'Galloping' Norman Richards was a stalwart Norwood defender in the early years. He shared a premiership in 1887 with his twin, Herbert, and older brother Tom, played two years with Adelaide, and then returned to Norwood for another flag in 1891.
Born at Stepney on 28 June 1865, Norman and Herbert were middle members of the seven children of William Richards and his wife Elizabeth, née Hughes.
Norman made his senior debut in 1885, two years before his twin. In a match between Norwood and a Norwood Junior 25 on 17 April 1886, Herbert was the best player for the juniors and Norman was best on the ground with the seniors, who won 8.13 to 2.1. Tom, 10 years older than Norman, joined the senior team in 1886 and the three brothers enjoyed premiership success in 1887 when Norwood edged out Port Adelaide by a tiny percentage margin.
Norman and Herbert played the next two seasons with Adelaide, which was in fatal decline after its 1886 premiership triumph. Norman helped to prop it up temporarily but returned to Norwood in 1890. He hit top form in the second half of the season, but Port nevertheless ended Norwood's run of three successive premierships.
Norwood turned the tables in 1891 with a 5.4 to 3.4 victory in the decisive final match. In his retrospect of the season in The Express and Telegraph, 'Onlooker' said: "Norman Richards has done an immense amount of hard work for his side, and on several occasions played the game of the forty. Being a powerful man, of excellent physique, he has not experienced much difficulty in frustrating the attempts of adversaries to capture him. Whether half-back, back, or following, he has been exceedingly useful, and is an acquisition to any team."
Norman did not play in 1892 and Norwood slid to third position. Mick McGaffin, Alf Clift and Frank White had left the club, and Arthur Jackson took part in only two or three matches. 'Goalpost' commented in The South Australian Register: "It might be said that the greater part of the backbone of the previous year had gone, for it was always a hard matter for the opposing side to get past Jackson and Richards, who were a couple of defenders as good as any we ever possessed, while McGaffin was the finest footballer in the colony."
In 1893 Norman was back as one of the mainstays of the half-back line and Norwood lifted to second place behind South Adelaide. It was all downhill after that. Norman was not a member of the 1894 premiership side. Two years later, often indisposed and seldom able to assist a depleted team, he wound down his decade of service at Norwood.
After football, the Richards twins moved to Western Australia, where Norman was a foundation member of the WA Association of Railway Employees. He married Ethel Holmes, late of SA, in September 1903. Barely two months later, at Fremantle on 29 November 1903, he succumbed to tetanus. He was 38
P Robins April 2019