Beasley Kearney was a country boy who kicked goals for Norwood and then seemed destined for a distinguished political career until everything went wrong in 1933, his annus horribilus.
Beasley got his league opportunity as a 21-year-old junior at the start of the 1913 season when Norwood centreman Phil Robin was delayed while travelling from his employment at Murray Bridge and failed to get to Norwood Oval in time to face South Adelaide. Beasley took his place. It was a thrilling encounter. Down 14 points at three-quarter time, Norwood attacked relentlessly and snatched the lead with a minute or so to go, only to see South rush forward for a goal on the bell and its first win over the Redlegs for 10 years, 8.11 to 8.8.
Beasley cemented his spot in the team and was named the club’s most unselfish forward in 1913. World War I interrupted his progress. It was a low period for Norwood, with many players absent on active service and no league competition for three years. When football resumed in 1919, Beasley was playing at centre until he twisted a knee against West Torrens on 19 July and was forced into retirement.
Born at Wilmington on 2 December 1891, Beasley was one of six children of Joseph Kearney and his wife Sarah Ann, née Vale. He was educated at country schools, became a blacksmith and joined the Commonwealth Railways as a clerk about 1911. Then, while working with the State Children’s Department, he began to study law at the University of Adelaide and was admitted to the Bar in 1926. In 1929 he married Ida Margareta Dorsch, with whom he would have five daughters. Life was good.
Beasley was hailed as a future attorney-general when elected to the State Parliament as a Labor member for East Torrens in April 1930. It was not to be. Expelled from the Labor Party over his support for the Premiers’ Plan to deal with the Great Depression, he was reinstated on appeal but then, with the Labor Government weakened by defections, he and many of his colleagues were defeated at the election of February 1933. Worse was to follow. In July 1933 he was struck off the roll of legal practitioners and in August sentenced to three years’ gaol with hard labour after he admitted he had fraudulantly converted to his own use £1,591 12/6 owed to the beneficiary of a will in England.
Beasley Kearney became a land agent. When his youngest daughter, Elizabeth, died at 17 months in 1944, she was mourned by her parents and sisters Josephine, Margaret, Geraldine and Ann. Beasley, often spelt Besley, died at Glen Osmond on 11 October 1972.
P. Robins Jan 2020