A Tribute to Norm McDonald

Norm McDonald

by Max Watson


“Being different makes it hard to fit in”, Norm McDonald didn’t think so. Norm McDonald was an aboriginal Australian AFL player who played as Essendon’s half back flanker in the late forties and early fifties, a time when aboriginal Australians were treated extremely poorly. Norm was Essendon’s first indigenous AFL player and was born on the 10th of December 1925.


Apart from being a spectacular AFL player, Norm was a professional sprinter, (hence the nickname ‘the black bullet’). Combine this with his amazing kicking and marking abilities and you get one of the most aggressive halfback flankers in AFL’s history. A favourite among the crowd he played in two premierships, was listed as the half back flanker of the aboriginal team of the century in 2005 and won the Crichton medal in 1951. As well as playing for Essendon norm played for Geelong’s RAAF team and was given the opportunity to represent his state by playing for the Victorian team.


In 1953 Norm retired from professional football, but was not forgotten for in 1991 Michael Long (the ‘father’ of modern indigenous Australian AFL) a man who would not stand for anything but total removal of racism from the AFL chose number 4 as his original number the same one that Norm proudly wore. Norm McDonald was an inspiring man who fought against  the oppression  and racism to indigenous Australians of the time and proved that being different makes it hard to fit in but not impossible.

About John Harms

John Harms is a writer, broadcaster, publisher, historian, speaker and teacher. He loves stories.

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