Jack Coward was the fastest footballer in the colony when he abandoned South Park and joined the new Norwood club in 1878.
Vehemently denying poaching allegations, the Norwood secretary, Arthur Diamond, insisted that Coward and several other recruits, notably the South Adelaide goalkicker Billy Dedman, had changed clubs of their own accord. Jack was " an attacking defender on the right wing ... an admirable mark and a grand place kick" *
When Norwood beat Adelaide by one goal to nil at Adelaide Oval on 8 June, The South Australian Register commented: “Coward showed himself to be no mean traveller or dodger.”
After 12 games for the Norwood first team in 1878, he spent much of the following season as a leading player in the seconds. Then, with two premierships under his belt, he switched to Kensington in 1880, playing there and with Norwood II, as well as umpiring, before returning to South Park in 1883.
One of the fastest sprinters in Australia, he won the 100 yards in 9.35 sec at the opening of Kensington Oval on 10 July 1875.
Jack was born at Dry Creek on 26 October 1856 to George Coward and his wife Jane, née Haldane, parents of eight boys and four girls. Jack married Louisa Goetjens in 1886 and they had children Percy, Ivy and Myrtle before Louisa’s tragic death at the age of 26. Jack then married Jane Judith Bridgland at Walkerville in 1895 and they had a son, John, and a daughter, Alice.
Employed for 44 years by Messrs S. Schlank & Company, jewellers, Jack was in his 56th year when he died suddenly at his Norwood residence on 9 June 1911.
* Whimpress, B 1878; Norwood’s first year, by B Whimpress, research by M Coligan. Norwood, Norwood Football Club History Group, 2013 p 84
P Robins, D Cox Nov 2021