CHRIS McDermott grew up in the late 1960s and '70s when "99" was firmly associated with Barbara Felton acting as the ever-patient female agent repeatedly saving the bumbling Maxwell Smart in the top-rating American television sitcom.

But the number 99 did not ring this way with "Bone".

"No, '99' was always about 'Bro'," said McDermott, referring to his grandfather, Les Dayman and his 1930 season as Port Adelaide's leading goalkicker, a year after topping the SANFL goalkicking charts.

McDermott, the South Australian State captain, SANFL club skipper and AFL team captain, took it as fact that Dayman, one of the stars of the goalkicking races that ignited in SA league football in the late 1920s and during the 1930s, was Port Adelaide's "unluckiest" goalkicker - one short of the much-celebrated ton.

Many Test cricketers know, 99 does not draw a celebration .... "Missed it by just that much," as Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, would say when describing a close miss.

"It's in the bible," said McDermott, referring to club patriarch Bob McLean's book from the club's centenary season in 1970, "The Story of the Port Adelaide Football Club - 100 Years with the Magpies".

"It's there in black and white - 99."

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Indeed, it also was in gold lettering on the old mahogany honour board on the ground floor of the social club in the RB Quinn MM grandstand at Alberton Oval.

Leading goalkicker, 1930: L. C. Dayman 99.

There are many stories that make up the legend - and the myth - of Leslie Dayman, the centre half-forward in the Port Adelaide Greatest Team, 1870-2000. He was reported for jumping the turnstiles at Adelaide Oval when representing South Australia against Victoria in 1929. He was part of the infamous day at Thebarton Oval in 1930 when West Torrens filed complaints against Port Adelaide for "fielding a 19th man".

And there is the tale of "Bro" being the runner-up for Magarey Medal in 1925 when he was regarded as the SANFL's best ruckman rather than a power forward.

When the SANFL field umpires came together at the end of the 1925 league season, on Wednesday, September 9, to cast their votes for the Magarey Medal, the first ballots ended with a tie - between Norwood centreman Alick Lill and, according to newspaper reports, Dayman.

"Although no definite decision has been reached regarding the winner of the Magarey Medal for 1925," reported The News on Friday, September 11, "it is understood that Lill (Norwood) and L. C. Dayman (Port) tied for the honor. The umpires will decide at a meeting on Tuesday night who is to receive the honor."

Even after it confirmed that Port Adelaide centre half-back Peter Bampton had lost the Magarey Medal on a countback - a decision revoked by the SANFL with 10 retrospective medals in 1998 - Dayman continued to be known as the "Magarey Medal runner-up". Newspapers were still reporting such when Port Adelaide made its end-of-season awards later in the year. Civic leaders at Port Adelaide went as far to present Dayman with their own trophies to ease the disappointment of "losing" the Magarey Medal.

"Missed by one vote, I've always heard," says McDermott.

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But back to the 1930 season ... was Dayman the only Port Adelaide player in the club's first 100 seasons to come within one kick of the ton (a feat finally achieved by a Port Adelaide forward in 1980 when Tim Evans rewrote the league record books with his 146 goals)?

Or did a "typo" in Bob McLean's bible become another myth in the legend of "Bro" Dayman?

The Port Adelaide Football Club history committee has the definitive answer.

"The ‘myth’ of 99 goals in 1930 is often reported in different sources and has infiltrated the club records and reports too," says club historian Mark Shephard. "But our history committee, with Jim Crabb having done this research meticulously, is certain that his goal tally was 89 (and NOT 99).

"This has been cross-checked multiple times (including again, just now) through accurate counts of the goals Dayman kicked in each and every match, as recorded in the newspapers of 1930."

Dayman's game-by-game account, according to the newspaper reports of 1930 SANFL league matches, reads:

Round 1, 6 v Sturt; round 2, 6 v West Torrens; round 3, did not play v South Adelaide; round 4, 10 v Glenelg; round 5, 6 v West Adelaide; round 6, 5 v West Torrens (in the match of 19 men); round 7, 4 v South Adelaide; round 8, 7 v Norwood; round 9, 4 v North Adelaide; round 10, 1 v Sturt; round 11, 8 v West Torrens; round 12, 6 v South Adelaide; round 13, 8 v Glenelg; round 14, 2 v North Adelaide; round 15, 4 v Sturt; round 16, 4 v West Adelaide; round 17, 6 v Norwood - total of 84 in the home-and-away fixtures.

Semi-final, 1 v Norwood; preliminary final, 2 v Sturt; grand final, 2 v North Adelaide.

Grand total: 89 (after kicking 86 in Season 1929 to the league's leading goalkicker for the first time).

Dayman ranked third in the SANFL goalkicking charts at the end of the 1930 home-and-season that had thrilled the fans with four men dominating the scoreboards - Ken Farmer (North Adelaide), Jack Owens (Glenelg), Dayman and V. A. Geue (West Torrens) with 101, 99, 84 and 82 respectively. At No. 5 on the charts was C. G. Hall (South Adelaide) with 38 goals.

A "myth" is busted.

