Bruce Winter: Mr Significance

 

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE

 

http://sanfl.com.au/halloffame/d-bruce-winter/

http://www.redlegsmuseum.com.au/ON_FIELD/PLAYERS/WINTER__Bruce.aspx

Bruce Winter is an important part of SANFL history – firstly as a player at two clubs, Sturt and Norwood for a total of 353 games, then as the first premiership coach in 1993 of the amalgamated Woodville West Torrens Football Club. Then involved as coach in the State Under 18 and 16s elite programs for 12 years.

Bruce was born in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea in 1953 to mother Marjorie and father Alan. Alan was the Marketing Manager for the Mobil Oil Company at the time and was based in Moresby. They then moved to Rabaul in New Britain where Bruce’s sister Alison was born in 1955. Tragically, Bruce’s mother died three weeks after Alison was born and Bruce only 20 months old. She had apparently sustained a nasty cut above her eye on a tree branch whilst gardening which became infected and then sepsis resulting in her death. Alan brought his two young children back to Adelaide where his maternal grandmother helped look after them while he worked.

Alan remarried in 1958 to Margaret and they added three children to the family, all boys (Geoff and Andrew who both played league football for Sturt, and Richard). As a family they lived at Wattle Park (this has significance and will return to this) near the foothills. Bruce attended Marryatville Primary School and played football for the school through grades 4-7 and did not play in one winning game!! (at least you didn’t need to learn the words to the school song Bruce).

From there Bruce went to Norwood High School (gee, some famous people have gone to Norwood High School cough cough) and it wasn’t until his third game of football there in the Under 13s that he realised what it was like to play in a winning side. In 1969, when Bruce was in Leaving, Norwood High School became the best public school in the State, winning their own division that year and then beating other divisional winners Brighton High (who Bruce is sure had Peter Carey and Ken Whelan playing for them – it was 50 years ago!!) and then Henley High.

 

With the Double Blues

At the beginning of the 1969 school football season Bruce was playing in a lighting carnival held at Urrbrae High School. At the end of the carnival the recruiting manager for Sturt, Alan Fenn, asked him if he wanted to sign for Sturt. Bruce said his desire was to play for Norwood but Alan informed him that he was residentially bound to Sturt (the house that Bruce lived in at Wattle Park was 200 metres in the Sturt zone and just outside the Norwood zone). Bruce said rather naively and aged only 15 ‘that is OK, I will get mum and dad to shift house into the Norwood zone’. Alan informed him that even if he was able to convince his parents to do that he had to live there for three years before being eligible to play for Norwood. So with a shrug of the shoulders he signed with Sturt in 1969 just before his 16th birthday.

Through 1969 and 1970 Bruce played in the Sturt U/17s mainly during school holidays when he wasn’t committed to playing for the school. Then, at the beginning of the 1971 season, he was invited to do pre-season training with the league side under the guidance of legendary coach Jack Oatey.

At the commencement of the 1971 season Bruce played the first two games in the reserves and then was promoted to the league side (he didn’t play another reserves game until 16 years later in 1986 when returning following an injury). His first game was against West Torrens at Thebarton starting on the bench and sat there the whole game (there was no interchange, players were substituted only). The following week on the Anzac Day game against Glenelg, Bruce was selected in the starting 18 as a ruck rover (called follower today) starting in the back pocket and changing with Paul Bagshaw. His first opponent was Wayne ‘Butch’ Phillis.

About 10 minutes in Bruce had his nose broken (no, not by Phillis) and because Sturt didn’t want to be reduced a player so early, the club doctor simply shoved a pencil up his nose to straighten it up as best he could and then stuck cotton wool up both nostrils to stem the bleeding – welcome to the ‘big league’! Bruce continued to play as a ruck rover for the first three years of his career before commencing at full back in 1974.

His career at Full Back started somewhat by ‘accident’. During the 1974 pre-season practice matches, Bruce was involved in a cricket grand final to be played over a weekend against a team including Michael Graham. They had told Jack Oatey that they were unavailable to play in the trial game on the Sunday that weekend which he OKed. Anyway, Bruce’s team won the grand final in one day so he informed Jack that he now could play in the internal trial. Colin Casey, who was the regular Sturt full back at the time, had pulled out of the trial due to injury so Bruce slotted into his place standing Ken Whelan (of all people) playing on the other side.

Bruce obviously played to Jack Oatey’s satisfaction because that would become his regular playing position over the next four years. 1974 was also the first big highlight of his career, playing in a premiership side defeating Glenelg at the first grand final held at Football Park.

 

The next big highlight and also big disappointment occurred in 1976. In a final against Norwood (two weeks prior to the Grand Final) Sturt beat Norwood to advance to the Preliminary Final. During this game, Bruce as well as Ken Whelan, Malcolm Greenslade and Noel Pettingill (who had transferred from Norwood to Sturt) were all significantly injured which would preclude them all from playing not only the Preliminary Final (Sturt beat Glenelg) but also in the grand final win against Port.

