Hartley Pike was one of those unassuming, solid and highly effective back pocket players integral to a successful team. In April 1928 he played on the wing in the Norwood team trial matches and, according to press reports of the time, was “probably the most prominent player on the ground”. In this, his first year, he was in and out of the senior side but by the end of 1928 he was a regular member of the team, playing in the back pocket.
That same year Pike was among the best players in his first finals match against Port (the minor premiers) with a win, and another win against West in the preliminary final put the Redlegs into the grand final against Port. Norwood lost by eight goals, with Pike again in the best players, battling from the back pocket.
It was 1929 that the strength of the last line of Norwood’s defence (Pike, Geary and Ackland) stood out as a critical factor in the club’s successes of that year. This dependable trio repeatedly cleared opposition attacks with smart anticipation, speed and strong clearing kicks, with Pike often going up the ground to attack through the centre line.
Norwood were minor premiers in 1929 and again played Port in the grand final. Pike and his backline partners played their usual efficient games and the Redlegs prevailed by 41 points. Hartley Pike win the club’s “Most Consistent” player award.
Pike maintained his form through his career but suffered a serious shoulder injury late in the season and missed the 1932 finals. He retired at the start of the 1933 season at the age of 34 but continued as captain of the Norwood B (Reserves) side.
In 1932 the legendary Norwood center half-back Walter (“Wacka”) Scott wrote an article published in The Advertiser about the qualities required of a good defender in Australian football. Hartley Pike exemplified these qualities throughout his career at the Redlegs.
R Crompton Feb 2016