Otty L’Estage came to Norwood from the Port Adelaide Football Club, where he won the best and fairest trophy in 1895 and was vice-captain of the 1897 premiership team.
He was born in 1872 in Coleraine, Victoria, the ninth child and youngest son of John L’Estage and his wife Mary (Tully), who had emigrated from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Otty had five brothers and five sisters.
As well as being a leading footballer in the 1890s, playing both forward and back, he was noted as an oarsman, runner, cricketer and crack rifle shot.
Otty, sometimes called Ottawa or Otto, played for Port from 1894 to 1898. He was an important cog in the Port machine which in 1897 won the club’s third premiership.
Otty lived at the family home at Harrow Road, East Adelaide. With the arrival of electorate football, he was required to shift to Norwood in 1899. Norwood was rebuilding, having lost half of its senior players – ‘Bunny’and ‘Bos’ Daly, Jack Holbrook, Alf Grayson, Alby Green, Alex Thomson, Billy Elsdon and Peter Fitzpatrick. Anchored by a strong backline, Norwood managed to reach the premiership play-off with South Adelaide on 9 September 1899. Norwood was still in it at half-time, trailing 1.0 to 1.9, but a four-goal bag by ‘Bunny’ Daly carried a smooth-moving South team to a 5.12 to 2.2 victory. Otty muffed a chance in the last quarter but finished the season with 10 goals.
Otty played four games in 1900 when electorate football began to work its magic. North Adelaide won its first premiership, defeating South Adelaide. ‘Bos’ Daly was with his third club in three years and with 27 goals lifted West Torrens to third place. Norwood was fourth after eight wins and seven losses. Otty was retired when, just a year later, a reborn Norwood won its 12th flag and its first in seven seasons.
Paul Pry, in his People I have Met column in the 23 February 1906 issue of the journal Quiz, described Otty as “a very popular chap” who “played great games for the Norwoods” and was remembered by “everyone down Port way”. As a lance-corporal in the militia, Otty had been a representative of South Australia at Commonwealth time and the Duke of York’s visit. Pry added: “He has been laid aside by illness for about three years now, forgotten by many of his old friends that knew him in his palmy days; his wonderful constitution has been his mainstay, and Paul wishes him a speedy recovery.”
Alas, it was not to be. Otway L’Estage was aged only 36 when, on 27 February 1908, he left for ever the bosom of his grieving family. He is buried at the West Terrace Cemetery
P Robins, D Cox March 2020