HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Kevin John CLUNE
|Date of Birth||3rd April 1935|
Games 239 (Claremont 231, Western Australia 8)
Goals 106 (Claremont 106, Western Australia 0)
Honours: Claremont Premiership player 1964; Claremont Fairest and Best 1960, 1964; Claremont Captain 1958, 1960 (part); Claremont Life Member; Claremont Best ever Team (Post War) 1993
If the respect of his peers and opponents correlates with a players football ability then Kevin Clune must clearly rank as one of the very greatest players of the Claremont Football Club. His inspirational displays in the 1964 finals series and in the vital games leading up to it are the stuff of legend but throughout his entire 231 game career “The Carnamah Kid” set an example for all with his match preparation, passion and indomitable spirit.
Kevin John Clune was a mid-west country boy born and bred. His father was a butcher in Carnamah before taking on a wheat and sheep farm in the district and Kevin and his brother Colin were born at Three Springs, 23 km to the north. Like most country kids, sport was a constant in their lives and Kevin developed a passion for football at a very young age, practising his kicking endlessly – with or without a ball in hand. At the age of 16 he was a member of the senior Carnamah premiership team (1951) and two years later he won the club fairest and best award.
When he came down to Swanbourne in 1954 to do his National Service training, Kevin was paid a visit by Claremont talent scouts – tipped off by former Carnamah barber “Dinty” Chatel that the lad could “play a bit”. He was signed on the spot and chosen to replace the retired Sandover Medallist Gordon “Sonny” Maffina at centre for the first game of the 1954 season against East Perth. He was considered a “boom” recruit, as evidenced by the Round 1, 1954 Football Budget: “In Kevin Clune (19) of Carnamah, ‘Monts have one of their best recruits in years. A well-built lad, Clune appears a born footballer. He has played at the centre but could fill the bill equally well as a ruckman”
Clune did not disappoint for he played all 20 games in his first season and remained a beacon in the gloom of a monotonous succession of low table finishes for his club in the 1950’s. Although not overly endowed with pace, he was a relentless and determined ball winner who read the play superbly and gave his team tremendous drive with his robust, forceful and tireless displays. He was an excellent mark and kick and his non-stop hard at it style of play made him one of the best competitors of his day. Not only was he an iconic figure among the Claremont faithful but also one highly respected by opposition supporters.
Kevin Clune won two fairest and best awards for the Tigers, including the premiership year of 1964 and represented Western Australia 8 times between 1957 and 1961. He captained his club in 1958 and 1960. Undoubtedly his greatest season was 1964 but he had to be lured back to the club after spending 1963 with Northam Towns. A momentous rift had occurred at Claremont in 1962 when Clune was dropped by coach Peter Pianto over fitness concerns. He was working as a ‘brickie’ at the time and was physically exhausted but the move created a furore amongst members and supporters which was ultimately resolved by the club committee ordering his reinstatement. Clune played out the season but left for Northam still bitter over the divisive turn of events.
Early in 1964, new coach Jim Conway and long standing teammate Ken Caporn were instrumental in restoring passion and an outstsanding level of fitness and Clune began 1964 in superb condition. The Budget recorded a succession of “scintillating”, “indomitable’ and “masterly” displays by Clune and with 2 games remaining his team was in strong contention for a finals position. An individual piece of brilliance against South Fremantle when Clune gained possession of the ball in a back pocket and ran the length of Fremantle Oval to kick an inspirational goal was critical in a narrow victory. The following week Claremont had to beat West Perth at Leederville Oval to finish fourth and did so in a crackerjack game. Subiaco was the hot favourite in the first semi-final but inclement conditions favoured Claremont and Clunes toughness. His performance saw him chaired from the ground by ecstatic supporters and a 9 point preliminary final win earned Claremont the right to play East Fremantle in the grand final. Fortuitously it was Clunes 200th league game and he lead the team onto the ground before more than 40000 fans. The game was an epic and a soccered Clune goal and two by Ian Brewer in the final quarter against the breeze enabled Claremont to hang on for a four point win. It was comfortably the greatest moment of Clunes career and although he continued in 1965 the hard bodywork he had done over his career finally took its toll. He was hampered by injury and when he broke down again midway through 1966 he decided to hang up the boots.
After retirement, Clune’s services were in demand at several clubs. He was reserves coach at Swan Districts with John Todd for four years, a position he also held at Perth for two seasons, returning to Claremont in 1976 to coach the Tigers reserves to their first ever premiership.
Nowdays, as a Mandurah resident, Kevin Clune still likes to attend Claremont games and is allied to the Fremantle Dockers in the AFL. He is not overly enamoured with the style of AFL football but his own hard running methods may well have been suited to the modern game. Kevin Clune will be remembered for the tremendous passion he had for the game of Australian Rules Football. He qualifies worthily for the West Australian Football Hall of Fame as one of the most revered figures to pull on a boot at Claremont Oval.