Almanac Footy: David Palm – friendship and footy

David Palm: friendship and footy


(Photo provided by Roger Woodcock of the NFC history committee permission granted to use)


David Palm

Club League Years Games Goals
Norwood SANFL 1976-79 65 79
West Perth WAFL 1980-82, 1990-91 91 50
Richmond VFL 1983-88 104 38
Total     260 167



The Palm family


David had a productive and lengthy playing career but, as with everyone, it’s a life involving a lot more than footy and in particular personal as the Palm-Ashwood families grew up together. David’s dad, the late Jim, and my dad Ray were good mates and may have the shared the odd ale or two. While my mum, the late Margaret, and David’s mum, the late Lorraine, were also close.


David and his siblings Jenny and Michael, had brother, the late Andrew, with an intellectual disability. Now we also had Aunty Muriel in similar situation, so I’ve always been grateful that growing up with people with disabilities was just part of the norm and I didn’t bat an eyelid. It is just part of life and that has helped me markedly. Some people just didn’t cope with the helmet Andrew used to wear and his general demeanour. To the Palms’ eternal credit Andrew was included in everything.


People involved in the disability sector know how much patience is needed. I remember dad and Jim putting extra legs on the TV and bolting it down at the Palms’ house in Magill and putting extra locks on the record player. It’s not unfair to say my late mum Margaret was definitely one of Andrew’s favourites. He loved to play 8 ball with mum – the rules tended to be a tad liberal and it was bloody hard to beat Andrew. When mum got a ball in the pocket it was always fluke.


Jim was also a character and directions going anywhere were always given by pubs, not roads (e.g. “go past The Feathers, go round the roundabout, turn left at the lights, go past The Marryatville, straight ahead the Robin Hood and will be on your right”). It’s always been a subject which evokes smirks and a smile.


Lorraine had a good sense of humour also and tolerated our shenanigans. I always got on well with Jenny (still do). I do remember after her mum’s funeral when Jenny said, “you’re in the car with me. I need some stupidity”. It was meant well and that’s how I took it. We did 30 minutes of reminiscing of the good times on the way back to the wake, Jen said it was exactly what was needed.


Michael could seriously play footy but decided to concentrate on work. The great administrator Wally Miller regarded Michael highly and says he is one who got away. David agrees, if Michael had persisted he would definitely have played league football.


A serious event I remember vividly is when Andrew had a seizure in the water at Victor. How my sister, Beth, and I got him out of the sea safely I will never know. I was extremely small as a kid but somehow managed. Beth was still studying medicine at that stage and remained calm and composed which has stood her well in her medical career.


David adds: “I can’t credit my mum and dad enough over the countless hours they spent driving me to all sporting events and, in the meantime, dad running a successful business along with the ongoing supervision of my brother Andrew. As well as attending to my brother and sister’s sporting aspirations.”


Back to the beginning

David attended Magill Primary School where he credits Mr Hancock as having a positive influence on his footy and then at Norwood High with ex-Redleg Ron Bland (who David gives enormous credit) coaching. Norwood High had a super side, winning the state championship with Neil Craig, Jim Derrington, Robert Dolan, Michael Holliday, Greg Turbill, Dave Symons and Ray Ladhams among others. It truly was an outstanding side winning against Henley High – Ray won the BOG medal in the Grand Final at Footy Park.


Palmy was also talented in athletics and broke the Norwood High School high jump record. It ended up being the only event still going on sports day so the whole school was watching on the side oval.


David played junior footy for Kensington Gardens. He is grateful for Ian Milne’s help and guidance coaching (David did kick a casual 22 goals in one game). David played State Under 16s – the carnival was played in Queensland at Windsor Zillmere and Coorparoo on rock hard grounds with David McKay, ex-West Torrens, captaining Victoria a standout. David Drew and Randall Wright from West Adelaide were notable SA players. David also played with Ron Fuller who also ended up playing at West Perth before heading back to South Australia and eventually coaching.


Palm then progressed onto Norwood under the tutorship of John Potter and Alex Staritski in the Under 17s (David may have acquired the nickname of ‘two bob lair’ from Alex which he still answers to today and gets some mirth), then Mal Smith and John Hall in the Under 19s.



