Howard Pfitzner loved to entertain. On the football field, he performed well as a lively forward with North Adelaide and Norwood. In the concert hall, he wowed audiences with his beautiful tenor voice.
Like Norwood men Walter Addison and Harold Kirkwood before him, and Lachlan Bowman much later, Howard was a boy from Orroroo, where he was born to Rudolph Pfitzner and his wife Kizly (née Francis) on 6 June 1910.
Howard kicked six goals for North Adelaide in 18 league games in 1928 and 1929, on the way celebrating a premiership as a member of the association team which defeated Norwood in the 1928 grand final. He dropped out for three years and then, in 1933, joined Norwood in a season bookended by matches against West Torrens.
In his Norwood debut, at home, he began on a half-back flank but was shifted forward when Bill Medlen left the ground injured in the second quarter. It was a fortuitous move, as The Advertiser noted: "Norwood discovered a player in Pfitzner, who converted a half-forward line in which there had been one weakness into one of the strongest divisions." Norwood succeeded at almost every point it was expected to fail and was never headed, winning 15.12 to 12.10.
Howard's greatest moment, however, came in the semi-final replay after Norwood and North drew at their first attempt. Norwood floundered in the replay but when all seemed lost finished with a rush to be only five points down at the death. 'Rover', in The Advertiser, described what happened next: "Pfitzner, who had not been an impressive unit of the half-forward line, covered himself in glory by the fearless, dashing manner in which he played in those last few minutes. He marked from an almost impossible position and, although he had been kicking poorly until then, sent a magnificent kick through the goal." It was his third goal for the match and gave Norwood victory by one point, 11.15 to 11.14.
Norwood defeated Sturt by five points in the next challenge and was only three points down at three-quarter time in the grand final but, weary from three nail-biting finals, succumbed to a last-quarter Torrens blitz, going down 13.10 to 9.11.
Howard turned to his other love, singing. In the 1936 SA Centenary Competitions, he was adjudged champion for male voices, tenor solo and mixed duet (with Felicia Francis). He performed at countless charity concerts and soirées. He was a star for the Adelaide Musical Comedy Company in big musicals at the Theatre Royal, including 'The Vagabond King' (1937) and 'The Student Prince' (1939). He sang in 'The Messiah' in 1938.
In between, he married Violet (Peg) Sarich at St Augustine's, Unley, in 1937. He was still at the forefront of community events while head teacher at Marananga school in the Barossa Valley in 1954. Howard Pfitzner and his golden voice finally fell silent in 2004.
P Robins Jan 2019