Almanac Footy History: Glen ‘Black Duck’ Rosser, an ornament to the game

Glen Rosser has made an enormous contribution as a player and administrator of the Norwood FC and as an administrator for the SANFL and community footy, both local and country, for 40 plus years.

 

Glen is the son of Lawrence and Florence. He attended Port Elliott primary school, then Victor Harbor High School. His parents ran a general store attached to their house in the Main Street of Port Elliott for 33 years. Glen’s outlet and passion for footy came in the form of playing for the Port Elliot Colts (a truly strange name for under-16s football). As a small country town, they struggled for numbers so Glen made his debut at the early age of 9! He made over 100 appearances in Colts games for Port Elliot, the experience surely guiding the rest of his career.

 

Bob Truelove was senior coach at Colts level at the time. After assuring Glen’s parents he would look after him (after a bit of trepidation), Glen made his A grade debut at the age of 16, playing every single game of the season. He came third in the Mail Medal and played for the Great Southern Football league in the Lovelock Shield. Fortunately, Bob Truelove was involved with Norwood in recruiting and recommended Glen to the club. This was in the days before zones, so Glen moved to live at that magnificent Norwood institution, Carmel Court, a boarding house set up by the club to house country and interstate recruits.

 

(Carmel Court really was an incredible success – just think of the Hall of Famers and 100-plus games players who lived there: John Wynne, Michael Taylor, Neil Button, Neil Craig, Greg Turbill, Danny Jenkins, Gil Butchart, Alby Menzel, Wayne Schmaal, the late and great Jim Thiel, Ian Stasinowsky and the list goes on and on! Carmel Court was run by Anne Carman, mother of Fabulous Phil. The development of Carmel Court played a huge part in rescuing Norwood from the doldrums.)

 

Two larger than life characters of Carmel Court at that time were Ian Stasinowsky and John Wynne. Stazza gave Glen his nickname of “Black Duck” after a cartoon character. (Cartoons were a source of much merriment at Carmel Court, with Wynney and Stazza naming several players after cartoon characters). There was a Redlegs Review with Glen Rosser, covered in mud from head to toe with the caption, “This is why the players call him ‘Black Duck’.” It further embellished the nickname and it stuck. John Wynne was virtually Head Prefect of Carmel Court. His role and influence over many players and the club can never be underestimated. This was particularly so with Glen “Black Duck” Rosser.

 

Glen Rosser and Roger Woodcock made their league debuts on the same day in the second last minor round game of the ‘69 season. Remarkably, the two virtually became institutions on the Norwood team sheet for the next decade on the right-side wing and half-forward flank. Glen broke his elbow early in the ‘70 season against Sturt at Unley after being shirt fronted by Bob Shearman and landing on the cement in the coach’s box. He missed the rest of the season. For most footballers, this would be a career-defining injury but Glen showed himself to be not just any footballer. Glen established himself as a league footballer in ’71, winning the best played aged under 21 award. In ’72, he developed into a consistent league footballer, winning the Meritorious Service award.

 

Norwood coach Robert Oatey decided to make some positional changes for the final against Central Districts. Glen played half-forward flank for the first time that season and kicked 4 goals, electrifying the game despite the unflattering result. In ‘73 Glen had another consistent year and finals were actually played at the Parade, the home of football. I remember my parents saying before the game, “Go to the toilet, “you won’t be moving once we’re inside the ground!” We convincingly beat Port Adelaide in the elimination final. In the next round against North, Dennis Sachse was paid a free kick in the dying moments which played a huge part in getting the Roosters up. I remember that my mum, Margaret Ashwood, patron saint of football, swore! I knew we had been wronged big time!

