Bill Warburton came to Norwood from the northern suburban Hotham club in the latter half of the 1884 season as a strong-marking forward. He showed promise but returned to Hotham the following year and also played with a North Adelaide team in 1888, Adelaide in 1889 and Medindie in 1890.
Born in Adelaide on 27 November 1866, Bill made his Norwood debut against North Adelaide with another young player, Albert Flight, and according to 'Goalpost' in The Adelaide Observer, "did a lot of good marking" and "will prove an acquisition". He experienced success as Norwood won that game 6.16 to 0.6 and then thumped South Park 8.19 to 0.5.
Bill was chosen in the Norwood team which put on a strong showing against Geelong before going down 10.15 to 6.7 in a brilliant match before 7,000 spectators at Adelaide Oval on 19 July 1884. On 31 August he played against Port Adelaide before a crowd of 5,000 in a tough encounter which virtually decided the 1884 premiership. He earned plaudits for one long dash but Norwood's inability to kick straight cost it dearly as Port ran out the winner, 3.13 to 0.11.
A strong swimmer, Bill was only 15 when he won a 300 yards race from the end of the Glenelg jetty to the old baths and back in 1881. He won a South Australian championship at the City Baths. But his big moment came when a paddle boat capsized on the Torrens in 1886. Bill was on the bank and, quickly stripping, dived in and brought 15 young people to safety. He slipped away and was not identified as the hero until some time later.
Known as 'Dolly', he played junior cricket with the Freemason Ramblers and later captained the Anchor team of his employer, G. Wood, Son & Co. He judged dairy and produce at all the leading shows in SA and was an active member of the Druids Lodge.
Bill Warburton was 64 when he died suddenly at his St Leonards home on Christmas Day 1929. He was survived by his widow, Abla, and son Clifford, a league footballer with South Adelaide from 1908 to 1911 and a prominent baseballer.
P Robins Dec 2017