Club News

Happy 100th Birthday Merv Roberts

Merv Roberts - Third row, second from right

The Norwood Football Club would like to wish Merv Roberts a happy 100th birthday.

Merv is the oldest living Norwood player, and celebrates his 100th birthday on December 30, 2023.

“On behalf of the Norwood Football Club, I would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Mervyn Arthur Roberts on reaching the remarkable milestone of his 100th year,” Norwood Football Club CEO James Fantasia said.

“This momentous occasion stands as a tribute to Merv’s longevity and the wealth of experiences he has accumulated over the past century.”

Merv Roberts was one of the most respected defenders of his era as his selection in five State teams testifies.

He gained a great reputation for the surety of his ball handling, causing one reporter in June 1950 to refer to him as “sticky fingers.”

Mervyn Arthur Roberts was born on 30 December 1923 and attended Norwood High School.

In 1942 he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force, serving as a flying officer on the South West Pacific and Borneo. He was discharged in January 1946.

Merv joined Norwood and debuted in the third round of the 1946 season against Port Adelaide at Alberton.

Standing at 178cm and weighing just 73kg, the slightly built defender went on to be part of the successful “Jack Oatey era” and was a member of three premiership sides in 1946, 1948 and 1950 and two losing grand finals in 1947 and 1952.

He was a member of the side that played against North Adelaide at the Sydney Cricket Ground in June 1953 before 20,000 spectators in the first game played for premiership points outside of South Australia.

He was a highly regarded clubman being presented with excellent service awards in 1950 and 1953.  In 1954 he was the player representative on the Management Committee.

There was a vigorous aspect to his play as demonstrated in a game against Glenelg. A teammate had taken a mark and was being harassed by a Glenelg opponent. According to the umpire, Merv ran some 15 yards straight at the Glenelg player, contacting him in the chest and sending him flying. His teammate was defended but unfortunately it did cost Roberts a one match suspension.

A wonderful tribute was paid to Merv Roberts by one of the icons of SA Football; Wally May (Former VFL, Sturt and State Ruckman). In the Advertiser on September 13th, 1954,  he wrote: “What a tremendous player Merv Roberts is. He is the best back pocket I’ve seen in this State and as good as they come in Victoria.”

Merv Roberts retired at the end of the 1956 season leaving behind an outstanding record: 162 games, three premierships and club life membership.

In 2022 Merv Roberts was the 65th inductee to the Norwood FC Hall of Fame.

In honour of this extraordinary achievement, the Norwood Football Club takes great pleasure in presenting the Number 10 playing jumper to Mr. Roberts. This number holds special significance as it was worn by Merv with distinction from 1946 to 1956. To further commemorate this occasion, the jumper has been signed by four esteemed players who, like Merv, proudly wore the Number 10 jumper for over 100 games each.

The signatures on the jumper belong to Roger Woodcock (1969 to 1981), Lester Ross (1983 to 1992), Robbie Neill (1998 to 2005), and Declan Hamilton (2003 to the present). Each of these players has contributed significantly to the legacy of the Number 10 jumper, and their signatures serve as a testament to the enduring impact of Merv’s association with the Norwood Football Club.

By B Ridge Feb 2014, 2022 via the Redlegs Museum

Mervyn Arthur Roberts

Guernsey Number: 10
Career: 1946 to 1956
NFC Games: 162
NFC Goals: 6
Debut: v Port Adelaide (Alberton) 11th May 1946
Finale: v North Adelaide (Adelaide) 8th September 1956

Premierships: 1946, 1948, 1950
NFC Life Member
NFC Hall of Fame
Advertiser Team of the Year: 1954
South Australian Games: 5

Past Norwood players and wearers of the number 10 guernsey, Robbie Neill, left, Declan Hamilton and Roger Woodcock, right, presenting a signed number 10 Norwood guernsey to Merv Roberts who won three Premierships in the digit.