Bob Quinn (Australian footballer)

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Bob Quinn
Bob Quinn (Australian footballer).jpg
Bob Quinn being chaired off Adelaide Oval after captaining Port Adelaide to victory in the 1939 SANFL Grand Final.
Personal information
Full name Robert Berrima Quinn
Nickname(s) Bob
Date of birth 9 April 1915
Place of birth Birkenhead, South Australia
Date of death 12 September 2008(2008-09-12) (aged 93)
Place of death Adelaide, South Australia
Original team(s) Semaphore Centrals
Height 167 cm (5 ft 6 in)
Weight 67 kg (148 lb)
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1933–1947 Port Adelaide 239 (386)
1944 Port/Torrens (WWII) 12 (28)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
1936–1947 South Australia 15 (26)
Coaching career3
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
1939–40, 1945–47 Port Adelaide ≈80
1953 South Australia 4 (3–1–0) 75.00%
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1947.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of 1953.
Career highlights





Robert Berrima "Bob" Quinn MM (9 April 1915 – 12 September 2008) was a champion Australian rules footballer with the Port Adelaide Football Club in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL), and a decorated soldier of the Second World War.

Early life

Quinn was born in Birkenhead, South Australia, the third of four sons (Tom, George and Jack Jnr) of John (Jack) Quinn, Sr, a leading footballer of the 1890s and 1900s who captained Port Adelaide Football Club in 1904 and 1905 and represented South Australia. Jack Quinn was a Port Adelaide wharf labourer and gave Quinn the middle name "Berrima" in memory of the SS Berrima, a troop ship that Quinn Snr worked on prior to Bob Quinn's birth.[1]

Quinn went to the Le Fevre Peninsula School.[2] Later Quinn would join the Semaphore Centrals Football Club as a junior.[2]

The Port River lapped only yards from the back door of the Quinn's Birkenhead family home, and twice weekly Bob and his father, Jack, rowed across where the Birkenhead Bridge has since been built, climbed up a ladder to the wharf, and walked to Alberton Oval.[3]

Football career

Quinn made his debut for Port Adelaide in 1933 as a rover and quickly gained a reputation of being one of the leading players in South Australia.

In 1934 Quinn impressed observers from early in the season, with one reporting that "Quinn is practically assured of a position in the side as a rover. His displays in both trial games were full of merit."[4] Port started slowly in the 1934 season, despite a 131-point win over Glenelg Football Club,[5] but improved markedly in the second half of the home and away season, showing a "machine-like" efficiency and winning their last seven games comfortably to finish minor premiers and clear flag favourites.[5] In the first semi final, Port Adelaide again defeated Glenelg comfortably, this time by 65 points, and had a week's break while Glenelg played Sturt Football Club for the right to play Port in the Grand Final.[5] Glenelg won but Port went into the Grand Final as heavy favourites, with Quinn expected to star. In the 1934 SANFL Grand Final, Quinn was prominent from the early stages of the match and was involved in a "battle royale" with Glenelg's star rover Roy Colyer. Although Port Adelaide trailed throughout the match and eventually lost to Glenelg by 21 points, Quinn was close to best on ground, kicking a match high five goals.[5]

Playing in the 1936 SANFL Grand Final against Sturt Football Club, Port were trailing by five goals at half time but, led by Quinn's "magnificent roving", Port recovered to win by three points.[6] It was Quinn's first senior premiership.[7]

In 1937, Quinn was runner-up in the Magarey Medal, won the club Best and Fairest and was Port's leading goalkicker with 51 goals in another premiership year.[7] In the Magarey Medal count, Quinn came second behind North Adelaide Football Club's Harold Hawke, polling 36 voyes to Hawke's 37. Generally, the voting Magarey Medal voting is conducted under a 3–2–1 vote system but under a trial, 1937 saw votes awarded under a 5–3–1 system. Had 1937 been conducted under the 3–2–1 system, Quinn would have beaten Hawke 24 votes to 23 to receive what would have been the first of three Magarey Medals.[8]

In 1938 Quinn was awarded the Magarey Medal for the best player in the SANFL as well as a second Port Best and Fairest award. Following a match for South Australia against Victoria in Adelaide in early July, Quinn was offered a contract with VFL club Geelong (for which his brother Tom played). Quinn was believed to be prepared to accept the offer if the VFL dropped its residency rule where interstate players were required to stand out of football for twelve months before being allowed to play in the VFL.[9] Later in the year, Quinn was reported to have changed his preference of VFL clubs to St Kilda, and was quoted as saying he had "definitely decided to go to Victoria" and that Port Adelaide had agreed not to oppose his transfer.[10]

Elevated to captain-coach in 1939, Quinn led Port to a premiership in his first year as coach. It was his third as a player.[7] The start of the Second World War led many of his leading players to quit football to enlist in the armed forces.

