R. Snowden appears to be a pseudonym. “Snowden” or Snowden is named in newspapers for four Norwood games towards the end of the 1899 season but then vanishes before the last two finals.
It may be significant that on the three occasions that “Snowden” apparently took the field, the mercurial Charles ‘Hockey’ Horsell was not named in the team. Both were goalkickers. Perhaps they were the same man. We can only guess why this might be so, though some odd things were happening with Norwood team lists at the time.
Norwood met Port Adelaide on 5 August 1899 in a vital match. If Port won, it would finish the minor round top, with South Adelaide second and Norwood third. If Norwood won, South would be top, Norwood second and Port third. As The South Australian Register said: “With so much depending on the issue each side put out its best eighteen.”
It is strange, then, to find a new man that the Register called “Snowden” in the Norwood side in place of Horsell, and felicitous that he kicked the side’s fourth goal to set up a 5.5 to 3.7 victory. The Advertiser named him Snowden without quotation marks in its match report. It also introduced a mysterious “Parsons” to the Norwood team - whereas the Register had James Gallagher retaining that spot.
“Snowden” kicked three goals on 19 August, according to the Register, as Norwood eliminated North Adelaide from the finals with a crushing 13.12 to 4.5 victory. The Advertiser mentioned that Snowden took a good mark and posted Norwood’s first goal with a long place-kick.
Newspaper reports became even more confusing after Norwood defeated West Torrens 4.15 to 3.7 at the Jubilee Oval on Saturday 26 August 1899. Both The Advertiser and the Register listed the same Norwood team in their match reports on the following Monday. Snowden was in the team but not Horsell – though the same reports then went on to name Horsell as a goalkicker!
An enthusiastic Norwood upset South, 7.11 to 6.2, in the Labor Day holiday final. On the day of the match, Friday 1 September, The Advertiser published a somewhat bizarre Norwood team. In it were R. Snowden – given an initial for the first and only time – and S. J. Skipper. Under the name Hugh Kalyptus, S. J. Skipper wrote satirical columns for The Adelaide Observer in the late 19th century and was well past his playing age, if indeed he ever pulled on a boot. Neither Snowden nor Skipper in fact played against South, their places being taken by Horsell and Robert McDonald, in for only his second senior match. Naming bogus players was possibly a diversionary tactic by Norwood.
Under new rules introduced that season, South as top team was given a second chance. There were no tricks for the final replay on 9 September. Norwood played Horsell, Gallagher and McDonald in an unchanged side, but a reinvigorated South had all the answers and clinched the premiership decider 5.12 to 2.2.
“Snowden”, “ Parsons” and S. J. Skipper were not heard of again in football circles
P. Robins Jan 2020