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Norwood Back to Back

by Grant Keiller

The football gods finally smiled on the Redlegs with back to back premierships for the first time in 90 years. A proud club that has succeeded 29 times in its history since 1878. In fact it started with six premierships in a row from 1878 to 1883 and played 36 games before conceding its first defeat. Alas, one problem that has lessened the club’s total of premierships over the years has been the inability to win back to back flags since 1922-23.
 
On three occasions since 1923 the club has come close to, not only going back to back but achieving a hat trick or better. By 1925 it could have been four in a row but 1924 was marred by a loss to Sturt in what was effectively the preliminary final. After World War 2 there was a golden era under legendary coach Jack Oatey, winning in 1946, 1948 and 1950 and in among those flags was the closest the club has come to equalling the six in a row since the twenties, remembering they lost both the 1920 and 1921 grand finals. Unfortunately, losing the 1947 grand final to West Adelaide and preliminary final losses to West Torrens in 1945 and 1949 precluded any repeat of successive titles. In the 1980s they were again around the mark with flags in 1982 against Glenelg and the famous charge from fifth to beat Port in 1984. Losses in the preliminary finals to Glenelg in 1981 and Sturt in 1983 stopped any chance of consecutive flags heading to the Parade.

Other chances included, defeating Port in the 1929 after losing the grand final the year before and again in 1997 with a premiership over the Magpies after a 4 point loss in the 1996 preliminary final. Sadly for Norwood the Legs won in 1941 but never got the chance to defend their crown as the League went into recess from 1942 to 1944 with the continuance of World War 2.  A war time competition did continue with the then eight clubs combining into four teams during those three years and the Norwood-North combination won in 1943 and 1944.

Now in 2013 it’s a serious case of deja vu for the Redlegs. The gods finally dealt Norwood a perfect recipe for back to back flags based on an old cook book. The ingredients are very familiar.

In both 1922 and 2012 there was a 15 year drought between premierships ( 1907 to 1922 and 1997 to 2012 )
In both eras, Norwood defeated the same team in the finals to make the grand final. In 1922 and 1923 it was South Adelaide and 2012 and 2013 it was West Adelaide.

 In 1922 Norwood finished top with 12 wins and 2 losses; in 2012 Norwood finished top with only 2 losses and 18 wins.
Defence playing a big part in helping the Redlegs win the the minor premierships. In 1922 they only conceded an average of 51.2 points per game and in 2012, 52.3 points per game.
The 1922 and 2012 grand finals saw Norwood beat West Adelaide with the both scores being similar ;
1922 Norwood 9-7 61 to West 2-16 28
2012 Norwood 12-7 79 to West 3-12 30

GRAND FINAL 1922

Venue: Adelaide Oval
Umpire: C.Waters            Crowd: 31,000

                  1st    2nd    3rd      Final         Pts
Norwood    2-0    4-5    6-6      9-7          61            
West          0-4    0-8    2-12    2-16        28  
        
Date:    30 September 1922        Win by 33 points
Best:  S White, R Townley, M Dobson, R Bent, G Stephens,W Potts,C Hepburn, W.Scott, S Sibley
Goalkickers: R Bent 3  C Hepburn 2  T Hart  C Close  S Sibley  S White
Coach: T Leahy

F      E.Wadham     R.Bent      H.Grantley
HF    S.Sibley        C.Close     T.Hart
C     C.Toovey      B.Scott     C.Hepburn
HB    S.White (c)   W.Scott   G.Stephens
B     R.Townley      H.Johns    M.Dobson
Followers    L.Bryant (vc)    W.Potts  B.Schumacher

GRAND FINAL 2012

Venue: AAMI Stadium (Football Park)
Umpires: M Avon, L Haussen, C DeBoy            Crowd: 29,661

                         1st    2nd    3rd    Final        Pts
Norwood            1.1    4.4    9.5    12.7        79
West Adelaide    0.3    1.4    1.6    3.12        30

Date:    Sunday 7 Oct 2012        Win by 49  points
Best: D Terlich, J Cachia, B Zorzi, A Georgiou, J Aish, T Webber, L Brown,
B Warren
Scorers: L Jericho 2.2, B Jefferies, E Smart 2, S Phillips 1.3, J Aish 1.1,
B Warren, J Gallagher, M Suckling, T Webber 1, D Terlich 0.1
Jack Oatey Medallist: Dean Terlich
Coach: Nathan Bassett

