Wally Miller: the doyen of administrators

 

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

On 22 June at Norwood Oval, Wally Miller was the guest of honour as the Norwood Football Club celebrated his AFL Life Membership. Wally Miller is a remarkable man and has had as much influence on the overall game of footy as any individual in the game’s history. It is a remarkable story.

 

Early years

Wally was born in 1936, the youngest son of Mavis and Ernest Miller and grew up in Stirling which was an isolated Adelaide Hills town in terms of public transport back then. He went to Crafers Primary (three mile walk) then attended Goodwood Boys’ Tech until Year 11 and then a final secondary school year at Unley High with John Halbert one of his fellow class-mates.

In World War II, Wally’s father, Ernest, served with the 2/43rd Infantry Battalion in the middle east campaign (Rats of Tobruk) and later in New Guinea where he was killed in action a week before Wally’s seventh birthday. Wally has no memories of his father.

Mavis, Wally’s mother, supported her family by working as a domestic cleaner, then at the telephone exchange at Stirling until that became automated and finally with John Martin’s in Rundle Street in the City. Wally and his older brother, Allan (who played two league games with Norwood in 1959) were legacy children and life was bloody tough.

 

The footballer

Wally was an accomplished sportsman growing up and while at Goody Tech made the 1951 State Under 15s team. Brian Sawley was a teammate in the National Carnival played in Melbourne. He made his senior footy debut for Stirling at the age of 15 and played in four premierships in four years.

He had a season with Teachers’ College in A2 Amateur League in 1956 before being posted to Allendale East Area School for his first teaching appointment. Wally played in West Gambier’s first ever flag in 1957 under the coaching of John Taylor, ex-West Adelaide and Glenelg champion, and defeated Penola before a crowd of about 5000 at Vansittart Park.

Wally had trialled with both South Adelaide and Sturt in earlier days but the lack of transport made it too difficult to train regularly. He had given up on his ambition of playing league football and was content with playing in the strong Western Border League where he was an inter-league representative in matches at Bordertown and Naracoorte.

In late March 1958, he was contacted by Haydn Bunton Jr  and invited to trial at the Parade if he planned to come to Adelaide for the Easter break. An unplanned league career was born with that unexpected phone call from Norwood’s young second year coach.

After four trial games Wally made his league debut against Port Adelaide, remarkably without actually training with the Legs. It was certainly a different era. Wally had actually grown up as a Port supporter captivated by Bob Quinn, a Magarey and Military Medallist. An incident involving Ron Kneebone’s sickening injury in that game meant any feelings for the Magpies evaporated for ever.

Wally was transferred to Cambrai Area School in May 1958 and travelled 50 miles (including 20 miles of dirt) on a motor bike through Gorge Road to training and matches. He became sick and missed several games while hospitalised at Mt Pleasant with Double Quinsy (a complication of acute tonsillitis), not a surprise travelling through those conditions!

In 1958, Norwood lost the first semi to Port Adelaide. Back then the team relegated from the first semi continued playing in the Advertiser Cup in which Norwood defeated South Adelaide. Norwood then played against Geelong and were narrowly beaten. The Legs then played Footscray at the Parade in which Wally stood Ted Whitten in the centre. Norwood lost the game and got straight onto a bus to begin their end of season trip to Tasmania, firstly to Melbourne then by boat to Launceston and finally by bus to Hobart with no sleep since leaving the Norwood Oval.

In 1959, Alan Killigrew was appointed Coach of Norwood. An even more significant event occurred in December that year with Wally and Athalie getting married. Athalie was a fantastic supporter of Wally during their journey.

By then, Wally was based in Kapunda and at last he was driving on bitumen roads in their FJ Holden to training and matches but still 50 miles from the Norwood Oval.

In 1960, Norwood played North Adelaide three times with all three games being decided by under a goal, Sadly, this included the Legs being on the wrong end of the ledger in the Grand Final by five points. It was Wally’s greatest regret

 

Injury

In 1961, Wally was transferred to the Education Department’s Phys Ed branch teaching swimming in summer and general physical education. Norwood played North Adelaide at Prospect on 5 August and Wally was injured in a marking contest with Don Lindner (Wally wishes to emphasise it was a footy accident and maintained a friendship with Don who he knew from Teachers’ College days). Wally was knocked unconscious but came to and played the remainder of the game.

