A Sporting World


A Sporting World is a vivid portrayal of the history of three staple Australian general sports magazines of the mid-20th century – Sporting Life, Sports Novels and Sport Magazine. Set within the context of sports publishing in Australia and internationally, the distinct story of each magazine is replete with details of owners, editors, print and photo journalists, artists and their subjects.

I am proud to be associated with this wonderful limited-edition book as publisher and editor. Copies may be purchased from rpcricketbooks@unite.com.au


Footy exhibition is a winner



It’s not one exhibition but two.


Celebrating  140 Years of the SANFL



Football in South Australia

The two exhibitions which complement each other opened on 7 June and run until 13 August. They are located in the Institute Building and first floor of the State Library of South Australia linked by an interior walkway. At first I couldn’t see the point of having two names but ‘In a League of Its Own’ has been organised by the SANFL Historians Group convened by Chris Halbert and ‘Straight through the Middle’ draws its material from the SLSA’s football collection.

My first visit was rushed as I’d agreed to meet friend Santo Caruso before discussing a book project. In doing so I made the mistake of entering from the Library, noting their display mainly on the Treasures Wall and quickly moving to the rear of the Institute. An adjective like ‘worthy’ came to mind but I was plainly underwhelmed. Where was the passion, the colour, the excitement? I’m glad I didn’t leave things there for I’d missed the best bits.

When I returned I made sure to begin at the beginning.

The recommended route is definitely through the front door of the Institute Building and start with the main SANFL exhibition room on the left.

Garden gnomes which a Melbourne friend suggested looked like Kevin Murray.

Club badge collection.

History at a glance.

Theatrette for viewing Grand Final and State of Origin action.

Detailed Timeline needs more space.

The rear room of the Institute is the next part of the journey. Above is the photo-montage of the Australasian Football Council Carnival won by South Australia in 1911. In the early 1980s it lay in tatters in a Football Park vomitory. I had it restored (along with other Carnival pictures) with cedar frames and for many years they adorned the main Members Dining Room at Football Park. It’s great to see them back on walls in this exhibition.

Visual display from scrapbooks.


Caricature collection.


From large photo-montage on walkway to Library. Glad to see my colour photo (and Football Budget cover) of Peter Carey at right made the cut.


 A pair of unlikely lads.

 Santo Caruso admiring legendary ruckman Tom Leahy.


Spectacular wide-angle image of footy at Adelaide Oval is the feature of the Library display.


Eye-catching entrance to the Library.


From the Ken Farmer albums in the Library Treasures Wall display.


Whatever did we do before computers?

I’m so glad I went back for a second visit and I’ll most likely return for a third. One can always have quibbles but mine would be few.

  • At the front entrance to the Institute Building the state blazers are a bit dull because they are mainly one colour – navy blue.
  • A selection of current SANFL club jumpers would offer much more colour, variety and a contemporary feel. Those which hang from light fittings in the front room are too high up and look puny in that space.
  • The timeline is thorough but has insufficient space and its value is lost.
  • My only other complaint is that there needs to be a little more fun in the league display. The gnomes are a start but what about the wobble-heads? And it would have been nice to have a little more fan involvement. Where are those duffle coats covered in player badges? Where are the flags and floggers waved by cheer squads?

That’s not much of a grizzle and there’s mountains of fascinating material. While there’s an absence of interpretive boards the volunteer assistants rostered from the SANFL History Group make up for that. On my second visit Chris Halbert and former league stars Ray Trenorden and Malcolm Greenslade were on duty to explain items and open up the viewing experience.

In addition the half a dozen panel discussions held in the evenings have been a brilliant success. The ‘1877 and All That’ panel chaired by Roger Wills in which I took part with James Coventry, Trevor Gyss and Peter Alexander worked exceptionally well and the questions from the audience were of the highest quality.

If you’ve yet to get along make sure you do so in the three weeks that remain.


About Bernard Whimpress

Freelance historian (mainly sport) currently writing his 31st book. For the previous 15 years was Curator of the Adelaide Oval Museum and Historian for the South Australian Cricket Association. Will accept writing commissions with reasonable pay. Most recent book – Adelaide Oval: A Photo-Document 2009.


