Lionel Norman impressed as a 20-year-old follower in 1898 before serving in the Boer War and then returning to Norwood for a final fling in 1902.
Born in Adelaide on 12 January 1878, a few weeks before the emergence of the Norwood Football Club, Lionel was the eldest of seven children of Herbert Hayes Norman and his wife Evangeline, née Dewhirst. Lionel lived at Rockford House, North Terrace, with his siblings Howard, Gertrude, Robert, Olive, Ruby and James.
Lionel played the last 11 games of Norwood’s 1898 season. He made a promising debut against the premier team, South Adelaide, at Adelaide Oval on 11 June. Norwood was the underdog after several lacklustre seasons and was very late taking the field, but immediately sprang into action with a goal from Jack Holbrook within half a minute. South struggled for accuracy in the slippery conditions, running up six behinds in the first quarter and leading at half-time by a solitary point, 1.8 to 2.1.
As the teams tussled for the ascendancy in the gathering gloom, The Advertiser reported, “a grand run by Norman, a clever Osmond club man, seconded by Stuart, gave to Carroll, who succeeded in making the fifth goal”. That settled the issue. Norwood won 5.4 to 2.10. Young Lionel made the best players and Norwood supporters began to dream of a new golden age.
Ten matches later, Lionel was playing at centre wing but Norwood was lacking the services of a swag of his senior colleagues – Holbrook, Alex Thomson, ‘Bunny’ and ‘Bos’ Daly, Bill and Mick Plunkett . With Lionel in the best players as usual, Norwood battled gamely but Port Adelaide persisted for a 4.16 to 2.6 victory at Adelaide Oval. That ended Norwood’s premiership push. South finished top, Port second and Norwood third.
In 1900, Lionel was an applicant for homestead selection in Parkes, NSW. He next enlisted as a trooper in the 3rd NSW Imperial Bushmen, a unit which served in the Boer War between May 1901 and May 1902 in east and later west Transvaal.
Just home home from the war, Lionel wore the red and blue one more time when he was whisked into the team to play Port Adelaide at Norwood Oval in August 1902. Norwood needed to win to contest the finals but after a strong start against the wind lost key ruckman Jim Gosse through injury and went down 7.6 to 2.5.
Lionel married Sarah Steritt in Victoria in 1906 but she died tragically at her mother’s residence, Gordons, Victoria, in 1911. Lionel took a second wife, Dorothy Flavel, in 1914 and they had a son, Norman Flavel Norman. Lionel later worked as an electrician in NSW. He was 89 when he died at the Wentworth Convalescent Hospital, Randwick, on 23 February 1967
P Robins, D Cox, G Adams May 2020