On Sunday night, Wally suffered back pain and on the Monday he drove to Norwood to see club doctor Jim Mill to get some pain relief. On the Tuesday, Wally was in severe pain and a local Doctor advised him to have a bath but he lost the use of both legs in the process and was taken to hospital.

Following an emergency laminectomy operation at the RAH no obvious cause of his paraplegia was discovered. Eventually after numerous tests a polio virus was located in the spinal fluid. This may have caused the paralysis but the specialist spinal injuries unit doctors are now convinced that the initial trauma associated with the on-field injury had damaged the spinal cord in some way to cause incomplete paraplegia at T7 level (didn’t have the MRI scans available now days). Wally was never to walk again.

 

 

Wally spent nine months in hospital during which time the Legs lost the Grand Final to West Adelaide in what is referred to as the “Turkish Bath Grand Final” (the temperature reaching 35 degrees during the match). Some dejected team mates turned up at the Northfield Hospital after the game and smuggled in some long necks which resulted in some very interesting results in Wally’s fluid balance charts next day.

In February 1962, Wally moved to a newly established spinal injuries rehabilitation unit at Morris Hospital at Northfield. Understandably (putting it mildly), he struggled mentally with a big break through being wheelchair sports, particularly basketball. Wally, with his leadership skills, became captain-organiser and competed in national championships in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth. The games were vital in helping to overcome the isolation, socialising and self-esteem.

He was superannuated from the Education Department on the grounds of invalidity and received a meagre pension bearing in mind Wally had been teaching for only six years. The Wally Miller Benefit Fund was established by Norwood with collections organised at suburban grounds and other fundraising events occurred.

Wally was also a talented cricketer growing up, having played with Adelaide schoolboys teams, a state turf team and also for the Angaston Cricket Club. A benefit game was arranged between Norwood Football Club and the “All-Stars” with Garry Sobers the star attraction. Trevor Grantham from Port Augusta didn’t really help the day by bowling Sobers for not many. Trevor dined out on the story for years (wouldn’t we all have!).

Bert Baulderstone, famous Norwood administrator, and Jim Galpin (yep, Barry’s dad and Scott’s grandfather for Payneham and Adelaide Uni FC readers), Bob Slade and many volunteers then built a home adapted for wheelchair access at Windsor Gardens. It was a case of the sporting community pulling together for Wally.

Wally was then employed by the correspondence school based in Pennington Terrace behind Adelaide Oval which was part of the Outback School of the Air. He also worked on radio station 5DN doing the around the ground summaries and on Saturday morning had a 20 minute footy segment on Channel 10 breakfast TV. Getting into the grounds and broadcasting points with callipers and crutches presented plenty of challenges.

 

The administrator

Wally then had a decision to make to continue with stable employment in a depressing environment with the Education Department or take the risk of being employed by a footy club (not known for their stability) and be more mentally stimulated. Thank goodness Wally chose the Norwood Football Club!

Wally was promotions officer at the club in ‘68 and ‘69 and then from 1970-1992 was Secretary/Football Director and later CEO. Wally’s influence on footy overall is remarkable writing a book on the art of kicking and introducing modified rules with Keith Martin and Robin Phillips. Bob Kite (John’s dad) was also a major influence in furthering this concept in the field and was responsible for writing the first modified rules manual.

 

 

Wally makes the point that  without Robert Oatey’s support this revolutionary change to junior football would not have happened, you can well imagine the opposition and thoughts re. implementing modified rules back then. It has proven to be an overwhelming success. In addition to Martin, Phillips and Kite, other people who were just so important in modified rules beginnings and operation in the Norwood zone were Doug Olds and the General Manager of the SANFL, Don Roach, who was also a visionary and saw its benefits Australia-wide. Of course modified rules was the fore runner to Auskick today.

Norwood were also hugely influential in coaches’ and trainers’ courses coming into vogue. Wally was an innovator with ideas gained from his own experiences. It is impossible to estimate how much positive influence Wally has had on Australian Rules Football (not “AFL”, grrrr).

From 1970 onwards, Wally was really responsible for anything and everything at the Parade. He played a major role in the operation of Carmel Court, the Legs’ boarding house for country recruits (Carmel Court is a story in itself – if only those walls could talk). NFC were very much a visionary club and ahead of the rest Australia in so many ways. Country zoning coming into play spelled the end of Carmel Court.

Legs supporters, we cannot underestimate John Wynne in his importance at Carmel Court. 28 was in so many ways the fabric which kept Carmel Court together. Neil Button, Neil Craig, Greg Turbill, Jim Thiel, Glen Rosser, Ian Stasinowsky, and Mike Poulter are just some of the names who boarded at Carmel Court. And, of course, Phil Carman with Annie Carman (Phil’s mum) responsible for the everyday running of Carmel Court.

