Julian Edmund Tenison WOODS


Guernsey Number:
Career: 1879 to 1881, 1883 to 1885
NFC Games: 20
NFC Goals:
Debut: v South Adelaide (East Parklands) 17th May 1879
Finale: v Port Adelaide (Alberton) 24th August 1885

Premierships: 1879, 1880, 1881, 1883
NFC Life Member


Julian Woods was a dashing young wingman who, with his older brother Ted, wore the red-and-white colours of Kensington in 1877, the first season of the South Australian Football Association (SAFA). Both transferred their allegiance to the new club, Norwood, in 1878 and were followed there later by their talented brothers John and Charles. 
“I think that my brother Ted and myself were really the first players of the Victorian game in this State, because it was introduced at the Sevenhills College by Victorian scholars some time before it had any vogue in Adelaide,” Julian, a prominent journalist,  wrote in 1923.*

He was named after his remarkable uncle, Father Julian Edmund Tenison-Woods, the Jesuit priest and scientist who co-founded the Josephite order with Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first Catholic saint.  Julian was born on 4 January 1859, the fourth of eight children of the journalist and historian James Dominick Woods – older brother of Father Tenison-Woods – and his wife Catherine Henrietta Griffin.

The year 1878 was fraught for Julian.  He was named team secretary of South Park in March and played in an internal colour game with that club. When Norwood was accused of cadging players from other clubs, notably Bill Dedman from South Adelaide, the scribe ‘Follower’ claimed that Julian was among those who had rebuffed approaches. In response, the Norwood secretary Arthur Diamond said: “J. E. Woods is entirely Norwood in his sympathies and offered to join us a short time back entirely of his own free will, but was debarred from doing so by threats of his being prevented by the rules of the Association.”  Julian spoke up in support of Dedman and Norwood at an NFC meeting on 31 May. 

There is no evidence that Julian played senior football for Norwood or South Park in 1878.  He did captain the Norwood Second Twenty which North Park beat 1-0 on 7 July and he was chosen in the SAFA team which defeated Gawler-Kapunda-Willunga 5-1 on 31 August.

Julian was named as one of Norwood’s new men in 1879.  He quite likely debuted  in the bruising opening game, which ended prematurely when South Adelaide refused to play after a disputed umpiring decision gave Norwood a 2-0 lead.  A tearaway with a wayward kick, Julian contributed to four premierships.  He never did kick the goal which would have earned him a hat from Arthur Diamond.  Sent forward on one rare occasion, he marked 10 yards out but passed across to reliable goalkicker Joe Traynor – who missed.  “You dashed fool”, said grumpy Joe, “why didn’t you kick it yourself?”

Julian was struck off the roll of law practitioners in 1886 when found guilty of having obtained money through false pretences.  Affable and eloquent, he turned to his family’s traditional profession of journalism and worked for newspapers across three states, including the Melbourne Telegraph, The Age, the Perth Daily News and, in Adelaide, The News, The Mail and the Daily Herald.  He was an early member of the Australian Journalists’ Association, which he served as SA secretary and president.

Domiciled at Grange, he was 78 when he died at North Adelaide on 31 May 1937, survived by his widow Alice, six sons and four daughters.  His son Charles survived Gallipoli but died at Pozières in World War I. Julian Woods is buried at West Terrace Cemetery in the Catholic section.

*The Express, Thursday 16 February 1923 p 8.

P. Robins, G. Adams December 2023

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