Gordon Schwartz – “The Ultimate Scrapbook”

Norwood Football Club: 1946 – 47 (3 games, 1 goal)
West Torrens Football Club: 1948 (13 games, 24 goals) 

Any follower of South Australian football in the second half of the 20th century will be familiar with the name Gordon Schwartz. A prolific writer of sports journalism, mainly for The Advertiser and The Sunday Mail, Gordon wrote not only about football, but also covered tennis, cricket, golf, swimming, even wrestling.  All of his articles he kept in hard copy in a series of scrapbooks, which have recently been bequeathed to the SANFL History Centre. Without doubt, they are one of the most valuable collections relating to South Australian football.

Born in Freeling on 23 June 1922, Gordon Schwartz grew up in Port Pirie where he made a name for himself as a footballer, cricketer and tennis player before finally settling in Adelaide.  In Port Pirie, Schwartz was a star goal-kicker for the Proprietary Football Club. At one stage, he even had a golf handicap of three.  He was educated at Prince Alfred College so life in the city was quite familiar to him. 

Like most men of his era, the Second World War interrupted his sporting career and he served in Europe as an RAAF Flight-Lieutenant in Short Sunderland flying boats hunting German U-boats. 

In July 1945, while still serving overseas, Schwartz was a member of the RAAF tennis team which was invited to Holland to play a series of matches against leading Dutch players. 

A future football, tennis and media colleague, John Mehaffey, was another member of the RAAF team. A month later Schwartz also managed to win the British Junior Club Tennis Championship in both singles and doubles, the only Dominion player ever to do so. 

Following his return from the war, and while still based at Port Pirie, Gordon Schwartz was chosen in the South Australian State Tennis Team to play Victoria in Melbourne.  He also took the opportunity to play in the Victorian Championships in both singles and doubles.  During these early post-war years, Schwartz played against several of the leading players in the world in state and national championships. 

He had by this time also tried his luck with the Norwood Football Club but he had trouble breaking into the powerhouse team which won the SANFL premiership in his first year and was runner-up in his second. 

During this period, Schwartz split his time between Norwood and Proprietary, kicking 12 goals for the combined Pirie Association team against a combined Yorke Valley Association in 1946 and managing to top the Pirie Association goal-kicking in 1947 as his club, Proprietary, claimed the premiership. 

In 1949, Gordon Schwartz succeeded his brother Blair as President of Proprietary Football Club, a position Blair had previously assumed on the death of their father, Arthur.  Blair later became a leading entertainment figure on Adelaide television and the music scene. 

Despite his sporting successes, particularly in the country, Gordon Schwartz eventually made his name as one of the leading sports journalists in Adelaide, having begun at The Recorder in Port Pirie.  By 1954 he had joined The Advertiser and, by the time he retired in 1987, had established himself as the leading football writer in the state.  In addition to his print media responsibilities, Schwartz also had an extensive career in both radio and television as a commentator and long-standing host of Channel Seven’s World of Sport. 

His contribution was recognised in 2002, when he was an inaugural inductee into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame as a journalist, and again in 2005 when Schwartz was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to journalism and sport in South Australia. He was also one of seven inaugural inductees to Adelaide Oval’s Media Hall of Fame in 2016. 

For those of us who grew up following SANFL football in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Gordon Schwartz was as much a part of our lives and football experience as any player.  A giant in a time of giants, his contribution was immense and his passing is truly the end of an era. 


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