Blackwood on film and 100 United appearances

There's more to life than football for George Blackwood, but football will always be his first passion.
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George Blackwood sits and waits at Adelaide Airport to board his plane to Airlie Beach and reflects on a unique career that has brought him 100 United appearances to date.

He flicks through images on his phone, taken from his Ilford Sprite 35mm II, which contain his favourite people, moments, and locations across his adopted hometown; that of his partner, Emily, his dog, Rudolph, and the beach.

Just five days prior, Blackwood came off the bench and contributed to the final nail in Melbourne Victory’s coffin by winning a penalty from a bursting run into the box. It was Blackwood’s 100th appearance as a Red and one that hasn’t always been straightforward.

George Blackwood won a penalty or the Reds in his 100th appearance for the Club, helping his side to a 3-1 win over Melbourne Victory.

Blackwood eventually learned, after years of toil, that a delicate but clear balance between life and football are the keys to not only enjoying time on the pitch but perhaps most importantly, thriving off it.

As was revealed in a raw, thought-provoking discussion on The Pitch Podcast with Jarrod Walsh last year, Blackwood had been through a rough patch with Oldham Athletic in England after departing his first Adelaide stint that spanned from 2017–2020.

While he loved playing under former Socceroo, Harry Kewell, who was manager at the time and personally poached the youngster to join the club, it was a journey that moulded and redefined a resilient Blackwood. 

He was under a plethora of pain pills and medication just to get through Oldham’s training sessions and was playing through injuries he never should have been playing through ­– all in a desperate bid to succeed while he was overseas in England, as footballers do.

The worst of it was a stress fracture in his back that he couldn’t get right.

The very worst of it was doing it all completely alone and isolated throughout the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Stated by Blackwood himself via Instagram about his career at Oldham at the time which still yielded three goals from 13 interrupted games: “The last 10 months have been crazy and they’ve kicked the s*** out of me a bit but there were some great times”.

It all helped him find substance in his life that wasn’t football, including a newfound passion for photography.

“Probably about 18 months ago I got a film camera and I’ve just been sort of snapping away and capturing the moments and memories that mean a lot to me,” Blackwood said.

George Blackwood’s partner, Emily, and dog, Rudolph.

“I don’t really look for much in particular when I’m doing it, I like to mostly take the moments when I’m happy and I’m really enjoying it.

“We’ve got a couple of rolls of film we’re taking away with us, and photography is definitely something that keeps my mind ticking along outside of football and I’d love to keep building on that.”

For Blackwood, capturing these moments help him savour the highs when the inevitable lows swing back around; such is football and life.

The dedicated 25-year-old footballer has experienced a great deal for someone of his age, and it has brought him much wisdom within a professional sporting environment rife with both critics who have played the game at the top level, and those less so.

George Blackwood has found solace in photography.

While conceding it’s all part of the deal, Blackwood’s persistence and refreshing commitment to always be himself reverberates through United’s dressing room.

Anyone who meets the forward, whose best years are still ahead of him, will be mightily impressed with his compassion and drive to be the best he possibly can.

“I’m just really proud to reach 100 appearances and it has made me look back on the early days of my Adelaide United career as well and realise how long I’ve been at the club and how many hours I’ve put into making myself a better player and doing as well as I can for the team,” Blackwood admits.

“I feel I’ve come a long way and 100 appearances is just a really proud moment for me.

George Blackwood celebrates with teammates during his 100th appearance for Adelaide United.

“I was really excited to get out there on Friday and to bring up the milestone in that game against Victory was fantastic too.”

Blackwood was more determined than ever to get his body right upon his return to Adelaide after immediately accepting Carl Veart’s call.

He knew he had to focus on the fitness side of things after a tough time of it in England and now, some 12 months after his Reds comeback, he feels stronger than ever.

He’s not missed a single session since the start of pre-season, noting a passion for Adelaide and a strong support network for keeping him motivated, and everything else into perspective.

“Adelaide is just so easy and enjoyable and everything’s easy to access – you’ve got the beach and the city and the restaurants are really good.

“The lifestyle, even with the beautiful wineries I just started checking out last year, everything ties together perfectly here in Adelaide and my parents love it here too.”

The plane engine stirs into life and Blackwood looks out of the window with his camera on his lap.

He’s relaxed and ready to catalogue a new bunch of photos and memories, with many more waiting for him at Coopers Stadium after the World Cup break.

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