North Whyalla through it's officials, Bill Sutherland,
Colin Rodda and President Jim Milne recruited Kerley to be captain coach
of North in 1954 at the ripe old age of 19. North won the premiership in
1954 and 1955. Kerley won the clubs Best and Fairest in both years and
represented Whyalla 7 times in combined matches winning the Best and
Fairest trophy on 4 occasions.
In 2001 Whyalla named it's team of the century and
Kerley was selected as a ruck rover and vice captain.
Neil Kerley is a genuine legend of South Australian
football. He played over 300 games in a career spanning from 1953 to 1970
with three clubs - West Adelaide, South Adelaide and Glenelg - and
captain-coached them all. Following his retirement as a player he coached
Glenelg, West Torrens, West Adelaide and Central District.
Born at Barmera in the Riverland, Kerley first
captain-coached a premiership team at Koolimylka, near Woomera, at the age
of 18. The next year he repeated the effort with a team in the Whyalla
competition. At 19, he made his debut for West Adelaide.
Three years later, he was captain. The next year, he
was captain-coach and led the Blood'n'Tars to a premiership in his first
season. Grand finalists again the next year, he was inexplicably sacked as
In 1964, Kerley was appointed captain-coach of South
Adelaide, who had been wooden spooners in 1963. The Panthers went top for
the only time in their history in his first year.
Glenelg appointed Kerley as captain-coach in 1966. The
Bays had been a bit of a social club, with only one premiership in 1934.
By 1969, Kerls had got them into the first of two successive grand finals.
Unfortunately, they ran into the famous Sturt team that was completing its
five consecutive premierships. But in 1973, Glenelg won one of the
all-time great SANFL grand finals and Kerley had coached three different
clubs to premiership glory.
Kerley went on to coach West Torrens in the late 70's
(the club's Rocky Roberts era), before returning to West Adelaide and
coaching them to another premiership in 1983. After a spell coaching
Central District, he became the Adelaide Crows' inaugural football manager