Francis Timothy O'Brien from Parafield/Salisbury played his junior football for Christian Brothers/Rostrevor College.
He impressed Norwood as a defender in the 1932 pre-season and was named as a league reserve in round eight for the match against North Adelaide. Whilst he did not make the final line-up, O'Brien was best for the B team that week and subsequently made his senior debut in the following round against Port Adelaide, at Alberton. Selected as a follower, he was used more as a wing/half back.
O'Brien was named as 19th man in the next game against West Adelaide and looked good once given an opportunity in defence. He played eight league games in his first season in the seniors and took out the trophy for 'most improved'.
Powerfully-built, the determined youngster showed great promise as a straight-ahead dasher, capable of brushing opponents aside.
After playing well in the 1933 pre-season trials, O'Brien consolidated his spot in the league team, making 19 appearances. He put in a solid performance in the Grand Final against West Torrens and was named 'best trained' for 1933.
In 1934 he added another 10 senior games to his total and travelled with the Norwood squad to Port Pirie to play a combined local association side. At season's end, he was in the Redlegs side that defeated North Adelaide in an exhibition match at Murray Bridge: 22.13 to 22.9.
In the following season (14 games) he was rushed back for the first semi-final against Sturt after recovering from injury. Selected in the first ruck as a follower, he battled hard in a losing side.
In 1936 he represented the South Australian second eighteen against East Perth and Broken Hill. SA won both matches and he was one of the better players in the two encounters. He was named Norwood's 'best follower' (17 games) and was presented with a certificate for Five Years' Service at the NFC Annual General Meeting held in February.
He had a very good season (17 games) in 1937, and was named Norwood's 'best team man' playing mainly as a follower resting in the forward lines. Norwood were beaten by South Adelaide in the Preliminary Final.
The rugged and courageous ruckman (ruck-shepherd) played his 100th game against West Adelaide at Wayville, in round 16, 1938. He missed the second semi-final against South Adelaide because of sickness, but was back for the preliminary final against Port Adelaide; he did well despite Norwood losing the match. During the year he again played for Norwood against a combined side from Port Pirie. The tireless team man was named 'best ruck shepherd' for 1938 (17 games).
O'Brien was a consistently good performer in tough games, and was playing some of his best football towards the end of his career
R Cialini April 2020