And the title of the player who came closest to the ton before Evans moves from Dayman to James Prideaux. He might be compared with Mark Tylor, who came out of the shadows of grand goalkickers in the 1990s after Scott Hodges moved from Alberton for a short stint in the AFL.

A member of three premiership teams in the 1930s, Prideaux followed Dayman as the power forward in the Port Adelaide attack, topping the club's goalkicking list in 1934 (73 goals), 1935 (95) and 1936 (86). He played for just four seasons (1933-1936), kicking a total of 276 goals in his 63 league games.

So who was L. C. "Bro" Dayman - and was the turnstile report fact or another myth?

"Bro" Dayman was born in Salisbury in 1901 and played for Salisbury in the Gawler Football Association. In 1921, he had three letters arrive on the same day from three SANFL clubs - North Adelaide, Norwood and Port Adelaide - offering him the chance to play league football.

His older brother Clem, born in 1892, had quit North Adelaide at the end of 1919 and stood out of football in 1920 to secure his clearance to Port Adelaide. Younger brother, Leslie, followed.

"Bro" Dayman played 165 league games - and kicked 401 goals, averaging five goals a match when he was used solely as a forward rather than a ruckman - for Port Adelaide from 1921-1931. Then, after many years of being offered opportunities interstate, he finally answered the persistent calls of the Footscray Football Club.

The 'Dogs had left Dayman with a seven-year itch.

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" I was only 21 when, one afternoon in 1924. a motor car pulled up outside my home and three strangers came in and asked for me," Dayman recalled in an interview in 1946. "One was Charlie Zinnick. He introduced himself as a committeeman for Footscray.

"Footscray that year were in the Victorian Football Association. They had won the premiership and were being promoted to Victorian Football League. In fact, they met Essendon, the league premiers, in a challenge match, and to the amazement of the Victorian football public, beat them.

"So Footscray were sitting on top of the world and were after men to fill certain key points.

"That afternoon at my home Charlie Zinnick offered me £8 a week ($700 in 2020 currency), and a job, to play with Footscray. He wanted me to jump in the car and go to Melbourne there and then, to qualify for the next season. For some reason, of which I'm not quite clear now, I refused the offer.

"Later, I was approached by Fitzroy, and then even by Cannanore, a Tasmanian club. Cannanore wanted both my brother Clem and me to go over.

"I stayed with Port for 10 years, until it happened that while the South Australian team was in Melbourne for the match against Victoria in 1931, Footscray officials again contacted me.

"This time I was agreeable. After the interstate game the details were settled, and in 1932 wore the Footscray guernsey for the first time."

Dayman played 34 VFL games for Footscray from 1932-1934, kicking 68 goals - averaging two a match and topping the Dogs goalkicking list in 1932 (37 goals). He then moved to VFA club Coburg for two seasons, finishing his senior career with one league game with Port Adelaide in 1937 when he dedicated himself to long-time duty in off-field roles at Alberton.

The playing resume reads extremely well: Two SANFL premierships with Port Adelaide (1921 on debut and 1928); club best-and-fairest three times (1923, 1924 and 1928) and club leading goalkicker four times (1928, 1929, 1930 and 1931 with 41, 86, 89 and 62 goals). He also is an inaugural member of the SA Football Hall of Fame.

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"I was brought up in a hard school of football,'' reflected Dayman.

"Clem, my brother, taught me many of the finer points. Clem was a great insurance against my becoming too sure of myself. Often, after a match in which I'd played well, he would say to me when we got home, 'You'll have to pull your socks up, or you won't make the team next week.'

"He used to have me worried a bit, with the result that I'd train harder than ever the next week. I think many of the younger players of today are spoilt by praise too early in their career."

And the turnstile story?

It is fact.

On July 13, 1929, when Dayman was the SANFL's best forward, "Bro" was reported to the SANFL by SA Cricket Association officials for jumping the turnstiles at the southern end of Adelaide Oval before playing a State game. He also was accused of using abusive language when challenged by the gate attendant.

Letters to the editor columns in Adelaide newspapers carried some amusing reactions to the news Dayman was reported by cricket officials before taking on the Victorians in a football match at Adelaide Oval.

By the end of the month, the SANFL - with a 14-2 vote - Dayman was censured by the league chairman. In response, Dayman expressed regret for the incident and assured the SANFL that it would not happen again. But the league appeared to hold Dayman in a bad light, as noted a few weeks later when he was dropped from the SA State team to play in Perth - only to earn a recall when a Port Adelaide team-mate, Reg Conole, had to stay in Adelaide for business reasons.

It was second time in two years that Dayman had faced a censure from the league - the previous case in 1928 relating to his withdrawal from the State team that played Victoria in Melbourne.

Dayman was a legend, loaded with a few myths ...


  1. Tim Evans - 1019 goals
  2. Scott Hodges - 671
  3. Warren Tredrea - 582 (549 AFL, 33 SANFL)
  4. Darren Smith - 505
  5. Rex Johns - 451
  6. Brian Cunningham - 428
  7. Bob McLean - 414
  8. Leslie Dayman - 401
  9. Eric Freeman - 390
  10. Bob Quinn - 386