 

The ‘73 season turned out to be Robert Oatey’s final season as coach. Glen acknowledges what a huge influence Oatey had on his career as a fantastic teacher of youth and how to play great footy. The ‘74 season saw champion North Adelaide defender Bob Hammond arrive at the Parade as coach. We had a good year but fell away and under achieved in the finals, bundled out after losing convincingly to Port and Glenelg. The ‘75 season saw Norwood win 16 games on the trot and finish minor premiers, only to lose the second semi-final to Glenelg. Norwood then defeated Port Adelaide convincingly in the preliminary final. The SANFL footy public seemed to have been sucked in and almost blinded by Glenelg kicking 49 goals against Centrals. This made the Bays virtually an unbackable favourite. The reality is that Grand Final was always going to be a 50-50 game.

 

Glen had a stunner, beating Stephen Copping – ah, the good old days of wingman standing each other having one-on-one duels. Norwood had the “Jim” bookends. Jim ‘Piano’ Michlanney had an immense impact. Real football lovers named that particular pocket at Footy Park the Michlanney pocket long before Tony Hall. The late, great Jim Thiel held Fred Phillis goalless – although 0.6 is technically a goal!

 

 

Rosser to Dillon, handball to Olsen, COCKO you beauty!

 

Glen admits he didn’t know where Norwood Oval was when he originally joined the club. In fact, his mum Florence and Glen got lost looking for it. On that night in 1975, certainly no-one could have gotten lost looking for the oval! The enormity of winning the clubs first premiership in 25 years hit home with the huge numbers and celebrations back at the Parade. Supporters and long term officials were openly overcome with emotion, crying with euphoria. The dark days of the sixties were over!

 

In 1976, a combination of injuries and Premiership hangover contributed to a disappointing overall result. Not discouraged, the 1977 season saw Glen have an exceptional individual season, coming runner-up in the Best and Fairest to Neil Craig.  He was also a solid contributor in the Ardath Cup-winning night final against a star studded East Perth side which included Ross Glendinning, Phil Kelly, Graham Melrose and David Armour. (The Ardath Cup was a tournament played by the non-AFL sides to decide the Champion Club of the rest of the country. I liked just calling us ‘Champions of Australia’.)

 

 

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Rosser in action against Central Districts, 1978. Here he’s pursued by Ken Heinrich and Peter Maksimovic.

 

The 1978 season marked Norwood’s centenary and the club recruited heavily in search of a flag. Among the new recruits were the very influential Brian Adamson and David ‘Rocky’ Armour from Western Australia, Mick Nunan from Sturt and Wayne Phillis from Glenelg. Glen had yet another very consistent season, coming third in the best and fairest behind Michael Taylor and Neil Button. Norwood beat Glenelg convincingly in the qualifying final, lost to Sturt in the 2nd semi and then beat Port in the Preliminary Final. At three quarter time in the Grand Final. Sturt led by 29 points, but then the Legs exploded in the last quarter. The centre line of Phil Gallagher, Michael Taylor and that oh-so-consistent, remarkable Glen Rosser got well on top. Remember the moment – that magnificent hanger of a mark by ‘Gags’ to hit the front and hang on. In all seriousness, the scoreline, Norwood 16-15-111 defeating Sturt 14-26-110, tells the real story and has provided plenty of work for psychologists over the past 40 years.

 

 

(Just for Sturt supporters, I felt they would love to watch the entire ’78 GF.)

 

Glen felt that the recruitment of Mick Nunan, knowing Sturt’s set-ups for ball-ups, was pivotal. Nunan’s positional awareness and Neil “The Bear” Button’s pure ability did not allow Rick Davies to dominate. Glen had an intriguing battle with Geoff Leonard on his wing and emerged with the overall points.

 

Glen makes the point that the result was the highlight of his career, with the pure excitement and raw emotion at achieving the ultimate result in the club’s centenary year. He felt the fact that the Leg’s got closer to Sturt in the second semi-final than in the minor round gave the side some belief. Then, when Sturt hadn’t put us away at three quarter time through poor goal kicking, the door was so ever slightly ajar for Norwood. Despite Sturt leading by 29 points, the Redlegs stormed through that bloody door! It is the greatest regret of my life that Norwood High, of all schools, had programmed a bloody school camp. I missed the Grand Final. I was thrown in this river when Norwood won, emerging triumphantly with my Norwood scarf raised above my head.

