After showing promise as a Norwood forward, Philip Verco became a company director and Adelaide establishment figure for some four decades before his life ended tragically.
Philip was born in Salisbury on 20 March 1882 to financier and flourmiller Richard Verco and his wife Rebecca (née Armour). Philip had a brother, Frank, and two sisters, Elsie and Constance (the latter’s architect husband Eric McMichael would design Verco Building on North Terrace).
One of Philip’s uncles, Thomas Benjamin Verco, was among the founders of Norwood Oval. Another uncle, Sir Joseph Verco, was an eminent doctor and scientist who established his reputation in London before bringing his skills back to South Australia. Richard, Thomas and Joseph were sons of James Crabb Verco, MP for West Adelaide for two years.
Philip experienced mixed fortunes in his league debut. A weak Norwood team kicked only three goals in going down to West Torrens by 28 points at Jubilee Oval on 5 May 1900, but The Register said that Verco and Bill Eimer, two of the new men, “amply justified their selection”. A year later, Philip left football on a high note as Norwood thumped Port Adelaide 8.11 to 2.1 at home.
A director of the milling firm Verco Brothers, Philip married Hazel Pattie Clark at Enmore, NSW, on 12 April 1910. His bride was the daughter of Henry Marcus Clark, founder of the department store chain run by Marcus Clark Co Ltd. The Vercos had a daughter, Phyllis Pattie, and sons Max Clark and Colin Clark.
After Marcus Clark Ltd acquired Miller Anderson Ltd in 1929, Philip and Colin Clark Verco became proxy directors of the prestigious Adelaide store. Colin was managing director of Miller Anderson from 1960 to 1965. He married Katherine Downer Bonython - daughter of Sir Lavington Bonython and sister of Warren and Kym Bonython - and was a cousin of Tim Marcus Clark, managing director of the State Bank of South Australia at the time of its collapse in 1991.
Philip Verco was found in a critical condition with a bullet wound to the head in the sandhills at Brighton on 13 February 1945. A .38 revolver was nearby. He died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital that day. He was 62 and had battled ill-health at his Glenelg home for some time. No inquest was required. There was a sad sequel eight years later when his ailing daughter Pattie Angus was found dead at her Medindie home aged only 42.
P Robins, C Lane, D Cox June 2019