David made his league debut against West Adelaide in 1976 (I vividly remember the photo taken by Ray Titus from the News of Michael on David’s shoulders before his league debut ), standing Robbie Donaldson and played on the outer wing for the majority of the game. That had special significance in that it was where his family stood regularly at the Parade (David is happy that it is also where his picket is). He played nine league games in ‘76 also playing in the famous annihilation of Carlton in the Wills Cup-night series game. He also won the colour TV for BOG in the game against the ACT when the late great Jim Thiel did his knee:




David certainly impressed Max Hall and Wally May v North Adelaide!


He established himself in 1977, playing 22 games and then in ‘78 played in finals particularly well against Glenelg in the Qualifying Final. David was for mine (yes, I can be accused of bias) inexplicably left out of the side for the Grand Final, partly due to supposedly provide more flexibility with the irony of that being that he ended up playing mainly in defence for Richmond. The fact we won by a point means this is virtually never mentioned. David, to his immense credit, played well in the Reserves premiership win against West Adelaide (the only senior premiership of his career).



Move to WA


(photo with permission from David Palm)


David performed solidly in 1979 playing 21 games with his final game being the loss in the First Semi Final against South Adelaide. He then moved to WA at the end of the year having been transferred in his employment with the Commercial Bank. Deciding he needed a fresh start in general, David was originally going to go to Claremont but Brian Adamson who was returning to West Perth persuaded him to join the Cardinals. David may not have been too popular with Claremont President Wally Maskeill who had helped organise the transfer within the bank. However, not knowing anyone else in WA meant Brian’s pull was too strong.


West Perth was coached by Graham Campbell (future Glenelg coach) in 1980 and ’81 and captained by Les Fong. In ’82, West Perth was coached by Dennis Cometti – David enjoyed playing under both and, yes, Dennis was very eloquent. Unfortunately, the Cardinals didn’t have a huge amount of team success during his first stint in WA but David certainly made an impression, making the WA State side in 1982.


David is well qualified to compare WA and SA footy having played in such a strong era in both competitions. Think of some of his WA opponents: Phil Kelly, Brian Peake, Ken Hunter, Jim and Phil Krakouer etc. David, after much thought, says “Asho, I’m not sitting on the fence but it was completely different footy. The rock-hard WA dry grounds where it was just so lightning quick compared to an in-close muddy physical game at the Parade, Unley, Glenelg etc.” He does consider the tunnel where the players emerge onto the ground at the Parade the next best in the country after the G.


Easily the most important event in David’s time in WA was meeting his wife, Michelle (wait for it), at a West Perth FC blind date night! Michelle went along with a cousin and bingo! Geez, Palmy, you struck the lotto that night! (he goes a tad quiet when asked the question ‘where did you meet Michelle?’ just about doing a Marcel Marceau impression while I am pissing myself laughing.)




(photo with permission from David Palm)


David was recruited by Richmond with choice number 11 in the interstate draft in 1982, quickly establishing himself playing mainly as a tough, hard-running rebound defender. He played all 22 games in ‘83, ‘84 and ‘85. David readily admits he didn’t realize the turmoil he was entering re: the players the Tigers had lost after losing the ‘82 Grand Final.


Graham Richmond was ruthless being in the rooms before, during and after games and was very forceful, telling everybody exactly what he thought – nothing was held back! Now consider, David played from 1983-88 and played under the coaching of Francis Bourke, Mike Patterson, Paul Sproule, Tony Jewell and Kevin Bartlett – stability wasn’t exactly the Tigers’ middle name!


Officials, board and influential coterie members got way too much say in selection and the way the club was run to the detriment of the coaches and the club in general. The highest the Tigers finished in David’s time at the club was eighth – certainly under-achieved and not playing any finals was very disappointing.


I would be watching a Richmond game thinking ‘geez, get Palmy forward’. It happened way too infrequently for my liking. David did kick five goals in a game against Essendon in 1985. David, overall, was a consistent contributor for the Tigers with a best placing of eighth in the 1988 B&F.


My favourite memory of David’s time at Richmond is meeting Dale Weightman and Mark Lee at Victor Harbor. The four of us adjourned to The Crown, it was a summer arvo and the pub was pumping. I could not stop laughing at the females drooling over Mark Lee. I would gladly have helped him out!


David has immensely enjoyed the Tigers’ recent success being at the grand finals in 2017 and ’19, enjoying the game and celebrations with past Richmond players and officials and the Tiger faithful.


Dale Weightman adds:


David Palm was a great teammate and was fantastic to have around the club and I would say probably easily lead in that he really wanted to fit in and be part of the Tigers in the early ‘80s.


