After a traumatic childhood, young Bert Carroll was a fine athlete and emerging as a future Norwood champion when he suffered a football injury that crippled him for life.
Bert was born in Adelaide on 24 February 1874, the fourth of seven children of Edward Carroll and his wife Isabella (née Breynard). Isabella died in 1883 and her five younger children were placed in the care of their grandmother. Three months later, in February 1884, they were charged with being neglected children. Future Premier Charles Cameron Kingston appeared in court for the father, who expressed his ability and willingness to keep his family, and was allowed to take them.
Bert's father, a plumber and galvanizer, married again. He had known his second wife, Maria, at the Wesleyan Sunday school where he once taught. In August 1885, either in self-defence or a fit of rage, he smashed the skull of his drunken and abusive wife with an iron firebar. Young Bert was a witness when his dad, again represented by Kingston, was charged with murder, convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour. Bert told the court his father had always treated him kindly.
Norwood was rebuilding when Bert joined the club from West Adelaide at the start of the 1895 season. Quiz and Lantern reported that Norwood made an exhibition of Port Adelaide at Kensington Oval, winning 9.9 to 4.8, with 'Bos' Daly kicking seven goals. It added: "The colts have well earned their places in the Norwood team, as almost without exception they played well. Bert Carroll was the best of the youngsters."
After Port turned the tables with a 7.9 to 5.6 win in June 1896, Quiz and Lantern said: "The honours on the Norwood side were carried off by Stuart, Green, the brothers Thomson, and Bert Carroll; and if the other members of the twenty had done equally effective work there might have been a different issue to the match." Bert's career as a very smart wingman came to a violent end soon after. Playing against North Adelaide, he was shouldered on to the tar-paved track at Kensington Oval and suffered a debilitating thigh injury.
The Advertiser on 6 January 1897 drew attention to the plight of Bertram Carroll, an inmate of the Destitute Asylum "who is now a hopeless cripple with very few months to live". Benefit concerts were organised under the patronage of eminent citizens such as the Mayor of Adelaide, Sir Edwin Smith. One performer was Master Harry van der Sluice - the future Roy 'Mo' Rene. Support poured in from all quarters - including the North Adelaide Football Club.
The Weekly Herald in March 1897 reported on Bert thus: "The doctor has hopes of saving his leg, but a high-heeled boot will have to be worn. The poor fellow feels the neglect of his supposed friends very keenly, but philosophically remarked that many a ship gets ashore but refloats again."
Bertram Carroll walked with a stick, worked as a greengrocer and trained athletes before his stormy passage ended at Bewes Street, Adelaide, on 9 January 1925. He was not quite 51
P Robins Oct 2018