The Broken Hill Connection

by Reonaldo Cialini
NFC History Group

Football was first played in Broken Hill in the mid-1880's, and by 1890 the Barrier Ranges Football Association had been formed. From very early on, Broken Hill  was strong enough to play against clubs from interstate and on 13 August 1892 Norwood played a team from the Silver City on the Adelaide Oval, winning 7.7 to 3.5. In 1905 Norwood lost by one point on its home ground. Norwood then visited Broken Hill in 1913, winning both of its matches narrowly on the Jubilee Oval. In 1945, Norwood again visited Broken Hill  and were victors, 10.11 to 8.9. 

Despite the city being situated in New South Wales, it has supplied many fine footballers to the SANFL and the Norwood Football Club more specifically, for well over 100 years. 

One of the more prominent players to make the move was Algernon "Algy" Edward Millhouse in 1911. Transferring from West Broken Hill, which for many years was also known as the Redlegs, he went on to play 27 games for Norwood, captaining the club in 1914.  Algy also played for Melbourne and St.Kilda in Victoria. 

Journeyman Ethelbert Luxmore "Bert" Renfrey  was one who reversed the trend by transferring to West Broken Hill, after playing for Norwood at the end of the 19th century. Bert also represented North Adelaide, Sturt, West Perth, and St. Kilda. Apart from playing senior football in four states, he was also a dual Stawell Gift runner-up. 

Another player with a Broken Hill connection was George Webb. A great clubman, "Geordie" had started his career with Port Adelaide before transferring to Broken Hill in 1895. He eventually joined Norwood in 1900, where he played in the 1901 and 1904 premierships and then gave remarkable service as head trainer for 30 years. 

Two Hall of Famers,  Roy “Cool Alec” Bent and William "Tiger" Potts were prominent in the Norwood premierships of the 1920's, after moving from Broken Hill. Potts went on to become the club's legendary head trainer . 

From 1991 to 1997, the SANFL allocated Broken Hill to Norwood as part of its zone. Players who went on to represent the club at different levels from that period included 1991 Tomkins medallist Dale Betterman, Brett Cook, who also played with Fitzroy and St. Kilda and made head-lines for challenging the AFL Draft and Billy Dolan. Essendon and Fremantle stalwart Dean Solomon from North Broken Hill played for Norwood's Under 17 Country (Eastern) Zone in 1996. 

Stuart Bown was recruited from West Broken Hill, making his league debut in 1999. The key position player ended up playing 200 games for Norwood, finally retiring after the 2011 Preliminary Final. And of course, the popular Taylor Walker also hails from Broken Hill and has played many memorable games for Norwood when not required by the Adelaide Crows. Tex’s father Wayne, also played Reserves for Norwood in 1981.  

Others who have played in Broken Hill and with the Norwood Football Club include Jim Baird, Darryl Barratt, Jim "Slopper" Conlon Tom Coombe, Brian Dunlevy, Edward Edwards, Billy Elsdon, Harry Gabriel , Walter Griffiths, Frank Groutch, Frank Mitchel, Leslie E. `Bolivar’ Parnell , J. Slee,  Glen Vardanega, John Vickers, Arthur Weller and Brian Wells. *  

* Thank you to Graham Burke, Broken Hill football researcher, who supplied some of the names   

(Article originally published in the Redlegs Review Sept 2013) 

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