Richard J B (Bruce) Townsend started his career with Norwood in August 1904 whilst he was still at Prince Alfred College. Then in September he played in the Grand Final, won by the Redlegs in a close and hard fought encounter against Port Adelaide and in December he scored 171 for PAC in the intercollegiate cricket match against St Peter’s College.
Once he matured as a footballer Bruce was a tactician, both as a forward, and with his pace, the engineer of many attacking moves from centre. One report from 1913 describes how he got the ball from a “forest of hands” and, after waiting for the Norwood ruckmen to arrive, delivered it into the forward lines where it was marked by a Norwood forward. When the shot at goal fell short Bruce took a “sensational” mark from a pack of players. He was also a solid backman in the years just before the First World War.
His clever marking, dashing runs, solid ground work and fine kicking for goal, made him the complete player. He played his 12th and final season with Norwood after the War, in 1920. His skills and experience were rewarded with the captaincy. Norwood played in the grand final that year but lost to North Adelaide.
Bruce was the SAFL leading goalkicker in 1909, Norwood’s Best and Fairest in 1912, played 8 State games and is a Norwood Life Member.
After football, and in his mid 30s Bruce resurrected his cricket career, establishing a spot for himself in the State cricket team. In his best performance in a Sheffield Shield match against NSW in 1921/22 he took seven wickets for the match and scored 46 and 117 with the bat. The Norwood footballer and test cricketer George Giffen achieved the feat of 5 first class wickets and a century in a match eight times.
After his last first-class match in 1923/24, Bruce continued playing grade cricket until 1928.
R Crompton Aug 2013