Berthold Edward Bernard Schumacher was born at Stepney on 10 March 1897 and was known throughout his professional and sporting life as Bert. Schumacher enlisted for war service in 1918 and returned from England in January 1920 and started playing in the Norwood Reserves team. He played seven Reserves matches and went straight into the Norwood senior team. He won the Reserves Magarey medal that year, polling best on the ground votes in each game.
Over the next seven years Bert played 104 games and was the best rover at Norwood and one of the best in the state until he retired with a persistent shoulder injury at the start of the 1927 season.
Bert won the Norwood club award for Best Rover every year from 1920 to 1926 as well as Best All-Rounder in 1923; he played in 3 premierships and 2 interstate games against Victoria and Western Australia. Some said his slight build - 5’7” (170cms) and 10stone 5lbs (66kgs) had kept him out of previous interstate teams.
His build may have contributed to his large number of injuries. More likely though it was his enormous courage and tenacity. He “took the hardest bumps with indifference”, in one season playing with a permanent black eye. Bert would play with grit and determination, often through pain. He suffered a broken collarbone, a broken nose and a broken cheekbone. Through all this he was soft-spoken and amiable and demonstrated a sporting spirit that made him very popular with team mates and supporters.
In a powerful Norwood team, Bert roved to three of the best ruck/followers in the game, Clarrie Packham, Leslie Bryant, and Tiger Potts. He was a “tigerish and highly effective rover, … dashing and unselfish” and part of powerful and successful ruck combinations in Norwood’s 1922, 1923 and 1925 premiership teams.
He joined the South Australian Public Service as a junior clerk in 1914 and retired at the top as the Commissioner of the Public Service. Bert represented the Government on ten wages boards and was much sought after for other private boards. He has also had wide experience as a Government advocate in both the Industrial and Arbitration Courts. As he had done on the football field, Bert could take punches and knocks with the best. He didn't pull his punches in 1954 in one of the most candid annual reports ever presented to Parliament. He accused the Public Service of low efficiency and the shake-up was felt around the Public Service.
Bert was a pillar of the Blackwood community and for 30 years was a lay preacher in the Church of England. He also played four seasons in the East Torrens A Grade cricket side winning the trophy each year for Best Fieldsman. He was a slow legbreak bowler and middle order batsman.
R Crompton May 2014