Few individuals have helped shape the Norwood Football Club more than Walter Hillary Miller. His contribution, firstly as a player, and then as an administrator has been immense.
Wally Miller, as he is known to the world at large, was born on the 11th October 1936 at Stirling West in the Adelaide Hills. In 1951 he represented a South Australian Under 15 schoolboys team in a carnival held in Victoria. Brian Sawley, who later played 138 games for Norwood between 1954 and 1964, was one of his team-mates.
Miller made his A grade debut for Stirling in the Hills Association at the age of 15, and played in four consecutive premierships from 1952 to 1955. In 1956 he had a season with Teachers College in A2 Amateur League. He also won the college Blue for football and cricket.
Posted to Allendale East Area School in 1957, he played in a premiership team with West Gambier and represented the Western Border League in inter-league matches.
In 1958 Miller was recruited to Norwood by Haydn Bunton with a phone call to Mt Gambier, inviting him to play in a Norwood trial game at Easter. He wasn't a Norwood fan at the time and the only person he knew at Norwood was Brian Sawley. He made his league debut in the in the opening round of the 1958 season. A record attendance for a minor round game of 37,292 saw the Anzac Day clash between Norwood and Port; long remembered for the brutal behind the play felling of Ron Kneebone.
After commuting from Mount Gambier to Norwood during the first term of school, he transferred to Cambrai, 50 miles from Norwood Oval in the Murray flats. In 1960 Miller moved to Kapunda, a similar distance from Norwood. Consequently, he had never been in a position to train consistently with the team. He eventually moved to Adelaide in 1961, as an itinerant Physical Education teacher, and was finally able to train regularly with the team.
Originally selected as a clever half-forward flanker, with good ground skills, he was named the club's best junior in 1958, and was a member of the Norwood team that won that year's Advertiser Cup (Night Series).
Under new coach Alan Killigrew he won the 1959 and 1960 "Best Utility" award, and played in the 1960 Grand Final. He had developed into a rebounding, tenacious half back flanker.
The half back line of Wally Miller, Ron Kneebone and John Inglis was a regular feature in Norwood teams throughout 1960 and 1961 until Miller was tragically injured in a game at Prospect Oval. Shortly after the injury he was diagnosed with poliomyelitis.
While his playing career was cut short at only 24, Wally Miller went on to devote himself to Australian Football and in particular, to the Norwood Football Club.
Miller's administration record and list of achievements are almost endless, but includes: playing a major part in the nationwide introduction of modified rules for juniors, and writing a book on the art of kicking. He was Norwood's Promotions Officer in 1968 and 1969 and from 1970 to 1992 he was Secretary Manager/Football Director of the Norwood Football Club, and Match Committee/Selector (1974-1996). During this period he oversaw the resurgence of the Norwood Football Club as a powerhouse of the SANFL, recording premierships in 1975,1978,1982,1984 and 1997.
He served on SANFL sub-committees between 1970 and 1999, as League and proxy delegate, and on rules, national football league investigation and future direction committees. He was a member of the SANFL Technical and Development Committee from 1972 to 1987 and 1993 to 1999.
From 1997 to 2002 he served as a director of Adelaide Football Club.
Miller was made a Life Member of the Norwood Football Club in 1975 and the SANFL in 1986. In 1986 he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for Services to Football and in 2004 he was inducted to the South Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Wally Miller has retired from official involvement with football but he remains one of the most highly respected members of the Norwood Football Club and the SANFL.
R Cialini Nov 2015