Club History

Salisbury Football Club historical photo

The following outlines the great history of the Salisbury Football Club. Starting as far back as 1870 and summarising the many triumphs of our Club to the current day.

The history of football being played in the Salisbury area can be traced back to 1870. Earliest record is an article in the Gawler Times (August 1870) reporting on a game played between a combined Woodville/Salisbury team and Gawler Football Club.

The Salisbury Football Club was formed by a Professor Tate who had arrived in the area at this time from England and was teaching at Adelaide University. Tate had two sons living on the family orange orchard in the Salisbury area who were getting up to no good. To redirect their energy, Tate formed the Football Club.

The first record of a match involving a Salisbury team was reported in the Gawler Bunyip on the 30th July 1880, when Salisbury played the Gawler Albions at Gawler. Hence 1880 was decided as the Club’s founding year.

In the early years suitable grounds were hard to come by and drainage was often a problem. One report indicated that because a ground was so small the goalposts were placed diagonally to each other.

The first guernseys for the Salisbury team were made of an assortment of wheat sacks with vertical black stripes sewn on.

Even in these early years it is reported that umpires came under some criticism. After one Salisbury game an umpire returned to his sulky to find the horse had been placed back to front between the shafts, and the reins tied to a gum tree!

Newspaper articles from these early periods also suggest that the Salisbury teams were quite rough and ready, and that the Gawler teams were always happy to see them on the train heading south again.


In the latter part of the 1880s a home and away game was played regularly against the Gawler teams which included Gawler South, Gawler Central and Willaston. These 3 Gawler teams established the Gawler Football League (G.F.L.) in 1889, which Salisbury was associated with for the next 20 years, but didn’t affiliate with same until 1911. Other Gawler teams that played outside the Gawler League during this period included the “Assistants” and the “Early Closers”.

From 1900

In 1912 the G.F.L. introduced the first best player individual award which Salisbury player A. Jenkins won in a tie with Gawler South player W. Price.

Photographic records from this early period include 1899 (including Professor Tate), which proudly hangs in the Clubrooms, 1907, 1909, 1910, 1911 and 1913. The 1910 and 1911 photographs indicate that Salisbury teams had undefeated seasons.

In the years prior to and after WW1, Salisbury performed well most years having won the minor premiership in 1914, but lost the premiership decider to Gawler Central 9.6 to 4.7.

At around the turn of the 20th century a Salisbury family by the name of Heidenreich donated an area of land to the general community and this became what is now the Salisbury Oval. In 1913 a pavilion was built with the help of the local gymnasium club which organized sports days as fundraisers.

1920 – 1940

During the 1920s Salisbury remained in the G.F.L. but was unable to attain premiership success, losing 4 grand finals to a very powerful Gawler South Club.

The Club’s first Life Membership was awarded in 1923 to F. Heidenreich, and the current Committee holds in trust Club meeting minutes dating back to 1925.

In 1932 Salisbury left the G.F.L. and played in various Associations until WW2, including the North Adelaide District Football Association and the Lower North Football Association.
Senior grade premiership success finally arrived after a finals series in 1937 in the Lower North competition, when Salisbury defeated Virginia in the grand final.


During WW2 there was of course little activity and any matches played were organized purely on an ad hoc basis. The Club remained active during the war years with the minute book recording committee meetings during the early 1940s.

In 1949 Salisbury returned to the newly named Gawler & District Football League and remained there until 1960. During this period premierships were won in 1956 and 1957 (both against old nemesis Gawler South, who by this time had changed it’s name to South Gawler). In 1956 the Club adopted the Collingwood strip and became known as the “magpies” which it retains to this day.

Also in these post war years an emphasis was placed on junior football, and as a result the Salisbury Junior Football Club was established. Pioneering this development through the 1950/60s were Club administrators A.J.(Bert) Guerin and Dudley Magor, both of whom have perpetual trophies awarded annually at the Club to recognize outstanding potential in junior players. A.J.Guerin was also on the foundation Committee for the Central District Football Club that was established in 1959.

1960 – 1970

In 1961 the Club affiliated with the newly formed Central Districts Football Association (C.D.F.A.) thus ending its long association with the Gawler League. Other founding clubs included Salisbury North, Elizabeth, Two Wells-Virginia, Elizabeth North and Central District. This League facilitated junior grades and Salisbury consistently fielded all grades to ensure a secure future with junior development.

Premierships in this new League included 4 consecutive from 1968-1971. Club legend Barry Pilgrim coached these premierships and also won five C.D.F.A. Best and Fairest Association medals. He in fact could have won six, being pipped one year by his brother-in-law Graham Thomas in 1970.


In 1980 the Club celebrated its centenary, and the A grade reached the grand final but was unsuccessful in its attempt to win this significant premiership.

During the 1980s the C.D.F.A. was re-named to become the Northern Metropolitan Football League (N.M.F.L.). The 1980s was another successful decade with premierships in 1984,1986 and 1988.

Under 15 1995 Premiers

Under 15 1995 Premiers

1990 to present

With the demise of the N.M.F.L. in 1994 the Club affiliated with the S.A. Amateur Football League (S.A.A.F.L.) in 1995 where it remains today. Recent premierships in the S.A.A.F.L. include 1997, 2001 and 2007. The Club has had 6 medal winners in S.A.A.F.L. which include A grade, B grade and U17 winners.

In 2010 the Club was proud to celebrate its 130th anniversary. Personal player milestones to this point include three 300 game players being Michael Tripodi, Robert Miles and David McInnes, the latter two even going onto play their 350th.

In 2016, the SFC B Grade were back to back premiers,  and the U18s celebrated premiership success also.

Salisbury Football Club is also proud of its junior players who have gone on to play at both A.F.L and S.A.N.F.L. levels. A.F.L. representatives include: Stuart Dew (Port Adelaide and Hawthorn), Anthony Ingerson (Adelaide and Melbourne), Scott Bamford (Geelong) and more recently Ben Nason(Richmond), Sean Lemmons (Gold Coast Suns), and Sarah Allen (A.F.L.W. Adelaide Crows).

S.A.N.F.L. representatives to play with the Central Districts Football Club include: Roger Girdham, Mark Demasi (South Adelaide), Mark Prior , Peter Nicks, Doug Wickham, Brad Curry, Steven Eichner and more recently Luke Barmby.

The Club is very proud of it’s history and looks forward to further milestones, those being the 140th anniversary in 2020 and of course the big 150th in 2030.