This was the incredible day that over 66,000 people packed into Football Park, even sitting inside the fence on the ground. It was also the day that Rick Davies would play one of the best individual games ever seen from a player (42 disposals, 21 hitouts, 15 marks). Whilst it was disappointing not to play due to injury, it was great from a club perspective to once again see Sturt as the premier team.

Further disappointment was to follow for the four players because the Sturt Football Club saw fit not to invite them to any of the formal functions held to celebrate the win including the major function that the SANFL hold for the premiership club. Bruce, in fact, recalls ‘baby sitting’ Michael Nunan’s young children that evening so that he could attend this function. When Bruce returned to pre-season training he questioned Jack Oatey as to the reason for their exclusion but was not given what Bruce considered to be a satisfactory response. He’s pretty sure also that Whelan, Greenslade and Pettingill were as disappointed as he was.

1977 was a disastrous year for Sturt, missing out on playing finals. At the beginning of 1978, Bruce asked Jack if there was a chance to play in a different position than full back and was pleased to be given the opportunity to play at centre half forward. He had an excellent year, Sturt dominating the competition, losing only one minor round game to West Adelaide and ultimately playing in the Grand Final, to be beaten by Norwood with only a point separating the two sides.

A lot has been made over the years since then of the contentious mark paid to Phil Gallagher by Des Foster but Bruce is firmly of the opinion that it was Sturt’s poor kicking for goal (14 goals, 26 points) was the main reason for their loss. Bruce concedes also that he was one of the main culprits, 2.6!! (Bruce has never had the inclination to watch a replay but I may have one or 1000 times.) I would also like to thank Jack Oatey for moving Bruce from centre half to full forward at three quarter time, Bruce was arguably BOG until lemons).

During the 77/78 seasons there was talk beginning amongst players (including players from other clubs) about ‘player contracts’. According to Bruce, Sturt players were told by management that no player was on contract, with all players on basic match payments of about $75 per match. This became difficult to comprehend for Bruce anyway that a senior player or an exceptional player like Rick Davies was being remunerated at the same scale as a first year player and it became even more difficult when an another fantastic player with the credentials of Gary Hardeman (an all Australian player with the Melbourne Football Club) was lured to Sturt at the commencement of 1978.

Bruce found it difficult to understand that Hardeman would make such a move for ‘basic match payments’. So, at the end of the 1978 Bruce thought he would test his ‘luck’ and asked to be contracted. To his surprise he was offered a contract to sign (for four years) but was then told by a certain individual that if he signed he would be the first Sturt player ever to play ‘under contract’, an idea he strongly rejected. With further discussion and questioning, one individual made the statement to Bruce that he obviously had misgivings about the way the management were running the club (including his issue following the 1976 grand final) and made the strong suggestion that he should find somewhere else to play.

 

The Redlegs years

Several clubs contacted Bruce, including Norwood, which was able to satisfy his strongest motivation to play finals football. Norwood had consistently played in finals including Grand Finals in 1975 and 1978. Bruce met with Wally Miller (GM), Bob Farnham (Board Member) and Bob Hammond (coach). This initial meeting was simply for these three Norwood identities to determine Bruce’s desire to be a Norwood player. He was obviously convincing and became a Norwood player at the commencement of the 1979 season.

In 1979, whilst Norwood made the finals, they were eliminated in the first semi final against South Adelaide. Bruce played mainly up forward that year leading the club goal kicking with 48 goals (including one game against South at Adelaide Oval where he kicked nine second half goals). It was generally felt with the talent at Norwood that year they had under achieved. Bob Hammond was replaced as coach by Neil Balme at the commencement of 1980.

The 1980 season under Balme commenced poorly with the side in the bottom half of the ladder early on. According to Bruce, players had difficulty adapting to different training drills and match play required by Balme compared to Hammond and it took half a season until the players became comfortable with these changes. Norwood won six out of the last seven games to finish fifth at the end of the minor round and ultimately would play off in an epic Grand Final, losing to Port Adelaide.

Bruce commenced up forward in 1980 but with a long term injury to regular defender Ian Stasinowsky, Balme moved Bruce into the back lines. In ’81 Bruce had a good year, winning a meritorious service award. Norwood finished the minor round in fourth position, then comfortably accounted for West and South Adelaide. Then, against Glenelg, it was an incredible day – the wind a gale that literally switched around at quarter time. The toss of the coin was just so vital, Glenelg won but were defeated by Port in the Grand Final (ok, time for my Norwood bias, the SA footy public were robbed. Geez, I would have loved to see Neil Balme play a Grand Final).

