Harold William Downing STODDART


Guernsey Number:
Career: 1906 to 1910
NFC Games: 51
NFC Goals: 2
Debut: v North Adelaide (Adelaide) 30th June 1906
Finale: v Port Adelaide (Adelaide) 3rd September 1910

Premierships: 1907
South Australian Games: 6


'Dick' Stoddart was a dependable Norwood premiership player who became a highly respected doctor, but he once sparked a controversy which almost shut down league football.

Early in the 1909 season the normally unflappable Stoddart disagreed with a decision  of leading umpire Phil Kneebone and angrily told him to "get off the ground".  Kneebone demanded an apology.  Stoddart delayed his response for some days and then failed to satisfy Kneebone, saying that the matter was trivial.  The SA Football League at first suspended Stoddart pending a apology, but then allowed him to play the following week.   Kneebone resigned in protest and all the other umpires threatened to go on strike.  The impasse was broken when Stoddart was suspended for a month, despite Norwood's protestations that the punishment was illegal.

Stoddart and Kneebone were both back in action in the Norwood-North Adelaide match in July, though 'Rover' noted in The Register that the Stoddart of 1909 was "not to be compared with the Stoddart of 1908". 

Born at Mundulla on 3 June 1887, Stoddart was a brilliant captain of football at Prince Alfred College for two years, enduring a loss to St Peter's College in 1904 but enjoying an 18-point win in 1905.  A strong centre half-back with a powerful kick, he slipped easily into senior football - though  did not have it all his own way against Ern Johns as North eliminated  Norwood from the 1906 finals. According to 'Forward' in The Chronicle,  "the PAC boy  did not enjoy many leisure moments" and "had a bundle of fish hooks to grapple with".

Stoddart  proved his mettle in six interstate games.  He reached his pinnacle with a best-on-ground performance which helped restrict Port Adelaide to 3.9 while the well-oiled Norwood machine banged on 8.7 to capture the 1907 premiership before a crowd of 25,000 at Adelaide Oval.

After Norwood, 'Dick' captained the University of Adelaide football team in 1911 and also had success as a fast bowler in the cricket team.

He graduated Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) in 1911 and after stints at Waikerie and Wallaroo, set up as a GP in Glenelg where he practised for the rest of his working life. He was very active as the town's official medical officer for many years. He also was the medical officer for the SA Jockey Club  and other racing clubs and was greatly liked and respected by the whole racing community. He was vice-president of the Glenelg Cricket Club.

He married Ruby Margaret Donnell in 1912 and they had four daughters, Pat (Pilgrim) and Peg (Bickford), who were twins, Judy (Wingrove) and Janet. His wife died in 1946 and he married Margaret Stott, daughter of Lady Best, of Melbourne, and the late Sir Robert Best. Dr Stoddart was a strict teetotaller and lived into his nineties

P Robins July 2018

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