South Australian soccer star Neil Kerley dies in car crash aged 88 Australian Rules Football

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

Kerley has made a name for himself as a preeminent player, coach, administrator and media figure in Australia’s domestic football.

Even long after his retirement as a player, Kerley’s fierce support for South Australia – particularly in clashes with arch-rivals Victoria – was unmatched at Origins.

Kerley – affectionately known as the “Knuckles” – made 276 appearances 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.

A tribute to the King Neil Kerley. Loved looking through the footage of SANFL’s glory years – and hearing Knuckles’ only regret: “I think deep down I should have gone to Melbourne for just a few years. The reason I didn’t go is because I don’t like Melbourne.” RIP 👑 @abcsport

— James Coventry (@JCoventry) June 29, 2022

When the Adelaide Crows joined the AFL in 1991, Kerley was appointed their first football manager, a key figure supporting first-year coach Graham Cornes.

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

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

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

A man who has helped shape our club from day one and a legend of South Australian football.

Our thoughts are with Neil’s family, friends and the wider football community at this difficult time.#ValeNeilKerley

— Adelaide Crows (@Adelaide_FC) June 29, 2022

Kerley’s verbal remarks to Victorian counterpart Ted Whitten during the State of Origin games were legendary.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said Kerley was the “embodiment of football in South Australia”.

“He devoted his life to the game, bringing improvement and success wherever he was in SANFL competition and was absolutely driven by the cause of state football and a win over the Big V in particular,” McLachlan said.

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

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