  1. Mark ‘Swish’ Schwerdt says:

    Bernard, I also took a wrong turn, John Halbert had to point me in the right direction. Coincidentally, I was talking about Santo to Mike Hugo while we were viewing the exhibitions.

    I wish I was able to attend those panel discussions. Were they recorded?

  2. Dave Brown says:

    Yeah, I ended up going through it backwards, Bernard. On the day we went, there was no indication at that front of the institute building that that was where you should go – rather there was a board out for a yarn exhibition. The collection itself is fantastic. Agree with your minor quibbles and disappointed I wasn’t able to attend the panel discussions, would be very interested in the 1990 one.

  3. bernard whimpress says:

    Thanks Swish and Dave

    Funny we all took wrong turns but then I don’t believe the banners pictured on the Institute Building were ready when the exhibitions started and they weren’t there when I went the first time. I think the panel discussions might have been recorded but I’ll check.

    I would like to have got along to the 1990s panel and posed the question to Leigh Whicker about whether the League ever considered cancelling Port Adelaide’s season in 1990 over their treachery. I would like that to have happened. I guess economics ruled but the sad part was Port then went on to win the flag that year. Many good Port people were not happy about the club’s action but others were gung-ho and no doubt reckoned the premiership legitimised their action.

  4. Dave Brown says:

    I’ve yet to meet a Port person who has any doubts about their actions in 1990, Bernard. Hindsight has amply justified the club’s actions. The way I look at it is at least keeping them in gave us the drama of Graham Cornes’s post grand final speech in the Port changerooms. A moment in time about how people felt that would not otherwise necessarily have been captured.

  5. bernard whimpress says:

    Thanks again Dave which allows me to enlarge a little.

    For me the most interesting history is not written by the winners.

    One person who was disgusted by Port’s action was their club historian, the late John Wood. At the time John also told me of two of the club’s most decorated players (as well as major administrators) who were equally disgusted.

Ramblings 5

I rarely watch more than a couple of hours of TV at a time and usually no more than two or three days a week. Last night (Saturday) I tuned in to the ABC and SBS for four hours straight in what was quite special entertainment.

It began with Father Brown, the off-beat detective program based on the GK Chesterton stories. I probably shouldn’t like it but I do. I’m sure I’ve been to the cricket ground which was featured – somehow the ring of oak trees rang true as did the tiny clubroom which I’ve entered as well although simply for cakes and tea and not to follow the sound of a shot and discover a corpse. It was my friend Robert Seeckts, a former member, who took me there in 2009 and, if it’s the ground I think it is, it’s located near the border of Sussex and Kent.

DCI Banks is one of my favourite detective series and the tension between the two women detectives (Helen Morton and Annie Cabbott) and Banks himself provides added drama apart from the exciting twists and turns in the cases they are investigating. I can’t miss this show.

Then it was a switch to the second half of Rockwiz in the 1950s with Col Joye as one of the special guests. The man is a handsome octogenarian. I had to be amused when he said he played to a lot of Elderly Citizens clubs these days and was older than most members of his audience.

Finally, The Commitments and what an amazing film that was, so full of humour and passion besides the brilliant music. It was only a shame to read afterwards that so few of the stars have gone to major careers. Nevertheless, an outstanding piece of work by director Alan Parker from the Roddy Doyle novel. Naturally, the songs were played at full blast.

New Ashes Treasures

ASHES TREASURES 3bASHES TREASURES 3a Groucho Marx said he only ever bought second editions because every book has a first edition but did he buy third editions. Carlton Books have done it again and Allen & Unwin are on board in Australia. Gus Fraser and Boony have written the forewords.

New book: Way College 1892-1903

New book: Way College 1892-1903

I’m very excited to be associated as publisher for my friend Bob Petersen of this outstanding new book on one of Australia’s truly innovative schools. The school was very successful and closed only because the Bible Christian church which operated it dissolved upon amalgamation with the Methodists. The book may be purchased from the author at bobzilla@yahoo.com.au