Tom Blinman was a premiership player in the first six years of the SA Football Association – with South Adelaide in 1877 and then in the next five years with Norwood.
“A reliable half-back with a good turn of speed, excellent stamina and good kick who played 12 games in 1878.” That is how he is described in 1878: Norwood’s first year, by B. Whimpress, research by M. Coligan. (Norwood Football Club History Group, 2013)
After two seasons with South, Tom was the No 4 player on Norwood’s 1878 list after captain Joe Osborn, vice-captain Alf McMichael and goalkeeper Joe Bennett. It is probable that Tom played against his old team in Norwood’s first match, at Adelaide Oval on 28 May 1878. Norwood beat South one goal to nil, the goal coming from George Giffen’s right boot after he had discarded his left boot because of soreness.
Late in the season, Tom was chosen with Norwood teammates Harry Burnett, Lou Suhard and Julian Woods in a SAFA side which defeated Combined Country five goals to one at Adelaide Oval. On the following holiday Monday, 2 September, several Norwood men showed their athletic prowess at the Adelaide Working Men’s Eight Hours’ Demonstration Day at the Exhibition Ground, where Tom was entered in the 440 yards flat race and four hurdles events.
Tom was joined in the last match of the season by a younger brother, Harry. Before some 3,000 onlookers, perhaps the biggest crowd of the year, Norwood and the Victorian Tigers seemed headed for a goalless draw as they battled it out at the foot of Montefiore Hill. Right at the death, new recruit Joe Traynor took a place kick from a very acute angle under an overhanging tree. The ball swung in late for a miraculous goal. The crowd erupted. Norwood had won, 1.7 to 0.2 (behinds not counting).
Norwood, with eight wins and four draws, was the only undefeated team and topped the premiership table, two wins clear of Port Adelaide. Tom and Harry shared another premiership in 1879 before the younger man moved on to grand deeds in the cricketing world. Tom enjoyed three more flags, retiring after the 1882 season. He was awarded NFC Life Membership.
Born in Adelaide on 3 July 1854, Tom was the second child of William Blinman and his wife Mary, nèe Pearce. Tom’s siblings were Martha, Harry, Agnes, William and Mary. Tom died in in Adelaide on 13 August 1911.
P Robins, D Cox July 2021