We also went on a footy trip to the Metung lakes (no trip money raised) and we hired Bulls cruisers. I think we got about three of them to sleep on and travel around the lakes. Palmy had a great physique and when we were bringing one of them in to tie up at the wharf the skipper of this one, Barry Rowlings, (none of us could drive them but we all did) was coming in too quickly and was going to hit another one. Palmy put himself between the boats to try and hold them off. Unfortunately he came up second best and ripped his stomach muscles and was in a lot of pain for many months after the trip.


He was a super teammate who always had time for all the players and was a super competitor (golf, tennis, footy) in whatever he put his mind to and always had a smile on his face. Someone we could all take the mickey out of, which we did on numerous occasions.


VFA and return to WA


David decided to join Springvale in the VFA as assistant coach in 1989 (Phil Maylin was coach). Springvale made finals but unfortunately didn’t manage the holy grail. He has always known to speak what he thinks (we may have that in common not always to our betterment), and certainly doesn’t hold back in this entertaining interview!



David and Michelle returned to WA in 1990 re-joining West Perth. He had a fantastic individual season, winning the B&F and was appointed Captain in ’91. David disagreed with the club’s decision not to reappoint George Michalczyk as coach for season 1992. Even though West Perth struggled result-wise he felt the club was heading in the right direction so he decided to retire from league football.


He then went on to coach Wongan Hills and West Perth Hellenics in the amateur competition, enjoying the experience but disappointingly losing Grand Finals with each club. With Corry Bewick (Darren’s father) he then coached the West Perth Under 16 development squad for six years, thoroughly enjoying it and enjoying the progression of players such as Jack Darling, Stephen Hill and many others.


From David

Best players played with:

Norwood – P. Gallagher, J. Wynne, N. Craig, R. Woodcock, R. Dillon

West Perth – P. Mengalio, B. Adamson, L. Fong, B. and J. Duckworth, C. Bewick

Richmond – M. Lee, J. Jess, D. Weightman, B. Rowlings, M. Rioli, M. Roach, G. Strachan, K. Bartlett


Hardest opponents:

Leigh Matthews, Hawthorn

Glen Hawker, Essendon

Michael Conlan, Fitzroy

Gary Ablett Snr, Geelong


David work wise and since footy 

After Norwood High School, David started work in the Commercial Bank of SA at the Norwood branch. Transferred to Perth with the bank in 1980 and played for West Perth. Left for Vic in 1983 to play for Richmond and was transferred by the bank which became Westpac.


He was pursuing a career in the sports industry and secured employment with a company called Active Leisure Sports in 1984. They held the Australian distributor rights for Wilson and Diadora. David initially held an internal sales role and was then appointed a sales rep in 1985. He serviced Vic metro accounts along with his country region which covered from Mildura all the way down to Albury/ Wodonga/ Shepparton.

David was then approached in 1987 by a sporting retail group called Sportspower where he was employed within their head office structure. This head office controlled/managed 60 sports stores over four states at the time.


David was then approached by a company that was advertising for a sales agent in WA and  was appointed the WA sales agent in 1990 for Converse footwear. He then moved back to Perth with Michelle and their two sons to start their our business and continue his football career back with West Perth. He still currently operates within the WA sports industry with various sports brands within his agency.


Summing up:

David’s wife Michelle is a legal secretary and is a ripper. Michelle reminds me of Marnie Weatherald – friendly and can mix with any and everyone.


David’s son James is into the arts and has written and performed in plays. Sam has his own roofing carpentry business and played colts and reserves for West Perth and daughter Madeleine is a media advisor for the housing industry in WA. David and Michelle are proud of each and their accomplishments.


The Ashwood family would like to thank the Palms for their friendship over the years. THANK YOU!




We’ll do our best to publish two books in the lead-up to Christmas 2021. The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020  and the 2021 edition to celebrate the Dees’ magnificent premiership season(title is up for discussion at the moment!). These books will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers and Demons season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from these two Covid winters. Enquiries HERE


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  1. Just finished reading this wonderful profile of David Palm. Whilst I pride myself with knowing a fair bit about the Norwood Footy club,especially pre ’85, there was so much I wasn’t aware of here. I always knew David was very talented and expected he would become another legend at Norwood. It came as a big disappointment to me, and to many Redleg fans when David up stumps and moved to greener pastures in WA. I have forever wondered how he would have progressed under the coaching of Neil Balme. Anyway, now I know the full story relating his departure. I will, of course re read it a few more times to take all the info in – there’s too much to take in on 1 reading. Malcolm has, as per usual, brought David Palm to life with this quite wonderful profile.

