Ern “Skinny” Wadham
(1922 - 1973)
Ern Wadham was a wonderful servant of the Norwood Football Club, both on and off the field, for over 50 years. Educated at Norwood Public School and then at Norwood High School, Wadham entered the State Civil Service in 1916.
He first came under Norwood's notice playing for East Torrens in the Young Men's Christian Association, winning the fairest and most brilliant award. Wadham played as a ruckman for Norwood High and East Torrens.
Recruited from the East Torrens club in 1922, Wadham was promoted to the League side after playing a handful of games in the Reserves.
"Skinny" Wadham, as he was known, played his first senior game against the East Perth Football Club on the Adelaide Oval. Norwood were defeated 7.10 to 8.20, but the young Wadham acquitted himself very well as a ruckman. The following week he made his SANFL debut against Port Adelaide at Alberton when he had to ruck the last three quarters on his own after Norwood's senior follower Leslie Bryant was injured in the first quarter. The Redlegs won the match by two points.
Wadham became a permanent fixture in the Norwood league team as a ruckman resting in the forward pocket. A vigorous and speedy follower, he was also a long and accurate kick for goal.
He played in a premiership team in his first season, and was high in the best players in the 1923 Grand Final, as the Redlegs went on to win back-to-back premierships. Wadham was named most improved in 1924, and was part of another flag in 1925 - Norwood defeating West Torrens by one point (8.4 to 7.9) in the Grand Final.
Wadham led the ruck division in the 1929 Grand Final against Port Adelaide. Norwood won the game comfortably; Wadham kicked three goals and was again named in the best players.
In 1927 and 1929 he won Norwood's "Best Follower" award.
After Alick Lill injured his knee (jumping off a table prior to a pre-season trial match) in 1931, Wadham was named captain. Then, in early May of that year he was appointed captain-coach. He ran into injury problems however and, with his form deteriorating, suggested that Wacka Scott take over as coach.
Wadham retired after the game against North Adelaide at the Norwood Oval on August 1, 1931.
A valuable State representative, he played in the 1924 ANFC Championships in Hobart, and in the 1927 Championships held in Melbourne. He also played State football in 1926.
In 1932 he became a Norwood selector, and held that position until 1948. He served the club in a variety of other roles including committeeman, was SANFL delegate for 24 years, Secretary/Manager (1950-67) and Team Manager.
1971 marked Wadham's 50th consecutive year of association with the club - he was Assistant Secretary at the time.
His remarkable off-field record also included his appointment as Team Manager of two ANFC Championship SA teams (Brisbane 1961, Adelaide 1969) and as State selector from 1970. When he died in 1973, Wadham was Chairman of the State selectors.
Possessing a passion for junior football, at different times he filled the roles of Secretary and Chairman of the East Torrens Football Association.
A talented sportsman and a professional athlete, he won the Bay Sheffield in 1922, had wins in the Bendigo quarter mile and half mile, and ran third in the Stawell half mile. He was also a keen District tennis player for Kensington.
He had earlier run a sports store in Gawler Place (Adelaide) in partnership with P.K. Lee, the prominent Norwood footballer (41 games, 1923-29) and interstate/Test cricketer.
Jack Wadham, well-known Sturt footballer and Secretary, was his cousin.
Ernest Wadham gave a life-time of service to the Norwood Football Club, and was deservedly inducted in the club's Hall of Fame in 2006 and the SANFL Hall of Fame in 2010
Wadham served his country as a Flight Lieutenant in World War II, spending four years in Italy and the Middle East.
R Cialini Dec 2016
1922 - 23, 1925, 1929
Norwood Player Life Member, SANFL Life Member, SA games 7.