A sometimes hell-raising son of the Church of England, Alan Hugh Giles was a strapping blond centre half-back who played in two Norwood premiership teams and represented South Australia.
A champion footballer at St Peter’s College, Alan was named best junior in his first season at Norwood when, barely 18, he was a member of the famous 1946 premiership team which beat Port Adelaide.
In 1947 he won selection in the South Australian team for the Hobart carnival.
That same year his absence from the grand final with an ankle injury was sorely felt as Norwood crashed to defeat by West Adelaide. He was named Norwood’s best backman in 1949 and best half-back in 1950, when he was a member of the team which defeated Glenelg in the grand final and also represented South Australia in matches against Carlton and Richmond.
Alan became seriously ill in December 1950 and spent most of the next year in hospital.
His comeback in 1953 evoked memories for The News football writer Lawrie Jervis of one of the greatest single-handed defensive efforts he had seen as Alan vainly tried to stave off a rampant West Torrens at Norwood Oval in 1948. Jervis wrote: "He played an almost superhuman game at centre half-back and at the end was so exhausted from incessant marking and driving back countless assaults that he had to be assisted from the ground.
Alan won Norwood's award for best utility in 1953 but was forced to retire because of illness the following season. One of his greatest fans was his father, Canon Harold Giles, who forgave him and his brother Doug their sins (such as loudly revving up their car outside St Matthew's Church, Marryatville, while Harold was trying to conduct a service inside).
Alan, who established a successful accountancy firm, served on the NFC committee from 1973 until his retirement during the 1983 season, being club treasurer from 1974 to 1979. Alan also played district cricket with Kensington (where he was known to divert catching practice with the mischievous call: "Look out for the roller").
Born on 29 August 1928, Alan was 81 when he died on 8 January 2010. He was survived by his widow Barbara and daughters Virginia, Katharine and Annabel.
P Robins May 2017