A Bulldogs Indigenous Champion

Ahead of Indigenous Round this weekend Peter Argent touches on the career of a Bulldog Legend - Phil Graham!

By Peter Argent

Central District have had a number of footballers that have shaped the club – Morey – Wilson, Hocking, McAdam, Sansbury – have all left their mark on the club.
As the SANFL arrives at their indigenous round this weekend, we delve into the career of another champion over a by-gone era. 

After former Gawler Central great Sonny Morey, the second longest serving aboriginal Bulldog is champion from the late 70s and 1980s Phil Graham.
He had 12 seasons of SANFL league football, debuting as a 17-year-old in 1978.
Predominately a wingman/half forward, lissom in movement, donning  the Bulldogs tri-colour jumper in a era when the club wore the predominately white guernsey, playing 196 senior games and kicking 167 goals.
Central District coach Daryl Hicks, also in his initial season as senior coach gave the teenager 14 games in his first season.
 “Phil played his first league game for me in his teens and was a quality footballer,” Hicks, now preacher, said.
“He was a unique player, having plenty of talent and flair.
“Actually I would play Phil at centre half forward on Port and Collingwood great defender Greg Phillips.
“He would towel him up every time, with his pace and run.
Phil Graham recalled that football was always a big part of family life from the days at the Aboriginal Mission at Point Pearce on the Yorke Peninsula.
“My pop (grandfather) Cecil was a dead-eye full forward and he actually played A grade football at the Mission with his older sons Uncle “Curra” (Rex) and Uncle Tonga (Fred),” Graham said.
“There were 15 in the family.
“My dad, Bradley Graham won a Mail Medal in country footy as well.”
Phil said he crossed paths on his uncle Michael (Sturt’s ‘Flash’ Graham) in SANFL league football on a number of occasions.
“One Friday night before a game we played cards and I wandered off to bed at a respectable hour,” Phil said. 
“We I saw Michael the next day, leaning against a goal post he just said it was a late night and went out and kicked five goals.
“In another game when many of the family came down to watch us play at Elizabeth, I took big a screamer over uncle Michael, only to be told off by grandma, Doris after the game.”  
Phil Graham retired from league football at 28 due to a lack of finals success and played in a premiership with a cousin, Wilbur Wilson (who also had a strong heritage at Port Pearce) at Gawler Central in 1991 in the Barossa, Light and Gawler Football Association. 
The following two seasons as playing coach he led Braham Lodge to their inaugural two flags in the Central Districts Football Association.
A smooth moving left footer Brenton Graham won a Tomkins Medal (SANFL under 19s fairest and best award) in 1978 but had knee problems and only played 10 senior games in the early 1980s.”
Phil older brother Colin Graham joined Melbourne from Kyabram, playing 35 games and kicked 32 goals with the Demons between 1975 and 1978, also playing his first VFL game as a 17-year-old. 
“Colin decided to come back to SA due to homesickness,” Phillip Graham commented. 
“He had car accident, and had 12 months rehabilitation and had to play with a helmet.
Colin Graham had a season with Sturt in 1985, playing 15 league games, and also played reserves football at Centrals.  


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