Fifty Years On: Glenelg Triumphs

Glenelg secured their sixth South Australian National Football League (SANFL) premiership on Sunday, September 24, 2023, overcoming Sturt. Fifty years ago, in 1973, Broken Hill export Steve Hywood was a key player during the club’s second-ever title win at Adelaide Oval, which saw a massive crowd of 56,525 spectators.

“(It’s the) Greatest game I’ve seen in my life,” remarked former Essendon and Sturt footballer Wally May, a renowned TV commentator of that time. This sentiment was shared after Graham Cornes’ sensational mark and goal in the 1973 SANFL Grand Final.

The ’73 SANFL Grand Final on September 29 marked the 75th annual season decider, with Glenelg clinching victory by seven points under coach Neil “Knuckles” Kerley, ending a 39-year premiership drought. The match is hailed as the best Grand Final in SANFL history, with Glenelg, the minor premiers, triumphing 21.11 (137) over reigning champions North Adelaide’s 19.16 (130).

Graham Cornes scored a decisive goal in the last moments before John Sandilands extended the lead to seven points post-siren. The Roosters took a 17-point lead in the first quarter, but this gap narrowed to less than a goal by half-time. John Plumber’s goal for North deep into the final quarter momentarily put them in the lead.

“When Plummer scored, it felt like a huge crater had opened up,” recounted Rex Voigt, a standout player who scored seven goals that day. He added, “It was an unbelievable experience to be part of that match.”

Stephen Hywood joined Glenelg in 1973 following a season with Richmond in the VFL. Prior to that, he clinched multiple premierships with South Broken Hill Kangaroos and was the Broken Hill Football League’s top goal-scorer in 1970. At Richmond, he played as a half-back-flanker while undergoing National Service Training, debuting in the VFL in 1972.

After failing to secure a clearance for Richmond in 1973, he transitioned to South Australia for two stints with Glenelg, capped by the 1973 premiership. Subsequent years saw him play in Tasmania and then return to Glenelg.

From Broken Hill in 1967 to Hobart in 1975, Hywood had an amazing record of playing in the Grand Final in each competition he played in.

Hywood represented Glenelg in 76 league games (1973-74 and 1976-79) kicking two goals.

When John Halbert became Glenelg’s senior coach in 1981, Hywood took on the role as the Glenelg Tigers Seconds mentor 1981 and ‘82 leading his young charges to a flag both years.

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