Philip Gallagher: Norwood’s Silky Smooth Mr September

 

 

Photo: courtesy and with permission of Roger Woodcock and the Norwood Football Club History Committee

 

Playing Career 1973-1986: Norwood Football Club 292 games, 216 goals, 8 state games.

1973 – 6th Best & Fairest, Best 1st Year Player

1975 – 5th Best & Fairest

1977 – 5 Year Certificate

1980 – Runner-up Best & Fairest

1981 – 4th Best & Fairest

1984 – Meritorious Service, E.A. Johnson Service Award

1985 – Meritorious Service

Captain: 1981-1982

SANFL Premierships: 1975, 1978, 1982, 1984

Ardath Cup: 1977

Advertiser Team of the Year: 1980

Reserves Premiership: 1972

Norwood Football Club Life Member

Norwood Football Club Hall of Fame

Norwood Team of the Century

SANFL Life Member

South Australian Football Hall of Fame 2014

Magarey Medal Votes: 89

 

Administration:

 

Norwood FC

Chairman: 1996-1999

Board Member: 1990-1999

Chairman of selectors: 1990-1995

 

SANFL

League Director: 1995-1999

Deputy Chairman: 2016-present

Commission: 2000-present

Chair of Finance, Audit & Risk Committee: 2000-present

Developed the original financial modelling for the move from West Lakes to Adelaide Oval

 

Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority

Board Member: 2009 (inception)-present

Chair of Finance, Audit & Risk Committee: 2009-present

Adelaide Oval Hotel Board Member: 2019 (inception)-present

Lead for the delivery of the Financial Model for the redeveloped Adelaide Oval

 

 

Philip Gallagher – smooth mover, elite disposal by foot, brilliant big-game record playing a huge role in Norwood’s 1975, ‘78, ’82 and ‘84 flags. The unique ability to almost run as quickly forwards as backwards and of course who can forget the mark of the millennium in the 1978 Grand Final!

 

Back to the beginning

Phil is the son of Kevin (Sam) and Shirley with siblings Damian, Anne, Moira, John and Martin. Philip is the third child. John and Martin both played league footy for Norwood (John also for the Roosters). Phil grew up living in Glenelg, attending Our Lady of Fatima School (doesn’t exist anymore). It was a small primary school only going through to the end of Grade 3 – Philip then transferred to Sacred Heart College.

 

Phil, like most boys back then, was sport obsessed playing footy at school and cricket. As a keeper/batsman he was a State Squad member for two years and represented South Australia in the Shell Shield, Second XI and Under 23 Colts sides. I scored for Kensington as a kid and I can clearly remember Phil playing ‘A’ Grade for Glenelg – he was a very good gloveman who was a raucous appealer.

 

PJ Gallagher GP Inn NO HS RS Avg 100s 50s C St
1972/73 1982/83 60 62 9 130* 976 18.42 1 4 93 13

 

Phil was ‘A’ Grade player number 332 for Glenelg and, interestingly, the keeper who followed him was none other than his regular Bays opponent, the highly skilled David Marshall at player number 343. Player 333 was the medium pacer and explosive Bays wingman David Johnston who has gone on to have a significant career and influence on Tasmanian cricket.

 

I will add the average decks of Adelaide District cricket weren’t great back then and, not being covered, an average around the 20 mark was quite respectable, in particular for keeper/batsmen. Adam Gilchrist has a lot to answer for.

 

Phil used to accompany his dad and past Legs champion Sam to the footy, particularly when Sam was chief footy writer for The Sunday Mail. So, Phil certainly used to have a look at all clubs and all the ovals in the competition.

 

He played for two years in the First XVIII for Sacred Heart and, after school footy had finished, Phil took himself out to training at Norwood in 1972. He trained with the Under 17s under Malcolm Smith on a Tuesday night. Robert Oatey watched (he had been in regular correspondence with Sam) and informed Phil that he would be training with the Reserves on the Thursday night and debut in the last minor round game against West Adelaide at Richmond.

