"Surely," gasped a mesmerised Ian Day into the Channel Seven microphone, "this will rank as the greatest grand final game in history."

It remains in the record books for drawing the largest crowd to a football match at Adelaide Oval - 62,543. Many will certainly agree with Day that it was the greatest grand final played in October at Adelaide Oval.

And it could have led to the greatest controversy (and robbery) in a grand final, from a bizarre boundary line incident - one to match the infamous, much-disputed knock by Wayne Harmes from the boundary pocket at the MCG to Ken Sheldon during the last quarter of the 1979 VFL grand final won by Carlton against Collingwood.

"Best game of football ever," says Port Adelaide ruckman Bob Philp, one of the best players in the 1965 SANFL grand final.

Key forward Eric Freeman adds: "Best game I can ever remember. The game was fantastic - and the atmosphere! This was the time when people would sleep overnight outside the gates at Adelaide Oval to make sure they saw the game. And they saw a great one."

"It would rate as one of the greatest," says 1961 Magarey Medallist John Halbert, one of the 40 footballers who were part of SA league football history in this record-breaking grand final.

October 2, 1965. Port Adelaide v Sturt. Fos Williams v Jack Oatey, for the third time head-to-head as coaches in an SANFL grand final with Williams leading the count 2-0 (1955 and 1958, against Oatey's Norwood and West Adelaide teams respectively).

Port Adelaide was chasing its 23rd premiership, to surpass Norwood as the most-successful club in South Australian league football. Williams was taking Port Adelaide to his 10th consecutive grand final, six as captain-coach from 1953-1958 and his fourth as a non-playing coach, after stepping away from senior duties at Alberton from 1959-1961). Captain Geof Motley was chasing a record ninth SANFL league flag as a player.

And a thin piece of white crepe paper - probably blown across Adelaide Oval after dislodging from a cheer squad flogger - put this list of achievements and honours for the Port Adelaide Football Club at risk.

Umpire Neil has made a sensational decision. This will go down in history. Umpire Neil has said Beaufoy has run out of bounds. What a decision to make with two minutes to go.

Ian Day, who a year earlier was one of South Adelaide's heroes in rising from wooden spoon to the premiership, was running out of breath as a television commentator. So were many others, in particular the 36 players and three umpires on the field.

Boundary umpire Bill Neil, a former West Adelaide reserves player lured to umpiring by Hall of Famer Ken Aplin, was running his seventh consecutive grand final.

And in question was whether Port Adelaide centre half-forward Reg Beaufoy had slipped out of bounds on the SACA members' wing before launching a long drop kick down the line along the western flank to Adelaide Oval's northern end.

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1965 Premiership recall - PT. 1

Geof Motley, Jeff Potter, Bob Philp, Steve Traynor and Eric Freeman recount the dramatic moment when Peter Mead had a shot for goal with three seconds left on the clock to get Port Adelaide into the grand final.

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"Billy Neil mixed up the boundary line with a piece of paper from a streamer," recalls Port Adelaide ruckman Steve Traynor, one of the heroes of the second semi-final dethroning of South Adelaide. From the goal line, he held back the South Adelaide defenders - "and all of Adelaide," Traynor says - to ensure a clear passage for team-mate Peter Mead's match-winning kick after the siren.

"Reg was sure he had stayed inside the boundary line," said Philp. "Had we lost it from that boundary throw-in, there would have been a riot. There were enough people in there - 63,000 - to make sure of it.

"And Sturt should have beat us ... but not because a boundary umpire thought a white streamer was the boundary line. Sturt had us. We were gone."

"If we'd lost," said Freeman, "Billy Neil would not have got off the ground."

Port Adelaide led by three points - 12.8 to 12.5 - with three minutes to play. In each of those three minutes, Sturt botched its forward sorties to the River Torrens end.

The first was from Sturt captain John Halbert missing an open goal with his kick tumbling across the goal face to the boundary.

