A powerfully built centreman from Terowie, Alf Clift sandwiched a Victorian adventure between premierships at Norwood and South Adelaide.
Alf came to Norwood in 1890 and, playing at centre in place of Jack Woods, was high in the best players in the premiership-deciding match won by Port Adelaide in September that year. Norwood turned the tables the following year as Alf became an integral part of the team and celebrated his first premiership.
Earlier in 1891, when Norwood embarked on the first trip by any South Australian team to Tasmania, Alf's team-mates dubbed him 'Umslopogas' - the name of a very big horse that was running in Adelaide at the time. This was later shortened to 'Sloppy' and the name stuck.
An important event that season was the visit of the Fitzroy team, which beat Norwood 4.8 to 3.4. Alf must have impressed the visitors, but it came as a shock to Norwood when he and redoubtable follower Jack McGaffin controversially moved to Fitzroy the following year. Both men were granted clearances after they made statutory declarations that they had not received financial inducements.
Most of the Norwood backbone disappeared with the departure of this pair, along with White and Richards, and with Jackson taking part in only two or three matches.
Alf displayed fine dash and strength in his two years in Melbourne. On his return he joined South Adelaide where he was reunited with McGaffin. A South player from 1894 to the start of 1898, Alf enjoyed premiership success in 1885 and 1886. He was a popular player who never lost his temper or used his splendid physique unfairly. He had few rivals in his early years, though a Quiz and Lantern columnist commented in 1896 that Norwood's "Percy Stuart several times made an exhibition of Clift in the centre".
Alf worked for many years with the gardening section of the Architect-in-Chief's Department and appeared to be in good health a week before he died in hospital on 20 June 1925, aged 54. He was survived by his widow, five sons and two daughters.
He was buried at West Terrace Cemetery. Among those who paid their last respects were McGaffin, Dick Correll, Neil Sullivan, W. Cope (Norwood FC) and A. A. Edwards MP.
P Robins May 2017