In 1934 a blond-haired, 17 year old named Ron West played in Norwood’s B grade trials against Magill, Glenroy and an East Torrens Association side. Ron standing 177 cm and weighing 75 kg was considered in his era to be strongly built and he had the reputation of being very fast.
West was not selected for round one in the reserves but his opportunity came in round two due to a spate of injuries. Like many clubs, Norwood blamed the lack of rain and hard grounds for these injuries. Norwood were forced to use 28 players in the first two rounds in their reserve side. Placed at half forward, he seized his opportunity. He became under the attention of league selectors with some dashing displays and was selected as 19th man for the league side against Port at Alberton in July. Coming on at half time, Ron impressed selectors sufficiently to be included in the starting line-up against West Adelaide.
After just a few games, one reporter wrote that in Ron West Norwood had discovered a young player of decided promise who plays the half forward flank with dash and cleverness. Having missed the last two games of 1934 with an ankle injury, West was chosen for round one of the 1935 season against South. His form fluctuated however and he moved between the league and reserve sides. He was called upon to play in a variety of positions which may have caused him to be unsettled. Things took a turn for the worse when a leg injury sustained in round 15 meant he could not train for three weeks and brought his season to a premature end.
Ron did not reappear in 1936 but returned for a season in the reserves in 1937. It was during this season that he established himself as a fine centre half back. His performances this year led to him being named captain of the reserves for the 1938 season at just 22 years of age.
He relished his new role. His side sat at the top of the premiership table and he was personally rewarded by being selected as centre half back and captain of the association (reserves) side that played against a combined Broken Hill team. Late in the season Norwood made a decision to permanently retain Ron on the league list. This meant he had to relinquish his captaincy and was now unavailable for selection in the reserves. One can’t help wondering how Ron felt after being 19th man for the league side that suffered a nine goal loss to South in a preliminary final while on the same day the side he captained for all but three games was at Thebarton Oval winning the premiership by defeating Port Adelaide. Perhaps it was Ron’s feelings that led him to seek permission to train with North Adelaide in February, 1939. Things were resolved and he was back at The Parade.
The new season saw him establish himself as regular selection on a half back flank. It had its controversy when in a match against West Torrens he was reported by a boundary umpire because he, “Misconducted himself.” No other details were given and he got off with a reprimand. Again unfortunately his season came to an early end. This time not due to a football injury but due to appendicitis.
1940 was Ron’s last season. It was, due to the onset of war, unsettling for everyone. In Norwood’s case they lost their new coach A J Smith who resigned pre-season due to his enlistment in the AIF. Ron was recruited into the RAAF in July but was able to play out the season. His last game was a first semi-final against South which was unfortunately lost by 31 points.
Flight Sergeant Ronald West was killed in action on 2 January 1944 during a flight battle over New Britain in the Pacific Islands.
B Ridge May 2021