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Lionel Petersen made his debut in 1943 for the combined Norwood and North Adelaide team.
Despite World War II breaking out in September of 1939, league football in South Australia continued relatively normally during the seasons of 1940 and 1941, with all eight teams still competing. By the end of 1941, however, over two-thirds of league footballers had either enlisted in the Australian Armed Forces or registered for them.
The SANFL decided that football would continue during the conflict but with only 4 teams, formed from merging the 8 existing teams along geographical lines. Thus Norwood merged with North Adelaide, Sturt with South Adelaide, Glenelg with West Adelaide and Port Adelaide with West Torrens. They wore the guernseys of North, Sturt, Glenelg and Port respectively and used Norwood, Unley, Adelaide and Alberton Ovals for their home grounds. In addition, the number of home and away rounds was reduced from 17 to 12. However, the final four system for finals remained the same and as such all teams qualified for the finals regardless of how they played during the season!
Lionel played just one game for Norwood-North in 1943 but played 9 games in 1944 and kicked 6 goals. The story of the 1944 season is quite amazing. Norwood-North won only 3 matches out of 12 during the minor round but of course still made the finals. They annihilated West-Glenelg by 87 points in the first semi-final and then beat a more highly fancied Sturt-South in the preliminary final by 16 points. That meant they were to play Port-Torrens in the grand final and they had lost to that team on all four occasions that year, the last time by 71 points. Needless to say Port-Torrens were red hot favourites to win the flag! But the grand final was a hard fought affair and Norwood-North triumphed by six points.
In winning the premiership Norwood-North achieved a remarkable record that is all but impossible to break. At the end of the finals it had scored fewer points for (1,425) than it had against it (1,538). It also won the same number (3) of matches in the finals series as it did during the entire home and away round!
With the normal competition resuming in 1945, Lionel made his debut for North Adelaide in round one. He played 17 games for the season and won the Most Improved trophy. He played a total of 42 games from 1945 to 1948 and kicked 7 goals. In total he played 52 games and kicked 13 goals.
Lionel passed away in April 2012 at the age of 77.
The North Adelaide Football Club acknowledges Lionel's contribution to the club and particularly to the 1944 premiership.