Mick Plunkett was a big fellow who took high marks and loved a bumping contest. The third of four brothers who donned the red-and-blue, he captained the Alberts feeder team before beginning his 10-year career with Norwood at the age of 17.
He and his illustrious younger sibling Bill were key components of Norwood's half-back line in the 1901 grand final triumph over Port Adelaide, 4.9 to 4.5. That was Mick's last game. Remarkably, Bill had led West Perth to a premiership six weeks before. Mick and Bill also were comrades in two SA teams. Mick did "sterling work" as Victoria sloshed to an 8.10 to 3.6 victory on an MCG mudheap in 1899, and Bill was SA's best as Victoria sailed home 9.10 to 5.12 at Adelaide Oval in 1900. Their older brothers Henry and Oliver also played for Norwood. Mick was a robust, rebounding player of whom it was said "woe betide the man who bumped him".
He came into the Norwood team as a half-back flanker for the last two matches of 1893. Norwood drew with Port Adelaide and then defeated the premier, South Adelaide, 6.7 to 5.6 in what was Henry's swansong. Mick also played the first also played the first two matches of 1894 but did not become a fixture in the senior team until 1898.
He maintained a keen interest in Norwood through a long life and before the 1950 grand final was pictured showing captain-coach Jack Oatey the jumper he wore in 1891.
Mick was a champion hurdler in the days when the obstacles were made from floorboards and saplings. It's no surprise to find that his grandson, Leon Gregory, was Australian quarter-mile champion in 1951 and 1955, and a silver medallist at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games as a member of the 4 x 400 metre relay team with Graham Gipson, David Lean and Kevan Gosper. Leon won the Hone Medal in A1 amateur league football in 1955 and played four games as a ruckman with Glenelg in 1957.
Mick was a master plumber at Dulwich. He did not own a car and in his work drove a horse and cart. One of his last jobs was on the Adelaide Oval scoreboard. He never forgot that his wages were eight shillings a week when he was 17 and laid up for six weeks: "My total pay was 30 shillings."
He took up bowls in 1949 when he was 76. He knew his horseflesh and was a canny punter.
Reminiscing just before his 80th birthday in 1953, Mick told The Advertiser's Harry Kneebone that 'Snowy' Hamilton was the best footballer he ever saw, Frank Golding the best full back, 'Bos' Daly the best forward - and Jack Owens would have kicked twice as many goals as he did if he had played for Norwood. He rated South Adelaide's 'Bear' O'Brien as the hardest man to beat.
Mick was born in Norwood on 1 May 1874 and died at Brighton on 11 August 1960. He married Florence Maud Sampson at St Paul's Retreat, Glen Osmond, on 3 October 1900. They had two daughters. Iris married Cecil Gregory and Daphne married Ken Francis. Florence's brother Richard was MP for Swan in WA from 1921 to 1944.
P Robins April 2017