A1 premiership table
|St. Peters O.C.||14||4||10||8|
|Henley and Grange||14||2||12||4|
A2 premiership table
|Alberton Church United||14||12||2||-||24|
|Prince Alfred O.C.||14||7||5||2||16|
1931 was a difficult time financially as the world was in the middle of a depression. The significant number of unemployed amongst the playing ranks in the S.A.A.F.L. prompted a request for all clubs to accommodate any of their players who were unable to pay for their sport. The Amateur League itself, however, was in an excellent financial position (Advertiser 3.3.31), and was able to afford an honorarium of £5.5.0 to Secretary Millard.
The A1 division remained at eight teams, with the A2 finalists of the previous season, Henley and Grange and St. Peters O.C., displacing Mt. Barker and Kingswood who were relegated to A2. Two of three new clubs admitted were also placed in A2. Alberton Church United had dominated the Port Adelaide District Football Association winning four premierships in seven seasons and was playing at Queenstown Oval. Goodwood had been absent from the S.A.A.F.L. for the previous five seasons due to "infractions by supporters of the club" (Advertiser April 24 1931) and had been premiers of the Mid-Southern Association in 1930, playing at Goodwood Oval. Both Alberton and Goodwood were placed in A2 which increased the number of teams in that division from 7 to 8, Railways being demoted to the newly-formed Junior League.
An experiment in affiliated associations began in 1931 with the formation of the South Australian Junior Amateur Football League. Several clubs were keen to follow University's lead and field a 'B' team in the S.A.A.F.L., but instead of simply introducing a new division to cater for them, the Executive decided to form an affiliated but separately organised body with its own officials and committees. This Junior League bore the same relationship to the S.A.A.F.L. as the South Australian Football Association (encompassing S.A.N.F.L. clubs' 'B' teams) bore to the S.A.N.F.L., but would have a much shorter existence.
The third new club became a member of this ill-fated Junior League. Colonel Light Gardens had just been formed by the amalgamation of Colonel Light Western and Mortlock Park. Its 'A' team was placed in the South Adelaide District Association, and its 'B' team became an inaugural member of the Junior League along with Railways from A2 and the 'B' teams of Goodwood, Kenilworth and S.P.O.C.
The affiliated associations experiment was capped off when the Port Augusta Amateur Football Association was registered as an affiliated association of the S.A.A.F.L., while the S.A.A.F.L. itself was affiliated with the Amateur Sports Association for an annual fee of £2.2.0.
Umpires appointed for the season included D. Busbridge, J. J. Foote, F. H. Golding, C. Groves, C. Hepburn, W. Minear, F. J. Monten, J. H. Parkinson, F. S. C. Saxby, and former international cricketer and A1 medallist C. E. 'Nip' Pellew.
Steps were taken by the S.A.A.F.L. to prevent S.A.N.F.L. clubs taking players from the amateurs once a season had commenced. The rule was introduced that a registered amateur player who transferred to the senior body could not return to the amateurs in the same season. In other words, the player must register first with the senior body for that season, and then if necessary would be eligible to return to the amateurs later that season (assuming of course that he had played at senior level without remuneration). According to Hugh Millard,
- ... the Amateur League was not formed for the purpose of supplying or training players for A or B grade football. The principal object of our league is the encouragement and advancement of amateur football. The delegates of the Amateur League do not regard their clubs as feeding grounds for A grade teams. (Advertiser 18/5/31)
This rule appears to be a by-product of the rule (which had been introduced in the formation year) that amateur players who transferred to other associations without the permission of the Amateur League would be disqualified.
A meeting was held with officials of the S.A.N.F.L. who wanted free interchange between the two leagues within a season. It appears as though free interchange never took place and may have been the reason for the formation of the S.A. National Junior Football Association by the S.A.N.F.L. in 1933.
The S.A. Junior Football Union also requested a conference to discuss closer relationships with the S.A.A.F.L., particularly with regard to clearances, and the matter was referred to a sub-committee.
A conference was also held with the Victorian amateurs, but this time with respect to examining each state's requirements on amateur status.
During the season Teachers College beat University for the first time in seven years and for only the second time since it had entered the competition. The minor round ended in sensational fashion. Earlier in the season in round 6, the match betweenUnderdale and Semaphore Central resulted in chaos when one goal umpire scored a draw while the other scored Semaphore the winner by one point. The matter was referred to the Tribunal who decided that the match would have to be replayed if it affected the chances of either team in the finals. So when at the end of the minor round, University was top with eleven wins followed by Semaphore and Kenilworth on ten and Underdale on nine, it was clear that the disputed match would have to be replayed. The result was a win to Underdale by nearly five goals. However, Semaphore protested on the grounds that Underdale had replaced its injured captain during the match with an unregistered player, and the protest was upheld. Hence Semaphore finished the minor round with eleven wins and superior percentage to University, and so was awarded the minor premiership.
