‘Joker’ Hall was a talented follower/forward with Norwood and South Adelaide but retired after premierships narrowly eluded him at each club in successive seasons. He bore the nickname of Alexander ‘Joker’ Hall, the Essendon man who led South Adelaide to premiership success in 1885 and later became a pioneering coach with Essendon, St Kilda, Melbourne, Richmond and Hawthorn.
Norwood’s ‘Joker’ Hall emerged from obscurity with four games in the latter part of the 1882 season. On debut he kicked four goals, as did Ossie Bertram, in Norwood’s 15.18 to 0.6 humbling of Adelaide despite playing a man short and the handicap of long grass at Kensington Oval. At the same venue two weeks later, after Norwood inflicted the only defeat for the season on top team South Adelaide, winning 8.7 to 5.9, the Express and Telegraph said of ‘Joker’: “His marking and general all-round play was of such a high quality as to warrant the assumption that next season he will be one of the leading men in the red-and-blue’s team.”
That proved to be an accurate prediction. ‘Joker’ was a regular selection in 1893 and consistently performed well. Records are incomplete, but he certainly played 10 association games that season and quite likely as many as 18. He also was named in the best players when Norwood went down to Victoria, 6.9 to 2.10, at Adelaide Oval on Monday 12 July. Norwood finished the season in second spot, only one win behind South Adelaide.
‘Joker’ then switched to South Adelaide, where he played 16 games and kicked seven goals in 1894. He was chosen in the South Australian squad for the match against Victoria in Melbourne. With Norwood refusing to take part because the train trip was not first-class, the team consisted almost entirely of Port Adelaide and South Adelaide players, with just one from North Adelaide. ‘Joker’ was perhaps lucky not to make the final cut, as the Vics bolted home 13.15 to 0.6 in greasy conditions at the MCG on 21 July. At the same venue two days later, however, he kicked a goal as the visitors downed North Melbourne 4.9 to 3.5.
Norwood and South Adelaide played off for the 1894 premiership at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday 10 October. Norwood won a tough encounter in the wet, 4.7 to 3.5. Selected at full forward, ‘Joker’ Hall was named in the best players but did not kick a goal. His premiership ambitions stymied, he announced his retirement from football to concentrate on his business.
P. Robins, G. Adams, D. Cox April 2023
*For the picture we thank South Adelaide football historian Peter Cochinos.