Willunga Football Club, early days

Operating Dates:

1874 –

The Willunga Football Club was established on the 29th of May 1874 and is recognised as the second oldest continuous football club in South Australia, the oldest being Port Adelaide. Prior to this, William Cheesman reportedly taught the young men of the district to play football using a round ball and it is thought that these were the first football games played in South Australia.

In 1877, the Willunga Club was part of the first official football competition in South Australia. Distance from Adelaide forced Willunga to withdraw from that competition and so in 1886 it became a foundation member in the formation of the Southern Football Association along with Sellicks Hill, Aldinga and McLaren Vale.

The club’s golden era was between 1931 and 1956 when it played in 18 grand finals and won ten premierships.

Two Willunga players have represented South Australia in State football – Taffy Waye and Ben Thompson. Ben was also drafted into the AFL along with Randall Bone.

From its earliest days under the guidance of Captain Malpas, the Sibley brothers (Sam and Mal) and William Waye, the Club has been fortunate in having families that have lived in the district since the formation of the club, have represented it on the playing field and then taken jobs in administration and every other job that needs to be done to make a club strong and viable. Most importantly their offspring have also become very important members of the club down through the years.

One of the great names of the club was Frank L Aldam who played from the 1880s to 1911, captained the team and played in the 1911 Premiership. After retiring from playing he became totally involved with the administration of the club and was president for 15 years from 1921 to 1935. Other Aldam men who played for Willunga after the war were Ted, Lon, Wilfred and David.

Hendrick Stanbury (Taffy) Waye worked in the family blacksmith shop in Willunga and first played for the club in the 1890s. Showing outstanding ability he was recruited by Sturt in the SANFL playing with them from 1902 to 1910, winning the Magarey Medal in Season 1903. Taffy would drive his horse and cart to and from Willunga each week to play with Sturt. He served for 4 years with the 5th Pioneer Battalion with the 1st AIF during World War 1. On his return from the war he played his last season of football for Willunga. In the 1919 Grand Final against Noarlunga at age 42, both teams formed a Guard of Honour to clap him from the ground to complete a magnificent career. Six other members of the Waye family subsequently played for Willunga.

Maurice (Spog) Corbett played 229 games and won the President’s Medal/Mail Medal in 1925, 1926, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1935 and 1936. He was a brilliant player who made every facet of the game look easy. Many other members of the Corbett family played during the 1920s and 1930s.

Malcolm Hailstone captained Willunga from 1936-1939 and in 1946 and 1947. He played 159 games from 1930 to 1953 and went on to play football in the SANFL with Glenelg.


Willunga Place of Green Trees 1952, page 65

The History as Recorded by Gary “Chum” Reed in 2007, viewed 04 Mar, 2024

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