Philip Gallagher was educated at Sacred Heart College, and later went on to study at Flinders University. He played a handful of games for the Norwood Reserves in 1972 while still at college. Playing on a wing, he starred in the Reserves Grand Final victory over North Adelaide.
"Gags" made his league debut against Sturt in Round 1, 1973, and showed class and poise in his first season of senior football, finishing sixth in the best and fairest award. A serious shoulder injury sustained in round 4 restricted him to 15 appearances for the year.
Gallagher saved his best performances for the big games, and provided some particularly memorable moments. In the 1975 Grand Final versus Glenelg, in a low-scoring encounter, he scored a clutch goal kicking into the wind in the last quarter.
Then in the 1978 decider against Sturt, "Gags" hit the post in the last quarter, before threading through the match-winning goal in the dying minutes of the game. Controversy still lingers on whether he should have been awarded a mark, a free or neither. What cannot be disputed is that "Gags" was the man for the occasion, and that he calmly slotted through a major from the resultant set shot.
During this period he also played in the team that destroyed Carlton by 106 points (1976 NFL Wills Cup), and in the Norwood side that defeated East Perth to take out the 1977 Ardath Cup.
In 1980 he played 25 league games and was runner-up in Norwood's best and fairest award. Norwood were narrowly beaten by Port Adelaide in the Grand Final. Gallagher again played interstate football and was a regular State representative having played against Queensland, Victorian Football Association, Victorian Football League and Western Australia.
He was appointed Club captain in 1981 (19 games), had a solid season and finished fourth in the best and fairest.
In 1982 he was re-appointed captain but stood down in July in an attempt to repair a chronic hamstring injury. Greg Turbill took over as skipper but Gallagher managed to get back in the side late in the season and played centre in Norwood's Grand Final win against Glenelg. He completed his 10th season in 1982 sitting on 198 career games and was awarded NFC player life membership.
Having reached his 100 game milestone in 1978 (the club's centenary year), he played his 200th game against Port Adelaide at Alberton Oval, on the 9th April, 1983. Fittingly, the Redlegs got up : Norwood 17.6 to Port Adelaide 15.11.
Gallagher was an integral member of the 1984 "History Makers" team that won the flag after finishing fifth at the end of the minor round. Playing on a wing, he made 22 appearances during the season and received the coveted E. A. Johnson service award.
Remarkably, he played 31 senior games in 1985 and another 24 in 1986, winning meritorious performance awards in both years. He became the club's game record-holder on the 28th June 1986, surpassing Neil Button's total of 283.
Highly skilled by hand and foot , elusive and cool in a crisis, "Gags" made running backwards at top pace look easy. Whilst most of his games were as a wingman, he was just as comfortable in the pivot. The four time premiership player finished his league career against Woodville in the 1986 Elimination Final.
After retiring as a player Gallagher has maintained his enthusiasm for the game off the field. His roles have included NFC Match Committee/Selector/Board member/ Chairman/League Director, and SANFL Commissioner/S.A. Football Commission Deputy Chairman.
In 2001 he was named on a wing in Norwood's official Team of the Century. He was an inaugural member of Norwood's Hall of Fame (2006), and was inducted into the S.A. Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
His father Kevin (Sam), brothers John and Martin, and nephews James and Martin (McKinnon) have all played League football for the Norwood Football Club. Gallagher was also a skilled A Grade wicketkeeper/batsman for Glenelg, and made the South Australian State squad in 1976-77
R Cialini Dec 2019