One of the best high marks and long kicks of his day, Charles ‘Hockey’ Horsell never quite had the luck to take part in any of the premierships that were up for grabs at that time.
With Charlie Woods unavailable, ‘Hockey’ made his league debut before a good crowd in the 1897 Labor Day holiday match against Port Adelaide. Norwood put up one of its best performances of the season against a team that had already clinched the premiership and, when ‘Hockey’ dribbled a goal in the last quarter, scores were level. Norwood attacked for 15 minutes without further score, then Port, aided by two free kicks, took the lead by one point. ‘Bos’ Daly broke clear but his shot was touched on the line and the match ended in a draw, 2.6 apiece.
‘Hockey’ came close to a premiership in 1899, even though a mysterious newcomer called “Snowden” took his place in the Norwood team for three matches near the end of the season. One might speculate that “Snowden” was in fact Horsell , playing under a pseudonym for reasons unknown. “Snowden” kicked the sealing goal as Norwood pushed Port Adelaide to third spot with 5.5. to 3.7 win and then contributed three goals to the 13.12 to 4.5 victory that eliminated North Adelaide. Even more baffling, Snowden was named in the Norwood team that defeated West Torrens 4.15 to 2.7 and Horsell was not - yet Horsell was credited with a goal. Horsell was back – and “Snowden” heard of no more – when Norwood upset South Adelaide 7.11 to 6.2 in the Labor Day holiday final on 1 September. Alas for Norwood, and for ‘Hockey’, South as top team was given another chance under new rules introduced that season and won the replay 5.12 to 2.2 to take the flag.
‘Hockey’ was active in 1900 but played no senior games in Norwood’s 1901 premiership year. He gave West Torrens good service in 1902 and 1903 before returning to Norwood for the opening of the 1904 season. He played just the one game and was not there for Norwood’s premiership that year either.
Former umpire Frank Coffey in 1929 described ‘Hockey’ Horsell as a fine athlete and a popular sport whose mission was always the ball. “He gave up the hairdressing business and blossomed into a boniface some years ago, when he took the Stanley Bridge Hotel,” Coffey wrote in the Sport paper. “At present he is the manager of the Inglewood Hotel in the mountains for his esteemed wife, who is noted for the excellence of her cooking and table, and is assisted by her two charming daughters.”
Charles Horsell was born on 16 August 1878 – Norwood’s first year – and died on 1 April 1962.
P. Robins December 2019