Harry Thurgarland was an experienced Victorian footballer who made his debut with South Adelaide in the opening round of the 1878 season – against Norwood, playing its first game in the South Australian Football Association.
Before more than 1,000 spectators at Adelaide Oval on Saturday 18 May, George Giffen launched Norwood’s successful premiership campaign with the only score of the match, a goal kicked on the run with his right boot after he had discarded his left boot because of a sore foot.
One year later, Harry and two of his 1878 South teammates, Ted Colbey and Frank Chapman, were members of Norwood’s second premiership team. Follower Joe ‘Curly’ Pollock and defender ‘Topsy’ Waldron were the star recruits that year, but the Evening Journal commented that “Thurgarland and Chapman have proved acquisitions to the team”. A forward, Harry made good position and kicked well. He was 27 when he retired in 1880 with two Norwood premierships under his belt.
Harry was born in the UK at Brinkby, Cumberland, on 17 February 1863 to John Thurgarland and his wife Frances, née Trevitt. Most of Harry’s seven siblings – Robert, Alice, Lydia, Charlotte, George, Fanny and Kate – were born in the Norwood district.
Harry, however, learned his football in Melbourne before the family moved to Adelaide. He was a teammate of Joe Traynor at North Melbourne in 1874-1875, Albert Park in 1876 and Hotham in 1877. Traynor, dubbed “the prince of followers”, went on to play in Norwood’s first six premierships. Harry and Joe became Customs officers.
Harry was an accomplished cricketer. Playing for Kensington in 1879, he bowled Norwood batsman ‘Topsy’ Waldron for 34 to precipitate a batting collapse which brought victory to his team by nine runs.
Harry married ELizabeth Trevaskis at St Matthew’s Church, Marryatville, and they had four children, George, Charles, Marjorie and Wilfred. Private George Thurgarland, 28, was killed in action in France on 1 July 1916 while serving with the 27th Battalion in World War I. Wilfred played two games with Port Adelaide in 1913.
Harry Thurgarland died at Largs Bay on 31 January 1925.
P Robins, D Cox Nov 2020