In ’82, Norwood finished the minor round in second spot but were the form side entering the finals, defeating Sturt and Port, then comfortably beating Glenelg in the Grand Final. Bruce played well in a back pocket but, with the game safely in the Redlegs’ keeping, he was given a run up forward. Bruce said it was fantastic to look around in the last quarter and let it all sink in. He winked at Rocky Roberts with Neville admitting he just wasn’t sure what to do – it was Neville’s first flag (Woodsy, Eye of the Tiger, Rick Neagle walks on water, great memories).

In ’83, Norwood finished the minor round third, defeated Sturt in the qualifying but were then comfortably defeated by West Adelaide in the second semi and then by a Rick Davies inspired Double Blues easily in the Preliminary Final. West Adelaide with its awesome forward line won the premiership. (Geoff Wilson and I were at the Redlegs Club till closing after winning the Qualifying Final. We then walked to Footy Park dosed for a couple of hours and bought 30 odd Grand Final tickets obviously being at the front of the line. Then after some lively banter with Sturt supporters at the Preliminary Final, when Sturt pulled well clear we sold them our Grand Final tickets).

1984 – the history makers

In ’84, Bruce had a great year finishing fourth in the B & F – a sensational achievement playing in a back pocket in our ‘history makers’ premiership side, being the first side to come from fifth to win the flag. Norwood beat South in the Elimination Final and then in a see-sawing First Semi came from behind in the last quarter to defeat Centrals.

I have picked this game re. highlights as it perfectly illustrates Bruce with his sublime intercept marking, while he had great versatility and could not only play forward or back but stand a tall or a small. I feel his best spot was back pocket – he really is the modern day ‘plus one’, playing the Jake Lever-Tom Doedee role but better defensively.

Bruce is full of credit to his good mate Tom Warhurst as it was mid way through the last quarter of this final against Centrals that Tom was involved in a play which Bruce considers went a long way to winning the game. Centrals were leading with Norwood struggling to kick a goal. A loose ball came into Centrals’ forward line which Tom, playing centre half back, gathered and against several Centrals opponents, got a quick kick away. It resulted in the ball going forward, finishing in a Norwood goal. It gave the side the momentum needed to go on and win a close game. If the ball had got past Tom and Centrals had kicked a goal instead, Bruce feels the result could have been different.

Norwood would then go onto to beat Port Adelaide in the Grand Final. It was an incredible game with people remembering the Balme/Evans altercation during the playing of the National Anthem, Keith Thomas’ mark running backwards and Michael Aish’s long run bouncing the ball along the wing. However, it is Warhurst again according to Bruce (Bruce wishes he didn’t have to ‘pump his tyres’ up this much) who was involved in a defining play that had a strong bearing on the end result.

At one stage during the match it felt like Port Adelaide were on top and probably only needed another goal to make things really difficult for Norwood. Craig Bradley had gathered the ball on Port’s half forward line and seemed assured of running in and kicking a certain goal. Somehow, Warhurst got to Bradley, laid a tackle resulting in a holding the ball decision. From the free kick the ball was transferred to the other end resulting in a Norwood goal. For Bruce, this was a genuine ‘two goal turn around play’ and considering Norwood only won by nine points, this play of Tom’s once again had a significant bearing on the end result.

1986 was to be Bruce’s 16th and final season. By his own admission he started the season just OK but was KOed in a match at Norwood against Port (Dwayne Russell squared the ledger after Bruce had bumped him rather late during the grand final in 1984 and was subsequently suspended). He returned but injured his hamstring. After missing 3-4 games he returned via the reserves where he admits he struggled for form and also for the first time in his career, motivation.

He didn’t have a fairy tale finish to his career, sustaining a knee injury in the final minor round reserves game against Port at Alberton. He was admitted to hospital for an operation later that week and listened on radio to the Norwood league side being beaten by Woodville in the Elimination Final. It was also the week that Jim Thiel was tragically killed in a worksite accident.

Bruce thinks that the best players he played with were Rick Davies and Paul Bagshaw at Sturt, and Michael Taylor, Michael Aish and Gary McIntosh at Norwood. The best player he saw in the SANFL was Barrie Robran and the best player he stood was Malcolm Blight. Bruce says one particular day he stood Blight ended up somewhat of an humiliating experience. Blight was playing coach of Woodville and playing in a forward pocket whilst Bruce was playing back pocket. In the first half, Blight didn’t have a lot of possessions but every time he did, he tried to kick an impossible goal from any angle or any distance out and refused to pass off to teammates in better scoring positions.

Bruce claims he rarely said anything to opponents during his career but couldn’t help himself on this occasion telling Blight he thought he was exceptionally selfish, lacked respect for his teammates and a poor example as coach. Anyway, he completely shut Bruce up because he came out after half time and kicked eight goals, resulting in a Woodville win (Bruce says he was Marcel
Marceau for the rest of his career).