 

The 1979 Season had its similarities to ‘76 with injuries and departures. Absolute gun recruit Brian Adamson returned to Perth and Greg Turbill was plagued with knee injuries. Glen was one of the club’s more consistent players, with Norwood defeating Woodville in the elimination final. (Woodville’s first finals appearance included the Danny Jenkins famous bump of Phil Maylin.) Norwood were defeated by South Adelaide in the first semi-final. (There you are Griff, I said it).

 

Glen started the year strongly in ’80 only for injuries (in particular, a driver muscle injury) to prematurely end his career. He played his final league game against Woodville on Mother’s day in 1980. It was a sad way for a fine career to end. The esteemed Allan Killigrew was very open in stating that Glen would have been a very good VFL footballer due to his outstanding ability to read the play and find space, providing link-up play with defenders. He also liked to have a ping at goal and was a consistent goal kicker like Kevin Bartlett. (Like Kevin Bartlett, it is rumoured he handballed a couple of times.) Glen adds that Barrie Robran was the best player he played against, with other tough opponents including Stephen Copping (always trying to counter his Inspector Gadget arm and his marking strength), the sheer blistering pace of Michael “Flash” Graham, and Peter “Milky” Vivian. While Glen’s playing career had come to a close, his off-field involvement with the Norwood Football Club was just beginning.

 

Glen with his Sturt nemesis, Michael ‘Flash’ Graham

 

When Glen first moved to Adelaide, he worked for the Commonwealth Bank for over a decade before buying a newsagency for five or so years. Glen was an assistant coach to Neil Balme for the ’82 Premiership, working on the side. He also served as runner, then coached the reserves between ‘82 and ‘86 (including a flag in ’85), before being forced to resign due to work pressure with the newsagency. Glen then started work at the club as the technical development officer in ‘91, taking over from current general manager James Fantasia. Legendary administrator Wally Miller made the decision to stand down, with Glen, his understudy, having a gradual handover of the club’s administration. He became head honcho in ’93.

 

Glen considers Wally Miller to have been his city father and mentor, and he cannot speak highly enough of Wally. The landscape of footy changed with the advent of the Adelaide Crows into the AFL in ’91. This presented new challenges recruiting wise. It became a case of selling what South Australia as a State had to offer to the ginormous beast of the AFL. This resulted in huge interstate success stories, such as Sir Anthony Harvey and Scott Rodney Direen, John Cunningham and Dale Fleming, all firmly entrenched and just about bloody South Australian institutions by now. Simon Eastaugh before moving to Essendon is another. Todd Davey and Troy Clements moved across from Woodville West Torrens and became thru and thru Redlegs.

 

The highlight of Glen’s time as General Manager was the ’97 flag which featured a lovely relaxing second half when we were well up; his greatest disappointment was being so close in ’96 and ’99. Glen made the decision to leave Norwood in 2000 and take up the position of Football Operations Manager of the SANFL. This was a huge role to manage the whole competition at both the elite level, communicating with all clubs, as well as growing the game through greater participation, particularly via Auskick. Glen was also responsible for umpiring through both Shane Harris reporting to Glen and also trying to encourage people to take up and continue on with umpiring. (This is a very hard job in itself, from an experienced maggot!)

 

Obtaining AFL funding also came under Glen’s jurisdiction as did Rules and Regulations, tribunal matters and salary cap issues. When Glen started in the role, there were 11 staff; when he moved sideways in 2009, there were 45 – an indication of the investment to grow the game. Glen also played a major role in the more professional and thorough outlook taken to the Under 18s competition, in particular with regards the national championships. This meant having trials and squads in place from early in the season, then keeping them under the control of the SANFL while working closely over the years with coaches Peter Jonas, Darren Trevena and Brenton ‘Sticks’ Phillips.