 

Phil went on to play in the three Reserves finals – two at Thebarton and then the winning Grand Final against North Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, standing the well-respected John Robinson and winning the Channel 9 Wiltshire Cutlery Award for Best on Ground. The Legs’ centre line was Phil Gallagher, John McInnes and Brian Woodcock. Phil respected McInnes immensely and believes he could have been a 200-game League player if the ministry had not beckoned.

 

Gallagher made his League debut in Round 1 of the 1973 season, quickly showing his elite foot skills. Phil highly praises Robert Oatey as a teacher of the skills noting that he didn’t run to the correct spot automatically and that his disposal by foot was not super skilled at that stage. I found that to be a fascinating self-appraisal as I regard Phil, Darren Jarman and Caleb Daniel as the best three kicks I’ve seen in terms of their judgement of the pace and height for a forward to lead to.

 

Philip contests the footy with Carl Fragomeni, John Ede, Bruce Light and Neil Craig
Photo: courtesy and with permission of Roger Woodcock and the Norwood Football Club History Committee

 

Phil won the Best First Year Player award and finished sixth in the B&F. We did speak briefly about the ‘73 first semi against North at ‘the home of footy’ (the Parade). We didn’t have much luck with the ball rebounding off the wall at Norwood to Barry Stringer who quickly kicked long to Dennis Sachse (my vivid memory of that game is of being squashed in like sardines) and, with a free kick being paid to Sachse, my late mother Margaret swore (I knew we must have been done wrong!).

 

Phil doesn’t have huge memories of Robert Oatey being replaced as coach by Bob Hammond in 1974, quite rightly adding that it’s not the right nor position of a youngster to get involved in either. As for 1975, Phil, like many of us Norwood folk, have always found it amusing that the Bays consider the ‘75 flag the one that got away as almost a divine right. This ignores that Norwood won 16 games straight in the minor round and finished minor premier only to lose the second semi, recovering to defeat Port Adelaide convincingly in the Preliminary Final (Greg Turbill being crucial with six goals).

 

The Grand Final against Glenelg was a tough, low scoring encounter with the ‘Legs prevailing 9.10.64 to Glenelg 7.10.52. We dominated possession in the last quarter with my most vivid memory being Gags’ running goal into the wind, capitalising on an error from Peter Anderson – the ball passed about a yard to my right at the lake end. And who can forget the immortal words of Max Hall, Wally May and Ian Aitken: ‘Played Gallagher, he’s killed McFarlane today and he’s high up in the votes for the Seiko!’

 

When the final siren went, a very attractive lady, completely on the spur of the moment, grabbed my dad, Ray, and kissed him. I can remember thinking ‘Geez, Dad, you’ve done well!’

 

Gags added that the years do seem to blend together over time. Now I admit I thought Phil had hurt his collarbone on the wall at Norwood. He added, ‘No, that’s a myth, Malcolm. It was from a hospital handpass from Robert Oatey in which I got cleaned up by Frank Leonard.’ (Robert apologised, to which Gags said, ‘That doesn’t bloody help me now RO!’)

 

The season ’77, although a disappointing finish, did contain the Ardath Cup night game success, the hard-fought eight point win against East Perth at Norwood in a fantastic game. The Norwood centenary year of ‘78 arrived and who wouldn’t like to watch the last 5 minutes again? Ok, the odd Sturt supporter!

 

 

I said to Gags that he caught the boundary throw-in perfectly but slipped when kicking quickly and that the kick back off the side of Colin Casey surprised everyone. He remarked that both sides were pretty tired and, with that classic sly Gallagher grin, it doesn’t matter as Des Foster paid the mark. (Personally I thought Gags was crucified – definitely should have won the Makita Mark of the Year).

 

Phil, as was his trademark in big games and particularly in Grand Finals, was as cool as a cucumber converting his set shot from the mark to put Norwood back in front. Sturt supporters who conveniently blame Des Foster omit that Norwood 16.15.111 def Sturt 14.26.110 – the old saying ‘bad kicking is bad footy’ rung out on that glorious day. (I was made to go on a bloody school camp and missed the Grand Final. Norwood High, of all schools! Don’t worry, I’m not over it either!)

