Born in the Norwood area, Sydney Ackland began his League career with Norwood in 1922 and proved to be an exceptional footballer and clubman.
He played six matches in his debut season. Later in the year he was selected as a half forward flanker against the touring East Perth team.
Ackland went on to make the full back position his own, succeeding Harry Johns as the club's goalkeeper on the recommendation of the retiring defender. A high marking, long kicking defender, Ackland became renowned for his fine judgement and reliability.
He made 16 appearances in 1923, won the award for best trained player and played full back in Norwood's grand final win against North Adelaide. The following season he represented South Australia against Victoria.
He was again at full back when the Redlegs defeated West Torrens by one point in the 1925 Grand Final. He played a fine game and was high in Norwood's best players. During the year he represented the State against Broken Hill. The following season he was named "most consistent" and again played state football against Victoria and Western Australia. At the end of the season, Ackland was contemplating retirement due to increased business commitments.
Luckily for Norwood he chose to continue his League career although, on occasions, his fruit and green-grocery business prevented him from travelling interstate to play. He continued to set a great example on the training track and took practice very seriously throughout his career.
He played 19 games in 1928 and was one of the best players in the losing grand final against Port Adelaide. Ackland and Norwood had their revenge the following season however, as the Redlegs defeated Port Adelaide by 41 points to take out the 1929 premiership. Meanwhile, Ackland continued to be an automatic selection for South Australia.
An injury riddled season saw Ackland only play seven games in 1930. He added another five senior appearances to his tally, before retiring in June 1931.
In 1932, Ackland coached Rostrevor College's First 18, and was coach at Prince Alfred College in 1934 and 1935. With the tragic death of Norwood's captain-coach Jack Sexton during the 1935 season, Ackland was one of four coaches to lead the club during that year. Appointed coach in 1936 and 1937, he guided Norwood to 5th and 3rd spot respectively.
Ackland went on to serve the Norwood Football Club for many more years in a variety of roles. He was a committee member from 1932 to 1935, and then again from 1941 to 1945. He was chairman of selectors, and was heavily involved in junior and school football in the Norwood zone from 1945 to 1963.
In 2001 Sydney Ackland was named at full back in the Norwood Team of the Century.
R Cialini Sept 2015