As a 20-year-old recruit from Gawler, clergyman’s son Norm Mitchell was named best junior in his debut year at Norwood, 1897. Norm played at Gawler Central with Hedley Faull, who joined Norwood a year later. According to the NFC Annual Report of 1897, the H. C. Burnett Trophy for the player introducing the best junior to Norwood was awarded to Alexander Thomson, himself originally from Gawler, “who induced Mr Norman Mitchell to join the club”.
Norm kicked a goal at Adelaide Oval on 7 August 1897 in the 11.20 to 1.4 demolition of West Adelaide and two goals at Kensington Oval a week later as Norwood pummeled West Torrens, 18.18 to 1.1. Norwood finished third that year, behind Port Adelaide and South Adelaide.
It seemed like old times when Norwood opened the 1898 season with victories over South and Port, but injuries and other setbacks to key players at critical times saw the momentum wane. Norm found himself at centre half-back at Adelaide Oval on23 July as South established its premiership credentials with a 4.12 to 3.2 victory. Norwood was on the slide to third place once again.
When Norwood took on Fitzroy at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday 3 August 1898, the Victorians slammed on three goals in seven minutes before the home team settled down, eventually losing 6.9 to 3.5. The Evening Journal reported that the Norwood juniors, Albert Lane, James Norman, James Way and Norm Mitchell, showed form – “and once or twice the last-named made himself conspicuous by the brilliancy he displayed in rushing through his opponents”.
In his end-of-season review in The South Australian Register, ‘Goalpost’ said: “Mitchell had three good days in defence and following, and on those occasions he almost eclipsed everyone on the ground.” Despite such a promising start, he mysteriously disappeared from senior football after 1898.
Norm was born at Clare to the Rev. Robert Mitchell *- the first Presbyterian minister ordained in South Australia - and his wife Mary, née Fraser, on 5 April 1877. Norm had three sisters.
An engineer, Norm enlisted for World War I service on 24 July 1917. He embarked for Europe on 21 March 1918 and served as a sapper in France with the 4th Field Company Engineers until Armistice Day, 11 November 1918. He returned to Australia in the Nestor on 12 December 1919.
Norm Mitchell was 85 at his death at Daw Park on 11 October 1962. He is buried at Centennial Park Cemetery.
* J. H. Love ‘Mitchell, Robert (1851-1929)’ Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol 10 (MUP), 1986. Scottish-born Rev. Mitchell pioneered the use of medical treatment as a key part of his Outback ministry. He was Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in SA in 1889-90. Mitchell Memorial Church, Goodwood, was erected in his memory
P Robins, D Cox Dec 2020