Jim Gallagher was a foundation member of one of Norwood's most illustrious football dynasties and also earned plaudits at East Fremantle. One of his teammates, looking back some six decades, remembered Jim as a fine high mark and a great drop kick.
"In those days, the drop kick was the feature of the game and it was common to see kicks of 55 and 60 yards," wrote 'Old Timer' in The Advertiser in 1952. "The punt was very seldom used. As a matter of fact it was considered 'sissy'. Of course, the game was slower in those days, because a man on taking a mark usually walked leisurely back."
Then in his 90th year, 'Old Timer' was stirred by the exploits of 'Sam' Gallagher, Jim's nephew. "Over the years, I have seen some great players and, with Tom Leahy, whom I have played against, I have seen few players more spectacular than Kevin ('Sam') Gallagher," he wrote.
In 1898, Norwood was always experimenting forward because 'Bos' Daly missed a number of games and was limited to 12 goals for the season. Jim Gallagher and Bill Eimer struggled in his absence, though Gallagher did kick nine goals as Norwood finished in second place behind South Adelaide.
Norwood had to rebuild in 1899 when the introduction of electorate football saw the exodus of the Daly brothers, Jack Holbrook, Alf Grayson, Alby Green, Alexander Thomson, Billy Elsdon and Peter Fitzgerald. Norwood found Horace Cowan sterling and Jim Gallagher a great help, but when Phil Newland played he made a wonderful difference, The South Australian Register said. Gallagher was joined in the Norwood team at times by his brother Michael, who had played three seasons with South Adelaide. Norwood lost to South, 5.12 to 2.2, in the premiership decider.
Jim moved to Western Australia and kicked five goals in his 12 games with East Fremantle in 1902. At the club's annual general meeting In March 1903, the East Fremantle vice-captain, John Clarke, presented him with a gold medal for his unselfish play during the past season.
Jim asked for a clearance to Northam, 97 kilometres north-east of Perth. We do not know why he moved, but he did not play senior football again. In February 1911, a James Gallagher appeared in the Northam Police Court on a charge of attempted suicide after he twice walked in front of a moving locomotive. He said there was insanity in the family and he must have been insane. The sentencing judge lectured him on the evils of alcohol and sent him to gaol for one day.
Jim was one of three sons and three daughters of Norah and Jim senior, who retired in 1908 after 30 years' continuous service as a tram driver on the Marryatville and Kensington lines.
Jim, a bachelor, spent his latter years with his two unmarried sisters at Henry Street, Norwood, in a house shared with their brother Martin and his wife Mary - parents of seven children, including Kevin ('Sam'), Molly, wife of Norwood player Murray Mooney, and Maureen, wife of Norwood seconds player Bill Holland. 'Sam' and his wife Shirley in turn raised Norwood captain Philip, players John and Martin, Damian, father of another Norwood captain, James, and Anne, mother of AFL, Central District and Norwood player Martin McKinnon. Add to them Jim's brother, Michael. That's a dynasty.
P Robins Dec 2017
* Our thanks to Maureen Gathercole of the East Fremantle FC for the Jim Gallagher picture and other information.