  2. Fascinating insight, sounds like David married the right girl.

  3. Enjoyed the read RB.
    Huge respect for families caring for family members who are living with a disability.
    Loved Weightmans story about David and the boats.
    John Potter was the AMP State Manager when I worked there. Great bloke.

  4. Good article Malcolm I reckon we forget how many games and impact a person who has played in 3 states made,v good player hard and quick thank you

  5. Very interesting read, as per usual Malcolm.
    David had an amazing career and was obviously close to your family.
    Interesting to see Randall Wright featured, a fantastic player when I played in junior sides at Glenelg.

  6. Another great read book keep em coming

  7. Well done Malcolm, playing underage with Palmy we always knew his was destined for higher honours talking to Starits he did make the easy hard but always found away out.

  8. Martin Rumsby says

    Some great insight to a footballing journeyman, Malcolm. I lost track of David’s career after his Richmond days so your article was informative in filling in those gaps. Well done!

  9. Great article Mal,
    Some real insight there.
    Keep up the great work.

  10. A really personal memoir of a very talented player. If circumstances hadn’t taken him out of the state he could have been one of Norwood’s greatest players of that golden era

  11. Daryl Schramm says

    This is a delightful and very informative read Ernest. Bought back many memories, and like others, so much othet stuff that was new on me. I remember David from both Kensington Gardens Football Club and Norwood High School. I can remember watching a match from the Norwood outer one evening when the players ran out, David Palm glistening on the floodlights covered from head to toe in what looked like layers of linament oil which bought a comment from fellow KGFC watchers I was with “David Palm – Grease Monkey”.
    Randall Wright another blast from the past in footy and state public service circles. I think he is in Queensland somewhere but could be wrong.
    Palmy would be right up there with an even number of games played in SA WA Vic. Can’t think of any one else.

  12. Michael Rehn says

    David’s record speaks for itself, more than 260 games across three states simply cannot be achieved unless you’re a class act and a top line person !!!

  13. Greg Robins says

    Great write up again Mal. David Palm was a fabulous footballer in a great Norwood era. I went to Campbelltown High with his cousin Richard who absolutely idolised him too. I hope he and his family are well.

  14. Jeff Milton says

    Played successfully in 3 states, Not many did that. I too remember being very disappointed when he left Norwood. That 1976 Norwood side was not an easy one to break into.

  15. Stephen Jones says

    Thanks Malcolm … a great read that answered several questions I’ve had over the years and also brought back many memories. A very good friend & classmate “back in the day”, Palmy was always destined the highest echelons of aussie rules football and was THE eastern suburbs gun player from the year of 1958. I still have fond memories of the 1973 U/15 season for the KGFC Tigers when David kicked over 100 goals. Life for boys was a lot simpler then … cricket in the summer and footy in the winter!

  16. Great insights as usual Malcolm! A really talented footballer to do it across SANFL WAFL and VFL

  17. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Fisho thank you yes various reasons for,David heading west I remember it well disappointing but we knew why.Lachy Palmy has struck the jackpot in that regard,Michelle is a ripper..Charlie v much so the overwhelming majority have no idea huge respect for the Palm family,Dale Weightman v funny old style bole v honest.Bladesey thank you and v good point.Thanks Number 23 and 2 shattered re SA footy video archives removing all there stuff the Tim Hoile player highlights ? Disaster ! Johhno thank you.Scmaaly a precocious talent quick well balanced and hard.Martin and Riverboy thank you.Wynton couldn’t agree more thanks folks.

  18. Great article as always Malcolm. Not many players make an impact in every state they play in.
    Good to reminisce about Mr Footypunt also ahead of his time

  19. An interesting read Rulebook. Your close ties gave us a good insight to his story. Tough playing at Richmond without any finals appearances.. Keep the good stories coming Rulebook..

  20. Chris Harcourt says

    Another good read, Malcolm. Well done!
    It is always refreshing to hear details of personal experiences and how these influence both the subject and the writer in their lives. Watching footy in the early 80’s I always had a soft spot for Palmy at the Tigers, seeing as he had come from Norwood. At that stage he was about the only past Norwood player in the VFL (until the mid 80s). He was a reliable, fit and solid player throughout that period, when the Tigers fortunes were going from bad to worse most of the time and wins were rare.
    It would be interesting to hear the full story behind the Redlegs finals series of 1975. 1978 and 1982, with some in depth interviews of players who played / missed out on the GF glory, plus admin / support staff. I’m sure there’s more to the obvious stories than meets the eye….!

