After Neil Balme was appointed coach in 1980, one of his Richmond teammates informed Norwood that if the big fella made it on to the field, every Redlegs supporter should be told, quite simply, “Be there!” It would be a spectacle. “Balmey” donned the red and blue but, because of injury, only played a handful of games. Instead, his influence on the club was to be far greater than he would have had as a player.
For 11 straight seasons as coach, Neil presided over one of the most exciting periods in Norwood’s history. His players had plenty of talent and their playing style attracted big crowds. The coach’s approach was all about team, high standards and enjoying your footy. Annual finals appearances and two premierships, one of them like no other in history, were the outcome.
Balmey had an imposing presence at Norwood, yet his manner was quiet, logical, measured and optimistic. When Norwood finished fifth in the 1984 minor round he reckoned his team was better than that. Norwood then won four consecutive finals to take the premiership from fifth. No senior Australian football club had ever done that. History was made. Twenty-four years later no other senior club has done it. Balmey had been right all along. It was the most significant single achievement in a significant decade for Norwood, the Balme years.
Premiership coach: 1982, 1984
Further honours: SA coach 1985, Norwood Life Member