Tom Reeves was a member of the inaugural Norwood team which won the 1878 premiership. He followed his captain, fellow Victorian Joe Osborn, across town with the collapse of the old Woodville club in 1877.
Tom played two games with the 1878 team. At Norwood he showed a sharp improvement in his game, according to Bernard Whimpress in the book Norwood's first year, researched by Michael Coligan. When at Woodville he was criticised for the inaccuracy of his kicking whereas at Norwood he was a "very cool deliberate player [who] kicks well with either foot, and is always to be found in his place".
Tom was playing cricket for Norwood before the football club was even thought of. In a match against South Adelaide in 1876 he made 33 not out in a score of 182 while the esteemed George Giffen - a football team-mate at Woodville and Norwood - went for a duck. In the same year Tom took 5/21 in restricting North Adelaide Young Men to a total of 55. At the Norwood Cricket Club annual dinner in June 1878, he received a bat in recognition of his fielding at short leg. He was a leading cricket umpire for some years and an authority on all athletic sports.
In a warm tribute published on 20 January 1911, The Daily Herald said of Tom: "His stories of old-time cricket and football, in Victoria as well as in this State, before grounds were enclosed and 'gates' all important were full of humor and interest." It added: "Although he had the judicial temperament and gave praise where praise was due, the success of the red-and-blue standard always pleased him."
A 1923 item in The Saturday Journal said that just after the railway link to Melbourne was completed, Tom took it into his head to walk from there to Adelaide, following the new line. The first place he called into was The Register office, where he started at once as a compositor. Wherever the truth of this story may lie - the railway line was not completed until 1887 - Alf was certainly a master of his trade.
In the words of The Daily Herald: "Like many of the old hand-setters, now rapidly being exterminated by the manic, racing linotype, he was a veritable encyclopaedia, and an accomplished grammarian. Kindly, quiet, and self-contained, he was a man it was good to know. He always played the game."
Tom was 61 when he died suddenly at his home in Cardwell Street, Adelaide, on 18 January 1911. He was survived by his widow, Caroline, three sons and three daughters.
P Robins April 2018
Further reading: Whimpress, Bernard 1878; Norwood Football Club's first year (Norwood, NFC History Group, 2013)