Recruited from Strathalbyn, George Donnithorne was a well-built footballer who in 1887 helped Norwood to its seventh premiership in 10 years. He also was a prominent athlete and central umpire.
Born at New Hamburg (now Willyaroo) on 7 November 1866, George was regarded as the best all-round player in the south of the colony and while at Norwood would strip for Strathalbyn on off-Saturdays. He showed dash from defence right from the start of the 1887 season as Norwood and Port Adelaide each scored three goals at Alberton Oval. It was an important draw, for Norwood would edge out Port for the premiership that year by one-seventy-sixth of a point.
In 1888, George played in Broken Hill with the Willyamas alongside Norwood stalwart Charlie Chandler under the captaincy of Albert Tomlin, a future Port and Sturt man. George's career was interrupted by a broken limb in July that year. He played a least one game for Norwood in 1889, bolstering a depleted team which nevertheless had no trouble in whitewashing Medindie 3.12 to nil.
George kicked two of Port Pirie's three goals in a match against Port Augusta in 1890. In the 1890s he was a leading "ped" and a top city football umpire with the likes of Phil Blackman and Archie McIntyre. For years he was an all-round athlete at the Barrier and Port Pirie. He was over 50 when he won two cricket medals at Port Pirie for the highest batting average.
Decades later, Port Pirie football veteran Bill Clarke said: "George Donnithorne was our umpire for years, and a fine old umpire he was. It was no five-guinea job, and, if my memory serves me rightly, his fee came from a 'tarpaulin muster' among the players."
Welcoming George back to the city square mile in 1924, The Evening Journal described him as "a good, clean sport, highly esteemed by friend and foe alike".
George married Susan Catley at the St Mary Magdalene Church, Adelaide, in 1909. He may well have been the George Donnithorne, printer, who a few months earlier had been fined a hefty £2/10/- after he and a companion were apprehended with butchers of beer at a city hotel at 8.45 on a Sunday night.
George was 59 when he died at Murray Bridge on 8 May 1926
P Robins May 2018