After the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939 and for various reasons, including its impact on the availability of players, the SANFL decided to suspend the regular completion from 1942 to 1944 and replace it with a competition involving four combinations of the eight league sides. However, there were occasions when a club benefited from the disruptions of the war and one such case was that of Jack Seelenmeyer who, although only playing a handful of games for Norwood, helped the club to win its first premiership in 12 years.
Born in 1917, Seelenmeyer was Camberwell’s centre half- back in 1941 and had been training with St. Kilda. Camberwell was in the Victorian Football Association. It was reported at the time that he “was well in the running for being the best in the Association at that position”.
Having enlisted in the RAAF he was posted to Adelaide in June 1941 for training and joined Norwood, who immediately played him in their league side. At 188cms (6ft 2ins) he became an integral part of its half-back line which “built up a reputation for dogged and effective defending”.
He is mentioned favourably in the newspapers of the day. On 16 August 1941 The Mail reported that “Jack Seelenmeyer, Norwood’s centre half-back, was conspicuous at Adelaide Oval today – not only because of his great height which helped him to continually outmark his opponents, but for his effective manning of a key defensive post”.
But arguably his best performance for the year was in the winning Grand Final against Sturt where he was named as Norwood’s second best player behind Jack Oatey. It was reported that “repeated Sturt thrusts collapsed against the rugged half-back line where Seelenmeyer, Taylor and Lawrence were models of consistency. Seelenmeyer showed cleverness in the air and good position sense”.
After leaving Norwood in 1941, he served with distinction as a Spitfire pilot in the war and then returned to Victoria where he resumed his football career with Camberwell.
Jack Seelenmeyer died in 1977 aged 60
G Williams Nov 2015