Wally was never afraid to make the tough calls. The club decided that to get to the land of the holy grail (the Legs not having won a flag since 1950) that they weren’t going to get there under Robert Oatey. Wally was involved with President Rex Wilson in enticing Bob Hammond to the Parade.

In 1975, Norwood defeated Glenelg by 12 points to win its first flag in 25 years. It is Wally’s favourite footy memory. In a lot of ways the raw emotion and unbridled joy watching supporters after the game and back at the club just meant so much.

Winning the Ardath Cup night series was great in 1977. Wally makes the point that those extra games in those seasons, in particular ‘76 and ’77, had a detrimental effect on trying to win the SANFL flag re. the injuries which occurred. In particular, the knee injury suffered by the late hugely respected Jim Thiel against the ACT. Jim was arguably the best centre half forward going around in the SANFL competition at the time.

In 1978, winning the flag in our centenary year was massive – beating the seemingly invincible Sturt side, with Norwood also winning the war through the courts to recruit Brian Adamson from West Perth (thank you Glenn McMahon for your doggedness and not giving up when it was looking too hard). Norwood won the restraint of trade fight re. Adamson and then, of course, Adamson kicked five goals in the Legs bolting in the Grand Final by a point.

A poignant moment which showed the respect both gentleman had for each other was John Wynne’s embrace of Wally when 28 left the ground proceeding down to the change rooms.

The year 1979 is a regret re. mistakes made on and off the ground. Wally claims that the best player list he had at Norwood was in 1979 and should have been a very successful year.

The failed shopping centre investment at Windsor Gardens in 1981 proved to be an enormous ongoing financial burden to the club and instead of making progressive decisions it was a matter of all energies being directed towards survival.

1980 coincided with the controversial arrival of Neil Balme as coach. Balmey quickly won over the Norwood faithful and very nearly pinched a flag against the star-studded Port Adelaide side.

Wally is full of praise for Neil in describing the Balme era as his happiest time in footy. Neil adds that Wally has been a huge influence on his life – as good a person as he has met in the game. The ‘82 Premiership when we were clearly the best side in the competition in the second half of the year a highlight (enjoyable to be able to relax to some extent in the Grand Final when well in front against the Tigers in the last quarter).

The exhilaration of the “history makers” flag, being the first club to win a premiership after finishing fifth at the end of the minor round. And, yes, the frustration of not winning another premiership or two in this era. Wally continued to work full time through to the end of 1992, had ‘93 off but was still involved back in 1994 and 1995 and at the end of ‘96.

 

The Crows

In late 1996, Wally was approached by Norwood asking him to nominate for the Adelaide Football Club board. Norwood felt Wally’s footy acumen and nous was desperately needed by the Crows. Wally initially rejected the overtures of the NFC Committee in this regard as he felt that the Crows were on the wrong track and that he would have very little influence in trying to change their culture. Norwood was his club anyway.

He eventually relented. Part of the reason was Wally’s thoughts that Neil Craig just had to be involved at the elite level. As Norwood’s coach, Neil struggled with losing players to the AFL and his intensity and thoughts on football and the demands he placed on players in particular were suited to the AFL. The most enjoyable role Wally had at the Crows was on their match committee between 1999 and 2002.

After finishing up, Wally has been a sounding board and mentor for just so many people involved in the footy industry and this will continue on.

 

Other points

Wally wishes to acknowledge the late Howard “Chops” Mutton who was a brilliant mentor in cricket, football and life.

In the development and implementation of coaches and trainers courses Don Roach was vital as was Darryl Hicks when at the Australian National Football Council as Promotion and Development Officer. Brian McCarthy and doctors Brian Sando, Adrian Porter and physiotherapist Max Pfitzner were also pivotal.

Norwood were involved in meetings and were aggressive about the possibility of joining the VFL way back in ‘81. Proposals were presented to the VFL but there was never a hint of acceptance.

Norwood were represented by Wally and Bob Farnham on three SANFL Expanded VFL sub-committees. The first chaired by John Swain in 1981 the second in the mid-‘80s chaired by Bob Lee and finally in the late ‘80s a committee chaired by Max Basheer.

The SANFL preference was always for a composite side and in the end the NFC board supported the composite format and would not lower their integrity by going behind the SANFL’s back as Port Adelaide did.

