Jack McGaffin was one of the great pioneering footballers of the early days and celebrated five premierships - three with Norwood and two with South Adelaide.
An all-day follower who was clean in his work, he played in the original West Adelaide team when it debuted against Norwood at Kensington Oval on 7 May 1887 and was its leading light until he and several companions dropped out after a series of demoralising defeats.
His fortunes revived remarkably the following season when he was a key contributor to Norwood's premiership success, victory over England at Adelaide Oval and the three defeats of South Melbourne for the Championship of Australia.
In 1889 he was best player in the first South Australian grand final, Norwood defeating Port Adelaide 7.4 to 5.9. In the last quarter 'Topsy' Waldron passed to McGaffin who goaled to put Norwood in front. In 1891 he was third best in the final match against Port Adelaide which sealed the premiership for Norwood.
At Adelaide Oval one day, 'Bunny' Daly had his shorts ripped off and Jack got him an overcoat while a new pair was found. Some boys rolled up the torn shorts and tied a string around it to make a football which they kicked around the mound. While dressing after the match, 'Bunny' remembered he'd put sovereign in his shorts for safekeeping. He gave it up as lost. Leaving the oval, Jack noticed a bundle on the ground. He picked it up and the sovereign fell out. They wet it at the Exchange.
Jack and crack centreman Alf Clift shocked Norwood when they moved to Victoria to join Fitzroy in 1892. Jack returned the following season and kept everyone guessing about his plans until he turned out with South Adelaide. The Express and Telegraph said: "At first he played with little heart, and it was generally surmised that his enthusiasm evaporated with his old costume and that he could not play with any interest against his old love. There seemed to be some grounds for the insinuations for the first few Saturdays, but as soon as McGaffin got into trim he played excellent football."
He played in South premiership teams in 1893 and 1895. His son Harold was a Sturt premiership player in 1926.
P Robins May 2017