Leo Gleeson was a Balaklava farmer who flirted with premiership glory at Norwood before returning home well respected as a player but without the ultimate prize.
Leo played two senior games as a follower/back pocket in 1925 but was not a member of the team which took the premiership that year. He was named the club’s most improved player in 1926, when Norwood finished third. He was absent for much of the 1927 season, playing only five games as Norwood slumped to sixth position.
His big chance came in 1928, when he won the club trophy for best utility. Norwood entered the challenge final in sparkling form, but Port Adelaide was able to put the clamps on champion centreman Alec Lill and although Leo kept the scores in touch with a second quarter goal, the Redlegs struggled all day before going down 12.18 to 8.11. Leo retired after that. His career at Norwood included 23 Reserves games, with three goals, between 1924 and 1926.
Leo was born at Yanyarrie, Orroroo, on 7 August 1903 to William Gleeson and his wife Mary Teresa, née Carey. Leo had nine sisters and four brothers. He went to Mount Templeton School. He married Margaret Ipsa Stephens at St Ignatius Church, Norwood, in 1939 and they had four children, Margaret, Peter, Leo Victor and one whose name is not disclosed by Ancestry.
Leo enlisted in the army at Wayville in 1942 and served with the 2/2nd Casualty Clearing Station as a private. His name is recorded on the Balaklava District World War II Roll of Honour.
Leo’s wife Margaret was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the 1981 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to local government and the community.
Leo was 89 when he died at the Repatriation General Hospital, Daw Park, on 24 October 1992. He is buried at the Centennial Park Cemetery
P Robins, D Cox, G Adams August 2020