Wally has also been through the tragedy of losing their daughter, Sally, to breast cancer in 2000. Sally was well known to the Legs faithful being a member/organiser/choreographer of the Redlegs’ dancing group.

Athalie is also no longer with us. Wally has two sons: Tony living in Germany with wife Annett and three children; and John who is a big help to his father but Wally admits the loneliness of living on his own gets to him at times.

Overall, Wally’s influence on footy is extraordinary and words just don’t do enough justice. He is the doyen of footy administrators and respected by everyone within footy. THANK YOU WALLY!

 

Tributes

I sent out emails to some past players and officials re. Wally’s influence. Not surprisingly I received a huge response. These just show the love and respect in which Wally is held.

Ross Dillon (114 games NFC)

Without doubt Wally is the most significant and influential person over the last 60 years at the Norwood Football Club . I believe he was appointed initially to NFC Administration positions by another individual of major influence in our Club’s history in Bert Baulderstone.

Wally’s major loves in his life have been his beautiful wife Athalie , his family and the Norwood Football Club. Certainly all of us at Norwood love Wally –  he is our Champion. There is material for a book with all our stories each worth a chapter.

I have always admired Wally for his many wonderful qualities with courage way up at the top.Wally is a major life influence on all of us.

He never requires recognition but it is wonderful that he was recognised by the AFL. I look forward to celebrating this honour with all his mates… and I may even be prepared to shout his very good friend 28 a soft drink… as long as he buys me a shirt.

 

James Fantasia (14 games NFC, CEO 2017-present)

Wally Miller is well regarded and recognised as one of the most astute administrators the game has ever produced. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had Wally as my first mentor in the field of football administration.

My introduction to Wally the administrator came when as a young footballer transitioning from underage football to senior football, Wally would invite you to his office to sign a playing contract at 5.20pm knowing you needed to be in the change rooms ready to go for training by 5.30pm. Never leaving a lot of time to negotiate any possibility of a better deal.

Working with Wally was the perfect way to cut your teeth as an aspiring football administrator. Despite Wally’s challenges surrounding his mobility he had a knack for knowing what was going on in every part of the club. He would challenge the oval manager about a hole in the back fence that was being used by non-paying customers. He inspired a generation of young footballers with the introduction of modified rules and helped groom the NFC to become a power house in the ‘80s after a long spell without success.

Most importantly Wally had a reverence that was revered by players and administrators from all walks of life, he is a wonderful example of giving of one’s self to a higher cause, a cause that brings incredible joy to people and has done this as a leader of men.

 

David Armour (69 games NFC)

In a final against Glenelg in 1980 I was reported for striking “Snout” McFarlane. I was as guilty as sin. Wally represented me and after my exhaustive defence which was going nowhere Wally stepped in. With his little familiar cough and measured response he claimed that I gave Snout a teacher’s cuff for pushing me after the ball had gone out of play. I got off with a reprimand.

Having been involved with Geelong and East Perth prior to my time at Norwood it became evident Wally Miller was the best, smartest, most personable and nicest person and football administrator I ever knew. Love you Wally.

 

Michael Coligan (83 games NFC, Inaugural Chairman NFC History Group)

In 1971, I accompanied Wally down to the South East in his specially modified VW to look at some potential recruits and train one night with North Gambier at Vansittart Park. The conversation during the trip was always about football and Norwood’s aspiration, even back then, was to place the club in a strong position to enter the premier football league in the land, the VFL. He is a visionary, a great administrator and has given extraordinary service to football in South Australia.

The establishment of the Norwood History Committee in 2009 reconnected me back with the club and Wally Miller, and throughout the past ten years he has been a great mentor, confidant and wealth of knowledge of all things Norwood. I had the honour early last year to visit Wally in Hampstead Centre and inform him of his induction, as one of five Norwood men into our Hall of Fame as an inaugural club ‘Legend’. A great man, and trust that we can get many past players to the oval on Friday and Saturday, 21 and 22 June when he will be presented with AFL life membership.

 

Neville Roberts (95 games NFC, Captain 1985-1986, Coach 2000-2001)

Norwood recruited me in 1982 and unknown to most I was also talking to Port. Obviously I made the decision to come to Norwood and when it came to discussing money I had been warned Wally was a hard negotiator, so I decided to blind side him. So, when he opened the contract discussions I said up front:

“Wally I know you will be very fair, so please pay me what you think I’m worth”

Worked a treat… paid me like a first year recruit!!

