George Blackmore had an enigmatic football career. From St Peter's College, he went on to a successful season with Geelong in 1893. He returned to Adelaide, played the first game of the season with Norwood in 1894 and then was seen no more. George settled in South Africa where he was joined by his two younger brothers, James and Edwin, also promising St Peter's College footballers who had brief senior careers.
They were greatly encouraged in their sport by their father, Edwin Gordon Blackmore CMG, who loved to engage in outdoor activities while serving as Clerk of the South Australian Parliament and, from 1901 to 1908, as the first Clerk of the Commonwealth Parliaments.
George was born on 9 May 1874 at St John's Wood (now Prospect). He played intercollegiate cricket and football. He was captain of the 1891 St Peter's College 20 which crashed to defeat in the last quarter of its match against Prince Alfred College, led by another future Norwood man, Tom Coombe. St Peter's led 5.3 to 1.8 at three-quarter time but did not score in the last term while Prince Alfred added 5.2.
George moved to Geelong Grammar School, where his activities sometimes clashed with his commitment to the Geelong Football Club in 1893. When he missed one match, the Sportsman paper said he had "left Geelong in the lurch". However, he was praised as a long-kicking defender when Geelong defeated Fitzroy, and goaled in victories over Footscray and South Melbourne.
Back home, George made a promising debut with Norwood, which defeated Port Adelaide, 7.11 to 5.4, before a crowd of 4,000 at Adelaide Oval on 5 May 1894. The South Australian Chronicle remarked that the new men, Ted Hantke, Arthur Loveridge and Blackmore, "did excellent work, and should develop into first-class players as the season progresses".
That was it for George. We do not know why he disappeared from the scene just then as Norwood was beginning its surge towards the premiership. One permanent link with Adelaide is his name on a tablet erected at St Peter's College in 1902 to honour 80 old scholars who fought in the Boer War.
While George was serving in the Boer War as a quarter-master sergeant with the 3rd South Australian Citizens' Bushmen in October 1901, his mother, Elizabeth, died in Adelaide at the age of 53. She was the eldest daughter of Archdeacon Henry Farr, an early headmaster of St Peter's College.
George settled in the Transvaal as a farmer. His brothers James and Edwin also moved there to work as mining assayers. James had played with Norwood in 1896 and Edwin with North Adelaide in 1897.
Their father, Edwin, born at Bath, Somerset, in 1837, fought in the Maori Wars as a young man before moving to SA. A keen horseman, he was looked upon as the father of the Adelaide Hunt Club. In the first Hunt Club Steeplechase, he engaged the poet Adam Lindsay Gordon to ride his horse, Launcelot. He was a great rowing enthusiast, rear-commodore of the Royal SA Yacht Squadron and patron of St Peter's College. He and Elizabeth had six sons and a daughter. He was 71 when he died in 1909.
P Robins Oct 2017
* Picture kindly supplied by Andrea McKinnon-Matthews, Archivist at St Peter’s College.