Centenary Year Miracle - the year we won our 24th premiership


Venue: Football Park

Umpires: D.Mead & D.Foster            Crowd: 50,867

                 1st     2nd       3rd      Final         Pts
Norwood    1-5    5-10      9-10    16-15        111            
Sturt          5-9    8-15    12-21    14-26        110

Date    30 September 1978        Win by 1 point

Best:  M Taylor, N Craig, B Adamson, G Nicholson, N Button, P Gallagher,
D Jenkins.

Goalkickers : B Adamson 5   P Gallagher 3   R Woodcock 2   G Turbill 2  
 M Taylor   J Wynne  N Craig   P Adler

Game Review:

Norwood produced a miracle by rising from the quicksand of defeat to win a sensational grand final by 1 point at Football Park.  At no stage for the first three quarters did Norwood hold the initiative, but players never lost the incentive.

Trailing by 29 points at the last break, Norwood players heard coach Bob Hammond say, “You can win it if you believe you can win”.  Roger Woodcock later described Hammond’s address as inspirational.

For the final 33 minutes, Norwood’s flame of dedication burned so brightly that the team ultimately grabbed the 1978 premiership in its centenary year.  The epic display was watched by a crowd of 50,867 and a live telecast audience far in excess of that figure.

Outplayed for three quarters, but kept in the game by Sturt’s inaccuracy, Norwood transformed a nightmare into a dream with an explosive and crushingly-efficient 16 minute, last quarter burst.  Being able to contain Rick Davies at centre bounces most of that period was a major factor in Norwood’s success.  Greg Nicholson played a significant role when shifted to half back in the third term to nullify the brilliant Michael Graham.

Not even the most optimistic Norwood supporter was prepared for the stirring comeback in which a seemingly beaten side rattled premiership favourite Sturt with desperation, aggression and penetration.

Victory was a tribute to Hammond’s coaching skill, his belief in his players, and their belief in themselves.  He transformed a “foreign legion”, including costly imports Brian Adamson, Mike Nunan, and Wayne Phillis into an unselfish, disciplined, determined combination.

The Blues led by 28, 23, and 29 points at each change, having had 33 scoring shots to 19 by the final break.  Sturt was skilful and versatile, developing momentum, but failing badly as it bombarded the target.

Inspirational figures in Norwood’s gallant and startling recovery were ruckman Neil Button, ruck-rover Neil Craig, centreman Michael Taylor, centre half forward Brian Adamson (5 goals) and interchange Greg Turbill.  Button was bull-strong, Turbill neat and courageous, Adamson too quick and too clever, and Craig ever alert to break away and set up attacking moves.

Clever liaison with wingman Phil Gallagher and Glen Rosser enabled the Redlegs to penetrate Sturt’s defence to kick 6-4 to 1-0 in 16 minutes and sensationally grab the lead for the first time when John Wynne snapped on his right boot for a goal.

Norwood, which had been second best all season, fearlessly contested every issue as it sensed victory.  Sturt arrested the lead with a goal to Heinrich, giving them a 4 point advantage.  But Norwood spiritedly hit back with a goal from Gallagher, who admitted later he didn’t know whether he had been paid a mark of a free.  Umpire Des Foster said it was a mark.

Three minutes still remained and in that period Sturt had three opportunities.  A Mutton shot that was brilliantly smothered by Danny Jenkins, a behind to Rick Davies, and another Davies shot marked by Michael Taylor on the goal line.

Sturt went forward again, a pack developed, and the siren sounded to decree Norwood premiers for 1978.  Visions of Michael Taylor fisting the air whilst being embraced by team mates is an enduring one, as too was that of John Wynne shaking the hand of a relieved Wally Miller and retiring to the change room as others celebrated on the field.  The job was done.    

From The Advertiser, 2 October 1978.

Our team in the 1978 grand final was

Coach: R Hammond

F    W.Phillis         J.Michalanney    M.Nunan
HF  C.Fienemann    B.Adamson      R.Woodcock
C    P.Gallagher       M.Taylor (c)    G.Rosser
HB  D.Armour           S.Kerley        D.Jenkins
B    G.Nicholson    I.Stasinowsky     N.Craig
Followers    N.Button (vc) J.Wynne  T.Von Bertouch
Reserves    G.Turbill   P.Adler    

Page prepared by  G Adams March 2012

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