 

John Clarke (58 games NFC)

I was evacuated from Darwin cyclone Tracy to Adelaide in early 1975 – homeless and no employment. I was recruited to Port Adelaide that year through Russell Ebert and Bruce Light playing for Darwin Buffaloes before Cyclone Tracy.

I tried several times to make contact with Russell Ebert through Port Adelaide manager (late Bob McLean) and was unsuccessful. Michael Poulter asked Wally Miller for me to train with NFC. Wally Miller offered me free accommodation at Carmel Court and a job with Metro Meats under the late Malcolm Smith, till I got on my feet.

Port Adelaide months later contacted me and asked me to join Russell at Port. I discussed with Wally Port’s offer and my football future in Adelaide. Wally gave me full support to join Port Adelaide with no reservations and expectations from the NFC.

I decided to stay with Norwood because of Wally’s full support and respect as a refugee from Darwin’s Cyclone Tracy. Best wishes always Wally.

 

David Payne (194 games NFC)

I remember walking into his office at contract time with great expectations, having thought the prior year’s effort was reasonable, and the possibility of an increase maybe on the cards. Wally knew exactly what you were worth and that’s what you got. Fantastic man, wise and always straight to the point, no beating round the bush with him. I admire him and respect everything he has done for the NFC.

 

Wally Miller

ADMINISTRATION RECORD:

• Promotions Officer for Norwood 1968, 1969

• Secretary Manager / Football Director of Norwood 1970 – 1992

• Norwood Match Committee / Selector 1974 – 1996

• Director of Adelaide Football Club 1997 – 2002

• SANFL Inc Sub-committees 1970 – 1999

SANFL responsibilities included :

• League Delegate and Proxy Delegate 1972 – 1974, 1980

• Technical and Development Committee 1972 – 1987 & 1993 – 1999

• Match & Permit Rules Committee 1991 – 1993

• National Football League Investigation Committee

• Future Direction of Football Committee

• Restructuring of SANFL Permit System Committee 1980 – 1981

• Salary cap investigation committee. 1996-1997

 

ACHIEVEMENTS:

• Life Member of the Norwood Football Club (1975)

• Life Member of the SANFL (1986)

• Member of the Norwood Football Club’s Hall of Fame (inducted 2006)

• Legend Status of the Norwood Football Club (inducted 2018)

• Member of the South Australian Football Hall of Fame (Inducted 2004)

• Order of Australia Medal for Services to Football (1986)

• AFL Coaches Association award for Outstanding Lifetime Service to Australian Football (2007)

• Concept and Development of Modified Rules (late 1960s)

• Consultant for Disabled Access to AAMI Stadium and Suburban Ovals (1995 onwards)

 

 

PLAYING RECORD:

• 64 games for Norwood 1958 – 1961

 

Listing the above just gives insight in to everything Wally has done and achieved for the Norwood Football Club and the game overall. Just take a minute to ponder. Wally Miller is the doyen of administrators and is a LEGEND thank you!

 

 

This piece was first published on the website of the Norwood Football Club.

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

Do you really enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE

 

 

To find out more about Almanac memberships CLICK HERE

Comments

  1. An inspiring article on a very accomplish man. His life membership is richly deserved. Well done Rulebook.

  2. Paul Swanbury says

    Wally was the ‘man’ at Norwood back I the my day the 80’s. He was well respected by everyone and gave everyone a fair go.
    He certainly gave me every possible chance but my body and discipline probably let me down once I got there.
    I remember him always in the Southern pocket every training night watching and assessing everything. Always wanted to talk to you.
    He also had that persona that he didn’t have to say much to know what he was thinking….

    A true gentleman and one of the great clubmen and administrator.

  3. Barry Solomon says

    Howdy mate, Wally Miller was outstanding for me, he ruled and u always knew exactly where you stood. I luved the larrikin aspect which was balanced by astute decision making and fairness. It’s indeed been a highlight of my working life to have served under his direction and leadership. I remember seeing balmey and Wally standing at the end of the members bar in Wally’s corner , it was balmeys fairwell drinks or around that last few days b4 he left for Melbourne and I watched and thought……. these are the rare glimpses of a relationship that had clearly seen some of footballs finest moments play out and a bond which had been forged at the coalface. Those memories are what make the really hard days at Norwood a lot easier than they would normally be. Cheers mate, luv ya stuff.