  21. Chris Harcourt says

    Holy moly, I forgot Kingo Taylor! Ok, there’s probably more as well ;)

  22. Paul Clutterbuck says

    Running a Sports Store in the NT my Agent for certain Sports Label’s was David Palm Agencies in Perth.
    He was a good chap to deal with.

  23. Greg Briggs says

    Great article mate, in my time watching footy, which is a lot of years I still believe Palmy was one of the most underrated players I’ve seen play.

  24. Malcolm,
    thank you for taking the time to write story of how both our families and footy connected over all these years.
    I have been fortunate that football has given me many opportunities in life and business .
    Along the way I have met many great people from 3 great Clubs and have enjoyed returning to Norwood and Richmond reunions in the past and hope to again in the future.
    I still have some great mates here in Perth who are ex West Perth team mates who I catch with regularly.
    Appreciate all the comments from everyone.
    Keep up the good work Asho.

  25. Rick Sarre says

    One of the best. ANOTHER one from Norwood High and in fact Magill Primary!

  26. Michael Aish says

    Another great read Malcolm. I’m pretty sure both Neil Craig and David left at the end of 79. Both were a great loss. David had plenty of grunt and took on anyone that came his way. Beautiful kick and certainly didn’t mind getting into a scarp or two. I had the pleasure of fronting up against David in a game against WA. Walked away from that game with a few bruises thanks to Palmy. Great career and a great bloke.

  27. Great read Book.

  28. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Darryl thank you yes he certainly loved to oil himself up ! Michael well said.Greg yes I remember Richard he definitely did.Jeff well said ironically David would probably have hung around if Michael was going to have a crack at playing league footy but then he wouldn’t have met,Michelle life’s swings and roundabouts.Stephen thank you and v much so.Campbell thank you.Raj thank you unfortunately,Graham isn’t well we all wish him the best.Raf thanks mate.Chris thank you obviously I followed,David’s career closely with a bias – it was good to catch up with the Palm family after the Richmond v Norwood Stirling cup game in 83 at Waverley.Paul thank you.Greg ok I am biased but couldn’t agree more.David thank you it was good to reminisce over quite a few phone calls and your timing ringing me when I was with my dad on Friday was perfect( we got there in the end re the article look forward to catching up at some stage ) well said,Bizz.Michael yes what ifs 80 add Craigy,Palmy- remembering we lost the bear ( Neil Button ) for the majority of the year and then,Ugo when he was in the form of his life re a work accident.State game amusing memories from you and David.TC aka Stormtrooper of love greatly appreciated as always thanks folks

  29. harry butler says

    Thanks Rulebook. Norwood didn’t let many good ones get away in those days but he was a big loss. Do I have a recollection of David winning a grand final sprint at Footy park? Not sure if individually or anchoring a Redlegs relay team?

  30. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Harry David had some success in the VFL GF halftime sprint races and it was definitely an oversight in my article. David had several placings without winning the event. Palmy adds it was a lucrative way to get a ticket to the grand final as while he was at the Tigers he wasn’t getting a ticket any other way! Unfortunately playing in one wasn’t a option.

  31. Geoffrey G Wilson says

    Another Great Read Malcolm.Interestingly that he coached at Wongan Hills, That’s where my Mother and all of her family come from and part of the family still have farms and are farming there to this day, An incredible career spanning the three biggest football competitions.I am still dumbfounded at Davids non selection in The 78 Grand Final Side. Imagine his run, speed and carry in the last quarter, when the opposition were going up and down in the one spot. A great career David, speaking as a Big Norwood Fan, selfishly we didn’t get to see enough of you. Well played David, Well done Malcolm.

  32. Brilliant RB. Fabulous story. Like all these players you interview, the story is so much richer than just the footy.

    How is his brother Andrew going these days? Any updates? More power to them.

  33. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Geoff I wrung,Palmy to say your comment was from my mate who works at Coopers from 78 night – he said thank you greatly appreciated.Dips sadly,Andrew is no longer with us and I complimented,David re his memories of Andrew were strong and accurate far better than the accuracy of the memories of his footy career as you well know how it should be – thank you

  34. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Dips a poor oversight on my behalf added now

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