George Giffen was born in Norwood on March 27, 1859. He played for South Adelaide in 1876* and Woodville in 1877, when he enjoyed an excellent season as a follower. Despite being only 18 years old he was already noted for his fine marking and strong kicking.
In 1878 Giffen joined Norwood along with many of his ex-Woodville team mates - Alfred Formby, Lou Kauffman, Tom Letchford, Joe Osborn, Tom Reeves, Arthur and Fred Terrell, Charles Warren and A.S. Young.
Giffen was outstanding for Norwood in its inaugural season. His kicking prowess was even mentioned in the old Norwood club song. He scored Norwood's first ever goal in the South Australian Football Association. He would tell the story of playing against South Adelaide when, having taken off his troublesome boot to see if he could repair it, the ball came his way. Ignoring his sore foot, he burst through the centre, went for a run and kicked a drop-kick goal. He was indeed regarded as one of the best kicks in the colony. Tireless and skilful, Giffen had no peer in Norwood's first season. He continued to be an important member of Norwood's early teams, although he was not always available. For example, he missed the 1882 and the 1884 seasons whilst touring overseas with the Australian cricket team.
Renowned for his stamina and dashing runs, the popular Giffen was one of the first picked in the early state teams and represented South Australia on four occasions between 1879 and 1880.
Despite being a wonderful footballer, George Giffen is better remembered as an outstanding cricketer. He started his cricket career with the Norwood Cricket Club and later played for Adelaide and West Adelaide. He eventually became one of the greatest all-rounders in Australian cricket history. Giffen was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in 2008.
He had a grandstand at the Adelaide Oval named after him in the 1880's, but it was demolished as part of the Adelaide Oval redevelopment. In 2014, a bronze statue of the cricket great was unveiled at the same ground.
His brother Walter, also played senior football for South Adelaide in 1876 and Norwood in 1879 and test cricket for Australia.
George Giffen died in Parkside on November 29, 1927, aged 68 after a long illness.
R Cialini July 2015
* We thank Peter Cochinos for his research into Giffen's debut with South Adelaide in 1876