War service


Quinn enlisted in the Australian Army in June 1940 as a Warrant Officer Class 2[11] (while still serving as captain-coach) and was shipped out to fight in the North African campaign. Showing the same fearlessness that he displayed in football, Warrant Officer Quinn was awarded the Military Medal for bravery at the Siege of Tobruk,[12] when, on 3 August 1941, Quinn took command of the 10th platoon and defied German troops,[13] ignoring the wounds he received during the battle.[14]


Commissioned a lieutenant, Quinn was transferred to the Pacific, and in September 1943 severely injured his knee, arm and face in New Guinea.[14] It was feared that due to these injuries he may never play again.[1] When he did return to football, Quinn wore a leather strap on his arm to protect it.[13]

Lost Brothers

Bob Quinn's brother George also played with distinction for Port Adelaide before being killed in action in Egypt in 1942.[15][16]

Return to football

Despite his injuries, Quinn returned to Australia and resumed his footballing career, debuting playing 12 games and kicking 28 goals for a combined Port Adelaide/West Torrens side in a reduced SANFL competition due to the war. His return match was the first round of the 1944 season, where Port Adelaide/West Torrens played 1943 premiers North/Norwood at the Adelaide Oval. Quinn was given a standing ovation from the crowd.[17] Quinn's injuries and years away from competition meant he was a slower player than in his pre-war career and was forced to change his playing style, running with the ball less and increased his use of handball.[18] Playing in the second semifinal against Sturt/South Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, Quinn was a leading player when, early in the third quarter, he took a mark and fell heavily, breaking his arm, wrenching his left thumb and badly bruising his hip[19] but still played out the match.[20] There was particular concern about Quinn's broken arm, as the break was just below a severe wound he received in New Guinea.[19]

The 1945 SANFL season returned to an eight club competition with all clubs competing in their own right. Quinn started the season with an arm sound sustained in World War II[21] but showed that he lost nothing of his skill and determination, winning a second Magarey Medal with 45 votes, 17 ahead of second place Doug Olds of Norwood Football Club.[22] He polled votes in twelve of the sixteen games he played, with six best on grounds, five sets of two votes and one one-vote performance.[21] Additionally, Quinn won a third club Best and Fairest and a second club Leading Goalkicking award, with his 51 goals equalling his 1937 return for most goals in a season. 1945 also saw Haydn Bunton, Sr., one of the greatest Australian rules players of all time,[23] join Port Adelaide for his final season of football. Quinn and Bunton regularly combined during the season to show off their superior skills to the admiring crowds. On 7 July, Quinn captained South Australia against Victoria at the Adelaide Oval, leading South Australia to a 17.23 (125) to 10.13 (73) win. Quinn was voted Best on Ground for his "volatile ground play" and was chaired off the ground by his team mates at the end of the match.[24] Port Adelaide finished the minor round on top of the table, three wins clear of clear of second place West Torrens,[25] and were firm favorites for the Grand Final, against West Torrens. After leading early, Port were overtaken by a faster finishing West Torrens who defeated Port Adelaide 15.25 (115) to 15.12 (102). Quinn was named as one of the best for the losing team.[26]

In 1946 Quinn captained South Australia to a win over Victoria.

During 1947, Quinn's final season as a player, he won a fourth Port Best and Fairest. On his retirement, Quinn had played 186 games for Port Adelaide, kicking 386 goals, plus a further 15 games and 26 goals for South Australia (which he captained from 1945–47).

(Quinn was) "beautifully balanced, a two sided player with great courage, a splendid ground player with a 'daisy cutter' stab pass that made him a legend."[6]


Quinn originally planned to continue as non-playing coach of Port Adelaide but announced his resignation as coach in late March 1948, deciding instead to move to Kadina in South Australia's Yorke Peninsula to become the proprieter of the local Central Hotel and coach local football teams.[27]

Quinn's involvement with local teams led to his appointment as coach of the Yorke Peninsula Football Association in 1950[28] and South Australia at the 1953 Adelaide Carnival.[6] Additionally, Quinn played the occasional charity match and in 1950 was forced to take the field for Yorke Peninsula in a match against Yorke Valley Association when his team was a player short. Quinn lasted five minutes before fracturing his pelvis after colliding heavily with an opponent and was forced to spend several weeks in hospital recovering.[28]

Quinn also became a newspaper columnist for Adelaide newspaper The Advertiser[29] and was a guest tipster for rival newspaper The News.[30]

Quinn also bought racehorses and had his first win as an owner in April 1954 when 14–1 Baluarte won at Murray Bridge.[30]

Later in life, Quinn returned to Adelaide and bought the Southwark Hotel, serving as publican there for many years.

