A skilful follower with great dodging ability, James 'Tack' Metherell was an essential element in the 1894 Norwood premiership team along with his Moonta mining colleagues Jimmy Polglase and Jack Slee.
Born at Tavistock, Devon, in 1869, 'Tack' was the outstanding player in the Moonta Mines Turks team which, wearing red and blue, dominated the Yorke Peninsula Football Association in the 1890s. Recruited by Norwood in 1893, he was joined later that season by Polglase and in 1894 by Slee, the latter pair travelling to Adelaide whenever required.
All three came to the fore as Norwood mounted its 1894 premiership challenge in three cliffhanger matches, defeating Port Adelaide, drawing with South Adelaide and then clinching the title in the replay, 4.7 to 3.5. In that match Metherell did the work of two men. It was his splendid kick to the river end that enabled 'Bos' Daly to get his toe to the ball for the winning goal while being tackled by a desperate defender.
Norwood had snatched an unlikely flag through quick passages of play, long kicking and deadly goal-shooting. Summing up Metherell's season, The South Australian Chronicle said: "He is an unassuming man who never indulges in the showy performances peculiar to some exponents of the game and at times his work was so brilliant as to make him shine more conspicuously than any other man on the field."
'Goalfront' in The South Australian Register rated him "the best ruckman of the year" and 'Onlooker in The Express and Telegraph said: "The Norwoods had no harder 'grafter' than Metherell, whose remarkably fine ruck play deserves all the praise that can be bestowed upon it."
Norwood was gutted the following season when 'Tack' Metherell was lured to the Golden West along with a host of his talented team-mates - Jimmy Polglase, Jack Cullen, Charlies Atkins, Jim Mullaney, Tom Coombe , Ted Hantke - while Os Bertram was transferred to Perth in his employment.
Based at Boulder, near Kalgoorlie, 'Tack' won esteem as an evergreen footballer and the Victor Trumper of local cricket. Partnered at times by Jimmy Polglase, 'Tack' played football for Boulder, Mines and finally Warriors, which comprised men from Moonta, Wallaroo and Kadina - among them his brothers Bill ('Tish'), Samuel ('Doc') and Edward ( 'Bant'). Bill, as a rover, in 1908 won selection from the Warriors to WA's first carnival team and his sons Len and Jack starred for Subiaco and as premiership players with Geelong.
'Tack' married Elisa Florence Verran in Moonta in 1896. He was 50 when he died at Boulder on 26 October 1918, survived by his widow, sons and a daughter.
P Robins June 2017