William James Trafford COWAN


Guernsey Number:
Career: 1898
NFC Games: 1
NFC Goals:
Debut: 16 July 1898
Finale: 16 July 1898


Bill Cowan, the second of five brothers to play for Norwood, witnessed an amazing turn of events in his one senior match.

Norwood started a firm favourite against North Adelaide at Jubilee Oval on 16 July 1898 but found itself trailing by 14 points late in the third quarter. It was then noticed that North had 21 players on the field - one above the limit.  There was a count and North's score of 5.6 was annulled.  Norwood added 2.5 in the last quarter, defeating a deflated North 5.9 to 2.2.

Born at Two Wells on 21 January 1877 to James Cowan and his wife Sarah (née Warren), Bill was the second of six brothers and there was one sister.  He was educated at Prince Alfred College and named in the best players in a match against the old scholars at Adelaide Oval on 17 June 1895.  He played for the Railway Services team in matches at Mount Gambier in June 1896.

In 1898 he was named on the Norwood list of 39 players and joined brothers Horace and Frank in the match against North.  Younger brothers Leslie and Darcy also played for Norwood.

Bill married Ida Turner at Moralana Station, near Hawker, in 1899.  Ida died later that year after the birth of their son, William, who would perish in 1943 as a prisoner-of-war in Thailand.

Bill served as a Trooper with the 4th Imperial Bushmen in the Boer War of 1899-1902 and on his return became a pastoralist at Naracoorte. He married Ethel Hantke at Clare in 1909.  She was a noted singer who trained at the Elder Conservatorium and became a co-professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London.  One of their five sons, Ronald, SA's Rhodes Scholar in 1936, served as an army officer in World War II and then became a leading educationist as warden of Trinity College at the University of Melbourne and a member of the interim and first councils of Monash University.

Bill Cowan was 79 when he died at North Adelaide on 19 March 1956

M Coligan March 2014, P Robins April 2019

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