 

The role really became just too big so, in 2009, Glen took up the offer of being in charge of Community footy, both amateur and country. This included responsibility for general administration, communicating with over 100 clubs and different competitions, working in the funding area with sponsorship involving BHP, and liaising with the Motor Accident Commission of SA. During this time, I was heavily involved with Adelaide University FC. I may have had the odd run-in with Glen and while I may not have always agreed with Glen’s decisions, I certainly knew that they were taken with the best interests of the game overall.

 

Glen is a member of the Norwood Hall of Fame as well as a life member of the NFC and the SANFL. Nowadays he is retired and his involvement in footy is as a member of the SANFL tribunal as well as the SANFL and NFC Past Players and Officials Committee.

 

Glen enjoys spending time with his partner Sue, children Adam, Jacqui and Julie and their partners, and grandchildren Jesse, Jono, Xavier, Alba and Ruby.

 

Glen has served footy for over four decades as a player and administrator and is an ornament to the footy community. Thanks, Black Duck !

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Jill Tahtra says:

    As usual an excellent piece about a great player. mate.

  2. Michael Rehn says:

    A great player, a great reserves coach, a great administrator, and a great bloke !!! All in all Glen Rosser has been a wonderful servant of the Norwood Football Club and the SANFL Seasons 1968 and 1969 were pretty dismal years for Norwood supporters with only six victories and a draw to bring us any cheer, so the impending debuts of these two obviously talented young men, Glen Rosser and Roger Woodcock shone like beacons on a dark night. Personally I was very disappointed to miss their debut, but as a fourteen year old Army Cadet, I was doing my duty for Queen and Country, at annual camp, in the kangaroo poo and saltbush just outside of Port Augusta. Luckily my school cadet unit’s commanding officer, ex Redleg and Duntroon Graduate, the late John Moody turned a blind eye to my attatchment to a radio that day, even enquiring about the results. Suffice to say I had many years of enjoying Glenn Rosser in the Norwood jumper, and am most grateful to Glen in latter years for giving me the opportunity to serve as a Timekeeper for our Under 17 and 19s sides in the early 90s !!!

  3. Paul Grandison says:

    An enlightening article about Glen Rosser. His contribution to SA football has been immense. Well done, Rulebook!

  4. Paul Harradine says:

    Great article again Malcom.I can only add my comments to all the accolades Glenn has received in his long career. Although not knowing Glenn personally very well I can attest that as soon as the siren sounded there Glenn was always there with his hand out no matter what had happened during the game.A great record as a player administrator and a tough opponent always in the best way.

  5. Thorough read Rulebook. Well written.

  6. Again Mal a good read about an outstanding career as player,coach and administrator, although coach maybe? well done “Duck”

  7. Roger Froggy Murdoch says:

    A good read about a great man. Played in his reserves premiership side, 1995, his ability to relate to everyone and share a good laugh endeared him to all.
    Well done Book

  8. Wonderful read Malcolm. No better person to have on your team as a player and or official. Great club man. Now retired he can take up his true love Joke telling. One of the best . Great career on and off the field. By the way Duck I was in Bali two years ago and found that guy who short changed you a belt. .After we had been shopping in the heat for 4 hours and he was our last stop and you barrted with him for at least an hour the years have rolled on and this must have weighed heavily on him so I will give you back the 40 cents he gave me.

  9. Martin Rumsby says:

    What a magnificent contribution Glen Rosser has made to football at SANFL level and your article has paid him a fitting compliment, Malcolm. I clearly remember the Oatey years when Glen and many other young players made their debuts with Norwood and the pleasure I felt at watching their development into excellent league footballers. Glen’s continuing contribution to the Redlegs after his retirement, and then to the SANFL, speak highly of his love of the game. Well done Glen and thank you Malcolm.

  10. Gary Bennett AKA Fisho says:

    The Black Duck was one of my favourite players at the parade. How often to Stephen Kerley find him out on his own on the wing. I always marveled how he always got his kick away before a tackle came. Seemingly always cool in a crisis and an excellent distributor of the pill. Incidentally, whilst a teller in the Reserve Bank in ’65, Bob Truelove worked in the Public Service and paid in to me. From him, I always got the latest news from the Club..

