Alexander Ross carried the same name as his father, who was leading member of the Ernest Giles overland expedition from South Australia to Western Australia in 1875.
Young Alex was born at Hermannsburg, NT, on 15 September 1886. He was the only son of Alexander Ernest Ross and his wife Fanny, née Wallis, and had younger sisters Ruby, Stella and Zoe.
Alex was a member of the St Peter’s College team which defeated Prince Alfred College 5.9 to 3.6 in an exciting game before a crowd of 8,000 at Adelaide Oval in 1904. His sister Ruby married one of his St Peter’s teammates, Victor Cresdee, who played for Norwood between 1906 and 1909.
Alex’s turn with Norwood came a bit later. On 22 April 1911, The Advertiser said: “A. Ross . . . who gave great promise when he played for St. Bartholomew’s three years ago, has returned to the district and his showing at practice indicates he is likely to ‘make good’. He is a big strongly built man with a fair turn of speed.”
He got off to a promising start against the powerhouse West Adelaide side in slippery conditions before 9,000 spectators at Adelaide Oval. Even though half the Norwood team was practically new to league football, West found its lead reduced from 3.4 to five points during the third quarter before regrouping and taking the points 5.11 to 4.4. Named on a forward flank, Alex apparently did some following as well. He made the best players.
It was a different story at Norwood Oval a week later. The crowd and playing conditions were much the same, but Norwood floundered against Sturt and went down 6.9 to 2.7 despite the ascendancy of centreman Phil Robin. When Lance Lewis went off the ball, Alex clearly struggled as a follower. He was not selected again.
Alex, a gas fitter, married Doris Bawden in St Saviour’s Church, Glen Osmond. It seems that Alex was widowed and later married Edna Alway Sejersen-Niesen. Alex died at Cowandilla on 18 June 1959 and is buried at West Terrace Cemetery.
His father, Alexander, went to Central Australia in 1869 with his father, John Ross, who had been commissioned by the government to examine water supplies and plot a route for the overland telegraph line. Together they opened up country as far north as Macumba Creek. Alexander joined the Giles expedition, which set out on 27 July 1875 with 19 camels and 16 months’ provisions and reached the WA coast on 4 November. At one stage they travelled 17 days between two water holes 325 miles apart. Alexander was second in command on the return journey to Adelaide. He later managed cattle stations and was an inspector of wells and bores. He never entirely recovered from a fall from a camel and died at 80 in the Home for Incurables, Fullarton, in 1938.
P Robins, M Coligan, D Cox March 2021
* For the picture we thank St Peter’s College archivist Andrea McKinnon-Matthews