History of Pennant Hills Demons – 1974

Posted: May 24, 2024

PHAFL Sydney AFL 50 Years Ago 1974

Let's have a look at the history of the Pennant Hills Football Club, starting in 1974


Senior Coach



Teams (2)


Kerry James (1972 - 74)

Eric Joiner (1974 - 75)

Eric Joiner (1974 – 75)

Graham Howatt (1974 – 75)

SFA Second Division A & B Grades

2nd Division Seniors (A Grade) were Grand Final runners-up

Preamble – What came before

Founded in 1971, the Pennant Hills Australian Football Club, the Senior Club, was at the time the fulfilment of the ambitions of a number of locals who dreamed large with a vision that would transform the football landscape of north-west Sydney. These locals were men of great passion, energy and commitment and their names are now legend within the annals of the Pennant Hills Australian football community … Ern Holmes, Ken Telfer, Bill Carey and Kerry James.

Ern Holmes - Junior Club Founder

Ern Holmes - Junior Club Founder

Bill Carey - First Junior Coach

Bill Carey - First Junior Coach

Whilst the Club is now in the hands of the latest crop of men and women committed to community football in Pennant Hills and there has been a succession of others who have devoted themselves to this ideal, there is little doubt that the Club’s traditions and culture,

indeed its very existence, owe much to the visionaries who were there at the start and sacrificed much in pursuit of a sporting vision which had the interests and wellbeing of boys and young men at its heart.

The first football stirrings in this part of Sydney, however, had occurred 5 years before the Senior Club had formed and 1966 was a landmark year for the development of Australian Rules football in Sydney with the birth of a new junior footy club, the Pennant Hills Junior Australian Football Club.

Twenty five year old Bill Carey, a senior player with the Balmain Club at that time, together with locals Ernie Holmes, Ken Telfer, and George Brack, were the committee that went about establishing the Junior Club and its first team in 1966. Ernie was the first President and Bill was Secretary-Treasurer and also the Club’s first coach. The Demons traditional home ground, Ern Holmes Oval, was named after the club’s first President and local football pioneer.

At the inaugural meeting of the new Club, held in the living room of Bill Carey’s mother’s house at North Turramurra, President Ern Holmes said of the Club’s vision:

‘With the right coaching we believe we can develop the young lads into a team which in the years to come could form the nucleus of a senior first grade side.’

Kerry James - Senior Club Founder

Kerry James - Senior Club Founder

Original Penno Jumper

Original Penno Jumper

1971 was a breakthrough year for Pennant Hills, with two significant events marking the Club’s coming of age. Although it had taken six seasons, the Junior Club won its first premierships, in the Under 11s and 13s, respectively.

The second significant event was the formation of a senior team. Kerry James, who had joined Pennant Hills Juniors in 1970 as coach of the Under 17 team, was the driving force in the formation of the Pennant Hills Senior Club. In order to give the graduating junior players somewhere to play footy in 1971, Pennant Hills entered a single team in Division 3 of the Sydney Districts Association. Thus, the Senior Club owes its very existence to Kerry James and the people from the Junior Club who went before him, notably Ernie Holmes and Ken Telfer who were still around in 1971 providing encouragement and support to the new enterprise. Kerry James was the Club’s first Captain-Coach.

In 1974, the Club adopted the red and blue colours of VFL side Melbourne Football Club, dispensing with the green and gold hooped jerseys worn since its inception.

Pennant Hills Club Notes

Pennant Hills Club News

(Source: Football Record April 27, 1974 Vol. 46 No. 4)

In season 1974, Pennant Hills fielded two teams in the Sydney Football Association’s Second Division competition.

Note that there are no club yearbooks for seasons 1971 – 76. It appears the club only commenced publishing a yearbook/annual report from 1977, the year the Club was elevated to the Sydney First Grade competition.

A Grade Seniors

Captain/Coach: Eric Joiner

Best & Fairest: Kevin Williams

After the H&A rounds, the A Grade Seniors finished minor premiers (10 wins/2 losses). Combined Services (9/3), Sydney University (8/4) and UNSW (7/5) filled out the final four. In the second semi-final Penno lost to Combined Services but had a second chance. In the preliminary final Penno beat Sydney University by 11 pts. Inaccurate kicking by Uni (5.23-53) probably cost them a chance at the Grand Final. Penno 9.10-64.

In the Grand Final Penno were out-gunned and lost to Combined Services by 46 pts and were runners-up for the second consecutive year. Services made it a double, also winning the B Grade Grand Final.

Pennant Hills 5.11-41 lost to Combined Services 12.15-87

Pennant Hills Eric Joiner

Pennant Hills

(Source: Football Record April 6, 1974 Vol. 46 No. 1)

Other Penno luminaries who played in the 1974 Grand Final included: Rod Miles and his brother Warren, Trevor Daykin, ‘Gorgeous’ Gus McKernan, Danny Cater, Peter Mathers, Russell Green and vice-captain G Howatt.

Samples of advertising appearing in the Football Record of 1974
Samples of advertising appearing in the Football Record of 1974

Samples of advertising appearing the Football Record of 1974

B Grade Seniors

After the H&A rounds, the B Grade side finished in 5th place (5 wins/6 losses) in a field of only 7 teams. The undefeated Combined Services team were minor premier (12 wins). UNSW (8/4), Sydney University (7/5) and Warringah (6/5) filled out the top four qualifying for finals.

In the first semi final Sydney University beat Warringah by 29 pts and then beat UNSW in the preliminary final by 22 pts. The Services B Grade side made it a double for the Combined Services club by beating Sydney University in the Grand Final by 52 pts.

Then in 1975, both the Seniors and Reserves qualified and won their respective Grand Finals. The Seniors beat UNSW by 8 pts and Reserves beat Combined Services 37 pts. A year later, in 1976, the Senior side made it consecutive flags thrashing Warringah by 95 pts.

1975: Penno Seniors 10.14-74 defeated UNSW 9.12-66
1975: Penno Reserves 11.8-74 defeated Combined Services 5.7-37
1976: Penno Seniors 25.22-172 defeated Warringah 11.11-77

Flushed with these successes the Club made overtures to the NSW Football League seeking admission to the First Grade competition in 1977. Initially rebuffed by the League, the unexpected demise of the South Sydney club, forced to amalgamate with Newtown, provided the opportunity for Penno’s promotion.

This gave the Club scant time to get ready for the Big League and required that they build a third grade side (Under 19s) from scratch. However, this was achieved and the Club’s promotion to First Grade was immediately vindicated with a 29 pts win in round 1 against local rivals North Shore. At one point during the first half of the season, Pennant Hills were on top of the competition ladder. However, injuries and inexperience were to take their toll and the Pennant Hills First Grade finished a creditable 5th after the home and away rounds.

However, it would take the club 17 years before it tasted premiership success again in 1993 when the Penno Under 19s won the Grand Final. It would take another 7 years before the club could hold aloft the Bill Hart Trophy for the Club’s first senior flag in 2000.

Samples of advertising appearing in the Football Record of 1974
Victoria v South Australia
Victoria v South Australia - Reserved Seats

Compiled & written by John Acheson – 22 May 2024