Bert Palmer participated in the 1928 Norwood trials having previously played for St Peters College. From the outset his light frame became a topic of some interest. Hee stood at a reasonable 175cm but tipped the scales at just under 64kg. He was described by one reporter as the mighty midget of the team.
Nonetheless, he impressed as a rover with his vigorous and clever work around the packs. He did not make the league training list but became a valued member of the Association (seconds) side both as a rover and at times as a high marking full forward. In a match against South Adelaide he managed eight goals. His only opportunity for a league match in 1928 came against Glenelg when chosen on the bench.
Bert played all of 1929 in the Association team but later in the year a troublesome ankle injury saw him miss a number of games. He played a number of these games with his older brother Jack who had played in the 1925 premiership and would be recalled to play in the 1929 premiership.
1930 again saw Palmer in the seconds until in mid-July. He finally won promotion in early August against West Torrens when it was reported he kicked four goals and roved dashingly. Consequently he retained his position for the remainder of the season but mainly at full forward, kicking five goals against South and three against Port.
Norwood had already made the 1930 finals when disaster struck. In the final minor round game against Port Adelaide two of Norwood’s and the State’s best players, Alec Lill and Walter Scott were injured and unavailable for the semi-final against Port Adelaide. In what was described as one of Norwood’s bravest efforts. Palmer and his teammates, lacking their captain and vice-captain, succumbed by only three points.
1931 started with a club picnic and athletic events at Belair at which Bert won the 100 yard sprint.
An eight goal haul in the final trial saw Palmer instated as the league full forward. He proved his worth with successive scores of six (West Adelaide), five (West Torrens), three (Port) and four (Glenelg).
A 10 goal thrashing by North Adelaide saw the side thrown around. Bert spent the next three games on the wing until a broken blood vessel in his leg against Glenelg saw him miss most of the remaining season. He did return in time for a semi-final against North which Norwood lost by five goals.
1932 was spent in the Association when disappointingly he missed the grand final due to illness but a 10 goal loss to North meant he didn’t miss much.
He sat out of football in 1933 but returned in 1934 and played all but three games. He was suspended for two games for “hacking,” * against West and missed the last game of the season due to influenza. His final game was against West Adelaide on August 25th.
What he may have lacked in physical size Bert made more than up for in ability, courage and persistence.
* Hacking was an illegal tactic of tripping a player by kicking them in the shins.
B Ridge June 2022