After eight seasons of senior football in Adelaide, Tom Cullinan moved to Perth and gained selection in the first Western Australian cricket team to tour the eastern colonies.
Tom attracted notice as a junior footballer in 1880 when, with the best bit of play of the day, he secured the goal which gave Middlesex a 1.2 to 0.2 victory over West Torrens.
In May 1881, The South Australian Advertiser said that Norwood, "the premier of last season, appears if anything to be stronger than ever. It has lost McMichael, Green, Giffen, Bracken, Blinman and Chapman, but in their places Longden, a prominent player from the Melbourne Club, McNamara, from a junior club in Victoria, Duffy, a fine forward man from King's College, London, Cullinan and Coffee, well-known Adelaide juniors, and McKee, a tried goal-sneak, who has risen from the ranks of the second twenty, [form] an array of talent which it will be acknowledged more than substitutes the retiring men."
Young Tom failed to capitalise on a scoring chance presented to him by captain 'Topsy' Waldron at Adelaide Oval on 21 May, but Norwood came from behind to fight out an enthralling draw with Victorians, two goals apiece. Norwood crowned its season with its fourth successive premiership. Tom moved on. He played the next three seasons with South Park, where in 1884 he received a special presentation for distinguished service after the struggling club finished bottom for the first time in seven years. In 1885 he picked up a second premiership, this time with South Adelaide where was still playing in 1888.
Tom captained South United in the Kensington & Norwood Cricket Association for several seasons from 1882 and served on the committee in 1890. At Servicetown in December 1887 he helped organise a cricket match between 11 South Australians and 18 Victorians -taking seven wickets, including a hat trick, to give the Croweaters victory by 49 runs.
After his shift to WA, Tom played grade cricket for Fremantle. Originally selected as an emergency for the inaugural tour by a WA team to the eastern colonies in 1892-93, he made the cut when other players could not get time off work. His one first-class match was against SA at Adelaide Oval in late March 1893. It was not a happy homecoming for Tom. He dropped a vital catch when the sun got in his eyes and was dismissed for scores of eight and one.
Little is known of Tom Cullinan's personal life. Late of Unley, he died at Fremantle on 31 July 1907. He was predeceased by his parents, Patrick and Bridget, who had three sons and two daughters. His youngest brother, John, took an Irish bride, Jane Annie Pyne, in 1893, but she died at Parkside in 1894 and her husband followed two years later
* Picture kindly supplied by Greg Wardell-Johnson, WA Football League Historian
P Robins Nov 2018