Bill Parkinson was the outstanding athlete at St Peter's College when he made his Norwood debut in 1890 at the age of 18. He tasted premiership success a year later when Norwood won its 10th flag.
Very fast and strong, Parkinson won the College Cup as the champion athlete at St Peter's in 1889 and 1890. In 1890 he won the 100 yards in 11 seconds, the 150 yard hurdles and the hammer throw. He was the school's junior and senior swimming champion in the same year, and was captain of both the cricket and football teams.
Bill and his younger brother Tom, who also played with Norwood, were sons of Dr J. Parkinson of Clare. Both were born in England - Bill on 26 May 1873. While still at school, he was named in the best players as Norwood thrashed Adelaide 16.13 to 1.4 in August 1890 .
Despite his short apprenticeship with Norwood, he was chosen to play against Port Adelaide in the premiership decider. There were five omissions from the team which had beaten Port in July. The South Australian Register said there were diverse opinions on whether the alterations had improved the team, but George Combe, Alf Clift and Bill Parkinson "should prove much better than three of the other men". In the event, Port scraped home 3.2 to 2.7.
In 1891, however, Norwood went one better. Bill was ill at the start of the season. He was named in the back pocket in July as Port beat Norwood 6.9 to 1.3 in that season's third meeting of the teams, which previously had one win each. He was in the team beaten 4.8 to 3.4 by Fitzroy early in August.
When Parkinson and the Victorian Frank White were named in the Norwood side to tackle Port for the premiership, The Evening Journal noted that the two Agricultural College students had "not played lately". Norwood fielded a far stronger team than the one thrashed in July and, with White best player in his last game with the club, defeated Port 5.4 to 3.4 before a crowd of 10,000 at Adelaide Oval on 5 September.
Parkinson's name does not feature in 1892 reports. It is quite likely that the Parkinson who played for Norwood from then on was Tom rather than Bill. A Parkinson was named in the best players as Norwood played a stirring 3.10 to 3.8 draw with Port Adelaide before a crowd of 8,000 at Adelaide Oval in June 1893 .The following month Bill played in the first match between St Peter's and Prince Alfred old collegians, which the latter won 4.6 to 3.4.
After Norwood thumped Adelaide 20.14 to 2.6 in August 1893, The South Australian Register reported: "During the match Parkinson, the St Peter's College boy, was severely kicked in the muscle of the right leg. Mr Thomas, the umpire, was far too slow, and exhibited a want of knowledge of the rules. About the only time he blew the whistle was when the ball was out of bounds."
Parkinson was a lively half-forward as Norwood went down to Essendon, 9.12 to 6.10, in a high standard game at Adelaide Oval in July 1894.
Bill Parkinson owned a vineyard at One Tree Hill for seven years. In 1902 he returned to England and spent a few months at Newcastle-on-Tyne, where his wife, child and widowed mother were already in residence, before moving to Canada.
P Robins August 2017
* Picture kindly supplied by Andrea McKinnon-Matthews, Archivist at St Peter’s College.