William Oswald Whitridge : Norwood’s first chairman
By Phil Robins
NFC History Group
William Whitridge was the first chairman of the Norwood Football Club and one of the fathers of cricket in South Australia.
He was 25 when he chaired the foundation meeting of the Norwood Football Club at the Norfolk Arms Hotel, Rundle Street, Adelaide, on 28 February 1878. He subsequently played for the Norwood second twenty in 1878 as joint captain with William Charles Denness.
An active supporter of the establishment of Norwood Oval, he said in an interview in The Mail in 1912: “It was indeed hard and uphill work for three years, and required much perseverance and patience, but the result has quite justified the toil.”
In recognition of his enthusiastic labours, he was made a life member of the Norwood Football Club, the Norwood Oval, the South Australian Cricket Association and the East Torrens Cricket Club.
Whitridge was born at Kensington on 14 August 1853, the elder son of William Whitridge Roberts Whitridge and his wife Charlotte Elizabeth. A future editor of The South Australian Register, W. W. R. Whitridge had emigrated from England on the Panama, arriving in South Australia in October 1850. A fellow passenger, with whom he became a firm friend, was the educator John Lorenzo Young, whose son Algernon Sidney Young was a foundation player with Norwood.
Young Whitridge was a keen cricketer at J. L. Young’s Adelaide Educational Institution, playing against rival school St Peter’s College at the age of 10. He joined a cricket team that had claimed a part of Victoria Square for a practice pitch.
In 1869 the South Australian Cricket Club secured a lease on six acres of the north parklands from the Adelaide Corporation and a turf wicket was prepared. In February 1871 the club suggested the ground might be taken over by a comprehensive body and made into an-up-to-date cricket field. A month later a letter to the Register signed ‘Oswald’ called for the formation of an association to raise £200 to improve the ground – the emerging Adelaide Oval - and take over the arrangement of intercolonial games. ‘Oswald’ was William Oswald Whitridge.
He was only 18 when, at a meeting of the Norwood Cricket Club held at the Criterion Hotel on 9 May 1871, he submitted a resolution calling for the establishment of an association to organize district and intercolonial matches. This led to a general meeting of enthusiasts from a number of clubs at which the South Australian Cricket Association was born at the Prince Alfred Hotel on 30 May 1871.
Whitridge was known as a fine bowler: in the seasons 1877-78 and 1878-79 he had bowling averages of 5.24 and 4.09 respectively. In one match against Victoria he took eight wickets for 10 runs, though there were occasional rumblings about his action verging on a throw. He represented South Australia on the Australian Cricket Board in the 1890s along with John Creswell and Mostyn Evan.
He umpired one Test match between Australia and England in Adelaide from 24 March to 28 March 1892, standing with George Downs, who also was umpiring his only Test. England won by an innings and 230 runs.
Whitridge was on the staff of the Register for 42 years, much of this time as head of the publishing department. His father was editor for three years before he died suddenly in 1861 at the age of 36. William’s younger brother Fletcher also was with the paper.
William Whitridge married Marie Eleanora Korber in 1880; they had two daughters and three sons.
He died on 12 February 1919 at his home, "Ringmer", in Wyatt Road, Burnside, previously the residence of the explorer Edwin Stow Berry (probably the first white man to climb Ayers Rock/Uluru).
William Oswald Whitridge, Wikipedia.
A Father of Cricket, The Mail (Adelaide), Sat 2 Nov 1912, Second Section p 2.
The Chronicle, 22 Feb 1919 p 38.
1878; Norwood’s first year,by B Whimpress, research by M Coligan. Norwood, Norwood Football Club History Group, 2013.