Jim Mullaney was less flamboyant than his Christian Brothers' College mate, Jack Cullen, but they had similar football careers.
Both played for the junior club Eastbourne when it won the City and Suburban Football Association premierships of 1891 and 1892. Eastbourne then merged with Adelaide, which was on its last legs and would not survive beyond 1893. The Adelaide Observer said that Mullaney was a very good follower and Cullen should make a good rover. Both were among Adelaide's best players for the season and both switched to Norwood when the red-and-blacks finally sputtered out.
Mullaney as a promising all-rounder and Cullen as a dashing half-back were members of the Norwood team which built up steam over the 1894 season. Norwood surprised many critics when it came from behind on a wet September day to defeat South Adelaide, 4.7 to 3.5, and capture the club's 11th premiership in 17 years.
Norwood was hit hard in 1895 when a host of players, including Mullaney and Cullen, were lured to the Golden West. Mullaney delayed his departure until after Norwood's May visit to Victoria, where the visitors lost to Melbourne, drew with Collingwood and defeated Essendon 9.8 to 7.12 in an exciting Queen's Birthday Holiday match at East Melbourne. Mullaney complemented Jack Holbrook, Peter Fitzpatrick and Jim Polglase in a strong following division.
Living in WA a year after Norwood's 1894 triumph were seven members of the premiership team, Mullaney, Cullen, Polglase, Os Bertram, 'Tack' Metherell, Ted Hantke, Charlie Atkins and Neil Sullivan, as well as back-up players Tom Coombe and Alf Finley.
In 1896, Mullaney played for the Fremantle-based Imperials along with Cullen and also George Webb, who would be inducted into Norwood's Hall of Fame in 2015. When Imperials collapsed in 1897 - the players discovered at the end of the season that even their uniforms were not paid for - Mullaney joined the new East Fremantle team which emerged from the ashes in 1898. He was vice-captain in 1899. Webb returned to Adelaide in 1998. Cullen had left Imperials after one season and, with Atkins and Coombe, helped West Perth win its first premiership in 1897.
Mullaney was among the Norwood men at the graveside of their former team-mate Os Bertram in Perth in 1896, with Cullen, Coombe, Atkins and George Kirby acting as pallbearers.
In 1902 Jim Mullaney was reported to be doing well at Boulder City in the goldfields. In 1934 a Fremantle magistrate fined him one pound for driving a motor car without lights, one pound for failing to stop when required and five shillings for driving without a licence.
The only son of James, a Rundle Street dyer, Jim was the brother of Matron Winifred Mullaney, an honoured leader of the Royal British Nurses' Association in Adelaide, and of Margaret (Mrs J. Whyte) and Cecilie (Mrs C. Mulhall). Jim Mullaney died at Nedlands on 13 October 1946, predeceased by his wife Ellen Theresa but survived by children Winifred (Mrs H. T. Reidy) and Jim.
P Robins Oct 2017