  4. Willow Wilson says

    A great article Rulebook, truly an icon of the Norwood Football Club and it is great to see him get some much deserved recognition.

  5. Chip Miller says

    No matter who you follow this is an amazing story and so much dedication when others would simple give up . Not just a footy story it is a story about life and over coming hurdles.Congrats to Wally Miller.

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    You’ve outdone yourself ‘Book. A superb article about a superb person in Wally Miller. Thanks and very well done.

  7. Stuart Bee says

    Wally was one of the best administrators in footy and the honour of life membership of AFL is well deserved – the article was indeed a good read and well researched. It was great to be at Coopers Stadium (aka Norwood Oval) last week to see so many great past players from our recent history ???

  8. Erik Matisons says

    A good read , Phil Carman said when going to Collingwood from Norwood that Norwood was more professionally run which would have had to be down to Wally Miller’s work at the time which says it all as Collingwood is the biggest football club in the country, hopefully the new club rooms will honour the great men in Norwood history as clubs such as Port , North do in their clubrooms

  9. Rulebook, I first read this article from the Norwood website. As per usual, it’s absolutely brilliant about a truly inspirational person. You should collect all your profiles and have them published in book form.

    Anyway, back to Wally. I was present at the Norwood oval when Don Lindner used Wally’s back as a step ladder. Wally was in ideal position to mark the ball when Don raced in from behind with leg outstretched and hoisted himself high into the air to pull down a screamer. Wally, as you would expect, collapsed to the ground. but seemed to recover and play out the game. The rest has been well recorded by Malcolm.

    Unfortunately for Wally and Norwood, this finished a very promising footy career for the Legs as he had shown great promise as a hard nosed half back or close checking centreman. I know my Dad (and I) was was a big fan of Wally and was upset that he couldn’t fulfill his potential as a player – little did we realise what a legend of the club he was to become..

    After reading this for the second time, it’s HATS OFF TO MALCOLM, not Larry (apologies to Del Shannon).

  10. Jan Peters says

    Wow, such an informative read. So much I didn’t know about Wally. Also knew his daughter Sally very well from Calisthenics. RIP dear Sally. Congratulations Wally, well deserved.

  11. Manny Koufalakis says

    Fantastic read about the great man. What a life and what a contribution to the Norwood Footy Club and Aussie Rules in general. Met Wally as a youngster in the late 60s at the Woods Street clubrooms while I was waiting to join up as a member. We obviously spoke about the Legs for a bit and he then gave me a few car stickers. The memory has always stayed with me that he took time out to talk to a young chap. Congratulations Wally on your Life Membership.

  12. Froggy Murdoch says

    Love this Malcolm. You have done the Great man proud. Many facts of his life I didn’t know. I’m sure the Norwood faithful will pay respect to Wally thank you behalf of all football lovers and especially ex players

  13. Lyndon Hancock says

    Congratulations Wally very well deserved, your certainly an ornament of the game and Norwood footy club.

  14. Terry Lymberopoulos says

    Brilliant read Malcolm.
    Also really enjoyed the testimonials from those involved with Wally, really shows the measure of the man. He deserves all the accolades he gets. Thanks

  15. Bill Drodge says

    Well done Malcolm ! That’s a fitting article for a great Norwood man. So many stories to relate to, from better days.

  16. Book

    Thank you for an excellent piece of sports history about a talented administrator and thinker about how to grow the game in Wally Miller. His honour is well deserved. Your contribution to the telling of Norwood’s history is superb.

  17. Brenton Kemp says

    What a fantastic tribute Malcolm. I first heard of Wally as a kid (reading ‘Red and Blue Blooded’) but wasn’t aware of exactly how much he is part of the fabric of the Norwood club. Respected by anyone and everyone in football circles. Surely there has to be a Wally Miller stand or similar at the Parade one day ( apologies if there already is, haven’t been to a game in many years). Well researched and a pleasure to read mate.

  18. Cameron Glenn says

    Another great article on a legend of the Norwood Football Club. Most often than not, I enter Norwood Oval through the Wally Miller gates.

  19. david butler says

    Well done Rulebook; well researched and written.
    I had some idea of how influential Wally had been, but you have documented so much more. I remember playing under 11 footy in the middle of the old Norwood velodrome every Saturday morning with Bob Kite umpiring. I think we were the first year to play ‘modified rules’ and Norwood were certainly the (very controversial at the time) pioneers of what is now universally accepted as the best approach to under-age skills development. (not that it helped me much!).
    Regards
    harry

  20. Greg Robins says

    Wally Miller, What an absolute ornament to the game of Australian Rules. Thanks for your input into helping run one of Australia’s most iconic football clubs, Norwood.

