A popular football and cricket champion from the River Murray port of Echuca, Peter Noble was promoted to vice-captain in 1885 towards the end of his one season with Norwood. Peter was captain of the Echuca Park Football Club in 1884 and then, while visiting Adelaide as a member of the Northern Victoria cricket team, was offered and accepted a position with the South Australian Government.
According to The Riverine Herald of 24 April 1885, upwards of 50 gentlemen under the chairmanship of James Shackell MP met at Ford's Union Club Hotel to witness a farewell presentation to Peter, an Echuca native whose "ardent assistance at entertainment for charitable purposes and public benefit has become a household word". On 30 June, at the annual dinner of the Echuca Union Cricket Club, he received a medal as best batsman in the season past.
Meanwhile, Peter, a goalsneak, had made his Norwood debut against the Victorian team Hotham in Adelaide on 9 May. Norwood was outscored 5.17 to 3.7 but competed well in a fast, entertaining game. Commenting on Noble's form, 'Goalpost' in The Evening Journal said "his marking and kicking were excellent, and he dodged better than any other man of the Norwoods".
In June, Peter played in an eclectic team called the Wanderers in one of two matches against Aborigines from the Point Macleay and Poonindie Mission Stations. When the barefooted Aborigines won by four goals to three, 'Goalpost' declared it an unexpected result "though the 'white man' could have won, I think, if they had wanted to".
Peter had an inconsistent year, as did Norwood, which struggled against Adelaide but did better against its traditional rivals before finishing runner-up to South Adelaide. Peter missed some games later in the season but was named vice-captain to 'Topsy' Waldron in August 1885 after George Bragge returned to Victoria.
On 20 February 1886, The South Australian Register, reported that P. D. Noble, a prominent member of the Norwood football and cricket clubs, had been farewelled by a number of friends at the Freemason's Tavern on the eve of his departure from the colony.
Peter returned to Echuca to run the family's Murray Bridge Hotel, which had a rich history as a haven for river traders and a depot for Cobb & Co coaches. A meeting place for all manner of sportsmen, the hotel was burnt down on 26 April 1896 after Peter's wife Johanna got up during the night and lit a candle. She escaped through a bedroom window with their children. The building, insured for £450 and the furniture for £210, was rebuilt.
* Picture kindly supplied by Heather Rendle of the Echuca Historical Society.
P Robins dec 2017