(1940 - 1956)
The master coach
Jack Oatey played his early senior football with Maitland, but when the club folded he transferred to Port Victoria. Port Adelaide invited him to join in their 1939 pre-season trials. Only 17 years old at the time, he managed to play half a trial before the Magpie officials suggested that Oatey go back to the bush for a couple of seasons. Neither West Adelaide or West Torrens were interested in adding another rover to their list.
Oatey won The Mail Medal on his return to Port Victoria. Furthermore, he played very well in a Yorke Peninsula versus Murray Districts curtain-raiser to a SANFL semi-final on the Adelaide Oval and impressed Norwood official Len Martin who gained his signature.
In 1940 the clever, diminutive rover won Norwood's best and fairest award in his first year of league football.
Then in 1941 Oatey had the distinction of winning the club's best and fairest in a premiership year. Norwood defeated Sturt in the grand final and Oatey was very high in Norwood's best players. He was runner-up in that year's Magarey Medal.
Between 1942 and 1944 he played in the World War II competition for the combined Norwood-North side, playing in a winning grand final in 1943, and was part of the 1944 premiership although he unavailable for the grand final. He also represented South Melbourne in 1944 whilst on Army service in Melbourne. Oatey served in the AIF during the war
The SANFL competition resumed in 1945, and Oatey won another best and fairest - this time playing as a captain-coach. He also led the SA team against Victoria during the year.
1946 was a great year for the Redlegs, winning 16 out of 19 matches. More importantly the club won the premiership, defeating Port Adelaide by 28 points in the season decider. Captain-coach Oatey was amongst the best players, and was named the season's "most unselfish and best all-round player". Oatey again represented SA against Victoria. A knee injury cost him a trip to Western Australia.
Norwood again won 16 out of 19 games in 1947, but were beaten by West Adelaide in the grand final. Jack Oatey was again named "best all-rounder". He missed the 1947 Hobart carnival because of a broken hand.
Under Oatey's guidance Norwood bounced back to win the 1948 premiership, easily accounting for West Torrens in the grand final. The Mail reported that Jack Oatey was carried home after a victory social at Norwood Oval after the game, because of an ankle injury. He was kicked by a woman spectator as he was leaving Adelaide Oval at half time during the final. He had a very good match and an outstanding year, playing 19 out of a possible 20 matches and taking out the best and fairest. He also captained a State team against Essendon.
After a disappointing finals series in 1949, the Redlegs were again premiers in 1950 comfortably defeating Glenelg in the grand final - Oatey had secured his third flag as captain-coach. He was named State captain for the Brisbane Carnival.
Norwood were thrashed by North Adelaide in the 1952 Grand Final. Oatey had announced his retirement as a player prior to the match.
A master tactician, Oatey continued as Norwood coach up to 1956 (making a grand final in 1955) before moving to West Adelaide from 1957 to 1960. Oatey took over the reins at Sturt in 1962, and by the time he had retired as coach at the end of 1982, had guided them to seven premierships - including five in a row (1966-1970).
In 1978 Oatey was awarded the Order of Australia for his services to Australian Football.
Since 1981 the Jack Oatey Medal has been awarded to the best player in the SANFL Grand Final.
In 1996, he was an inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Jack Oatey's father, Edward "Ted" Oatey played for Port Adelaide and West Torrens, whilst Jack's sons, Robert (232 NFC games, 69 SFC games)
and Peter (120 NFC games) both had impressive SANFL careers
Games: 181 Goals: 233
Premierships: 1941, 1946, 1948, 1950
Premiership captain-coach: 1946, 1948, 1950
Captain-coach: 1945 - 52 Coach: 1953 - 56
Club champion: 1940 - 41, 1945, 1948
Further honours: Norwood Player Life Member, Norwood Team of the Century, Member of the Order of Australia, SANFL Life Member, AFL and SANFL Halls of Fame, Jack Oatey Medal for best player in the SANFL grand final, SA coach 1950, 1959, SA captain 1949-50, SA games 7
R Cialini Oct 2019