F                   B Warren     L Jericho       S Phillips
HF               J Gallagher     B Dawe        A Kirwan
C                N Batsanis     M Suckling     J Aish
HB               L Brown    M Chippendale   D Terlich
B                  J Bode        A Georgiou     B Jefferies
Followers    A Clarke          J Cachia       T Webber
Interchange    B Zorzi capt.   E Smart    J Donohue

In 1923 Norwood again finished top but with a slightly inferior record to the previous year, 11 wins 2 losses and 1 draw.
In 2013 Norwood also finish top, but again with a slightly inferior record to the previous year, 17 wins 3 losses.
Again the defence came to the fore; in 1923 they conceded an average of 57.2 points and in 2013, 52.75 points per game.
And surprisingly the grand final scores were similar.
The 1923 Grand Final saw Norwood 9-12 66 to North 6-4 40
The 2013 Grand Final saw Norwood 10-12 72 to North 4-8 32

GRAND FINAL 1923

Venue: Adelaide Oval
Umpire: A A Raven            Crowd: 37,000

                  1st    2nd    3rd    Final        Pts
Norwood    4-3    6-8    7-9    9-12       66            
North          2-1    4-1    5-1    6-4        40

Date    29 September 1923        Win by 26 points
Best:  B Schumacher, A Lill, W Potts, W Symonds, P Lee, E Wadham, W.Scott,
G Stephens.
Goalkickers : P Lee 3   E Wadham 2  W Burns 2  L Mutton  C Hepburn
Coach: T Leahy

F    E.Wadham    B.Scott (vc)    W.Burns
HF    S.Sibley    P.Lee    W.Heinrich
C    C.Hepburn    A.Lill    W.Symonds
HB    S.White (c)    W.Scott    G.Stephens
B    L.Mutton    S.Ackland    R.Plunkett
Followers W.Potts    H.Grantley    B.Schumacher

GRAND FINAL  2013

Venue: AAMI Stadium (Football Park)
Umpires: M Avon, L Haussen, C DeBoy       Crowd 36,685

                         1st    2nd    3rd    Final        Pts
Norwood            2.5    6.5    6.8   10.12        72                                                                                                
North Adelaide   1.2    3.2    4.7     4.8          32

Date:    Sunday 6 Oct 2013        Win by 40  points
Best: B Zorzi, M Grigg, B Warren, M Fuller, T Dumont, L Stevenson, A Georgiou
Scorers: B Warren 4, M Grigg 2.1, B Zorzi 1.1, M Fuller 1.1, M Thomas 1, L Davis 1, D Pfeiffer 0.3, B Dawe 0.1, O Fantasia 0.2, S Phillips 0.1, rushed 0.2
Jack Oatey Medallist: Brett Zorzi
Coach: Nathan Bassett

F                   D. Pfeiffer    B Warren       S Phillips
HF                M Thomas     B Dawe        T Dumont
C                  B Jefferies     M Suckling     J Aish
HB               J Bode    K McGuinness capt     M Fuller
B                  A Kirwan     A Georgiou    L Stevenson
Followers     S Baulderstone   B Zorzi      M Grigg
Interchange    T Webber   L Davis   O Fantasia


Other similarities included the coach being the same for 1922 and 1923, Tom Leahy and Nathan Bassett in 2012 and 2013.
Both eras had and incredible turn-over of around half the team. After the 1922 victory only 10 players ( remembering they only played the straight 18 with no bench ) doubled up to win again in 1923. And from 2012 only 11 players went back to back in 2013.

Alas, there are always sad stories such as, in 1923 Norwood's leading goal kicker in the minor round Roy "Cool Alec" Bent was sensationally suspended for 6 weeks for throwing a football at a boundary umpire and bruising his chest thus missing the grand final. In 2013 the minor round's leading goal kicker for the Legs, Mark Evans injures his ankle and misses out on a premiership medal. But there is hope, as Roy rebounded to play a part in the 1925 Premiership.

The 1922-23 era saw great players like Team of the Century members Walter Scott ( 3 Magarey Medals ), Syd White ( 2 B&F, Captain and later 1925 premiership coach ), Syd Ackland  and Alick G Lill ( 1925 Magarey Medal ) all play prominent roles in winning those flags and becoming legends of the Norwood Football Club. Which of the current crop of players are likely join them in the Twenty First Team of the Century? Jack Oatey medallist Brett Zorzi with 164 games, 2 best and fairest and 2 premiership medals to his name may well have put himself in line when the time comes.

As for the future? Well the club looks to be in the midst of another dynasty of success akin to the 1920's which featured four premierships plus three runner's up and two thirds. Since 2010 it’s been two premierships, one runner up and one third and still seven years until the end of the decade!

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