Like a number of his teammates, 21-year-old Alf Formby joined Norwood from the defunct Woodville Football Club, where he played in 1877. He officiated as goal umpire in Norwood’s inaugural game, against South Adelaide, but quickly showed his ability as an elusive forward and good team man. He played in seven games in 1878.
Born at Alberton on 15 July 1856 to John Formby and his wife Mary Anne, née Hollow, Alf had four brothers and seven sisters. He was educated at the Port Adelaide Grammar School and St Peter’s College. At 16 he joined his father’s shipping agency at Port Adelaide and later inherited the business.
In 1880 Alf married Julia Davidson, whose father Captain William Davidson had piloted the first steamer through the Murray mouth.* Julia died in an accident a year later and Alf married her sister, Mary, in 1884. Their daughter Annis, born in 1885, survived for 90 years but Mary sadly was taken early. In 1899 Alf acquired his third wife, Penola Rundle, and they had a son, John.
One of the founders of the Port Adelaide Racing Club, Alf served as chairman and was the first official starter at the Cheltenham racecourse. He was chairman of the Port Adelaide Agents and Importers’ Association, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and for some years returning officer at Port Adelaide for state and federal elections.
After he retired from business in 1914, Alf purchased Warrakilla Farm at Mylor. He lived there until moving in 1926 to Goolwa, where he served on the local council.
Alf died at Goolwa on 2 May 1932, survived by his widow, daughter Miss Annis Formby of Alberton and son John of Wellington, NZ. He is buried at Cheltenham Cemetery
* The steamer Lady Augusta for the explorer Francis Cadell on 16 August 1853
Reference: Whimpress, B 1878; Norwood’s first year, by B Whimpress, research by M Coligan. Norwood, Norwood Football Club History Group, 2013 p 86
P Robins, D Cox Oct 2020
** For the picture we thank Meredith Blundell and Ian Hoffmann of the Port Adelaide Historical Society