By ZAC MILBANK
Just like Norwood seemingly had no right to win the 1984 SANFL Grand Final, Redleg Keith Thomas was in a similar position running back with the flight of the ball during the third quarter.
The Jack Oatey Medallist had used significant energy to spoil Port Adelaide’s Stephen Curtis and then lay a shepherd on a young Greg Anderson in front of more than 50,000 fans on the Members Stand wing at Football Park.
Thomas then charged ahead as teammate Duncan Fosdike kicked a floating ball to half-forward which Thomas snared over his head with tremendous courage. He quickly bounced to his feet and passed to teammate Michael Aish for a scoring opportunity.
”That is one of the most courageous marks I have ever seen,” South Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee Ian Day, who was commentating the match, said without hesitation.
With the game at a pivotal stage, Thomas’ play summed up the Redlegs’ unbreakable will to create history in becoming the first SANFL team to rise from fifth spot to win the premiership.
Only one team has managed to emulate Norwood since – North Adelaide in 2018 – and there would be another moment of Keith Thomas brilliance before outlasting the Magpies by nine points in a titanic struggle.
Aish bounced and carried the ball the best part of 80m down the outer wing before setting Thomas up with an opportunity to produce a tremendous snap goal from the pocket, giving his team a four-point lead during a tense final term.
Port regained the lead through centurion goal kicker Tim Evans but when Fosdike and six-goal forward Neville ”Rocky” Roberts kicked truly, there was little time left for Norwood coach Neil Balme to sweat until the final siren sounded.
It would be the first time the dual premiership coach would crack a smile since the pre-game singing of the Advance Australia Fair, when his brother – Norwood full back Craig Balme – successfully got under the skin of Port star Evans.
The remarkable incident sparked a series of melees and set the tone for the what would be one of the most fierce contests between two of SANFL’s powerhouse clubs.
Saturday September 30
Norwood 4.3 9.5 11.8 15.10 (100)
Port 1.2 8.7 11.11 13.13 (91)
BEST – Norwood: K. Thomas, Ross, Roberts, C. Balme, G. Thomas, Aish, Winter, Jarvis, Scanlon.
GOALS – Norwood: Roberts 6, Aish, K. Thomas, Fosdkie, Vardanega 2, McIntosh.
JACK OATEY MEDAL – Keith Thomas (Norwood)
UMPIRES – J. Hylton & L. Argent
CROWD – 50, 271 at Football Park
1984 Norwood Premiership Team
F: N. Roberts, P. Laughlin, G. Thomas
HF: G. Vardanega, J. Michalanney, D. Payne
C: D.Fosdike, G. McIntosh, P. Gallagher
HB: J. Scanlon, T. Warhurst, A. Jarvis
B: L. Ross, C. Balme, B. Winter
R: J. Hall, M. Aish, K. Thomas
INT: N. Hein, D.Jenkins
COACH – Neil Balme
CAPTAIN – Danny Jenkins