 

Coaching

Following a year off in 1987, Bruce was asked to coach Norwood’s reserves and be Neil Balme’s assistant coach – a position he held for three years. At the end of the 1990 season, Neil Balme was replaced as the senior coach at Norwood by Neil Craig. Soon after Craig’s appointment Balme was appointed the first coach of the amalgamated Woodville West Torrens. Balme asked Bruce if he would assist him and coach the reserves. Bruce accepted this position and his reserve sides played in grand finals in 1991 (which they lost) and in 1992 for a win.

Neil Balme was appointed as coach of the Melbourne for the 1993 season. Bruce feels he just happened to be in the right place at the right time and was appointed coach of Woodville West Torrens. The Eagles were the dominant side in the competition in 1993 resulting in a easy grand final win against Norwood. In 1994, the Eagles were again dominant even though they had lost players of the caliber of Jamie Tape (Richmond), Paul Prymke (Melbourne), Shayne Breuer (Geelong), Simon Neave (retired), Lawrence Schache (retired) and ultimately Wayne Weidemann (ineligible to play in the Grand Final).

The Eagles played off in the Grand Final and although they were well on top early and led by nearly six goals, they were unable to sustain their effort and eventually were ‘run over’ by Port who kicked nine goals in the last quarter. Further players were lost and in 1995 finished in the bottom half. 1996 saw the Eagles return to the finals to finish fourth but again missed out on a finals appearance in 1997.

During 1997 Bruce’s work circumstances change quite markedly. He was a Medical Scientist at what was then called the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science (IMVS) (now called SA Pathology) in the Infectious Diseases department and was in charge of a small unit of six other scientists (way too smart to be a footballer). His work commitments to this stage meant he could combine his role at the IMVS as well as coaching a league football side. However, during 1997 (and early that season) he became the manager of the scientific and technical staff in his department, a role involving about 60 staff in and a 24/7 operation.

Bruce admits that it was difficult to combine both roles and in fact during this time probably didn’t do either job properly. As a result, Bruce informed the Eagles with about six matches to go in the season that he wouldn’t be continuing in 1998. The side was also struggling and Bruce feels that he would be replaced anyway (looks better on your CV to have resigned than be sacked!!).

The following year, 1999, Russell Ebert, who was in charge of the state Under 16 and 18 elite football programs asked Bruce to get involved which he accepted as the hours involved did not interfere with work commitments. In 2000, Bruce replaced Ebert in the position of state Under 18 coach as Ebert had accepted a position at Port Power. In the early 2000s the position of state Under 18 coach and elite program became a full time position which Bruce wasn’t interested in. Peter Jonas was appointed to this role whilst Bruce was appointed as coach of the state Under 16 side, a position he held until he gave it away in 2010 to go overseas with his wife Carol.

 

Personal life

When asked how he met Carol, Bruce says that when they were both about 20 – a whole group of people went for a night out to the pictures. Most people knew someone there, but no one knew everybody. At the interval Bruce claims he went out and bought one of those choc top ice creams and proceeded to bite the chocolate. On returning into the theatre he saw Carol sitting on her own, sat along side her and ‘romantically’ asked her if she would like a lick of his ice cream. He had never met her but claims to be surprised when she refused his offer.

Anyway he had no further contact with Carol until six months later when, while standing at a bus stop in the city, she walked past him. Bruce had a party to go to the next Saturday evening and so he asked her if she would like to go with him, which she accepted. To cut a long story short they ended up getting married several years later in 1977.

Bruce claims that recently he asked Carol what her recollections were of that first evening out together. Her reply – firstly, when you opened the passenger car do up for me you told me not to get used to it!! Secondly, when you first kissed me, you had a mouthful of peanuts!! And thirdly, when you dropped me home that evening your parting comment was ‘Well, I will see you when I see you’. Bruce then understood why he wasn’t able to keep girlfriends back in the day but was thankful Carol was prepared to accept his ‘misgivings’.

The Winters have two sons – Ben who is an extended care/intensive care paramedic and Tom who is a director of his own building company in partnership with two others.

Bruce’s passion now is golf, being a member of the Royal Adelaide Golf Club. He never really had a nickname playing football but some at the golf club refer to him as ‘Doc’. This came about because when his application was submitted by his proposer (retired judge Neil Lowrie) he ticked the box indicating Bruce was a Doctor (which he is not). His seconder was Dr Adrian Porter who was a medical officer at Norwood during his career there.

The other thing to realize that his name is actually David Bruce Winter. So once his application was submitted, he received a letter from the golf club acknowledging his application but addressed to ‘Dr David Winter’. He found this somewhat embarrassing so he rang the club to indicate that he wasn’t a ‘Doctor’ . The secretary indicated that the ‘Doctor’ box had definitely been ticked. When he rang Neil as his proposer to ask about this he indicated he had ticked this box because ‘you will get in quicker if you are a Doctor’.

