Alf Finlay was a dashing wingman for Norwood and an entertaining centreman for two WA clubs, West Perth and The Rovers.
Born on Yorke Peninsula on 26 March 1870, he showed great promise with Norwood in his first season, 1892, and according to one scribe "shone more brightly than the rest" in a losing encounter with the formidable South Adelaide side.
He was the leading wingman in the SA Football Association in 1893. 'Onlooker' commented in The Express and Telegraph: "Finlay has been the most consistent wing man of the season, and is at all times reliable. He is quick and tricky, and has always been able to hold his own with his opponents."
Finlay and newcomer Charlie Atkins were on opposite wings for much of the 1894 season. Finlay was in the best players as Norwood lost to the visiting Essendon team in July and to South Adelaide in August. Then, just as Norwood was mounting a serious premiership challenge, he moved to WA, where he played out the season at centre for West Perth and was much admired by supporters. While Atkins waited another season before moving to WA with the 1894 premiership under his belt and 1897 premiership with West Perth to come, Finlay would finish empty-handed.
In 1895, according to a typical report, "Finlay delighted everyone by his clever dodging play in the centre." At the St Patrick's Day sports that year he won the 130-yard hurdles race from the five-yard mark. In 1896 he switched from West Perth to The Rovers. His good form earned him selection in the combined Perth team which defeated a combined Fremantle team, 4.13 to 3.6.
In 1897 he returned to Norwood, which was embarking on a troubled season. After an embarrassing loss to South in June, The Evening Journal said: " Finlay was late coming out, and the spectators at the finish wondered why he had come out." He was prominent against Port Adelaide in July but fell seriously ill in August. His football career was over.
Alf Finlay died at Northfield on 10 October 1958.
P Robins August 2017