In 1885, George McKee was recruited from the Creswick Football Club which at the time was playing in the Adelaide and Suburban League. Known as 'Geordie', it was his small stature which first attracted attention as he stood at just 5 feet and weighed in at 10 stone 9 pounds. (153cm and 67.5kg) It became obvious that what he lacked in height and weight he more than made up for in skill, pace and guile.
The press often referred to him as, “Little McKee.” They also sang his praises and wrote of his rare turn of speed, his ability to take brilliant marks and his cunning.
George was an integral part of a highly successful Norwood side. He played in three premierships and in October 1888 played three games in one week against reigning Victorian premiers, South Melbourne at Kensington Oval. Norwood won all three, thereby claiming the title of Champions of Australia.
George, earlier that year, was involved in what was Norwood’s most unlikely victory when, in a game of Australian Rules, they defeated the visiting English Rugby team at Adelaide Oval.
In 1890 a further honour came his way when he was selected for South Australia to play an intercolonial match against Victoria at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. SA lost that match but a few days later, at the South Melbourne Cricket Ground on 10 July 1890, George was a member of the first SA team to beat Victoria, winning 6.8 to 4.6. George McKee had firmly established himself as one of, if not, the outstanding wingman of his era.
1891 was his final season but it ended in glory with a Grand Final victory over Port Adelaide.
In 1909 his service to Norwood was recognised with life membership of the club.
George was born in Adelaide on 16 September 1867 to John McKee and his wife Margaret. Aside from football, he took a keen interest in cricket, swimming and baseball. He was the chairman of the Amateur Swimming Association Council and of the SA Lifesaving Association.
George married Ida Koerner at Kent Town in 1892 and they had four children, Florence, Leonard, Mabel and Geoffrey. Leonard reportedly played a few games for Norwood before World War I, though his name is absent from league records. Geoffrey was a Norwood player in 1935.
George completed 50 years’ service with Wendts jewellers. He died on 17 August 1939.
Revised by M Coligan, P Robins Oct 2020