Mick Coffey/Coffee came into the Norwood senior twenty as a youthful follower in 1881 after shining with the junior team Middlesex the previous season. He played two premiership seasons with Norwood, moved to South Park in 1883, then represented Port Adelaide from 1884 to 1888, Adelaide in 1889 and South Adelaide in 1892. He was a member of Port's first premiership team in 1884.
He was named in the South Australian squad of 22 for two matches against Victoria in Melbourne under ‘Topsy’ Waldron’s captaincy in August 1881. Victoria won 9.23 to 1.8 and 4.14 to 1.5, though it is not clear if Mick played.
Mick’s time at Norwood ended unhappily. With Waldron delaying his return from Melbourne after Norwood’s visit there in 1882, Ted Woods took over as captain for the match against South Adelaide on 8 July. Woods wanted his brother Jack to play and asked Mick to make way. He did so but then quit the club and finished the season with the West Torrens team which beat North Park by 3 goals to 2 for the junior premiership in August 1882.
Writing in the journal Sport of 23 March 1928, ‘Oldtimer’ recalled that he and Mick were both 17 when they played together with Middlesex in 1878. He said that Mick was mostly a placeman with Norwood but “would have done infinitely better if put on the ball”.
Under the heading HOT COFFEE, The Saturday Journal of 11 October 1924 reminisced that Mick Coffee "was 'hot stuff' on the ball in the seventies and eighties, when he followed all day for Norwoods, and afterwards Ports. He was so attentive to the ball that he was never guilty of making presents of frees to the other fellow".
In Port's last match of season 1887, however, he was reported by a goal umpire on a charge he "wilfully struck" W. Dermody of West Adelaide. He was suspended for one match, prompting The Adelaide Observer to say: "It certainly does seem rather hard justice that such a sterling player as Coffee, who for eight years has followed for different senior clubs, and who has never been in trouble before, should be debarred from playing because he struck a man with the palm of his hand. There is not a fairer player amongst the senior clubs."
Mick tried his hand at umpiring in 1889. He was a competitive swimmer. Transferred by the railways to Murray Bridge, he coached football there for eight years without payment.
Mick came to Australia from the UK when he was six. Most early reports call him Coffee but his surname is Coffey on his gravestone in the Catholic section of West Terrace Cemetery. His residentiak address was 43 Gilbert St, city, when he died aged 67 at Parkside on 13 July 1929, survived by two sons and three daughters.
P Robins May 2017; P. Robins, M. Giles, G. Adams August 2022