A Message from the Chairperson

The Mortlock Shield is an iconic sporting event unique to the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. My involvement in various roles stretches back to 1991 and over that 33 year period I have been witness to a number of changes to the membership and format of the Mortlock Shield.

Amongst the unique characteristics of the Mortlock Shield is its enduring nature. Over time, the various leagues that have participated in the Mortlock Shield have been willing to be flexible and adapt the event to mirror changes in the demographic profile of the region and societal trends.

The consistent themes that stand out in the Mortlock Shield is the importance both of its tradition across generations of Eyre Peninsula folk and that of opportunities to participate at interleague level and represent one’s league. The Mortlock Shield has seen and has produced many fine footballers who have gone on to represent Eyre Peninsula at the State Country Championships and in some cases to represent South Australia at the Australian Country Championships.

And so this is one of the other important characteristics of the Mortlock Shield. The carnival, unique in its two-day format provides pathways for well over 100 country footballers annually to participate at higher levels and the importance of this opportunity should not be underestimated.

I would like to take the opportunity to sincerely thank the Cummins and Port Lincoln Bendigo Bank branches for their ongoing naming rights sponsorship of the carnival and the many other sponsors whose contribution is also valued and important. It may be an old saying, but it’s meaning is timeless – please support those who support the Mortlock Shield.

Within the tradition of the Mortlock Shield are well over 120 life members and 77 champion teams. As is custom, new life members to the Mortlock Shield are inducted at the life members, team officials and major sponsors dinner on the Saturday evening of the carnival weekend. This year’s dinner will be conducted at the Port Lincoln Hotel and three outstanding servants of the Mortlock Shield will be inducted as life members. I congratulate Alan Schumann for his service to County Jervois and Eastern Eyre, Steve Milton for his service to Lincoln City and Great Flinders and Ron Redford for his service to Far West and Western Eyre.

Another tradition of the Mortlock Shield is to have a carnival guest who has a strong association with Australian Rules Football. This year we are privileged to have two guests both of outstanding stature in father and daughter, Greg and Erin Phillips. Their individual achievements in sport have been quite outstanding. We are pleased that Greg has accepted the offer to officially open the carnival on Saturday afternoon and Erin to be our guest speaker at the official dinner on Saturday evening.

Since the early 1960’s in most years a related component of the Mortlock Shield June long weekend has been an under 15 carnival conducted on Sunday. Over time this carnival has had three titles, originally the North Adelaide Supporters Shield, then the Port Adelaide Cup when Eyre Peninsula was zoned to that club and in more recent times the Norwood Cup as Eyre Peninsula is zoned to that club. The Norwood Cup is an important pathway opportunity and I welcome the Norwood officials and thank the Norwood club for continuing to provide this opportunity for our young people.

Aside from the playing participants over the weekend, there are many volunteer team officials, coaches and umpires who collectively provide the framework for the games to be conducted. I thank all of you and acknowledge your invaluable contribution to the weekend of football.

In summary, it is my pleasure to welcome one and all to the 2024 Bendigo Bank Mortlock Shield. For the 78th time we will be playing the game of the people, for the people. The carnival has been scheduled 79 times and has been conducted 78 times, so perhaps it is time to start casting our thoughts to what the 80th Mortlock Shield should entail, given that it will be 90 years since the first Mortlock Shield was conducted and 87 years since the  Centenary Oval main entrance façade was officially opened, that being in 1939 when the second Mortlock Shield was conducted. The Mortlock Shield is and will remain rich in history in whatever format it is conducted in the future.

Greg Fitzgerald
Mortlock Shield Inc.

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