This story got worse for him because within a couple of years his name came up for nomination. When this happens, the club will ring the proposer to let them know. Neil, however, was overseas at the time so they rang his seconder Adrian Porter to inform him that someone whose application he had seconded, had come up for nomination. When Adrian asked who that was and was told Dr David Winter, his response was ‘Who the hell is Dr David Winter’ A tad embarrassing – it was sorted but a nickname was born.

The last word goes to Tommy Warhurst re. his thoughts:

Incredible number of games in a golden era of SANFL footy.
Never obsessive about pre-season or the gym but he must have been doing something right to play so many games (353).
Natural talent with great hands fantastic mark who was a brilliant reader of the game.
Complemented each other – the dour combined with the attacking.
Fearless who relished a challenge.
Funny bastard – always upbeat who enjoyed a drink with his teammates.

 

Thanks, Bruce, you’re a ripper!

 

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE

 

Comments

  1. Paul Harradine says

    Malcom,fascinating story of a football gentleman who really used all his talents to there best.I never had the pleasure of opposing Bruce directly but spent quite a bit of time in his vacinity and you always earned your possessions,or you were chasing Bruce back the other way.I presume Bruce is in the NFC hall of fame and rightly so.I can also sympathize with him about the “standard”contract that clubs were serving up.I have only one disagreement with Bruce’s memory,Peter Carey and Daryl Rady and myself played for seacombe high school and beat Henley High in the very early 70’s.A credit to himself,his clubs,and the game of Australian Football.Congratulations Bruce on a fantastic career and congratulations to you Malcom on another fascinating article

  2. Ray Higginbottom says

    Another excellent article Rulebook.Loved Brucie Winter and the way he played for the legs.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Again Malcolm, fantastic to read about another of the legends from South Australia who isn’t a household name here in Victoria.
    Interested to note he played 3 more games for Norwood than for Sturt, is he considered in SA to be more associated with Norwood due his coaching role there as well as two premierships to one at Sturt, or a genuine 50/50 split to being associated with both clubs?

  4. Mark Duffett says

    You’ve done it again, Rulebook. Great to get the story behind his move from Sturt to Norwood, which I never understood at the time (admittedly being 8 then may have had something to do with that). Surely stiff to miss out on a place in Phil Dimitriadis’ Bruces 22 that coincidentally(?) also appeared today.

  5. Jill Tathra says

    Very good mate. Brought back a lot of memories as I was still living in Adelaide in the 60’s and 70’s then in the Hills in th80’s so went to a lo5 of these games. Lived not far from Unley Oval but was always an Eagle.

  6. Another enlightening piece “Rulebook.” Winter was one of those players that lifted in big matches. Took some match saving marks in the ’84 GF. Not many people play and coach senior premierships so he is in rare company.

  7. Michael Gioffre says

    I never forget when I was a kid you could go to the Quarter time huddle and listen to the coach. I learnt the effen c word from him. Ha ha.

  8. Bruce Winter says

    Hi Paul, thanks for the clarification re Carey and Whelan. I was certain Whelan played in that match in 1969 but not quite as sure re Carey. Doesn’t make our win back then as quite as good as I thought it was!!. Cheers

  9. Bruce Winter says

    Hi Mchael, sorry about the inappropriate education in the English language. Have always maintained that coaching turned you from completely sane to completely irrational. Cheers

  10. Rulebook, I believe Rod Barton came to Norwood from Sturt with Bruce. I well remember the big blow in the ’81 prelim final when the wind did us no favours against the Bays.The big word at that time was that Neil Balme was anxious to say hallo, in his own special way, to Dave Granger in the grand final that just wasn’t to be for the Legs – much to the disappointment of many. True confession time – Bruce Winter was my favourite Bruce at Norwood. Anyway Malcolm, you’ve done it again with a most informative and enjoyable article.
    Michael, was that particular coach Fos Williams by any chance? Surely it couldn’t have been Balmey.

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Another pearler ‘Book, chock full of interesting details about one of SA’s many fine players from that era.

  12. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Book ! You beat me by a couple of hours.Must be close to earning a spot in my team of Bruces ?

  13. DBalassone says

    It’s a Brucefest.

    Remarkable story about a remarkable man Rulebook. Thanks for this.

  14. As always everytime I read your articles rulebook I learn something about a player
    When Bruce & Barton moved from sturt to norwood I though gee that’s a good couple of pickups
    Why would they leave a successful was I glad they did
    I remember once seeing a banner for Bruce with the old green BP sign replaced with BW “The Quiet Achiever” & I thought yep that summed him up perfectly.From then on I always referred to him as BP
    Well done BP on a great footy career

  15. Michael Rehn says

    Great article Malcolm about a great dual Premiership player at our club, and a very successful Reserves coach. I was intrigued by the the story of Sturt’s treatment of Bruce and the other injured players who missed the 1976 Grand Final. In so many ways the arrogance that festered at Unley almost killed their club. I’m one who’s sorry it didn’t, but I’m glad it helped get a great man like Bruce Winter back to our club !!!

