For a decade Harry Johns was a stalwart of the Norwood defence. He stoically held down the full back position. In his era however, he was referred to as the Norwood goalkeeper. He was also the state goalkeeper.
An Advertiser journalist reflecting on Harry’s career in 1924 wrote, “He saved the situation for his side in many a thrilling encounter in the goal mouth.”
A.E.Waldron, at Norwood’s Annual General Meeting in 1923, said this of Harry Johns. “He played the game according to the best traditions and played for the game’s sake without fee or reward.”
Harry Johns’ last and most eventful game was the 1922 Grand Final against West Adelaide. Norwood won its first premiership for 15 years. It should have been a cause for great celebration for Harry. Not only was he at last a premiership player but the Grand Final was his 100th game.
For Harry Johns it was bitter-sweet. It was reported that during the game he, “fell awkwardly.” The nature of the injury is unclear but what is known is that he endured, “a serious operation,” that brought an end to his football career and for a lengthy period left him somewhat incapacitated.
The Norwood Football Club responded to his plight and launched a Harry Johns Fund. During the next two years a number of fundraising functions were held. These included, a grand ball at the Palais Ballroom, a benefit concert at the Norwood Town Hall and on May 5th 1923, Norwood’s home game was declared a benefit game for Harry and all supporters were asked to donate.
Despite this tragic setback, Harry Johns’ love and support for his beloved Norwood never wavered. Not long after his injury he returned to the club and took on the position of gatekeeper, a position he held for over 25 years.
Harry Johns, 100 gamer, premiership player and devoted servant was duly and deservedly awarded Norwood Life Membership.
B Ridge Jan 2013