acquired just before the two clubs amalgamated.

For last year’s centenary celebrations, the club recognised the old colours by having one of the pillars painted red and white. It could have a been a bit of a problem for the Association if we had kept the red and white, with Strathalbyn these days also playing in the same-coloured strip.

Even though Willunga have only been part of the Great Southern competition since 1986, back in the very first year of our own club’s existence in 1921, the Willunga second eighteen put in an appearance on the old Hindmarsh Valley Oval against the team of the same name. Final scores for the match were Hindmarsh Valley 5.4, Willunga 8.3.

The other point of interest from that game was that the umpire was local Port Elliot resident Ted Rosser, whose son Laurie was a live-wire rover in Port Elliot’s five consecutive premierships in the 1930’s, and whose grandson Glenn later became General Manager of the SANFL.

If Willunga supporters, on their trip back, would like to spot the oval that match was played on, it was the flat paddock on the right of the Adelaide Road just before the Hindmarsh Valley turnoff – still a few pine trees around it.


What’s in a name?

The two clubs playing here today have both had club stalwarts by the name of Bartel. For Willunga, it is the 382 gamer, life-member and club Hall of Famer Rob ‘Barty’ Bartel, who also coached many junior teams and was an A grade goal umpire for over 10 years.

Past long-serving Association Secretary Kevin Curren reckons Barty is ‘quite a character… he would set up his huge barby at any finals match wherever Willunga was playing and give away his snags in bread to whoever wanted them… even if he did tend to upset the local club’s own fund-raising arrangements!’

Willunga FC Hall of Famer Rob ‘Barty’ Bartel
Don Bartel, captain, coach, Mail medalist and Encounter Bay club patron until his death last year.

For our club, it was Don Bartel, our patron up until his death just last year, after a footy carer that began in 1939 and saw him captain the club for four years, coach, pick up a Mail Medal, play a number of games for Sturt in the SANFL, and endear himself to generations of club supporters.

Don once whimsically said of his coaching career ‘In that first year we went premiers… the next year we were runners-up and I had started making a few mistakes.’ Don Bartel

John Althorp

All Feather Flashbacks are available in ‘A Good Way of Life’ by John Althorp

Read other Feather Flashbacks in previous editions of Eagle Tales

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