Personal life

Sporting Family

Bob Quinn's father, John (Jack) Quinn, Sr, was a leading footballer of the 1890s and 1900s who also captained the Port Adelaide Football Club in 1904 and 1905 and represented South Australia. Bob Quinn was the third of four sons, all of whom were leading footballers of their time: Eldest brother Jack Jnr played for Port Adelaide, second eldest Tom played for Port Adelaide between 1928 and 1930 before his transfer to Geelong Football Club in the Victorian Football League (VFL) and youngest brother George also played with distinction for Port Adelaide

Quinn's wife May represented South Australia in netball while Quinn's son Robert Jnr, played league football for Port Adelaide and South Adelaide Football Club, and son Greg played reserves for Port Adelaide and Adelaide grade cricket as a wicketkeeper.[1]

Quinn's brother-in-law Charlie "Chilla" Walker was a leading South Australian cricketer.[1]

The South Australian Cricket Association's annual trophy for the best wicketkeeper in the Adelaide grade competition is named after Walker. Greg Quinn won it seven times.[1]


In 2008 Quinn died after a long illness at age 93,[31] preceded by his wife May in 1995.[7] He was survived by four children, eight grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.[31]

Following Quinn's death, fellow Port player and coach John Cahill praised his courage and charisma; "he had a presence, and for someone that achieved so much on and off the field he was so humble and quietly spoken".[31]


Quinn was made a life member of the Port Adelaide Football Club in 1944,[32] joint number one ticket holder at Port Adelaide Football Club in 1997,[7] a member of the Port Adelaide Football Club Hall of Fame in 1998,[33] a life member of the SANFL in 2002 and a member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996.[31] In addition, when the new Alberton Oval grandstand was built in 1972, it was named the RB Quinn Stand in his honour,[6] as is the Bob Quinn medal, first awarded in 2002 to the best player on ground at the annual SANFL ANZAC Day match.[34]


  1. ^ a b c d e Porter, A. (28 April 2008). "Bob Quinn – A Legend who Stuck by his Mates". The Independent Weekly. 
  2. ^ a b Jervis, Lawrie. "Australian Football - the quinn boys of port adelaide". Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  3. ^ Porter, Ashley (28 April 2008). "Bob Quinn". Independent Weekly. 
  4. ^ Handby, J. "PORT ADELAIDE EVENLY BALANCED", The Advertiser, 9 April 1934, p. 7.
  5. ^ a b c d Devaney, John. "Bays bounce back in 1934 grand final". Australian Football. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d Barber, R. "Where are they now?", Football Times, 1 May 1980, p. 14.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Bob Quinn 1915–2008". Port Adelaide Football Club. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Everett, I. "Footy Facts", Football Times, 8 May 1980, p. 4.
  9. ^ "Offers made to two Adelaide Men", The Argus, 5 July 1938, p. 18.
  10. ^ "Football Star – Leaving S.A. to Join St. Kilda", The Age, 19 December 1938, p. 4.
  11. ^ "Quinn, Robert Berrima". WWII Nominal Roll. Australian Government. Retrieved 13 September 2008. 
  12. ^ "Honours and awards (gazetted)". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  13. ^ a b Rucci, M. "SA mourns loss of Port Adelaide legend; Quinn a hero on and off field", The Advertiser, 13 September 2008, p, 122.
  14. ^ a b "Lieut. Bob Quinn Wounded Again", The News (Adelaide), 18 September 1943, p. 4.
  15. ^ "George Urban Quinn". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 13 September 2008. 
  16. ^ "Footballer Killed", Barrier Miner, 4 August 1942, p. 1.
  17. ^ Gyss (2013), p. 66.
  18. ^ Allan Reval, "What sort of player was Bob Quinn?", The Advertiser, 27 June 1953, p. 13.
  19. ^ a b Army News, "Played Football With Broken Arm", 20 September 1944, p. 4.
  20. ^ Atkinson, p. 75.
  21. ^ a b Gyss, (2012), p. 31.
  22. ^ Barrier Miner, "Bob Quinn wins Magarey Medal", 8 September 1945, p. 1.
  23. ^ Daffey, Paul (12 July 2003). "Bunton push recalls a club's soul". The Age. Retrieved 2 February 2007. 
  24. ^ Gyss (2012), p. 25.
  25. ^ Gyss (2012), p. 45.
  26. ^ Gyss (2012), p. 41.
  27. ^ The Advertiser, "Retirement of Bob Quinn", 31 March 1948, p. 4.
  28. ^ a b "Bob Quinn Unlucky 20th Man", The Advertiser, 8 August 1950, p. 10.
  29. ^ 'Drop-Kick' "Injury to Clennett blow to Tasmania", The Mercury, 15 July 1953, p. 28.
  30. ^ a b "Our guest tipster", The News, 15 April 1954, p. 11.
  31. ^ a b c d "Port Adelaide legend dies". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  32. ^ "Port Adelaide FC life members". Port Adelaide Football Club. Archived from the original on 8 September 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  33. ^ "Port Adelaide Football Club Hall of Fame". Port Adelaide Football Club. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  34. ^ Partland, Warren. "SANFL veteran to open match between Bulldogs and Eagles". AdelaideNow. News International. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 


  • Atkinson, G. (1982) Everything you ever wanted to know about Australian rules football but couldn't be bothered asking, The Five Mile Press: Melbourne. ISBN 0 86788 009 0.
  • Gyss, T. (2013) 1942–44 World War II South Australian Football Seasons Report, Self-published. ISBN 978 1 105 90723 4.
  • Gyss, T. (2012) 1945 South Australian Football Season Report, Self-published. ISBN 978 1 105 90943 6.
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