Like many players of his era, Barry O’Connor’s desire to play league football was thwarted with the onset of World War 2. He enlisted in the RAAF and his football career was put on hold until 1945.
Barry was demobbed too late to participate in the trials but the enthusiasm, speed and athleticism he demonstrated in training sessions saw him selected for the league side in round six against Sturt. He was chosen on a half forward flank. He kicked a goal and Norwood won by three points.
O’Connor became a regular selection and gained a reputation for doing the spectacular. In a match against North Adelaide it was reported that the highlight of the game was a sensational high mark taken by O’Connor out on the wing. In a later game against South Adelaide it was said that one of O’Connor’s dashes from half forward to score a goal was simply brilliant.
After O'Connor's promising first season, most thought 1946 would be better still but it wasn’t to be. Norwood had undertaken a heavy recruiting programme. Prior to round one Norwood had to choose two half forwards and two wingmen from Blackmore, Reilly, Mincherton, Foweraker, Williams, Gallagher, Olds and O’Connor. O'Connor was chosen as a reserve for round one and was never able to gain a regular spot in the side. His games coincided with injuries to more fancied players. This fierce competition for places preceded the great Oatey era when three premierships were won in five years.
There was a significant highlight during 1946 when he was chosen in an ex-RAAF side that played an ex-Navy side on ANZAC Day.
O’Connor played his last game against Sturt in mid-August but was unable to retain his place in the side that went on to win the 1946 premiership.
B Rydge May 2021