Jack Oatey

Jack Oatey AM (29 August 1920 – 26 February 1994) was an Australian rules football player and coach.

Jack Oatey
Personal information
Nickname(s) Caleb
Date of birth (1920-08-29)29 August 1920
Place of birth Adelaide, South Australia
Date of death 26 February 1994(1994-02-26) (aged 73)
Place of death Adelaide, South Australia
Original team(s) Norwood (SANFL)
Height 168 cm (5 ft 6 in)
Weight 80 kg (176 lb)
Position(s) Rover
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1940–43, 1945–52 Norwood (SANFL) 181 (233)
1944 South Melbourne (VFL) 5 (4)
Total 186 (237)
Coaching career
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
1945–56 Norwood (SANFL) 229 (147–81–1)
1957–60 West Adelaide (SANFL) 78 (52–26–0)
1962–82 Sturt (SANFL) 470 (314–152–4)
Total 777 (513–259–5)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1952.
Career highlights



  • 3x Norwood Premiership Coach 1945, 1948, 1950
  • 7x Sturt Premiership Coach 1966-70, 1974, 1976



Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

Playing career

Oatey played 181 games for the Norwood Football Club between 1940 and 1952 and acted as playing-coach from 1945 to 1952.

While on service for World War II in 1944, he played 5 games for the South Melbourne Football Club.

Coaching career

Following his retirement from playing in 1952, Oatey remained the coach of Norwood until 1956. In 1957, Oatey moved to West Adelaide where he coached until 1960, reaching the finals each year but never winning the premiership. Not involved in coaching at any team in 1961, Oatey saw the Bloods win the SANFL premiership, convincing him to return to the league. He went to Sturt, coaching there from 1962 to 1982, and leading the league team to 7 SANFL Premierships (a record at the time) including the famous five in a row from 1966 to 1970.

A long-standing coaching rival to Port Adelaide's Fos Williams, Sturt defeated Port Adelaide four times in Grand Finals under Oatey's tutelage.

Oatey was one of the instigators of the greater use of handball, which is often solely attributed to the VFL's Ron Barassi, particularly within Victoria. He was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996. Overall, Oatey coached 37 seasons in the SANFL, winning ten premierships (three with Norwood, seven with Sturt), reaching seventeen grand finals (six with Norwood, two with West Adelaide and nine with Sturt) and reaching the finals on 33 occasions. His ten premierships is still the record for the most premierships by one coach in top-level football.[1]


Jack Oatey is the only person in elite Australian rules football history to coach over 500 wins. He coached Norwood, West Adelaide and Sturt to a total of 513 wins and five draws from a record 777 matches (153 of these were as playing coach for Norwood) for an overall success rate of 66.34%. He coached a record ten premierships.

Oatey was awarded Life Membership of the Norwood Football Club, was awarded Life Membership of the Sturt Football Club in 1971 and SANFL Life Membership in 1981.

In 1981 the SANFL inaugurated the Jack Oatey Medal to be awarded to the best player in the SANFL grand final, the first time an SANFL award was named for a still active coach.

In 1978 Jack Oatey was awarded the Order of Australia (AM) for services to the sport of Australian football.[2]

Jack Oatey was an inaugural inductee into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996 and in 2002 was one of 113 inaugural inductees into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame.

A stand was named after him at the Adelaide Oval in 2014.


Oatey's eldest son Robert Oatey also played for and coached Norwood and later became a highly respected television commentator for Channel 7 and Channel 10's SANFL coverage in the 1980s, teaming with Bruce McAvaney, Ian Day, Peter Marker and Graham Campbell. Jack's youngest son Peter, was both a Norwood footballer and tennis player.


  1. Atkinson, Graeme (1989). 3AW Book of Footy Records. South Melbourne,: Magistra Publishing Company Pty Ltd. p. 278. ISBN 1863210091.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  2. Order of Australia (AM) Members - O
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