(1933 - 1941)
Bruce Schultz joined Norwood in June 1933 from the Jervois Football Club in the River Murray Association where, as a teenager, he had played in the 1932 A grade premiership team kicking six goals against Imperials in the grand final. It was Jervois’ fourth consecutive premiership and Schultz broke the association’s goal kicking record with 50 goals for the season.
Schultz continued to play for Jervois in 1933 until he was selected for Norwood in the 10th round against North Adelaide on 30 June. Controversy ensued later when, on 12 August he was selected to play for Jervois in the grand final against Murray Bridge Ramblers, after he had commenced with Norwood. (SANFL teams had a bye that weekend due to the national carnival held in Sydney) Jervois won the game by 38 points and Schultz starred with eight goals, but an appeal by Ramblers saw Jervois stripped of the title for playing Schultz without a permit from the league. The decision denied Jervois a fifth consecutive premiership.
In his debut game for Norwood, the tall (182cm) slightly built (76kg) 20 year old scored five goals and earned the plaudits of commentators such as Steve McKee who noted that “…Norwood have found the forward for whom they have been searching. Five goals at his first league appearance… Standing six feet tall and more, Schultz will make Norwood a more difficult side to beat from now on.” (The News 3 July 1933 p 2)
Norwood lost to North Adelaide that day but McKee’s comments were prescient as, although Schultz featured in only 12 games, including the major round, he scored 49 goals, just behind leading goal-kicker Krome’s 53 goals over 20 games. Norwood reached the Grand Final for the first time since 1929 but lost to West Torrens by 23 points.
The following year Schultz was leading goal-kicker with 66 goals and over the following years was the club’s leading scorer on five occasions. In 1939 (98 goals) and 1940 (90 goals) injuries restricted him from probably reaching 100 goals. He also shared goal kicking honours with diminutive rover Ron Brown who, while resting in a forward pocket, was a perfect foil for the high marking Schultz.
The 1941 season saw Schultz at the peak of his playing career, the highlight of which came in round 12 when, on 19 July 1941, he scored 19 goals 2 behinds against Glenelg at Norwood bringing his season total to 98. (Remarkably the two behinds came from shots which hit the goalposts)
The following week, playing against West Adelaide at The Parade, he became the first Norwood player to reach 100 goals in a season when he kicked two first quarter goals in two minutes. Shortly afterwards he was carried from the ground with a leg injury that denied him a place in Norwood’s first premiership in 12 years and ended his playing career. In spite of missing the last seven games he was the league’s leading goal kicker and his 100 goals remained the highest season tally by a Norwood player until Neville Roberts’ 111 goals in 1983.
Statistics don’t always tell the story of a player’s ability but in Bruce Schultz’ case the numbers are compelling. He is eighth on the list of SANFL goal kickers and over a nine year career, scored 669 goals in 124 games for an average of 5.4 goals a game, second only to Ken Farmer’s 6.3 goals. He scored 10 goals or more on 12 occasions and five goals or more in 68 games. In that final, fateful season, if he had continued to score at his season average he would have overhauled Ken Farmer’s SANFL record of 134 goals in a season. (Schultz’ average is the fifth highest in the history of senior mainland Australian football, and ahead of Lockett, Dunstall and Ablett )
Schultz represented the South Australian state team on six occasions and kicked 23 goals
He was also an accomplished cricketer who commenced playing with district team East Torrens in 1932 and featured in two first class games for South Australia in 1936/37 as a middle order batsman and fast medium bowler. His father, Julius ‘Ern’ Schultz also played with South Australia.
Bruce Schultz was born at Royston Park on 13 March 1913 and attended Norwood High School. He married Lilian May Jury at Norwood on 9 May 1942. In July 1942 he enlisted in the Australian Army, reaching the rank of Sergeant and was discharged in November 1946. He became a well known hotelier in country South Australia and was publican at the Wanbi Hotel in the Murray Mallee district from 1943 to 1952. After his football and cricket achievements he became a successful pigeon breeder and racer.
Bruce and Lillian had two daughters and a son but tragedy struck the family when their two girls were killed in a road accident near Wanbi in 1956.
Bruce passed away on 11 January 1980 at Campbelltown and is buried at the North Brighton Cemetery along with Lillian and their two daughters Jennifer and Janet. He is survived by son, Greg.
Club leading goalkicker:
Norwood Player Life Member, Norwood Team of the Century, SANFL leading goalkicker 1941, SA games 6 ; 23 goals .
W Heading June 2021