Oliver Plunkett was the least prominent footballer of the four brothers who are bracketed as Norwood players in the decades around 1900, but he did sire two future Redlegs - Reg, a premiership player in 1923, and John, a stalwart of the 1930s.
Olly was born in Adelaide on 13 August 1870, one of five sons and two daughters of the future Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, John Plunkett, from Tipperary, and his wife Emma, née Gillett, of Nairne. John and Emma appear to have married twice on the same day, 2 November 1863, in different churches - St James Church, Blaviston, and the Catholic Church, Mount Barker.
Educated at Christian Brothers' College, Olly was a noted hurdle racer and Sheffield runner as well as a footballer and cricketer. He suffered setbacks when he visited Perth in 1893. Norwood identity Arthur J. Diamond, by then an influential figure in the West, got him to play for the old Fremantle club as it homed in on its seventh successive premiership in a sequence of ten. After a loss to West Perth in his fourth game, Olly and four team-mates were accused of “playing stiff” – not trying. Censured and cautioned, Olly resigned. None of the five played for the club again. Olly also complained he was of unfairly handicapped in athletics events in WA.
His brothers Henry, Mick and Bill all represented SA at football. Henry and Bill were Norwood captains. Henry captained SA and Bill led WA to its first win in interstate football. Family lore says that the oldest brother, Jack, captained North Adelaide.
According to The Mail of 19 October 1946, four Plunketts played in one match at Kensington Oval - Jack for North Adelaide, and Henry, Olly and Mick for Norwood, though there are no contemporary records to confirm it or pinpoint Olly's playing career. He was, however, a noted field umpire in the SA Football Association.
Olly played cricket with the Eastern Suburban Early Closing Association. He was an organiser of athletics clubs and secretary of Wednesday football and cricket competitions.
All five brothers were tradesmen - Jack a carpenter, Henry a printer, Olly a tailor, Michael a plumber and William a farrier. Olly established his tailoring business on the Norwood Parade and his younger sister Alice Kenihan was nearby as licensee of the Norwood Hotel.
Olly married Mary Josephine (Jennie) Kennealey at St Ignatius Church, Norwood, in 1899. He was 71 when he died at Kensington North Hospital on 29 October 1941. He was survived by four sons, Clem, Reg, Des and John, and a daughter, Sister Mercia Plunkett.
P Robins April 2017