McGregor's meteoric rise

Tuesday, 14th June, 2011

LEGEND: Former West BH player Bruce McGregor was a star in South Australian football in the 1920s. LEGEND: Former West BH player Bruce McGregor was a star in South Australian football in the 1920s.

Today the BDT continues our trip down memory lane looking at some of the finest footballers who ever played in Broken Hill. Already in this series we have profiled former North BH player Dave Low, Robins' great Colin Casey and South star Peter Meuret. Now we turn the spotlight on the brilliant Bruce McGregor. 

By Peter Argent

During a seven-year, 102-game career with West Adelaide, Bruce McGregor's stellar tenure in SANFL football was highlighted with back-to-back Magarey Medals and captaincy of the Bloods' 1927 premiership.

Previous to that, when playing for West Broken Hill, McGregor was honoured with the Hurley Medal for best and fairest in the Broken Hill Football League in 1922. 

He was courted by Norwood, Port Adelaide and West Adelaide and eventually elected to join the Bloods, playing league football straight away. 

When McGregor moved to Adelaide he played alongside another Broken Hill football talent, Bobbie Barnes, who also won a Magarey Medal in 1922.

McGregor arrived by train from the Silver City with friend George Moore and walked into a political storm at the annual general meeting. 

Despite the unruly start, McGregor and his mate decided to stay with the 'red and black', which proved to be a godsend for the club. 

His rise was meteoric and sensational, being selected for the SA state side after just three games as a ruckman. 

Despite being nervous going into his first match in the state colours McGregor excelled with support from South Adelaide champion Dan Moriarty.

For the remainder of the decade - until a knee injury cut short his playing days in 1929 - McGregor played in every state game. 

He was South Australia's captain between 1926 and 1928. 

Noted sports writer and 1947 premiership player Merv Agars wrote in his book titled "Blood, Sweat and Tears, - the story of the West Adelaide Football Club 1887-1987", that McGregor was a "strong overhead mark, and was also a superb kick, equally skilful over long or short distances". 

"He was as capable with the drop kick as he was with his trademark torpedo punt."

In 1926 McGregor was appointed captain-coach, taking over from his mentor Barnes, who was a catalyst with McGregor when he first started with West in the 'Hill.

In this year he collected the first of his two Magarey Medals, along with gaining the Bloods' leading goal-kicker award with 26. 

His role was even more important the following winter. After losing the first final to the Roosters by four points, the system back then let the minor premiers have a re-match. 

McGregor was a star player throughout the finals series, culminating in a 12-point (some history books say 13-point) challenge final victory over North Adelaide.

While it is hard to confirm, in is believed that McGregor won West's Best All Round Player Award as many as six times.

As the Depression began to hit home in 1930, McGregor - along with team-mate Bob Snell, the 1929 Magarey Medallist, - was enticed to Tasmania where the remuneration was significantly better than in the SANFL.

He spent two seasons as captain-coach of North Hobart but was unable to steer his charges to a flag.

In 1932 he returned to South Australia as captain-coach of South Adelaide, only to stand down as a player after just two games.

The McGregor name continued in the 1950s with his son Ken representing West Adelaide and South Australia with distinction, along with representing his country in the Davis Cup and playing on the international tennis circuit. 

This heritage went into a third generation with Bruce's grandson, Ken being selected as a first-round draft selection by Adelaide, going on to enjoy a 10-year career with the Crows. 

Interestingly, the third generation was drafted from the Woodville-West Torrens Eagles.

FOOTNOTE - George Moore wore the West Adelaide jumper for four seasons, playing 46 games between 1923 and 1926.