  21. John Arnold says

    What a fantastic story of the life of Wally Miller .The courage he has is extraordinary. Thanks Wally for being a big part of the NFC.

  22. Dean Bogisch says

    What a great read. I have learnt so much more about the great man. A living icon of the NFC.

  23. Another great read Malcolm. Loved it. Intrigued by the North connections: 1960 GF, Don Lindner collision and the poaching er recruiting of Bob Hammond. Would like to know more about the Kneebone incident. Message me maybe?

  24. Charlie, Port’s Marx Kretshmer is reputed to have king hit Kneebone behind play, leaving him with horrific facial injuries. The “News” published a story by head footy writer Lawrie Jervis about the incident with a photo of Kneebone’s face. He named Kretshmer as the instigator. I don’t recall whether anyone was reported.

    Hope this is of some help to you.

  25. PS, Charlie as you would well imagine not only did Miller’s love of Port evaporate over that shocking incident but Kneebone was deeply scarred in both body and mind. He never forgave port Adelaide and Bunton, on the Tank’s return, had to keep him in check as he took great delight in running through port players.As you would expect, the Norwood / Port rivalry intensified with Norwood rover Peter “Buckethead” Vivian breaking “Chicken” Hayes’ jaw in a night game at the end of the season.

  26. Michael Rehn says

    An excellent write up about a very great Norwood man. As supporter I always found it comforting to know that once an issue of any kind was in Wally’s hands we could be certain it would be solved in the best way possible. Wally really is not only a great man of Norwood, but a great man of football as well. Certainly recognition that has come his way has been richly deserved !!!

  27. Tim Wedding says

    A household name for me growing up. I’m pretty sure I knew the name Wally Miller before I could learn to speak. When you hear the words “men of Norwood,” you instantly think of Wally. Such an inspirational article, I learnt so much about the great man. Champion bloke.

  28. Martin Rumsby says

    A great article, Malcolm, which not only highlights Wally’s courageous struggle overcome adversity, but also summarises much of Norwood Football Club’s post WWII history. An essential read for all Redlegs supporters. Well done!

  29. A peerless list of achevements. Well done also to you Rulebook. Didn’t know Wally had a Kapunda connection as well as other Barossa ones too.

    Great work.

  30. Michael Aish says

    Wally never changed from the moment I walked in to the day I packed my bags for the last time. A man that was 100 % sold out for the betterment of the Norwood Football Club.We all know 28 and the passion he has for the club but speak to him about Wally and you can not only sense the impact Wally had on John but he quite often gets very emotional when speaking about him. Wally had great compassion for everyone connected to the club. You could see those volunteers who spent not just hours but years serving the football club not only because they loved the players but they loved Wally. Talk about perseverance then talk about Wally. Talk about who you want in the trenches and Wally would be first picked. Players normally get the accolades but it’s the likes of Wally Miller who are the true champions. AFL Life membership thoroughly deserved. Well done Wally.

  31. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Paul thank you.Swanny admirable honesty and yep,Wally few words at times but had huge impact.Superb Bazz,Willow yes well overdue recognition.Chips v well said.Swish thank you.Stuart it was fantastic both,Friday and Saturday re Past Players and Officials shame about the game.Eric yes always remember,Phil making that point and sure the history committee will have that under control.Fisho game was at Prospect and yes wow what a administrative career born out of tragedy.Jan I learnt a lot also,RIP Sally.Manny Wally always gave youngsters his time he saw the whole picture.Froggy it truly was a couple of fantastic days and a privilege to be involved as it was to interview,Wally and learn so much.and great to catch up with so many past players and officials thanks folks

  32. Peter Myers says

    Fantastic article Malcolm, about one of Norwood’s greatest. Even though I haven’t had an intimate involvement in the daily affairs of the Norwood Football Club, it always amazes me how many common threads there are running through my life, my dad’s life in particular, and the history of the NFC. The story about Gary Sobers particularly interested me, because my dad, as well as being a past player for Norwood, was also a very wily spinner who represented East Torrens in district cricket. He too once played in a social cricket match against Sir Garfield. Apparently, he came to the crease and knocked up a fairly effortless 20 or 30 odd against the opening bowlers and medium pacers, whereupon dad was called to the crease, and proceeded to knock over the great man with a wrong ‘un, clean bowled about 2nd or 3rd ball! Plus of course I’ve had a very long standing association with Bert Baulderstone’s son, with our shared love of the MIGHTY REDLEGS being one of the fundamental foundations of our friendship!

