A Norwood Football Legacy in NSW

The large crowd was in good spirits as they assembled at the Adelaide railway station to witness the departure of 40 norwood players and officials leaving for Melbourne on the afternoon express train. The team was on its way to Sydney where they were scheduled to play three games against a NSW representative team. Norwood had won against Port Adelaide on the previous Monday and now on Tuesday 9 June 1908, their supporters were there to give them a rousing send off.

The playing group included A. Bahr (captain), G. C. Barnes, A. Bennett, C. Chamberlain, T.Gibbons, C.G.Gwynne, l. l. Hill, l . R. Hill, S. Hill, W . Hutton, J.Jona, A. Tembath, W. R. Miller,  J. Morrison, O. Murphy, C. McGavish, P. Newland, W. Padman,  V. C. Plunkett, P. Robin, S. Robinson, G. Townsend and R. Townsend. Messrs J.J. woods ( secretary) and A. Grayson had joint charge of the players.

Arriving in Melbourne on Wednesday morning, the party was entertained by the Victorian Football League at champions hotel where Mr. Hickey, Victorian Ffootball League vice president welcomed the team. The trip’ he said, would undoubtedly do much good for the Australian game in Sydney.

The players arrived in Sydney the next day where they were met by the president ( Mr. Nash), secretary ( Mr. Cheney) and members of the New South Wales Football League and driven in drays to the hotel arcadia. Norwood did South Australia proud by playing and winning 3 games in a week against the NSW team on the Sydney Cricket Ground.
13 June 1908 Norwood 13.9 defeated NSW 2.6
17 June 1908 Norwood 12.13 defeated NSW 6.9
20 June 1908 Norwood 12.12 defeated NSW 6.8

They also appeared to do more socialising than playing as an extract from the NFC annual report of 1908 says that...“During the Sydney trip the touring party attended a number of functions, including an outing to Lane Cove which was ‘Our greatest treat of the tour’, a smoke social hosted in the local town hall by the Balmain Football Club (whose colours are identical with ours), and witnessed the production of ‘The Thief’, the leading lady’s part was taken by Miss Beatrice Day. The club presented Miss Day with a bouquet of flowers to express their high appreciation of her artistic performance. Miss Day later visited Adelaide to perform and she paid the club the compliment of wearing our colours and presenting each team member with a button of red and blue.”

Back in Adelaide the matches and the resulting gesture cementing ongoing friendship was reported in t he register, on 26 March 1909...

“At the end of their stay, the Norwood Football Club asked the New South Wales Australian Football League to accept from it a shield for competition among clubs in the league... the red and blues did this in return for the great kindness shown to them and also to further the interest of the game in the mother state.

The shield, which is a handsome piece of plate, manufactured by Messrs Walker & Hall, of Grenfell Street. On the top of the shield there was placed two red and blue flags, picked out in enamel with the letters NFC . Between them was a gold medallion with the words Sir E.T. Smith, Patron. Two other gold medallions bear the inscriptions ‘ To be won three times and presented to the New South Wales Australian Football League by the Norwood Football Club.’ An engraved sketch of Sir Edwin Smith surmounts a raised representation of the winter game in progress. Beneath that is a sketch of the Norwood Town Hall.”

The trophy was worth 40 guineas and was to be awarded to the NSW Premiers from 1909 onwards. The first club to win the flag 3 times could keep the trophy outright. Paddington got to keep the Norwood Shield after winning the 1917 premiership (it’s third in a row).

The raised illustration on the shield ‘of the winter game in progress’ referred to in the register article, above, shows Norwood’s Lancelot Lewis taking a brilliant mark during the 1907 Grand Final when Norwood 8.7 (55) defeated Port Adelaide 3.9 (27) at the Adelaide Oval in front of 26,000 spectators.

The photograph of Lancelot Lewis marking the ball was generously donated to the club by the Lewis family in his memory in August this year, when his descendants gathered at Burra and the Norwood Oval for a family reunion. Norwood celebrated it’s 1907 Grand Final victory on the oval by borrowing and decking themselves out in bandsmen’s hats. It was truly a hat’s on occasion. Lancelot Lewis’ brother Essington  would in 1921 become the first Australian to hold the office of general manager of BHP since 1886.

W. Stoddart was named by his captain as the best player in the match, and M r. A. C. Norden from Melbourne umpired the game, however, he collapsed with exhaustion at three quarter time and was unable to continue. Now, over 100 years since it was first presented, the Norwood Football Club Shield is on public display in the Australian Football League NSW/ ACT, Head Office at Moore Park in Sydney. Special thanks to Ian Granland, President of the NSW Australian Football History Society and Tennille Callaway from the AFL NSW / ACT for their assistance in researching this story.

Reonaldo Cialini & Michael Coligan
NFC History Group

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