  11. Glen Rosser was no doubt a great servant of SANFL footy. But Malcolm I’m not sure you have quite got over the 1973 semi final loss at the Parade!

  12. harry butler says:

    Great article Rulebook. I remember Black Duck unleashing the odd huge torp to sail through the sticks from miles out, seeming to defy his small stature.

  13. Neville Roberts says:

    What an incredible career at so many levels. A wonderful Norwood man with a questionable sense of humour!!
    Glen has also been very caring to our great friend Wally visits and sees him weekly unknown to many.
    Despite his humility, Glen should be extremely proud of his expanded footy life, and as usual, an impeccable description here Malcolm.
    On a personal note, Glen and Gag’s appointed me in 2000 as coach and I would have loved Glen’s involvement during my short tenure as coach, but he moved on to achieve even loftier achievements. Congratulations Black Duck.

  14. Frank Bria says:

    Great read Malcolm, Glen’s record as a player, coach and administrator of our great club and the SANFL is truly admirable. Always a pleasure saying hello to Glen at NFC Past Players events or Crows games at Adelaide Oval. He always makes the time to have a chat which I appreciate.

  15. Glen Rosser says:

    Well done Malcolm ,

    the article is a very accurate record of my involvement with NFC and SANFL .

    Thanks for your time and efforts in compiling and writing this article.

  16. Luke Reynolds says:

    Another great article Malcolm. You had me at Lawrence & Florence!
    Wonderful to read of his administrive career, often an overlooked aspect.
    What a life in football, well done Glen!

  17. As a youngster in the 70s &80s seeing black duck play on the wing. I always thought until now that his nickname was due to him standing on the wing with no one in cooey of him. just like a black duck no other duck wanted to be bear him. always remember saying how no one is ever near him why?.
    when the ball was kicked out the back lines you could guarantee black duck would be there receiving the ball not a solle around him turning & running to the forward flank. I had his number on my back tried as a youngster & tried to emulate the way he played .
    One of my all time footy favourites
    Well played black duck

  18. Darryl Hogan says:

    Malcolm one of the best , cream rises to the top and he did on many occasions . Great read !

  19. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Jill thank you.Michael v interesting and thank you re being a time keeper a bloody important job.Grando v much so thank you.Paul well said and greatly appreciated.Raf thank you.Schmaaly yes should have given more coverage re Black ducks coaching it could have been a two part series in reality.Froggy yes communication is so often the key well said.Michael v amusing and my fault for not including in the article thanks,Aishy.Martin the importance of Carmel Court can not be underestimated in the revival of the NFC,a lot of talented youth who were the cornerstone of the club for a considerable time,a huge contribution to the overall game.Gary how lucky were we to have Black duck and Gags on the wings superb readers of the play and link men thank you.Charlie I reckon at the age of ten hearing my mother swear for the 1st time was the biggest shock can’t deny I am not a good loser thanks folks work beckons

  20. John Topperwien says:

    Thank you Malcolm for the article as usual, brings back some wonderful memories

  21. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Neville yes Ducks joke telling interesting at times and totally agree with every other word.Frank a remarkable contribution to the game and yes his strength v much communicate with any one and every one.Glen thank you and rapt that you are happy with the article.Luke thank you and you were brilliant on 774 the other night
    I reckon from,Luke’s veranda should become a weekly occurrence.Phil yes it was fascinating to find out the whole story and glad you enjoyed the article.Darryl and John thank you,greatly appreciated folks

  22. Peter Myers says:

    Malcolm great article mate. Given my penchant for matters linguistic, my first observation is, I love the rhyming parents’ names, Laurence and Florence! I’ve always heard about Carmel Court, must have been an interesting place, and as you say, must have played a very important part in the moulding of those Premiership sides. I remember loving Black Duck as a player, but then, I loved all Norwood players to be honest. I had to play in a basketball final on the day we won in ‘75, so spent the latter part of the afternoon listening to the end of the game on the radio. (Torture!) Then in ‘78, I was in London. Followed the footy as best as I could (bit more difficult back then!), but wasn’t overly hopeful leading up to the GF. You can imagine my delight when I got a telegram (remember them) from my mum the following Monday, telling me we’d won by a point, though I didn’t know all the circumstances till later. Very enjoyable read. So many great memories.