  33. Great read Book.

  34. Luke Reynolds says

    Magnificent piece Malcolm, enjoyed reading it every bit as much on the Almanac as I originally did on the Norwood website. The enormous effort you no doubt put into this was well worth it.

  35. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Lyndon well said.Terry very much so the response from past players to my email showed the massive respect,Wally is held in.Bill thank so some stories not for publication were gold as well.Nank Wally’s influence on the overall game is impossible to measure re modified rules,trainers and coaches courses v v much the innovator.Brenton just such a amazing person and the Wally Miller gates are appropriate recognition.Cameron thank you and likewise.David yes,Norwood were the leaders and as I have said such amazing visionary influence on the game and yes I learnt a lot also ( bit hard on yourself to mate after all you have played with,Bob Neil) Greg and John well said couldn’t agree more.Dean thank you and likewise I learnt a lot interviewing,Wally.Charlie let’s say I’m not disagreeing with,Fisho and yes certainly a few ironic connections with the roosters.Michael v well put yes it was comforting to no any issue was being handled by Wally
    definitely a great man re footy and as the Bear said about bloody time re the recognition.Tim it doesn’t surprise me in the least that you knew about,Wally from such a young age,NFC means,Wally Miller.
    Martin for Wally to be happy with the article means just so much to me,Wally’s courage words can not do justice and yes ok I’m based but I reckon it’s essential reading also.Mickey yes the achievements are mind boggling and the old,Karoonda keeps appearing doesn’t it ? Aishy you absolutely nailed it superb.
    Peter thank you and re bowling,Sir Garfield pretty fair effort that ! The Myers family certainly have redleg connections dating a fair way back.Thanks TC.Luke yes I admit a lot of hours went in to the article and yes I admit I’m happy with the way it turned out a privilege to be able to interview,Wally and write the article
    thanks folks greatly appreciated

  36. Leon minervini says

    Great article Malcolm,
    Wally Miller what a legend, l met Wally for the first time in his corner office across from the great Norwood Fc when l stared in the u/ 15 s and as l was going though the grades .
    There l realised he represented the hopes of young people/players coming to the Norwood football clubs .
    The power of sincere and selfless contribution and the deepest joy of fulfilment to watch the players /club succeed . He taught us gratitude and humility and that so many people had our hand in success .
    His integrity /desire and contribution is what made us a successful club .
    Thanks wall Miller you are a legend!!

  37. Malcolm, I stand by everything I wrote about the Kneebone incident, I’m sure Wally can confirm it. Certainly old “News” issues would also confirm it. Incidentally, one of my old workmates always insisted it was actually Ted Whelan that did the dirty deed – not being present for that game, I only know what i read in Jervis’ column.

  38. PS At that time I was a student at Norwood High and all the talk at school amongst the lads was about that incident. On the radio footy shows Kretshmers’ name was mud. As I have said, a few years later, when working in the RBA, Bill Doxey was adamant that the perpetrator was Ted Whelan. No matter, it was still a rotten thing to do.

    Hope this answers a few questions.

  39. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Minners v well said couldn’t agree more.Fisho I’m not disagreeing what so ever which says enough.thank you

  40. Great read as always, Rulebook

  41. Craig Blieschke says

    Malcolm I only played at the club for a year (1987) but Wally was amazing from start to finish, the complete professional. Most importantly though I could feel his love and care for the club and all involved, including me. Congratulations Wally, so well deserved.

  42. Jeff Milton says

    Great article on a great man

  43. Great story Malcom. I was fortunate to have Wally around at the Crows the time i was there. He showed great interest, and loved the fact i was a Norwood man.
    Wally’s story shows great leadership, adversity and a bond for Norwood and the SANFL.
    Because of people like Wally and other Norwood legends, the things they have done is what makes the club and the competition so valuable, unique and great. This is why I’m so proud that i have been fortunate enough to be attached in some way, to his legacy, which he help form the history and strong reputation which is the Norwood Football Club.

  44. Greg Moody says

    A well written article Rulebook. For one who loathes reading, i found your article fascinating, informative and a joy to read.

  45. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Litza thank you,Craig v well said you nailed it.Milts thank you.Bowny love your words of wisdom.Greg greatly appreciated thanks folks

Leave a Comment

*