Tributes flow for SA legend after shock death

Australian Football Hall of Fame member and “proud and passionate South Australian” Neil Kerley has died in a car crash. He was 88.

Kerley made his mark on Australia’s home-grown football code as an outstanding player, coach, administrator and media figure.

Even long after his retirement as a player, Kerley’s passionate support for South Australia – especially in State of Origin clashes with arch-rival Victoria – was unrivaled.

Kerley – affectionately nicknamed “Knuckles” – played 276 games for West Adelaide, South Adelaide and Glenelg, and represented his state 32 times.

He also coached five SANFL clubs to a total of four premierships.

When the Adelaide Crows entered the AFL in 1991, Kerley was appointed their inaugural football manager as a key support figure to first-year coach Graham Cornes.

“Neil’s contribution to the game is immeasurable and he embodied what it means to be a proud and passionate South Australian,” Crows chairman John Olsen said in a statement.

“As a player and coach, he was tough and uncompromising and he commanded respect, and he will be remembered as one of football’s great characters.

“In the context of his overall career, his time at the Crows was brief but his impact is best described as significant given he helped build the club from the ground up.”

Kerley’s verbal stoushes before Victorian counterpart Ted Whitten during State of Origin fixtures were the stuff of legend.

He died on Wednesday afternoon in a car accident in the Murraylands region of SA.


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