The second was launched by John Murphy intercepting Jeff Potter's clearing kick from defence by taking a towering mark over Beaufoy on Sturt's attacking side of the western wing. Murphy's kick found Daryl Hicks at centre half-forward, but Hicks was not confident of making the distance. His drop-kick pass to team-mate Malcolm "Emmy" Hill fell too short, but bounced well enough to allow Hill to handpass to team-mate, defender Brenton Adcock who was running towards goal. His kick went across goal to fall out of bounds.

"Brenton Adcock had come up from his back pocket and was loose around centre because he had no-one to stand," Halbert recalled. "Fos (Williams) had played his old trick and putting Jeff Potter in defence, the result being Port Adelaide had its rovers on or behind the ball and Brenton was without an opponent. He could have kicked the winning goal ..."

From the restart, Port Adelaide's 19th man (the first of two reserves) Graham Matters read team-mate Kevin Salmon's long, forward tap from the field bounce that was just 20 metres from Sturt's goal - after boundary throw-in achieved no clearance - to launch the clearing kick to Beaufoy.

Ian Day could sense the Port Adelaide fans breathe again - and the calmness of Beaufoy.

He could take three minutes ... he is in no hurry to go anywhere.

Certainly not out of bounds ....

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1965 Premiership recall - The Grand Final

Geof Motley, Jeff Potter, Bob Philp, Steve Traynor and Eric Freeman recount the dramatic grand final against Sturt at Adelaide Oval.

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Reg Beaufoy was in his third season of league football. He and Traynor had made it through the ranks, in the most traditional way at Port Adelaide. "Le Fevre Tech to Exeter - and a very talented centre half-forward," says Traynor.

Beaufoy followed Lloyd Zucker and Ian Hannaford in filling Fos Williams' desire for a commanding body at the gateway to the Port Adelaide attack. His play was considered awe-inspiring - and certainly was inspirational to a generation of young fans across South Australia during the 1960s, leaving many day dreaming of playing league football.

"Big. Slow. Strong. And bloody good," says Philp. "So strong was 'Boxy Beaufoy' that he would take them all on."

"Left footer," adds Traynor. "And very good with the drop kick."

Port Adelaide full forward - and Test cricketer - Eric Freeman also had followed Beaufoy to Alberton after they had won an under-15 junior premiership together with Exeter.

"Once Reg put the ball onto that raking left foot, you could say goodbye to 50 or 60 metres," said Freeman.

Beaufoy calmly went through sizing up his kick when boundary umpire Neil ran past him towards Adelaide Oval's northern end. In his run-up, Beaufoy had his left foot straddling the boundary line. Against his right boot was a long white streamer.

Freeman took the mark while Neil was on his whistle, calling for a boundary throw-in.

Freeman had kicked the opening goal of the quarter to give Port Adelaide a 35-point lead. He was confident he could have scored the last goal of the term to end the contest that had swung to a hard-running Sturt's favour.

"How disappointed do you think I was," said Freeman. "I was pretty sure I would have scored from there. At the time, we needed to steady the ship a bit because Sturt was running over the top of us. We should never have let them get that close."

There was 1:18 to play. 

The boundary throw-in  - won by Sturt ruckman Tony Clarkson - led to a scramble and free kick for Sturt wingman Trevor Clarke. His centering kick to centre half-forward found no target but gave Hicks a running shot at goal. Again, the ball tumbled out of bounds.

Defender Kevin Salmon's mark at the start of the frantic final minute puts the game back in Port Adelaide's hands. His long clearing kick was to eastern wing - rather than the western flank where the boundary no longer was a safety line.

"John Cahill was yelling at me to make sure we held the ball in the area," said Philp, who rucked against Clarkson. So desperate were the Sturt players to keep the game rolling that Sturt second reserve and wingman Leigh Whicker, the future SANFL chief executive, retrieved and eagerly handed the ball to boundary umpire Allan Roberts.

Sturt did make one last charge - and the siren sounded just as field umpire Ken "KG" Cunningham was penalising Sturt ruck-rover Paul Bagshaw for holding-the-ball after he had been tackled by Doug Spiers.

"Two of the best kicks in our team - Hicks and Adcock - had put their shots out of bounds," Halbert recalls. "If you had put money on either of them, you would have expected them to have at least scored (a behind) and in many cases kick the goal."

