Maurice Forrest played only a handful of league games for Norwood in 1939 but later received notoriety for himself and some unwanted attention for the Norwood Football Club in a bizarre event that made nationwide headlines.
Forrest was born on 31 May 1918 in Stansbury and was recruited from the Stansbury Football Club where he had been a member of the 1938 premiership team in the Southern Yorke Peninsula Association. Sturt were also interested in the young centreman and although he trained briefly with the double blues it was Norwood who signed him before the pre-season trial games.
Forrest was selected at centre in the early league games but by mid season could not hold his place and was dropped to the association or B grade team. He was a member of the B team which defeated North Adelaide by 10 points in the grand final at Thebarton Oval giving the team its third successive association premiership. Forrest contributed 2 goals 3 behinds to the final score.
At the annual general meeting Forrest was recognised with a “services rendered award” suggesting that he was a valued club man.
Forrest was back at Norwood for pre-season training in 1940 and was named in an internal trial game in April. He played for the association side throughout the season until the final minor round game in which Norwood B defeated Sturt by one point at the Kensington Oval but just failed to make the final four.
Come November 1940, Forrest and the club were suddenly headline news around Australia when Forrest was arrested and charged “with demanding money with menaces” . It was alleged that he had threatened in a letter to club president Ted Heidenreich that Heidenreich's flour mill at Salisbury would be destroyed unless he paid 100 pounds to a society of loyal nazis. Forrest, who was employed at Heidenreich’s mill as a packer, later admitted writing the letter to impress his girlfriend.
The letter, reading like a plot for a John Buchan novel, was signed ‘The Master Ring’ and stated that “as representative of Nazi Germany and Herr von Hitler, we are asking you, Mr Heidenreich , to join our society which is being formed now among German loyalists. The costs are very small in consideration of what you get in return”. The letter went on to say that over 200 submarines were on their way to Australia which would be in Germany’s possession by January 1 and if Mr Heidenreich did not contribute 100 pounds, his flour mill would be destroyed.
The committal hearing and subsequent trial were widely reported under headlines such as “Story of Nazi Society in Australia - young man for trial” and included Forrest’s and Heidenreich’s connections with the Norwood Football Club.
Sanity prevailed in the Criminal Court on 2 December 1940 when it was revealed that Forrest had sent a letter of apology to Mr Heidenreich who magnanimously gave “evidence of character” for the accused and said his “attitude was one of forgiveness”. Forrest was released on a bond of 10 pounds to be of good behaviour for 12 months and in summary Mr Justice Parsons said ” I suppose nobody realises as much as you do what a young fool you have been. It was a silly letter sent to a patriotic citizen”
Needless to say Forrest did not return to Norwood and in a final ironic twist to this strange story, Army records show that he had enrolled in the Citizen Military Services in October 1940 and in 1944 enlisted in the Australian Army in Brisbane where he served as a sapper in the Army Transport Company until he was discharged in 1946.
“Blackmailing charge : story of Nazi Society in Australia: young man for trial” Sydney Morning Herald 20 Nov 1940 p 8
“Judge binds over footballer for sending ‘silly letter’ “The News (Adelaide) 2 Dec 1940 p 5
W Heading Nov 2018