Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: F is for Finland and Football

This week’s letter in the ‘Family History Through the Alphabet’ Challenge is F … and immediately I thought of FINLAND, and then FOOTBALL. And as I couldn’t decide between them, I have decided to do both.

F is for FINLAND

I’ve written before about my Great Grandpa Otto Winter, who was born in Finland, and jumped ship in Australia – so I won’t repeat it here. Even though I’m only 1/8th Finnish, I have taken a real interest in my Finnish heritage – maybe because it is something completely different from Australian and English research? Who knows.

First up let me tell you that this tiny country, which is way, way up near the top of the northern hemisphere has been such an interesting one to learn about. I won’t go into details about everything I have learned, but I will start off by showing you the size of Finland in relation to Australia. It’s only about 1/2 the size of South Australia.

Anyway researching my Finnish heritage has led me to join a Family History Group or “sukuseura” as it is called in Finnish, and to discover and keep in contact with some reli’s from over there, which is simply awesome.

Another big plus for Finland, is the Helsinki City Archives, who I must say are simply THE BEST!! I wrote to them asking if they happened to have any records relating to ‘Otto Winter’ and crossed my fingers hoping for something. Little did I expect what I got – which was fat a A4 size envelope packed with photocopies of all sorts. And by all sorts I mean all sorts … plans of the houses that Otto grew up in, an old map of the city of Helsinki showing the streets where he lived, his school records, ships diary entries relating to him and more. Talk about jackpot!!! That kept me doing the genealogy happy dance for A-G-E-S.

Anyway as does happen with research – due to others things in life, I had to put my Finnish research aside for now. But am so looking forward to getting back to it when I get a chance.



Now on to football. Who would have thought I would be writing about football on my blog? Not me, as I’m not a football fan at all! Anyway my grandpa Horace Ronald Phillips,  or Ron as he was known, was one of South Australia’s greats in the football world, so I figured it was appropriate to write about his football feats in this post.

I should clarify just in case I have readers from outside of Australia. When I say ‘football’ I am meaning Aussie Rules style football, not soccer, and not rugby.

You can read some of his stats on the Ron Phillips Wikipedia page, and he is listed on the North Adelaide Football Club Magarey Medallists page, and in Team of the Century. But to give you some idea of his ability – he did play 199 games for the North Adelaide Football Club over a period of 13 years. In that time he played in two premierships, and won two Magarey Medals (the highest honour in South Australia football). He also represented South Australia on number occasions when playing interstate games.

The feat that he managed to do, that no-one else has done, was not just win two Magarey Medals, but to do so from opposite ends of the ground. This just highlights his versatility as a player, which included being a great goal kicker too.

So as history has it, he was a great sportsman, but to me (rightly or wrongly) he was just my grandpa, with a whole heap of sports memorabilia.

6 Responses to “Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: F is for Finland and Football”

  1. Catherine says:

    How wonderful to be in contact with rellies in Finland Alona and what a talented young fellow your grandfather was, Alona. I love how you say “… he was just my Grandpa” – that sure is the way of it when we’re children 🙂 …

  2. Alona says:

    Thanks for your comments Catherine. It sure is exciting to keep in touch with my Finnish reli’s, and find out how differently things are over there. As for my grandpa, I know I’ve never appreciated his sporting achievements, and probably still don’t as much as should. But at least I have more of an idea of it now. 🙂

    • Lee-Anne Bennett says:

      Now I know who you are and you arent far away after all!
      You are Auntie Valda’s grand daughter? Love to catch up and see what you have. Lee-Anne

    • Lee-Anne Bennett says:

      Oh, and just so you know, a Friend of mine was blown away when he found out Uncle Ron was my great uncle. He is a staunch NA supporter and was most impressed. Even has two football cards of him in his collection.

  3. Wow I never realised Finland was so small. I love the photo of your grandfather, his hair do reminds me of my Dad. I’ve just found a distant cousin who played for North Adelaide in the 1880s.

  4. Sharon says:

    How wonderful to receive an envelope full of such detailed information! That would have been like Christmas!
    I also didn’t realise that Finland was so small.

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