 

In ‘79 Phil felt Norwood had the best side in all of his time at the Parade (not on your Pat Malone in that regard, Gags) and underachieved massively. Unfortunately, we weren’t all pulling in the same direction.

 

Neil Balme arrived in 1980 – safe to say it was a ‘learning on the job’ experience. Balmey had come from Richmond where ‘get it to Royce Hart’ was the basic game plan.(Hard to argue against). Neil, to his credit, listened and learnt from the senior players and we came home hard from the Elimination Final, just falling short against a star-studded Port Adelaide side. Gags had a fantastic year personally finishing runner-up to Michael ‘Kingo’ Taylor in the B&F and making The Advertiser Team of the Year.

 

 

Photo: courtesy and with permission of Clint Giles and the SANFL Football History Committee

 

Phil was made captain of Norwood in ‘81 taking over from Kingo who ventured over to play for Collingwood. Phil performed the role well and was well-respected overall. I immediately bought up my bitter disappointment re the wind change in the Preliminary Final – Gags has accepted it as one of those things out of your control. He moves on better than me. (It was bizarre, you could literally feel the wind change completely doing a full 180 in the quarter time break).

 

In ‘82, Phil was again captain but stepped down due to chronic hamstring injuries. He returned before the end of the year performing as always when the whips were cracking in the finals. Phil felt that season ‘82 was almost a year of inevitability with Norwood clearly being the best side from half-way through the season, winning 12 out of last 13 games and defeating Glenelg by 62 points in the Grand Final. (Eye of the Tiger music all the way to Footy Park. Vintage Steve Wood, Graeme Adams and Geoff Wilson – after all we were going tiger hunting).

 

Gags also pays huge respect to John Wynne and his massive involvement with the junior players and coaches in Mal Smith and Ian Stafford. We had depth and the juniors were being taught the same system through all the grades. It made it far easier for all players fitting in going up and down.

 

In ’83, West Adelaide were the dominant side and duly delivered with both West and Sturt being far too good in the finals. It is bizarre how good West were in ‘83 to then just fall away so rapidly.

 

In ‘84, Norwood were horribly inconsistent but then found some form late in the season, starting in Round 16 with a Greg Thomas four goal performance off the pine at Thebarton. (Phil may have similar thoughts to myself re a certain West Torrens player contributing to our win by lairising in the last quarter. I call him ‘an honorary history maker’).

 

We defeated South comfortably in the Elimination Final. We then beat Centrals in the First Semi. (For those of you, ok, the overwhelming majority who think I am crazy, I proved you correct. On this night I ended up with a mate from indoor cricket, Graham Cass, at Elizabeth. I entered with my Norwood jumper on and had the absolute privilege of watching Wilbur Wilson play the spoons. That man has serious talent not just on the footy oval.) Then we beat Glenelg in the Preliminary Final, both games could have gone either way.

 

In the Grand Final, Norwood prevailed against Port Adelaide (15.10.100 def 13.13.91) in an epic, epic game, up there with the best GFs of all time. Yet again, Phil was a vital component of a flag. Along with Jim ‘Piano’ Michalanney, he played in the four premiership sides. Phil had a good year coming fourth in the B&F and winning the EA Johnson Service Award.

 

In season ’85, Phil had a reasonable year winning a Meritorious Service Award. While Norwood finished the minor round in second position, we were bundled out in straight sets by Glenelg and West. This, of course, was the time of the intense rivalry between North Adelaide and Glenelg.

 

 

Gags marks in front of Geoff Leonard
Photo: courtesy and with permission of Roger Woodcock and the Norwood Football Club History Committee

 

Season ‘86 came along and while Phil still performed serviceably and could easily have continued he felt signs in the Elimination Final against Woodville (who got on a roll and were definitely the sentimental favourite of SANFL followers in the finals but, alas, for bad kicking in the last quarter against Glenelg in the Preliminary Final may have prevailed) so the curtain came down on an incredible playing career. Phil could easily have continued to become a 300-league game player (although there is nice symmetry in his 292 league games and eight state games adding up to 300). However, starting up an accounting practice, studying, having 12 lengthy assignments to do, plus married to Shauna and with James on the way, it was a tad much and it was time to hang up the boots.

 

Phil, married to Shauna since 1983, is proud of his children – James (working within the AFL and continuing the Gallagher family involvement in footy) and Alexandra (teaching).

 

Administration wise, Phil enjoyed his time at Norwood both as Chairman and as a board member, particularly the ‘97 flag, and then his huge involvement in such a challenging and changing SA football landscape at the SANFL.

 

Phil Gallagher, overall an incredible player and administrator who has played a vital role at both the Norwood Football Club and the SANFL.

 

THANKS GAGS!

 

Questions to Phil

 

Earliest football influences?

 

No junior coaches of any great influence. In that time, we were largely uncoached and skill development was largely driven by almost constant playing of the game in organised teams at Sacred Heart College and with friends. I was an avid follower of the league game at a young age so perhaps a large part of my development was by observation. RO really opened my eyes to the game’s tactics and skills. I am still in regular contact with John Wynne who continually surprises me with his thoughts on how the game is evolving and what might be going wrong in that evolution.

 

My father only gave advice sparingly but if it came it was accurate and was often designed to keep me level-headed and to let me know that there were things that I could work on. From having played and written on the game from 1956 to 1973, and a strong friendship with Jack Oatey, he had a fine understanding of the game and could pick up trends in a match well before others.

 

Best players played against?

 

From a playing perspective the best that I played against were Robran, Bagshaw, Ebert and Davies who all had the great capability to change the course of a game and interestingly, aside from Rick, displayed humility about their achievements. Rick was unique and great company. When the State team played Victoria in Sydney in 1974 Davies was the only non-Norwood player that John Wynne asked to stay over with the Norwood representatives for a few days of R & R after the game. He was a social livewire.

 

(Phil enjoyed his eight state games and was an accomplished state representative)

 

Best players for Norwood?

 

I played with many great footballers at Norwood and I am hesitant to rate them. Suffice to say that, in no particular order, Oatey (courageous terrific handball exponent and the best flat punt shot for goal that I saw), Carman (gifted all-round athlete, marvellous mark and kick), Wynne (early days before his ankles gave way he was an incredible mark and played with a vigour that was fanatical), Taylor (efficient, unobtrusive and reliable), Aish (uncanny ability to read the play, great mark for his size and loved big games) and McIntosh (competitor, longevity and ruthlessly efficient). These players all stood out but the over-riding thought is that everyone I played with brought something to the table in an era (1972-1986) where Norwood played in the finals in every year and were the best performed club in the competition.

 

Greatest Coaching Influences?

 

The greatest coaching influences on my football career were:

Robert Oatey in developing my understanding of the game, how games are won and the importance of effective and accurate disposal along with;

Neil Balme who taught me the importance of galvanising a group of disparate individuals into a team as well as always having a broader view of the game and how it is played;

Bob Hammond imparted a competitive spirit and ruthlessness to how the game was played.

 

Administration Wise?

 

In the administration area Wally Miller lead the way in helping everybody understand that the players are the essence of the game and need to be properly remunerated and recognised. And Rod Payze at the SANFL I admired for his inherent decency and leading the way in the move to Adelaide Oval.

 

 

Summing up, there are several aspects of Phil’s career which have been glossed over – named on the wing in Norwood’s Team of the Century plus, more importantly, his longevity and incredible contribution to SA footy administration wise. Phil, quite rightly, is incredibly proud of his role in getting footy to Adelaide Oval, praising the doyen of administrators, Wally Miller, and spoke very highly of the late Rod Payze, as above indicates.

 

Phil was elevated to the SANFL Hall of Fame in 2014. This speech helps fill some of the missing gaps:

 

 

 

Tributes

 

It’s only fitting to add the thoughts of Neil Balme, Ross Dillon, Neville Roberts, Michael Aish, and Wally Miller

 

Neil Balme

 

Phillip Gallagher was a joy to coach. His ability to read the game and make good decisions was exceptional. His skill execution also was as good as it gets. Being a “mad” coach like we all are I would have preferred him to be a bit nastier and more aggressive but that wasn’t his way. To be fair he always delivered when it counted so it probably wasn’t necessary.

 

Phil was also a very good communicator and lead the other players very well. A genuinely good and committed “Norwood Man.” Overall, Gags got the game both practically and intellectually as well as any player I have been involved with. It is also with great pride that I call him a friend.

 

Ross Dillon

 

Son of Sam – a very good man. The Gallaghers are classic Norwood family. Phillip was a highly skilled wingman who played a significant role in our really good sides in the 1970s / 1980s. Those last quarter goals in 1975 and 1978 were merely the cream on the cake of a wonderful career.

 

Ideal centreline with Black and Seekers. One of RO’s terrific juniors along with Woody, Butto, Black, Seekers, Kingo, Turbs, Stas, Mike Coligan etc. who formed the core of Norwood success in the 1970s / 1980s, led by 28 until Macca, Aishy, Keith and Tommy etc. took over.

 

Gags appeared casual and only for a couple of seasons did Hammo help cause the work rate to increase at training, but he had the skill set to ensure he was always there when the temp went up. Terrific reader of the play – was ideal to lead up to as his kicking was high quality. His evasive skill was easy to remember.

 

Gags, Stas, Black, under the guidance of 28, did not find it difficult to enjoy the aftermatch, the jokes, the laughs and indeed were at the forefront of it. They were Wally’s genuine favourites.

 

Philip has had a significant role with the SANFL Commission for many years, with a very important role in the complex Adelaide Oval redevelopment. As with all in the Gallagher family, big contributors to Norwood, football and quality people to match.

 

Neville Roberts

 

Philip Gallagher was unique in the way he formatted his defensive game and rolled that into a powerful offensive role. Mind you, it was a brave opponent who left him in space by himself, so defence sort of came free for Gags.

 

By any standards he was supremely skilful and had a bucket load of footy intellect, which made him a nightmare to play on. He was a penetrating midfielder who picked exactly the right time to go forward or sit back and press.

 

When he had possession he seemed to have an excessive amount of time and held onto the footy longer than most to open opportunities forward and to pick the best lead or go long. On many occasions he simply put the ball on a slightly higher trajectory and delivered it to where the forwards should be, essentially creating the forwards’ opportunity for them.

 

Philip often ran through lines using angles before anyone had thought about how that opened up the game ahead of him and gave forwards more leading options. I cannot recall one occasion when the pace, trajectory, height, and velocity of a kick from him were wrong and, believe me, I was on the end of a lot of balls from Gags. Super player!

 

 

Philip playing with Neville Roberts and Michael Aish
Photo: courtesy and with permission of Roger Woodcock and the Norwood Football Club History Committee

 

Michael Aish

 

Nothing seemed to phase Phil on or off the field. His legacy will live on for many years. His ability to not only find the footy but, more often than not, do something with it was up there with the best. Certainly, I am not aware of many who can execute a torp on the run consistently or nailing a six pointer no matter where they are on the field.

 

Phil didn’t mind letting you know when you missed giving him the ball and when he returned the favour and you let him know his response was swift. Four premierships, SANFL commissioner for 20 or so years, league director, the list goes on. Didn’t mind a Brandy and coke with his good mate Staz. Truly one of the best to come from the Parade.

 

Wally Miller

 

Philip Gallagher was a football artist. I was privileged to see the vast majority of his 292 league games and derived enormous pleasure from witnessing his unique skills and command of the game. Philip was at his very best in big games and finals matches, all 35 of them.