What amazing scenes here at Adelaide Oval. One of the most remarkable games of football.

Ian Day called it while Fos Williams was carried onto Adelaide Oval like a victorious Roman emperor. He celebrated his then-record ninth premiership as Port Adelaide coach, his third in the duel with Oatey that finished at 3-3 with Oatey claiming the 1966, 1967 and 1968 SANFL flags against Port Adelaide at the start of Sturt's five-in-a-row dynasty and the deepening of the Port Adelaide-Sturt rivalry.

Port Adelaide claimed the 1965 premiership in dramatic fashion.

"We left Adelaide Oval that night for our after-match function at the Gresham Hotel on King William Street (and North Terrace) upset to get so close and to lose on our missed chances," said Halbert. "But we weren't despondent .... we were filled with optimism; we knew we were close, we were ready to be kings".

There were so many "what if" moments. What if any of Halbert, Hicks or Adcock had scored? What if Neil's wrong call on Beaufoy had become the warped SANFL equivalent of Wayne Harmes' premiership-winning moment on the MCG boundary?

Beaufoy's career ended - when aged 22 - in his 80th league with a knee injury in a match - won easily by Port Adelaide (68 points) - against Woodville in round 11 on June 29, 1968 at Woodville Oval. He spent seven weeks in hospital having two operations.

It was the unjust ending in a sport that often delivers cruel, unexpected notes.

"He was a happy, go-lucky guy," recalled Freeman.

Beaufoy died, aged 42, from heart attack while swimming, a past-time taken up following his mother's success as an Australian representative in Olympic campaigns.

Port Adelaide's grand final battles are heralded in the Archives Collection with a parade of each of the club's 37 premiership teams. The limited-edition book that commemorates the Port Adelaide Football Club's 150th anniversary can be ordered online here. 

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The Port Adelaide Football Club Archives Collection | PTV

AS PART of its 150th anniversary celebrations Port Adelaide is releasing a unique book that captures the proud journey of the club on and off the field.Marking the club's 150th year, the Port Adelaide Football Club Archives Collection chronicles...

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ONE DAY IN OCTOBER

1965 SANFL GRAND FINAL

Saturday, October 2, 1965

PORT ADELAIDE  3.3   6.3   11.7    12.8 (80)

STURT                    2.1    6.2     7.2     12.5 (77)

BEST - Port Adelaide: Motley, Cahill, Potter, Philp, Elix, Salmon. Sturt: Clarkson, Short, Jones, Cunningham, Dunn, Schwarz.

GOALS - Port Adelaide: Freeman 3, Mead, Potter 2, Beaufoy, Cahill, Obst, Philp, Traynor. Sturt: Jones 6, Dunn 3, Rigney, Thomas, Tilbrook.

CROWD: 62,543 (record).

LINE-UPS

PORT ADELAIDE 

F: Trevor Obst (3), Reg Beaufoy (30), Bob Philp (13)

HF: Doug Spiers (11), Eric Freeman (18), Peter Mead (25)

C: Bruce Nyland (24), John Cahill (14, VC), Dennis Errey (1)

HB: Bob Elix (12), Graham Cooper (6), Geof Motley (17, C)

B: Kevin Salmon (27), Ronald Elleway (4), Bob Fabian (14)

1R: Steven Traynor (8), David Gill (7), Jeff Potter (21)

Reserves: Graham Matters (19), Richie Bray (9)

Coach: Fos Williams

STURT

F: Malcolm Hill  11), Malcolm S. Jones (23), Roger Dunn (12)

HF: Peter Thomas (2), John Halbert (15, C), John Tilbrook (7)

C: Daryl  Hicks (13), Rick Schoff (10), Trevor Clarke (22)

HB: Terry Short (9, VC), Brian Schwarz (18), Neville Cunningham (14)

B: Brenton Adcock (16), Bruce Jarrett (21), John Murphy (6)

1R: Tony Clarkson  (20), Paul Bagshaw (8), Roger Rigney (4)

Reserves: Malcolm E. Jones (3), Leigh Whicker (28)

Coach: Jack Oatey