A recurring knee injury shortened David Houston's Norwood football adventure before he followed his Methodist minister father into a lifetime of service with the church.
David was born at Clare on 4 September 1932, one of six sons and a daughter of the Reverend Arthur Houston and his wife Harleen (née Reid).
Fresh from a premiership with Mannum in the River Murray League, David came to Adelaide in 1951 to train as a postal clerk and telegraphist. He might easily have joined his brother Ian at South Adelaide but was living just the wrong side of the tracks and turned out with Norwood instead. Norwood committeeman Harold Winton would pick him up in the city at 4.45pm every Tuesday and Thursday to take him to training. Under the tutelage of captain-coach Jack Oatey and centreman Lionel Blackmore, David made the senior squad and played at half-back in his one league game. Named 20th man, he was given a run after half-time as a masterly Oatey led Norwood to a 10-goal victory over West Torrens.
In November, David was posted to Orroroo where, in 1952, he enjoyed another premiership, this time in the Flinders League, but stressed his left ACL near the end of the season. Transferred to the post office at Jamestown early in 1953, he played for the local team with the knee heavily strapped.
David entered Wesley College at Wayville in March 1954 to train for the Methodist ministry.
Back with Norwood, he was advised to exercise and train but not to play. His brother Ian was coaching the seconds and David went to watch their first game. When only 17 men turned up, Ian asked David if he could fill in. He did, and not only survived but thrived for the first five weeks - until, playing at centre half-back, he was tackled by North Adelaide young gun Don Lindner and the knee collapsed completely.
Norwood physiotherapist Geoff Maitland worked on the knee twice a week for three months and it repaired well, but during the university long vacation David injured his back wheat lumping at Kybunga and that ruled him out for the next two seasons. He did not fully recover until he sold his old, rigid motor cycle. He left Norwood with a seconds legacy of 23 games and one goal.
David celebrated his return to football in 1958 with a third country premiership, as playing coach of Kalangadoo in the Mid South-East League. He moved to Tumby Bay in 1962 and took over as playing coach when Roger Dunn returned to Sturt, reaching two preliminary finals in the Port Lincoln League before retiring in 1966 at the age of 34.
David continued his ministry at Port Augusta, Blackwood and Tusmore Park. He completed a Master of Education degree at the University of South Australia in 1999 and maintained a keen interest in the Council of Christians and Jews (SA). David was serving at Blackwood when the Uniting Church emerged in 1977. Four decades later the Reverend David Houston, husband of Pamela and father of Peter, Elizabeth and Stephen, co-wrote 'By Word and By Deed', a history on the ministry of lay members within the Uniting Church of SA
P Robins Feb 2019
*Picture supplied by David Houston and his grandson Sam