A member of an old colonial family with legal, political and pastoral interests, George Combe played in four premiership teams - one with South Adelaide and three in a row with Norwood.
Born at Geelong in 1868, George was one of nine children. Five of them were boys with the middle name 'Australasia'. Their father, Harvey Edmond Combe, a London solicitor, came to Adelaide in 1849 and soon after moved east to practise law with his cousin, who as Sir Charles Sladen became Victoria's sixth premier in 1868. Their mother, Mary Ann, left England to marry in Victoria in 1853. The family moved to Adelaide in 1881.
A great athlete and winner of Sheffields, George celebrated premiership success as a young colt with South Adelaide in 1885 and was a solid defender in 1886.
In 1887 he moved to Norwood, where he developed into a versatile and valuable player who excelled both as a dashing backman and a goal-kicking rover. As well as partaking in the triple premierships of 1887, 1888 and 1889, he reached the pinnacle of his career in 1888 as a member of the stellar team which vanquished South Melbourne for the Championship of Australia. That same year he was prominent in the Norwood team which defeated England at Adelaide Oval.
George controversially played for the visiting Carlton team at Adelaide Oval in 1887. Hit by injuries for its match against Port Adelaide, Carlton enlisted Combe and Adelaide's Edward Melling to fill the gaps. Port objected but finally gave way rather than having the match abandoned. Banished to the backlines, George thrilled the crowd with a run from one end of the field to the other which ended in his kicking a behind. Luckily, he was slow in returning to his position and still standing close to the sticks when the ball bounced off his legs for a goal. Carlton won 7.9 to 5.6 - and George cemented his spot in Carlton's history as a one-game player and goalkicker.
George served on the Norwood committee from 1888 to 1893. In 1890 he was one of the SA Football Association delegates who helped to shape the first code of rules for intercolonial football. He was made a Life Member of the Norwood FC in 1909. A racing enthusiast, he became a starter with the Adelaide Racing Club.
When George died at Royston Park on 4 November 1928 after a painful illness, his old friend and captain 'Topsy' Waldron publicly mourned the passing of "a fine footballer" who was his vice-captain in 1888 and 1889.
A younger brother, James Bowen, was a champion runner at Prince Alfred College and played for Norwood in 1892. An older brother, Matthew Horace, was a foundation member of the SA Jockey Club and grandfather of David Combe, national secretary of the Australian Labor Party from 1973-81. The family was descended from Harvey Christian Combe, MP, twice Lord Mayor of London.
P Robins July 2017