 

Apart from his brilliance, longevity, and selfless commitment to football administration in later years, there are two things that I will always remember about Philip Gallagher. The first occurred at the beginning of his career and the second at the very end.

 

Gallagher first looked in with Norwood, unannounced, for a training run with the Under 17s. Coach Mal Smith came to me afterward and said “ there was a new long-haired kid on the track tonight, a Sacred Heart boy, Gallagher, who I think is Sam’s son, but he is miles too good for us. His skill level is so much better that he is an embarrassment. Next time can you get him to train up with the seniors?”.

 

Towards the end of the 1986 season, Philip Gallagher was dropped and played in the reserves for a match at Glenelg. At his farewell lunch and retirement speech later that year, Gallagher dutifully thanked his teammates and all concerned who had influenced his brilliant career and finished with the following comment: “And I would like to remind the selectors, Messrs Balme, Miller, Seekamp and Roberts, that on August the 16th for the game at Glenelg they did not select Norwood’s best team”.

 

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Comments

  1. Very good Malcolm. The thing that stands out to me from my time at Norwood about Phil was how fantastically supportive he was of the club’s junior program. He was always someone you could turn to for advise, opion or support in any of our junior functions or events. He was Norwood royalty and always prepared to help in any way we asked. I can’t thank him enough for his support during this time.

  2. Gary Bennett says

    Phil Gallagher, known affectionately as “Gags”, was a highly skilled Norwood footballer who initially displaced Warren Packer on the wing to form a tremendous centre line partnership of Gallagher, Seekamp and Rosser. Later under Coach Balme, he played many successful games as a centreman. Gags is always remembered for his uncanny skill of running backwards , with eyes on the ball, to take fine marks. Always reliable as a goal kicker, especially when under pressure, his goal that sealed the ’78 Grand Final will always be remembered by both Redlegs’ and Sturt Fans (for different reasons). He is also remembered as the player that copped a kick to the bread basket from Dave Granger (Grave Danger) in a match at Footy Park. An insensed John Wynne, who had witnessed the deed close hand, proceeded to belt Granger, unfortunately right in front of the Umpire who reported Wynney who, at the tribunal, admitted the charge and was duly suspended. Many believed he should have got a medal.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Another marvellous profile there ‘Book. Amongst Gags’ many accomplishments, you may have overlooked his devotion to study – he loved doing his Accounting degree at SAIT so much that I think he took about ten years to complete it.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Brilliant Malcolm. What a superb career. Love reading about players who also played cricket to a very good level.

  5. Outstanding again Malcolm. A genuine Norwood legend. Very fond memories of working for Stazza’s “Extraman” during Uni holidays through the mid-80’s , when Stazza shared office space on South Tce with Gags, and Goves and I sharing starry-eyed Friday night beers with the legends when we collected our pay.

  6. West Torrens player in 1974 was Kym Dillon?
    Graham Cass ex Prospect District Cricket player?

  7. Sorry.
    1984.

  8. Wonderful kick. As good a long penetrating drop punt as I can remember in field play. What we would an “outside mid” today. Clinical finisher of Aish, McIntosh, Wynne and Taylor’s ball getting inside. Silk department.

  9. Walter Tarca says

    The original silk.. no one could lay a glove on this iceman

  10. Simon Trenorden says

    Gags was just an exquisite footballer. Beautifully skilled and a great decision maker.

    A great player under pressure which showed in the 78 GF kicking the winning goal from a very dubious decision ( but before you Sturt fans jump in you scored 26 behinds that day so you only have yourselves to blame).

    I always thought that Gags was underestimated by the general football public (outside of Norwood and opposition players). He was an unassuming player who just did his job week in and week out.

    However he was an absolute champion with numerous state games under his belt. I loved watching him play because he hardly ever wasted a ball.

    A true servant to the game and a great bloke as well.

  11. Another good read Rulebook! You’ve seen a lot of footy players, to be rated in your top three kicks is a significant compliment.

  12. Excellent insight, Malcolm. Wally’s summed him up perfectly and Balmey’s points were interesting. Gags’ performance in the GF’s would be hard to beat.

  13. Great write up Malcolm. What an amazing career!

  14. Dave Brown says

    Top work as always Rulebook. If I recall correctly in the famous Carlton jumper swap game at the Parade, Gags was one of the jumpers swapped as the Carlton players only knew him by reputation (and number), enabling him to escape closer attention and consequently have a blinder. My favourite Gallagher factoid is that of the nine premierships Norwood won across 67 seasons in the period 1946-2012 a member of the Gallagher family played in eight of them.

  15. It was a privilege to watch Phil Gallagher play. Paul Bagshaw is quoted as saying ” if Gallagher had the ball within range of goals it was a matter of turning around and going back to the centre” How right he was.

  16. Tony Donnelly says

    Rulebook

    Hi. I thought I would add a little colour to your article about a former school mate of mine.

    I use to score for the SHC 1st X1. One day my score book read

    XXXX stumped Gallagher bowled Pick 0
    XXXX stumped Gallagher bowled Pick 0
    XXXX stumped Gallagher bowled Pick 0

    Pick 0.3 0 0 3

    Yes JohnPick a “leggie” bowled 3 balls 3 wickets all stumped courtesy of Phil Gallagher, an unusual hat trick!
    I think at the time, some research showed this hadn’t happened for a very long time.

    I suspect I am talking 1971/1972!

  17. Tim Wedding says

    Well I might just have to go and rewatch these classic grand finals after reading this article. What a fantastic career and one of the most humble men going around. As a young child I always thought of Gags as “that hunch back player” with silky skills and an effortlessness about him. He was a rolls Royce, and definitely the Darren Jarman of the Norwood football club. A true champion I’ve had the honour of meeting on more than one occasion.

  18. Malcolm well…I was watching the 84 GF today…..the hard question…..the only skill error Mr Gallagher ever made , tapped a ball back into play on Grandstand boundary line side. Port scored a goal from it and Peter Marker and Ian Day pondered what Gags was thinking. Is quite funny when you watch it back. That’s two hard questions Mike Olsen / Poulter goal and Gags tap. Just some inspiration for you !!!

  19. Superb finisher and amazing balance. Fond memories of Gags wicket keeping for Glenelg. I’ve shut out all the other memories. Did he ever fall over?

  20. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Tod great point,Phil certainly saw the whole picture.Gary well said in all regards.Swish thank you I admit that doesn’t surprise me.Thanks Luke.Daddsy and what convivial beers they would have been I ran in to Staz doing a gardening job one day we proceeded to go the Fountain inn that was the end of work for the day,RIP Staz.Charlie correct weight and all clear.PB indeed v well said.Walter spat on.Simon greatly appreciated always love to get the perspective of a opposition player.Raf just incredible ability to weight the pass correctly as Neville mentions as well the absolute elite.thanks folks

  21. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Tim thanks number 23 and 2 well said.Campell thank you.Dave correct I reckon he was number,9 that famous night and yes a incredible stat re the Gallagher family.Wynton yes a famous comment.Tony that is a ridiculous hat trick.Tim nothing wrong with watching past gfs and v much a rolls royce.Jim ha ha and thank you.
    Lachlan definitely exquisite balance and Gags record against the bays I don’t blame you thanks folks