  16. Fantastic read like always Malcolm. Was lucky enough to catch the end of his career. Just a beautifully balanced and complete footballer that always chose the correct option. That’s how I saw things as a youngster. Talking to my father who would take me to the games and could obviously appreciate his football more than a pre teenager lol. He said he would direct traffic in our incredibly strong backline. Setting up attack whilst nullifying his man and covering for anyone pushing forward. Sounds like the complete package. Wish I was just a little older to appreciate this mans footballing ability. Norwood legend without doubt!!
    Thanks Malcolm for the thread to another great read!!

  17. This is a very interesting article Rulebook. I remember Bruce’s days at Sturt as it was when I was in my teen years and intense about Sturt, living so close to the ground on Edmund Ave. I like the way you do your research and provide information not available elsewhere.

  18. On the issue of match payments and player contracts, I find it hard to believe that Rick Davies travelled every week from the Yorke Peninsula for just $75 per game. There was something duplicitous going on. That type of behavior leads to distrust and unionization.

  19. Martin Rumsby says

    Bruce was a classmate of mine at Norwood High, so I followed his football career with great interest. Your article provides fascinating background into aspects of Bruce’s personal life and his football career. Of particular interest was the reason behind his switch from Sturt to Norwood. Congratulations Malcolm on another great article and congratulations Bruce on an outstanding football career.

  20. Bill Drodge says

    Another great read Malcolm, with a back story I had never even heard a whisper of. Very strange the way he was treated by Sturt in ’76 (not inviting him the a club function?) and then after the ’78 GF loss.

    Players like Bruce winter certainly had a big impact on Football in SA, with a length of career we’ll probably never see again in The SANFL.

  21. Rick Harley says

    Excellent read Malcolm. As commented on by others there was much in there I was not aware of . Very good footballer , coach and man with great values who is universally well respected . PS : you missed the bit about being an angelic choirboy at St Matthews Marryatville in the early 60s . Apart from earning 4 shillings a wedding — there were up to three on a good Saturday — we also had a bit of fun. Cheers

  22. Some of your best work Book. And I thought War and Peace was a long read!

  23. Ah memories Rulebook, When I heard both Winter and Barton had agreed to come to Norwood in ’79 I believed there would be no stopping us with the amount of talent available. The only downside was that we lost the promising Trevor Sapwel to Woodville. That game when Bruce kicked 9 goals after coming on at half time was simply amazing. However, there is no doubt in my mind that we underachieved that season, losing some games we never should have. Losing to Bunton’s South in the first semi was a real blow. Rumour had it that the flu was going thru the club at that time leaving some players, Button in particular, below their best. Whether that was true perhaps you can put us straight Malcolm. In my humble and “unbiased” opinion, the Legs had by far the most talent that year but full marks to Port for their guts and determination – curses. It was most definitely Norwood’s loss and Eagles’ gain when Bruce Winter followed Balme to Woodpile-West Torrens

  24. Enormous! Thanks Rulebook. As someone on the fringes of SA footy I find this story is so classically South Australian (as yours tend to be).

    I’d be keen on a game of golf with Doc some time!

    JTH

  25. Bruce Winter says

    Hi Martin, great to read your comments and thanks also. Not sure if you are interested but Pam Holley (née Noblett) organises a couple of informal lunches twice a year ((May and November) for old scholars for our year and hers (year behind us). At recent lunches I have caught up with P.Baker, P.Fountain, J.Sheahan, C.Shilg, M. Hutchinson and Lindsay Holthouse. Other have been when I have been unable to attend. If interested in attending yourself let me know. Would be great to catch up. Cheers. Bruce

  26. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Paul,can thank for your kind words and clarification.Ray thank you and v much so.Luke I think probably
    Norwood by most footy followers interested in Bruce’s thoughts and yes relax I made Bruce pay his Norwood
    Past Players and Officials Membership for season 2019.Mark thank you and more than a touch of irony that the team of Bruce’s appeared on the same day.Jill thank you and I admire your fighting spirit greatly,Jill has not been well but to say giving a 100 per cent is a understatement.Lachlan yes definitely a big game player
    V much so and thank you.Michael I admit I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw your comment,Bruce always educational and yes totally agree any level let alone league you loose your sanity coaching.Fisho yes Bob Barton it was well and truly the word around alas we will never no if it was pure footy theatre or not and the language re number 22 himself.Swish thank you.Phil pure fluke that 1 can’t say I haven’t made a case for his inclusion and DB thank you greatly appreciated re commenting and sharing the article

