Joseph Darling was born on 21 November 1870 at Glen Osmond. He was educated at Prince Alfred College and the day before his fifteenth birthday he set a schoolboy record with 252 runs in a match against St Peters College. The following year he was selected in a combined fifteen team to play against an Australian eleven, a team which included another former Norwood footballer, George Giffen.
After leaving school Darling briefly attended Roseworthy Agricultural College before working in a bank and then managing one of the family’s farms.
After playing football for Prince Alfred College First 18 in 1885, Joe Darling joined the Adelaide club and had immediate success, winning a premiership in 1886. A strong kick and good mark, he scored two goals in the season defining clash against Norwood.
Darling had another solid season with Adelaide in 1887 and in 1889, had a year with Gawler before returning to the Adelaide side in 1890.
In 1892 Darling captained the Mundoora football team, a small country town north of Adelaide.
In 1893 he returned to Adelaide and married Alice Minna Blanche Francis.
He turned out for Norwood in 1894 and had a very good year. Not only was he one of Norwood's best players in the premiership decider against South Adelaide (Norwood 4.7 to South Adelaide 3.5) but he was also named as a back pocket in The Observer Team of the Year. During the season he represented a combined South Australian Football Association team which met the Yorke Peninsular Football Association.
In 1894 he also played his first Test match against a touring English side.
He had planned to take the 1895 football season off but was enticed to play in a couple of key games against South Adelaide.
His sporting destiny however lay with cricket and he toured England in 1896, 1899, 1902 and 1905, captaining Australia on the last three tours. On the 1905 tour of England Darling was joined by another Norwood footballer, Phil Newland who was selected as second wicket- keeper.
Darling did not play football with Norwood again but went on to represent Australia in thirty one tests against England including eighteen as captain.
After retiring from cricket Darling moved to Tasmania where he ran a sheep station. He was a member of the Tasmanian Legislative Council from 1921 to 1946 and was awarded a CBE in 1938. He was also a strong advocate in Tasmania for the introduction of district cricket and district football on a electoral boundaries basis, as he had been impressed with how well the system worked in South Australia.
Darling retained his interest in the sport, and was later elected as a vice-president of the Claremont Football Club.
Joe Darling died after an operation for peritonitis on 2 January 1946 at Hobart and was survived by his wife and twelve children.
D. K. Darling, 'Darling, Joseph (1870–1946)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/darling-joseph-5885/text10015, accessed 16 August 2013.
W Heading Nov 2013, R Cialini March 2018