Eyre Peninsula-born footballer Darren Smith was inducted into the South Australian Hall of Fame at this year’s Magarey Medal count.
Mr Smith played 384 games for the Port Adelaide Magpies, and was an inaugural Adelaide Football Club player.
Born at the Cleve hospital, Smith grew up on his family’s farm in Verran, playing his junior football at Rudall.
He was soon picked up by Port Adelaide, and moved to the city in 1983.
He played his senior debut for the Magpies in 1984, before playing nine AFL games over two years as an inaugural Adelaide Crows player.
His major success however came in his Port Adelaide career, playing in seven SANFL premierships.
He said that despite playing at a national level, the premierships were the highlight of his career.
“It’s what you play footy for,” Mr Smith said.
Of the seven premierships he played in, Mr Smith has no favourite, but says the most memorable was the 108-14 destruction of North Adelaide in 1989.
“It was the most enjoyable, because we knew we’d won the game early.”
Smith has a unique insight into the South Australian football landscape, having won the 1992 SANFL premiership with Port Adelaide while simultaneously playing for the Crows.
He said there was a clear difference between cultures of the two clubs at that time, with the Adelaide Crows being “thrown together,” mostly from existing SANFL clubs.
“It felt more like a state team.”
Mr Smith said it was difficult at times training with the AFL team while playing most of his games with Port.
“I didn’t really feel like part of either side.”
His Hall of Fame induction proves otherwise, cementing him as a significant contributor to South Australian football.
He called the accolade a “huge honour,” but also “a little daunting” to be named among state greats.
Smith now lives in Port Lincoln but visits his hometown often, where much of his family still lives.