Robert Oatey will be remembered as one of Norwood's greatest ever footballers. A courageous, creative and determined rover, he rarely played a poor game for the Redlegs.
His early schooling was at Wellington Road Primary School, before progressing to Norwood High where he captained the team and won the 1960 Quinn medal (awarded to the best high school footballer). Later that year he was a member of the Norwood Senior Colts premiership team
Oatey made his league debut the following year in the Anzac Day clash against North Adelaide on the Adelaide Oval. He had an impressive start to his senior career, kicking a goal with his first kick in league football. He played 18 games for the season, made the State practice squad, and was named Norwood's best junior. Oatey also won the Vic Johnson Memorial Trophy for the best first year player in the SANFL season. During the season he played for the State seconds against Collingwood
In 1962, Oatey played another 20 League games and represented South Australia against Western Australia. A regular State representative during his career, he was a member of the famous 1963 State side that defeated Victoria on the Melbourne Cricket Ground - he played 17 league games in 1963 and the same again in 1964
He was awarded the Five Year Player Certificate in 1965 (16 games) and the following season reached the 100 game milestone, as well as representing the State in the Australian National Football Carnival held in Hobart.
Oatey won his first best and fairest award in 1967, kicking 45 goals in 17 matches.
He was appointed captain-coach in 1968. Oatey won his second best and fairest, finished runner-up to Barrie Robran for the Magarey Medal, and again represented SA in interstate football. The following year he played in the national carnival held in Adelaide.
In 1970 he was awarded NFC player life membership, and in 1971 (20 games) was again adjudged Norwood's fairest and most brilliant player. He was appointed full time football director at the end of the season.
Oatey won his fourth best and fairest in 1972 (16 games), and received the Redlegs Club life membership after completing his 200th game. In 1973 he broke the club record for league games played. His 1st, 200th and his 215th games (at the time a club record) were all played against North Adelaide.
Oatey was Norwood's senior coach between 1968 and 1973, and guided the side to fourth in his last two seasons after which he was replaced by Bob Hammond.
In 1974 Oatey joined his father Jack at the Sturt Football Club, and had immediate success, playing in a premiership in his first season with the Double-Blues. His playing career ended in 1978, after adding another 69 games at his new club.
Over the years Oatey continued to serve the game in a variety of roles, including State under 16, under 17 and under 23 coach, SANFL coaching manager, Sturt Reserves coach, Sturt Technical and Development Officer, Norwood kicking coach, and Channel 7 SANFL League and Reserves commentator.
In 2000 he was named in a forward pocket in Norwood's Team of the Century. In 2002 he was an inaugural inductee in the SA Football Hall of Fame, and in 2008 was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to Australian Rules football.
His sporting achievements were not confined to football, as he was also a fine tennis player. Oatey was runner-up in the SA Junior singles title as an 18 year old, and had earlier won the under 15 section of the Age Tennis Championships. He later became a prominent member of the Pembroke Tennis Club.
His legendary father Jack (162 NFC games), and younger brother Peter (120 NFC games) also gave the Norwood Football Club wonderful service, as did Robert's son David who's many roles included Talent Manager and long time coach of the Norwood's under 18's
Robert Oatey passed away on 17 September 2019
R Cialini Oct 2019