Ron Henke was not yet discharged from World War II service when he took the field for Norwood against Port Adelaide on 12 May 1945. His league career was over before the war formally ended on 2 September but he remained a Redleg supporter for the rest of his life.
Born in the Eden Valley on 2 March 1922 to Paul Henke and his wife Olga, née Schultz, Ron enlisted in the Australian Army at Mount Pleasant on 24 August 1942 and served as a driver until 26 May 1945.
He was given a tough initiation to league football in a grim match at Kensington Oval. He kicked a goal as a follower resting in the forward pocket, but Port gradually ground out a 10.12 to 7.5 win. Ron was injured against West Adelaide the following week and did not return to the field after half-time. Norwood was reduced to 17 fit players but hung on for a seven-point win after a hobbling Pat Connolly nudged a late goal.
Ron missed the next match but kicked a first quarter goal and was noted for good ruckwork in the three-point win over Sturt, 14.13 to 13.16, at Kensington Oval on 2 June. Norwood upset North Adelaide by seven points at Prospect Oval a week later but then crashed to a six-goal defeat by the bottom team, South Adelaide, at home. That was Ron’s last game. Norwood, in its first season under captain-coach Jack Oatey, finished third after losing the preliminary final by four points to the ultimate premier, West Torrens.
Ron spent his adult life in Adelaide. He worked as an owner truck driver for Jayworth Tiles and then Monier Tiles. He attended all Norwood matches. His other interests were fishing, hunting, tennis and ballroom dancing.
Ron Henke had a daughter with his first wife, Florence, and in 1957 married Dorothy McKenzie, the widowed mother of two adult daughters and a son. Ron died on 30 July 1985
P Robins, D Cox August 2020
* For the picture we thank Penny McKenzie, wife of Ron Henke’s stepson, Lindsay McKenzie