Dick Bailey was some four months short of his 18th birthday when he embarked on a senior sporting career that would embrace football with Norwood and Sturt as well as cricket for South Australia.
We believe he was the Bailey (sometimes misspelled Bayly or Bayley) who debuted in the back pocket for Norwood when it went down 9.8 to 7.1 to the champion South Adelaide team at Kensington Oval on 30 July 1892. Norwood beat Port Adelaide 5.5 to 2.6 at Adelaide Oval a week later, but young Dick had an unhappy day on the wing where, according to The Advertiser, he was “put entirely in the shade” by the talented ‘Tommy’ Tomlin.
Dick appeared next in the opening game of the 1893 season when Norwood thrashed the fading Adelaide team 12.27 to 1.3 at Kensington Oval. He then spent the next eight years with
junior teams, where he and his older brother Charles were almost as much noted for their fine singing at club socials as for their feats on the field.
With the introduction of electorate football in 1897, players registered with a senior club had to be cleared if they wished to represent another senior club. The South Australian Register of 26 May 1888 reported that P. Barcla and B. T. R. Bailey “were passed” at the SA Football Association meeting the night before.
Percy Barcla, also a former Norwood player, joined West Adelaide in 1899. Then, on 15 June 1901, The Critic reported that “Dick Bailey, who played centre for Sturt on Saturday, is the interstate cricketer. For some time he has been captaining College Town. He is a great acquisition for the two blues.” Dick went on to play 13 games and kick three goals for the new club between 1901 and 1903. He was later an umpire.
Cricket, however, was his major love. Dubbed ‘Ranji’ because of his graceful batting style, he played eight first-class matches for South Australia between 1896 and 1902, as well as countless junior and senior club games, often with his brothers Charles and Ern. He played A grade cricket with Norwood, West Adelaide, Sturt and Adelaide. He coached Prospect and West Torrens. Playing for Norwood in 1897-98, he hit 27 fours while scoring 147 in 80 minutes. As a captain later in his career he won 27 tosses out of 28.
Dick was born in Adelaide on 5 December 1874. His parents, James and Martha (née Errington), had four sons and six daughters. Educated at Sturt and Grote street schools, Dick became a tinsmith in Hutt Street, Adelaide. He married a dressmaker, Mary Edith, in Victoria in 1913 and they had at least one child, Hazel Gwendolyn. They lived for a time in Wattle Street, Fullarton. Dick died in Payneham on 13 October 1964 and is buried at West Terrace Cemetery.
P. Robins, D. Cox, G. Adams, W. Heading April 2023