  23. Rick Biz Sarre says:

    Well said Book.
    He was a champion…I remember his dash and his ability to draw others into the game.

  24. Bill Drodge says:

    Good read Malcolm.

    My earlier football memories were from the late 70’s and onwards, so this was towards the end of Rossers playing days. Admittedly I didn’t realise he was such a well credentialed player (and then coach)!

    I always thought of him more as an administrator with the club in the 90’s.

  25. Worked with Glen on and off in the Commonwealth Bank Adelaide. He then left the Bank and bought a Newsagency and after around 5/6 years joined the Admin of Norwood Football Club under Wally Miller. As a matter of interest Rob Truelove { late } was my cousin and played a couple of seasons with Norwood with some success and was an outstanding player in the Great Southern League I still catch up with Rob’s wife at times who lives in Langhornes Creek township.

  26. Mark Duffett says:

    Fine, meticulous, honest. Well done, Rulebook. Again I learned a fair bit.

  27. Another great article about a fantastic player!

  28. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Peter telegrams yes distant memory personally being made to go on a school camp in 78 grrr thank you.
    Biz yes ability to read the play and work between half back and half forward and get a quick kick,Black Duck was elite.Bill glad to help with some info.JA thank you and all the best.Mark and Campbell thank you
    Greatly appreciated folks

  29. Cameron Glenn says:

    Another great, well done article. :)

  30. Mark O Neil says:

    Malcolm great article didn’t know he was from Port Elliott lucky Glenelg didn’t get him your telling of the 78 GF took me right back even though I was only 10

  31. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Cameron than you.Mark this was before the era of zoning a strong and efficient recruiting committee were vital for re establishing the redlegs as a powerhouse of the competition thank you

  32. Jeff Milton says:

    Great summary of a great player. His ability to condistently pick up 20 plus kicks week after week was exceptional. A couple of great centre lines were Gallagher Carman Rosser and then Gallagher Taylor Rosser. Yes Norwood were ripped off by an appalling umpiring decision in the 1973 semi. Ended Oatey’s coaching career when he had his young team absoulety flying.

  33. Jake Bushell says:

    Well written Rulebook!

    Love reading this article as I have met the black duck and he was certainly a very happy man,

    I played footy with his step son Andrew Hank at the Lockleys Football Club.

  34. Geoff Wilson. says:

    Another exceptional article Malcolm, on a great player, coach and a wonderful administrator. Amazing what Glen has achieved,well done.

  35. Geoff Wilson. says:

    Another exceptional article Malcolm on a great player, coach and a wonderful administrator. It is what Glen has achieved that is quite amazing, well done.

  36. Barry Solomon says:

    Glen Rosser was the bloke who gave me my opportunity on the oval, put faith in me to have a go and trusted the direction we headed in. Got many incredible memories …. 1997 gf night seeing Glen as he came back into the oval, in some ways a difficult year for us all . 1999 the other side of the coin having battled our way through the finals and losing in a gut wrencher. My favourite part of that year was Glen recruiting Eugene Warrior and Eug almost paying off that gamble. Woulda been a massive story. Our private mad Monday session in the Oval Office where Glen shared stories of his playing days and been in the company of his son Adam was something very special to me . They were brilliant years and I learnt so much under the black duck. They really created a winning culture and Glen Rosser….i thank you.

  37. What a remarkable contribution to Norwood and the game as a whole. Great article.

  38. Brenton Kemp says:

    Great article Malcolm, 1975 was the first gf I was really old enough to enjoy. Loved watching him on the wing, like a lot of players in that position in that era, he was both tough and skilful. I lament the loss of positional play these days, in particular wingmen..
    Great player, and went on to give a lot back to the game. Loved the photo of Glenn and Flash Graham..

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