The family of late Donald Neil 'Knuckles' Kerley AM has accepted the offer of a state funeral, following his passing in late June.
South Australian premier Peter Malinauskas posted on social media on Friday, July 1: "It will be an opportunity to celebrate his life and reflect on his legacy and contribution to our state."
The details will be announced in the coming days.
The 88-year-old football legend died on Wednesday, June 29, in a car crash at Walker Flat, in the state's Murraylands.
Regarded as the king of South Australian football, he was involved in the formation of the Adelaide Crows and helped secure players for the club's first list and training squad. He was given the football manager role to support the team's first coach, Graham Cornes, and led the football department during the 1991 season - the year the Crows debuted in the national AFL competition.
He also beamed onto televisions across Australia as a boundary rider on Channel 7's AFL broadcasts in the 1990s.
Originally from Barmera in the Riverland, his playing record included 276 games in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) for teams including West Adelaide, South Adelaide and Glenelg, including in a captain/coach capacity for each of those teams before he stopped playing at the end of 1969. He was a four-time premiership-winning coach for SANFL - West Adelaide in 1961 and 1983, South Adelaide in 1964, and Glenelg in 1973. He continued in coaching stints for a number of SANFL teams up into the 1990s. In total, he coached 628 senior games. He represented South Australia in 32 interstate contests, captained the state side on six occasions, and went on to coach the state team seven times between 1967 and 1978.
Kerley was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1997, was an inaugural member of the South Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2002, and was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2007.
Tributes to Kerley and condolences to his wife Barbara and family have been flowing since the news of his death broke.
"In the Tigers' 101-year history, no single person has had a bigger impact than Kerley - affectionately known as Kerls, Knuckles or the King - who transformed the Tigers from being regarded as more-or-less a social club into one of the strongest, most respected football clubs in Australia," Glenelg football club said.
"When he took on the role as captain-coach in 1967 he brought about an immediate shift of the club's culture and standing, creating a legacy and setting new standards and trademarks that were to continue well after he left and are still a cornerstone on which the club has grown. In proteges of his, current president Peter Carey, long-serving skipper Peter Marker and dual premiership coach Graham Cornes, Glenelg had leaders who continued the tradition. Like Kerley they were strong. Also like Kerley, they have always been approachable, admired, respected and loved by Glenelg people."
"A master story-teller who kept audiences spellbound, Kerley and much-loved wife Barb regularly continued to attend Tigers functions and matches and Kerley invariably declared how much he and Barb had enjoyed their decade at the Bay. Kerley was a highly-feted guest at last year's centenary Hall of Fame dinner at the Stamford Grand at the Bay."
West Adelaide club president Murray Forbes said Kerley's passion and love for the game and his remarkable service to the club was honoured when he was inducted as a legend of the club.
"To honour his contribution to the club, the Neil Kerley medal is awarded to the best and fairest player of the league each year," Forbes said.
South Adelaide said until recently, Kerley kept attending the annual 1964 premiership reunion, where he would share stories with his premiership team mates.
"There is no doubt that Neil Kerley has had a tremendous impact not only South Australian football, but also the Panthers," they said.
Crows chairman John Olsen described Kerley as a giant of the game.
"As a player and coach, he was tough and uncompromising and he commanded respect, and he will be remembered as one of football's great characters," he said.
"In the context of his overall career, his time at the Crows was brief but his impact is best described as significant given he helped build the Club from the ground up."
SA Football Commission chairman Rob Kerin said Kerley was a tough but fun, larger-than-life character.
"Over many years, Neil made an outstanding contribution to South Australian footy, not only through his on-field presence and ability, but also his illustrious coaching career across five SANFL clubs, as well as at state level.
SANFL CEO Darren Chandler said Kerley will be remembered for the impact he had on all those who played alongside him and the fans who grew up watching him.
"He had a tough-as-nails approach to the game but was a loveable personality in football who became 'Mr Football' through all his humour and antics in the media."
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