James Tierney (footballer)

James Michael "Sorry" Tierney (27 November 1878 – 20 March 1959) was an Australian rules footballer who played in the South Australian Football Association (SAFA) and the South Australian Football League (SAFL), mainly with the West Adelaide Football Club.

James Tierney
Personal information
Full name James Michael Tierney
Nickname(s) Sorry / Dad
Date of birth 27 November 1878
Place of birth Gawler, South Australia
Date of death 20 March 1959 (aged 80)
Place of death Melbourne, Victoria
Original team(s) Gawler
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1901–02, 1904, 1906–10 West Adelaide 81 (18)
1903 West Torrens 8 (1)
1905–06 South Adelaide 10 (1)
1911 North Adelaide 15 (4)
Total 114 (24)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
South Australia 9
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1911.
Career highlights
Source: AustralianFootball.com


Tierney was born in Gawler, South Australia, to Luke Tierney, an Irish emigrant from County Cavan, and Mary Jane Havens.[1] His father died in 1889, when James was a child.[2]


Tierney, a Sand carter, had three stints at West Adelaide. He made his debut on 10 August 1901 and stayed with the club in 1902. He played 18 games and kicked seven goals during this time.

He then moved to the West Torrens Football Club in 1903 where he earned selection for the South Australian state team. On reaching Melbourne, with the team, Tierney refused to play, in protest over the non-selection of Sturt ruckman "Taffy" Wayne.[3] As a result, the SAFA suspended Tierney from interstate games for three years, though he was still able to play league football. As a result of this Tierney left West Torrens with only four games left in the season and finished the year playing for the Alma Football Club in Broken Hill.

1904 saw Tierney return to West Adelaide for one season before moving to play with South Adelaide in 1905. He was to stay at South for 1906 but after only four games of the season he transferred back to West Adelaide where he would continue until the end of the 1910 season. Tierney was named co-captain of the club in 1907 and was vice-captain of West Adelaide's 1908 and 1909 premiership sides. In 1908 West Adelaide also were crowned 'Champions of Australia' after defeating the Victorian Football League (VFL) premiership winning team Carlton 12 9 (81) to 7 10 (52) in a match played at the Adelaide Oval.

During his third and last stint at West Adelaide Tierney partnered Tom Leahy in the ruck with great success, winning the Magarey Medal in 1908 to become the first player from the club to win the award. He also formed a winning combination with West's brilliant centreman and 1909 Magarey Medalist Richard "Dick" Head.

After West finished a disappointing fifth in 1910, Tierney (along with Leahy) joined North Adelaide for the 1911 season. It was reported that while still having the stamina, Tierney's reflexes had slowed down by this time and after a lacklustre 1911 season he decided to retire from league football.

Despite his three-year ban from interstate football, Tierney played in nine games for South Australia.

Later life

Tierney later worked as a labourer. In March 1917, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in Adelaide, but was discharged three months later after being declared unfit for service. He had suffered from poor vision for several years, and was nearly blind in one eye after being hit in the eye with a rock two years prior.[4]

Tierney later moved to Melbourne, where he died in 1959 at the age of 80.

See also


  1. Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922
  2. Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985
  3. Charge against a footballer, The (Adelaide) Register, (Tuesday, 14 July 1903), p.6; Charge against a footballer, The Adelaide Observer, (Saturday, 148July 1903), p.16.
  4. Australia, WWI Service Records, 1914-1920

Further reading

  • Agars, Merv (1987). Bloods Sweat & Tears. Hyde Park Press. ISBN 0-85904-029-1.
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