Lionel Bridgland was thrown in at the deep end. His three games with Norwood completed the frenetic finals series of 1933 and he acquitted himself well each time.
After drawing with North Adelaide in the first semi-final, Norwood called up Lionel, the SA amateur league captain, to take over a half-back flank in the replay. His league debut was challenging. Norwood, the favourite, was outplayed for most of the game and still trailed by 14 points halfway through the last quarter before snatching a one-point lead. North failed to score with a desperate late kick. Norwood had won 11.15 to 11.14 - a 21.28 to 21.27 advantage after two pulsating semi-finals.
Norwood seemed in control against an inaccurate Sturt in the next match but in the end just hung on for a five-point victory, 10.10 to 8.17. Lionel's league fairytale ended with a thump in the grand final, with West Torrens taking its first premiership since 1924 with a 13.10 to 9.11 win before 33,444 spectators at Adelaide Oval. Despite honourable mentions in all three finals games, Lionel retired from league football.
An excellent mark and a good kick with St Peter's Old Collegians, speedy Lionel altogether played six years with the State Amateurs, two years as captain. He also played five years of district cricket as a wicketkeeper with Prospect, Colts and East Torrens.
One of seven high-achieving children of master tailor Frederick Bridgland and his wife Muriel (McGilchrist), Lionel was born at Goodwood on 28 November 1910 and educated at Pulteney Grammar School, St Peter's College and the University of Adelaide. Qualified in commerce and accountancy, he worked for Elder Smith & Co Ltd from 1928 to 1938 and then transferred to Imperial Chemical Industries in Melbourne where he rose through the ranks to become Chairman of the Board.
He retired in 1970 to take up a number of company directorships, as well as a pastoral interest and Hereford cattle breeding. He married Joy Cranswick in 1940 and they had four sons, Christopher, Maurice, Gerald and Andrew. Lionel was 84 when he died on 11 April 1985.
Lionel's eldest brother Reg served as a major with the 8th Division in World War II and as engineer in charge of maintenance at Changi POW Camp. He was made an MBE and honorary colonel and later appointed Chief Engineer SA Railways - Lines Division. Youngest brother Milton, like Lionel, became Chirman of the Board of ICI Australia. Other brothers were Maurice, killed in an RAAF accident in the Gulf of Aden in 1942, and Geoffrey, who represented Australia on the United Nations War Crimes Commission and died of poliomyelitis while Secretary to the High Commissioner in Pakistan in 1950. Sisters Dorothy (Turnbull) and Enid (Davis) were active in social work.
* Picture kindly supplied by John Bridgland, nephew of Lionel and son of Reg
P Robins Jan 2019