Glenelg’s’ inaugural flag in 1934 had a significant Broken Hill connection. Both Coach Harry Bruce McGregor and Captain Jack Owens played pivotal roles in the landmark victory.
Hailing from West Robins, McGregor began playing senior football in Broken Hill at age 16. He clinched the Hurley Medal for being the competition’s top player in 1922.
West Adelaide successfully recruited him in 1923, after both Norwood and Port Adelaide sought his signature. Between 1923 and 1929, McGregor played 102 matches for West Adelaide.
Appointed as the captain-coach in 1926, he steered the team to an SANFL flag victory in 1927, securing a 10.10 (70) to 8.10 (58) win against North Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval. Following consecutive wins in 1926 and 1927,
McGregor earned the distinction of being West Adelaide’s only dual Magarey Medallist. Dominating as a ruckman or centre half-forward, he represented South Australia in 22 interstate matches throughout his career.
The onset of the Great Depression in 1930 saw McGregor and team member Bob Snell, the 1929 Magarey Medallist, enticed to Tasmania due to the more attractive pay.
After two seasons captaining North Hobart in the Tasmanian Football League, with Grand Final appearances in both 1930 and 1931, McGregor rejoined the SANFL with South Adelaide.
By 1933, he was coaching the Glenelg Football Club, and the following year, he led them to their maiden SANFL Premiership. They defeated Port Adelaide by nine points before a 30,045-strong audience, scoring 18.15 (123) to 16.18 (114).
Jack Owens, another gem from West Broken Hill, captained the Tigers to their initial victory. A dominant left-footed full-forward, Owens was a force in attack, even during Glenelg’s early years when they were perceived as the underdogs in SANFL.
Favouring the screw punt for goals, he was Glenelg’s top goal scorer annually from 1924 to 1932 and once again in the 1934 premiership.
On three occasions, he led the league in goals, with standout performances in 1927 (80 goals), 1928 (83 goals), and sharing the title in 1932 with North Adelaide’s Ken Farmer, both netting 102 goals.
Glenelg’s trajectory changed with McGregor’s arrival, culminating in their first SANFL premiership in 1934. Tragically, Owens retired early in 1935 and passed away in 1942 after a prolonged illness, at only 40 years old.
Both McGregor and Owens have since been honoured with inductions into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame.