Gilbert Wood, known as Bertie, is a good fit for the new follower who played for Norwood against South Adelaide at Kensington Oval on 22 August 1891. The South Australian Register of 24 August 1891 calls the new man G. Woods. Also in the team were J. Woods and C. Woods – John and Charlie, iconic members of Norwood’s famous Woods family. There may have been an assumption that G. Woods was a member of that dynasty.
The Advertiser of 24 August has a more authoritative report. It places players in positions and twice names the newcomer G. Wood. That points to Bertie Wood, who attended Norwood Grammar School, was an athlete at Prince Alfred College and lived near Kensington Oval.
Norwood and Port Adelaide were the main contenders in season 1891, but South came to play with its best team that Saturday in August. Norwood was without followers Dick Correll and Jack McGaffin, replaced in the team by Wood and an aging ‘Topsy’ Waldron. South won all around the ground and on the scoreboard, 3.16 to 1.6. Norwood failed especially in ruck. Capping a bad day, John Woods was reported for striking South captain Jack Reedman.
G. Wood disappeared from the football scene as quickly as he arrived, but Norwood went on to defeat Port for the 1891 premiership.
Bertie was one of 11 children, four of whom died in infancy, and was born in Kensington on 3 March 1871 to Gilbert Wood and his wife Ann, née Fraser, settlers from the Shetland Islands. They lived at Seaton Cottage, Magill Road, North Kensington. Gilbert Wood opened a city grocer shop around 1855 and founded the huge grocery firm G. Wood, Son & Co with his eldest son Peter and clerk James Gartrell in 1876. He was a deacon of Clayton Congregational Church, where NFC patron Sir Edwin Smith was a regular worshipper.
Bertie worked for the family firm before becoming a bushman on northern stations, for a while being employed by Sidney Kidman. He bought a property at Langhorne Creek, grew grapes and played polo. Unmarried, he was 46 when died in an Adelaide hospital on 8 July 1917. He is buried at West Terrace Cemetery.
* For the picture we thank Gary Lloyd, Wood family historian
P Robins, D Cox, May 2021