  27. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Phil thank you and yep BP I very applicable.Michael I knew you would enjoy the article.Dave yep perfectly balanced and the general of the back line v footy smart.6% thank you and I think your post is spot on.
    Martin thank you and re Bruce reply glad I could hopefully help out.Bill yes bizarre by Sturt and I reckon in
    Tim Weatherald we may have seen the last 300 game let alone 350 player.Rick absolute gold as have been the follow up emails between you and Bruce v v funny to say the least.TC aka the stormtrooper of love is back have missed your witty one liners superb as always.Fisho I do remember hearing that back at the redlegs club that night no doubt what so ever that the legs underachieved in 79 and yes agreed.JTH thank you amusingly I was with Dave Brown and his son,Elliott giving a bit of helping hand re cricket this morning and we said it’s high praise when,JTH comments and I will happily caddy.( bit of cricket coaching least I could do re thanking,Dave for his help re editing ) Bruce enjoying your interaction thank you

  28. Geoffrey Wilson says

    Well done Malcolm, a wonderful article on a truly great player, sounds like Bruce always wanted play for the Mighty Redlegs anyway. I dont think i have ever seen a more calmer cooler decision maker and what a great pair of hands he possessed, a great mark, in any position.
    Its a very interesting point about the way the Sturt contracts were handled, it sounds a bit like cricket and a particular individual in the 70s.
    An amazing football journey from an amazing player and coach, well done Bruce, it was a pleasure to watch you play. Well done Malcolm on covering a great playing and coaching career

  29. Garry Davis says

    Great article Book about a great footballer, top bloke and passionate golfer. As a Norwood supporter back in the day, with a soft spot for Sturt, I always admired the way Bruce played with skill, poise and “footy smarts”. Very happy too that he made the move north of course!
    Bruce, I was struck reading about your Mum’s incredibly unfortunate demise, whether this stimulated your interest in Microbiology?
    I reckon you earned the “Doc” monoker fairly and squarely too – PhD in Aussie Rules!

    PS Tommy Warhurst, you must be feeling pretty good about the big plugs! Good one guys.

  30. Cheers Rulebook top write up one of the best readers of the ball in the air who could 4get those 84’GF marks!

  31. Fascinating article on one of the greats of the game

  32. Great amount of content in their Rulebook. Well written. Funny how that Sturt zone gets so close to the Parade.

  33. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Geoff yep a fantastic decision maker and good point re the similarities re cricket and a certain individual.
    Gaz thank you great point I await Bruce response definitely,PHD in footy I eagerly look forward to Tommys words of wisdom but he may be busy dining out on the praise.Doug yep as good a reader of the ball in flight as there has been in the game enabled,Bruce to stand far bigger opponents as well.Raj thank you and Raf yes that boundary is a footy story in itself.thanks folks

  34. Great article Rulebook on Bruce’s storied career as a player and coach in the SANFL. Your description of Bruce as a player was fascinating and I can easily recall the Eagles being the standout team in the SANFL in 1993 and in 1994 (although fading badly to Port in the ’94 GF). Well done Rulebook.

  35. Bruce always had a touch of Phil Carman about him. When he got the ball, he was never rushed. Had a bit of ‘tons of time’ about him. A superb player for both clubs.

  36. Malcolm Caporn says

    Can you imagine today’s commentators carrying on like pork chops if they saw Bruce dob it past the flank on every kick out from full back with those torps?

  37. Bruce Winter says

    Hi Gary, thanking you for your comments. I actually started in the Haemotology department but lasted 6 weeks. Was thoroughly bored as you would put samples through an analyser, it would ‘spit’ out the result and do all the interpretation for you. (Always told the Haemotology and Biochemisty Scientists that you didn’t need any formal qualifications to do their work as all it required was to ‘push a button’). Swapped to Infectious Diseases and esp Microbiology as was a very hands on discipline and required personal interpretation to get a result (Not aware that I caused the demise of anyone over the years by getting it wrong!!).
    Cheers. Bruce

  38. Late last night i watched the ’84 Norwood / Centrals match you posted for your article. I hadn’t seen before. I was, of course present for the original match. What a fantastic game – both teams giving their all with plenty of highlights throughout. WINTER magnificent on the last line. Payne and Laughlin superb in attack. Fossy great on the wing -the list goes on and on Centrals had lots of good players also making it a match to remember. Many thanks Rulebook for cheering me up (one of my old school friends earlier had told me of the recent passing of some of our old Norwood High classmates).

  39. Good article Mal, fascinating reading.

  40. Peter Liepins says

    Malcolm thanks for the article. Great story about a person who has achieved a lot on and off the field and also put back as well.