Collection tins were placed at the gates for the Semi Finals. University's preparation left a lot to be desired when it travelled to Melbourne University for a strenuous intervarsity match on the Tuesday, and it duly lost to Underdale 6.4 to 12.20 on the following Saturday. Semaphore also had a comfortable victory over Kenilworth in the other Semi Final 15.8 to 9.18. About 1500 people attended the Final at University Oval umpired by Mr. F.H. Golding, where the admittance charge was six pence, a sum that the Semaphore supporters must have paid gladly to see their team win the flag 12.11 to Underdale's 9.16. The game was close throughout and "...weight was sometimes used unfairly" (Advertiser 31.8.31). Jim Prideaux kicked eight of the twelve goals scored by the premiers but the three best players were Robertson, Brame and Jordan.
A2 matches began with a draw between Kingswood and P.A.O.C., each team scoring 11.8. This draw was then repeated at their next meeting in round 8 when each scored 8.9. The two dominant teams throughout the season were from the newly-admitted clubs Alberton Church United and Goodwood, the former finishing minor premiers on percentage.
The Semi Finals were played at Prospect and Thebarton Ovals. Alberton United (16.14 to 8.6) and Goodwood (7.8 to 5.9) were the winners, and in the Final at Jubilee Oval, Goodwood won by just two points 9.8 to 8.12. However, Alberton United exercised its right of challenge, and won the replay at Jubilee Oval 13.10 to 7.14. The final game was described as "congested and rough", and "the worst exhibition of football ever seen in a final game in the Amateur League". Curtis, Forrestall and Parsons were best for Alberton while Holder was Goodwood's best.
The Junior League minor premiership was decided after 12 rounds. Kenilworth B led with 22 points followed by Colonel Light Gardens B (18), S.A. Railways (12), Goodwood B (6) and S.P.O.C. B (2). Kenilworth and Colonel Light won the Semi Finals 8.14 to 5.4 and 18.10 to 13.10 respectively, then Kenilworth won the Final defeating Colonel Light Gardens 8.16 to 8.6. A combined team from the Junior League played a match against Alberton Church United the Saturday after their Final.
Rex Walter of Teachers Training College became the first player to win the [[Hone Medal ] in successive seasons. The A2 medallist was Paul Robertson of Scotch O.C. The leading goalkicker in A1 was Chris Munro of Kenilworth with 83 goals, whileClarrie Gaston of Alberton Church United booted 49.
According to an article in the Advertiser (3.3.31), a suggestion had been made that because of the depression there should be no interstate trip to Melbourne. However, the article argued that state games were important in promoting interest in amateur football and in improving the administration of the game. The state match did go ahead on the King's Birthday holiday, Monday 8th June. The S.A.A.F.L. spent £85.17.2, which included the cost of a new uniform of navy blue jersey with yellow S.A. monogram on the front, navy blue shorts and navy socks with red tops and a gold band round the calf. The S.A. team, managed by Hugh Millard, was as follows:
- Abbott, Bunny rover University
- Ash, R.C.J. hb Kenilworth
- Brunt, Bill centre Kenilworth
- Evans, Mervyn wing Prince Alfred O.C.
- Flood, Jack hf St.Peters O.C.
- Hann, Bill ff University
- Kinnear, William rover Kenilworth
- McMichael, Dick chf University
- Porter, James hf St.Peters O.C.
- Robertson, Paul hb Scotch O.C.
- Sangster, Chris capt. ruck University
- Seppelt, Ian ruck University
- Stephenson, J fb Kenilworth
- Stott, Rod bp Kingswood
- Toms, Ern follower St.Peters O.C.
- Waldeck, Arthur v.c. follow Prince Alfred O.C.
- Walter, Rex chb Teachers College
- Woods, Jack wing Prince Alfred O.C.
L. C. Bridgland had been chosen but had to withdraw. Chris Sangster was captain of the state side for the fourth successive year. Eight of the above players were old scholars of St. Peters College - Abbott, Flood, Hann, McMichael, Porter, Sangster, Seppelt and Toms. Reserve for the match was William Richards (Semaphore).
Due to continuous rain over the weekend, the surface at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was very heavy and muddy. This suited the Victorians who had chosen a pacy team, whereas the S.A. selectors had opted for a tall high-marking side: So despite winning the rucks, S.A. was well beaten on the ground, and hampered by poor kicking for goal, lost the match by nine goals.
- Goalkickers: Abbott 2, Flood 2, Seppelt, Toms
- Best Players: Sangster, Walter, McMichael, Robertson, Waldeck, Toms, Abbott