RIP Neil ‘Knuckles’ Kerley

Pretty devastating to read this tonight….

Neil Kerley, better known as Knuckles, the man who was to South Australian football what Ted Whitten was for lighting an emotional fire underneath Victorians come State of Origin time, died in a car crash this evening in Walker Flat, South Australia, at the age of 88.

Actually, that would be something of a false statement, as Knuckles would’ve claimed that EJ Whitten was the Victorian answer to him.

This was the last time EJ and Knuckles ever saw each other before EJ’s death in 1995

Anyway, what a rough trot for the Croweaters, with 2 of the greatest South Australian footballing figures gone within the space of a year – recently elevated Hall of Fame Legend Russell Ebert last October, and now Knuckles, who arguably has a case for being a legend himself.

Speaking of which, if you have no idea who Knuckles is, here’s a small sample;

– Captained South Australia and later coached them for 10 years, his most famous win as captain coming in 1963 at the MCG, when the Croweaters defeated Victoria by 7 points and Knuckles belted two Victorians

– He captain-coached West Adelaide to a flag in 1961, got the arse and moved to wooden spooners South Adelaide in 1963, and pretty much cemented his legend when he captain-coached them to a premiership in 1964, which is still South Adelaide’s last premiership

– Moved to Glenelg in 1967, made them instantly competitive, retired from playing, and in 1973 coached their first flag since 1934, losing just 1 game for the year

– Went back to West Adelaide in 1981 when they hadn’t made the finals since 1977 and eventually got them to the flag in 1983, giving him the rare distinction of coaching a flag in 3 different decades

– Became a boundary rider for Channel 7 during the 1990s and was on the air for pretty much every single Adelaide Crows game until Channel 7 lost the rights in 2001.

So to remember Knuckles tonight, here’s his Open Mike episode with Mike Sheahan in 2014:

When he had a bike race against Ron Barassi, with both of them decked out in tracksuits, because this was considered entertainment in the early years of colour TV in Australia:

And his fabled Noel’s Caravans ad with Malcolm Blight, as seen on The Front Bar:

RIP Knuckles.

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