Wartime competition 1942-1944
Norwood-North games: 38
Norwood-North goals: 181
Bill Isaac played a big role in Norwood-North Adelaide’s two premierships in the World War II Patriotic Competition, in which he was the most productive forward with 73 goals in 1943 and 76 in 1944. He was the key player in the 1943 grand final, bagging seven goals in the 12.10 to 8.12 defeat of Port Adelaide-West Torrens before an Adelaide Oval crowd of 42,000. When the same teams met in a spine-tingling finale a year later, he kicked three goals as Norwood-North hung on for a six point victory, 9.7 to 7.13.
Before the war, Bill was the top goalkicker for three different clubs – West Torrens (48 goals in nine games in 1936), West Adelaide (57 goals in 1938) and South Adelaide (63 goals in 1939 and 90 in 1940). Although only 179cm tall, he could leap high and kick straight. In a career which began with Torrens in 1936 and ended with South in 1945, he kicked 497 goals in 117 matches at an average of 4.25.
In 1937 he was with Torrens only briefly and while seeking a transfer to West kicked 95 goals for the YMCA in half an amateur league season. In 1939 he thought of moving to Claremont in WA but joined South instead. He kicked nine goals when South beat Norwood 19.15 to 14.14 in a 1940 semi-final. He trained preseason with Norwood in in 1945 but, denied a clearance, ended his senior career with South that year.
Bill developed his sporting skills at Christian Brothers’ and Rostrevor colleges. He made his A grade cricket debut with West Torrens at 17 but early on switched to Adelaide, where he sits in the Hall Of Fame. He made front page news when he had the Australian captain, Don Bradman, caught behind for two runs off his second ball at Kensington Oval on 2 October 1937. A hard-hitting allrounder, Bill captained Adelaide between 1951 and 1953. He capped his career in 1954 with an unbeaten 201, dominating a 144-run last-wicket partnership for victory over Port Adelaide.
In the only instance in SACA grade cricket when a son has played against his father in A grade, Bill was 43 and his son Brian was 17 when their respective teams, Adelaide and West Torrens, met at Adelaide Oval in the last match of the 1959-60 season. Brian played football for Torrens between 1961 and 1966.
An entertaining social pianist, Bill was dubbed ‘Paderewski’ by his teammates.
Bill was born to Charles (Ned) Isaac and his wife Mary (Molly), née Shannon, in Adelaide on 19 December 1916. He served as a private in the Australian Army between 8 August 1940 and 24 January 1944. A storeman, he married Mary Keville and they lived at Torrensville. Their twin daughters, Colleen and Noeline, were born in the week before the 1944 grand final. Bill Isaac died on 16 July 1983.
* For the picture we thank Peter Cochinos, South Adelaide football historian
P Robins, D Brien, D Cox May 2021