Norwood’s 1891 premiership captain Alf Grayson is rated one of the best defenders ever to play for the Redlegs. A passionate clubman, he went on to serve for many years as an official and league delegate.
Grayson began with Norwood in 1888 as a 20 year old, and immediately found a niche in defence. Like team mates Ossie Bertram and James Gosse, he was a well-known oarsman, building his strength and stamina with hours of rowing practice on the newly-established Torrens Lake.
His progress in 1889 was so spectacular that he was clearly one of the best defenders in the competition, a player of “exceptional attainment”, also able to hold his own in the ruck. The following year Grayson became Norwood’s regular full back, and soon stamped his authority as a goalkeeper with powerful and consistent performances.
Such was the respect Alf Grayson gained in only two full seasons with Norwood, that in 1891 he was appointed club captain and successor to the great Alfred “Topsy” Waldron. It was to be Grayson’s only year as captain, albeit one in which he enjoyed the ultimate triumph of leading the Redlegs to a premiership over arch rival Port Adelaide.
The decisive match took place on Saturday 5 September, 1891, before a crowd of over 10,000 at Adelaide Oval. The Redlegs trailed in each of the first three quarters, then brilliantly overhauled Port in the final term to seal the pennant with a two goal victory, 5-4 to 3-4.
In the wake of Norwood’s premiership success, “Topsy” Waldron decided to return for another season as captain in 1892. Forced to step down as skipper, Alf Grayson took on the role of vice-captain, continuing in 1893 under the leadership of “Nug” Plunkett and “Bunny” Daly. Released from the pressures of captaincy, Grayson in 1892 reached the peak form of his career, and was rated the best defensive player among the five Association clubs.
Accident and injury incapacitated him for part of 1893, but Grayson overcame these setbacks and remained one of Norwood’s key defenders through the 1890’s. He played in four premiership teams – 1888, 1889 and 1891 against Port, and 1894 versus South Adelaide. His younger brother Charles Grayson also joined Norwood for two seasons from 1890-91, playing mainly as a forward.
Alf Grayson retired at the close of 1898, after 11 seasons and approximately 100 games. However, his work as a Norwood official was far from over. He served on the NFC committee for no less than 19 years between 1891 and 1912, including nine years as club treasurer, and was known as a strong, sometimes forceful league delegate. From 1912 he became secretary of the Norwood Community Club, remaining in that position for 24 years. Alf Grayson died in May, 1936, at the age of 68.
C Lane Jan 2016