  41. well written article thanks Malcolm
    As a Sturt fanatic growing up in the 70’s I have to admit to taking down my Barton, Nunan & Winter posters out of the “Spearhead” & throwing darts at them when they left for Norwood.
    Now I know the story behind it I feel a bit bad about that :)

  42. Rick Neagle says

    An absolute legend. Best overhead mark I jave played with … for his size. Mr Dependable and a great bloke too.

  43. Bruce Winter was an absolute ornament to the game. We have lost a few players to Sturt over the years but Bruce was the quid pro quo for all of them, and more. One of the finest players that I have seen for Norwood

  44. Thanks for that comprehensive report Rulebook. How disappointing that Bruce missed the 1976 Grand Final- surely one of the great upsets and matches in SANFL history but he enjoyed plenty of highlights. He certainly has made a significant contribution over a long period.

  45. Tom Warhurst says

    hi Malcolm great read , just glad Brucey’s getting the plaudits he deserves ,
    in my short time in footy i’ve met many great blokes , mostly at the NFC [ not many at the Bay or Alberton !! ha ha ] and Bruce shares a spot at the top of the pile along with many of my former teammates .
    And re the ‘ plugs ‘ he generously gave me ! , thank goodness he has a better memory than i do , its appreciated ,
    i agree with all the comments left above by supporters of both NFC and the opposition great bloke /rare breed
    In finishing , the reason i wore 44 [ not 22 , like my old man ] was obviously BW had 22 when i initially made the snr list so Wally Miller gave me 44 , no argument there !! and anyway HT thought BW looked better in 22 than i would’ve [ he was right ] as he was one of his favourites , my old man was good judge !
    ,

    thanks for the

  46. ‘——-Opportunity ‘Malcolm

  47. Another really great article!

  48. Tim Wedding says

    Fascinating story of a player I knew very little about. Loved reading about that memorable day in ‘84 followed by quite the romantic tale. All the best Bruce Winter, sounds like a quality bloke.

  49. Garry Davis says

    Sounds like a good career move Bruce!

  50. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Paul thank you.Bizz agree re time to get rid of the footy.Malcolm well said they certainly would.Bruce thank you deadly serious v interesting as well thank you.Fisho thank you and all the best mate.Riverboy thank you.
    Peter thank you and v much so.Paul yes interesting and great learning for all of us.Rick actually really easy to forget he was only 6ft 1 in fantastic over head.Wynton superbly put.Mickey yes v disappointing but a incredible amount of highs and a huge contribution.Tommy loved your comment especially re the good blokes part ha ha and yes your old man was a bloody good judge.Campbell thank you.Tim glad you enjoyed and v much so.Gaz definitely geez I hope I am with you barracking for your colt at a shield game before the end of the season thanks folks

  51. Bruce Winter says

    Hi Malcolm, just a note to thank you re this article about my football career. Whilst there was some reticence on my part, I am really happy with the way it turned out and credit to yourself. I was happy to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ regarding certain aspects of my career but am now pleased that you gave me the opportunity to give my version of events that happened. I have always believed that our role as ‘sportsman’ was to give entertainment to those supporters who were prepared to come and watch us play. I am certain that this was the case case thru the 60s and 70s for the Sturt supporters with players such as Bagshaw, Davies, Adcock, Nunan, Nelson, Shearman, Schoff, Whelan, Graham, Klomp etc. The same for the Norwood supporters during the 70s and 80s with the likes of Wynne, Carman, Craig, Aish, McIntosh, Taylor, Roberts, Button, Gallagher, Warhurst. And whilst I mention my good mate Tom W, I reckon Malcolm you should do an article about his football career, there are interesting stories about him that I reckon would make great reading. It was a great era thru the 70s and 80s to be involved in the SANFL, strong competition, tough physically but could have some fun off field and get away with it. Thankfully no social media or phones with cameras during this time!!
    Cheers. Bruce

  52. I never had the ability to play with Bruce – but for some reason he treated me like an equal – one of the best blokes I have met thru sport

  53. Peter Myers says

    Excellent article Malcolm, and what a pity, but for a couple of hundred metres he could have played his entire career with the Redlegs.

  54. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Bruce outstanding and thank you it was a privilege hey you can pick a bloody fair side from the players you played with well put that on the agenda like the Norwood HS side.Tim I fancy,Bruce might well say the same thing hey baggy greens don’t grow on trees and thank you.Peter yes v true but he certainly played with the cream of the crop in the Sanfl thanks folks

  55. Malcolm Bruce was a terrific player, underestimated in my opinion, perhaps by a few at Sturt. Probably was pidgeon-holed as a ‘quiet achiever’ and perhaps should have been given more of a chance to shine. Disappointed that he went to the ‘legs but after reading the above, I’m not surprised.

  56. Pete Bellman says

    Was brilliant at Norwood and Sturt and he was integral as coach of the eagles the players were primmed and ready for greatness and just needed the right coach to steer us there and he was it just what we needed.

Leave a Comment

*