Peter Fitzpatrick was Norwood's leading ruckman for much of the 1890s, played an important role in the club's 1894 premiership triumph and represented South Australia against Victoria.
He came from Ireland with his parents, Peter and Margaret, who established a home in Waymouth Street, Adelaide. He became an authentic West Ender and acquired the nickname 'Grubby'.
Fitzpatrick was selected in the Norwood senior team midway through the 1893 season. He played well against North Adelaide in July and was named third-best after Ossie Bertram and Jimmy Thomson as Norwood defeated Port Adelaide in August.
In 1894, Norwood defeated Port Adelaide in a gruelling match for the right to meet South Adelaide in the premiership decider. A long shot at the start of the season, Norwood played an exciting draw with South and then snatched the flag with a nail-biting win in the replay. Fitzpatrick was named in the best players in all three matches. 'Goalpost' in The South Australian Register declared that he had "developed into a ruckman of excellent attainment".
His responsibilities grew in 1895 with the exodus to the Golden West of a host of players - 'Tack' Metherell, Ted Hantke, Jim Mullaney, Jim Polglase, Jack Cullen, Charlie Atkins, Tom Coombe and Os Bertram. Fitzpatrick held pride of place in the ruckwork, ably supported by Jack Holbrook, Dick Correll and Alec Thomson.
In 1897, The Evening Journal commented: "In the heavy work Fitzpatrick never tired. He was as eager and energetic at the finish as at the first. The reds have no better ruck man than he is, and now that he is careful where he drives the ball he makes himself very effective." In addition to his ruckwork, he kicked five goals in 1898.
With the advent of electorate football he was lost to Norwood and finished his career with West Adelaide, where he played 10 games in 1899 and 1900. In 1900 he was selected as a forward in the SA team which played Victoria in Melbourne. He kicked a goal as Victoria won 8.10 to 3.6 on a saturated MCG.
Fitzpatrick had a forgettable cricket debut with West Adelaide in 1898 after topping the bowling in the seconds the year before. His captain, the veteran George Giffen, had pegged away for over after over without looking like breaking a long partnership. At stumps, Giffen was asked: "Why didn't you give Fitz a bowl, George?" He replied: "Fitz, Fitz, who's Fitz? I never knew there was such a man in the team." Fitz famously caught and bowled Clem Hill for a first ball duck in 1899.
'Grubby' Fitzpatrick, agent, was heavily fined in 1915 and 1916 for illegal betting at Victoria Park racecourse. On 9 June 1916 he died suddenly at home. He was only 40.
His older brother Tom, an unemployed grocer, shot himself in the head in 1906 and died in hospital. A doctor listed meningitis as the cause of death but the coroner's jury came down with a finding of death by revolver shot while in an unsound state of mind caused by drinking cheap colonial wine.
P Robins July 2017