  22. Peter Myers says

    I have many fond memories of watching Phil play throughout his career. He had a unique way of twinkle toeing his way out of tight situations, he sometimes almost looked like he was running in two different directions at once. And as others have mentioned, once he got out, he was a deadly user of the ball. A lot of opposition supporters didn’t seem to appreciate just how good he was, with all the”Manos” jibes. Sturt supporters only remember one thing about him. But his record, including four Premierships of course, speaks for itself. I read somewhere that Phil once said he couldn’t understand why people paid money to come and watch football, but given his enduring contributions to the game beyond his playing career, he obviously came to see what the attraction is for all of us who continue to watch the game. One of my favourite memories regarding Phil is the night of the 2014 Grand Final. As a lifelong Norwood supporter, seeing them win 3 in a row was as good as it gets. (at least, until we win the next 4 or 5 or 6…!) I was enjoying the festivities at Norwood Oval with my mate Tim Baulderstone, who is the son of A. W. Baulderstone, who was the President of Norwood Football Club during the 60s. We wandered into the Premiers’ bar, where we found Phil sitting by himself enjoying a celebratory drink or two. We went up and said g’day, and mentioned Tim’s familial connection to the club. I then suggested to Phil that he come over and have a look at the photo on the wall of the 1948 Premiership winning squad. I pointed to his dad, Sammy sitting in the front row, and then pointed to another skinny young bloke sitting down the other end of the front row, between John Marriott and Peter Dalwood, and said to Phil, “that’s my dad, Max.” Max wasn’t quite the player the others mentioned were, and didn’t actually play in the Grand Final, but nonetheless, he was a member of the Norwood squad for a few seasons, and played games with Sam. Phil seemed pretty impressed. There are many such family connections running through the proud history of the NFC. Long may it continue.

  23. Martin Rumsby says

    A great write-up full of interesting information and amusing anecdotes – thank you, Malcolm. I had forgotten about Gags’ cricketing exploits, but I remember his footballing prowess very clearly.

  24. Malcolm, I seem to remember someone long ago claiming that GAGS actually stood for Go And Get Stuffed. is that true or was it someone trying to be funny ?

  25. Tom Warhurst says

    I can’ add very little to what has been said about Gag’s unique abilities on the footy field. One of Norwood’s best of all time , no doubt ,I suggest a better kick than DJ. – remember Jarmen trained 4/5 times a week was a professional footballer , Gags trained 2 nights a week a best ! One memory I will share Is about a night whilst on a famous Mt Breckon’ pre season camp Fozzy an I took on a couple of bouncers at the Victor hotel and whilst giving a good account of ourselves we were on the receiving end and as our blood was spilt I noticed Phil hadn’t moved from his position at the bar as he was enjoying the company of some local ‘red legs supporters ‘ I yelled at him ‘would you ‘mind giving us a ‘fu-k-en ‘hand ‘ Or words to that effect !! Phil looked disinterested and If I remember rightly just gave me a shake of the head and carried on at the bar as if nothing was going on. Whilst I think we could have done with his help that night , over the years I realised Gags was the smart one that night at ‘the Victor ‘. And that his footy smarts and skill level was always greater than 99% of his opponents and or teammates What a great Norwood man he is . Personally I am so fortunate to have been born a Norwood supporter graduating to the cheer squad in 78 and then to join all those NFC heroes in the Red and Blue later in the 80,”s what an unbelievable ride. Well done Gags

  26. Another great read about one of the greats. Interesting read his cricket career also

  27. Brenton Woolford says

    High football IQ , clear thinker which was always evident in his football, would be a brilliant mentor for any young person in either footy or cricket . I like the description’ Football Royalty’ Played at a time when SANFL was virtually untouched by the Victorians and this was reflected in the standard.

  28. Jeff Milton says

    Player with exceptional balance and kicking skills. Still remember his first game as Son of Sam. Norwood got smashed but he played well. It is 43 years ago now but I still know Sturt supporters who I might see once or twice a year and you know that at some stage that they will bring up how wronged they thought they were in the 1978 GF. Part of the issue is that free went to a player who never missed from that range regardless of the pressure of the game or the angle.

  29. Tim Wright says

    Proudly sported the number 11 on my duffel coat throughout the eighties.
    Was thrilled to get the opportunity to speak to him during an SANFL GF function a few years back. A humble and engaging champion of a bloke.

  30. Matt Zurbo says

    Yet ANOTHER cracking piece from South Australian football’s offical historian! They and we are lucky to have you, Rulebook!

    .S. Bring back your rants!!!

  31. Harry Butler says

    What can I add? Great player in a great era. As already mentioned beautiful kick and never seemed to get tackled. Good to have you back Rulebook.

  32. Enjoyable read as always.

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