Harold Wyndham “Dick” Grantley was born in 1892 in Birchip in the Mallee region of Victoria. He played his first game for Norwood against Sturt on 8 June 1912 in front of a crowd of 5000, having replaced Lionel Hill (67 games: 1907 – 1913) who had stood down from the team with an injured finger.
In the previous season he played for Marlborough, one of the five foundation members in the inaugural season of the South Australian Amateur Football League, and was its only representative in the league’s combined side for that year.
Norwood clearly held him in some regard naming him “best shepherd” in his debut season, an award he was to win on a further four occasions in 1919, 1920, 1921 and 1922.
Grantley played as a ruck-shepherd which has since become known as ruck rover. As the result of changes to the rules over the years regarding shepherding in the ruck, the role of a ruck rover (or as more commonly known in the modern game - follower or on-baller) has changed considerably.
He won interstate selection against Victoria in 1921, being named in the best players, and played in the 1920 and 1921 Norwood sides which were runners up and the 1922 and 1923 premiership sides.
Norwood awarded him life membership in 1922 “by reason of ten years of long and useful service to the club”, the Norwood Annual Report for that year stating that “ Mr Grantley has taken part in 64 matches, and during that time Dick, in his position as ‘shepherd’ in the ruck, has given and received more hard knocks than most footballers, and for his size has done yeoman service in the ruck for Norwood”.
Grantley, a bank employee, seems to have been an educated and literate man. He wrote a series of letters to the editor of the Advertiser in 1914 regarding the suspension of North Adelaide ruckman Tom Leahy for three matches for striking a Norwood player. The letters are well written and argued and include such sentiments as “I must humbly confess I am rather young … and could easily be overwhelmed in a vortex of idiomatic legal persiflage.” Leahy subsequently coached Norwood in 1922, 1923 and 1924.
Grantley retired after playing his last game against Glenelg on 30th August 1924, the final game of the 1924 season’s minor round. He had played a total of 97 games and but for the suspension of the competition in 1916, 1917 and 1918 during the first World War would certainly have played more than 100 games.
Grantley retained an interest in football, playing in the Veteran Footballers Association with players such as Clarrie Packham, a Norwood teammate (104 games: 1910 – 1922) whose sister Winifred he had married in 1916 and Tom Leahy, his former coach.
He died suddenly in Kaniva, Victoria in 1951 and is buried with his wife in the Payneham Cemetery.
G Williams April 2013