Henry "Harry" Clapson came to Norwood as a 27 year old who had played for a number of years in the Victorian Football Association. He started his career with a club that had a most interesting history. The Essendon Association Club had no links with the Essendon VFL team. In fact it was formed in 1900 by disgruntled Essendon fans annoyed that their side was located in East Melbourne and not in Essendon. Originally called Essendon Town, the name was changed to the Essendon Association Dreadnoughts in 1905.
Harry was an outstanding wingman with this team and prior to arriving in South Australia was their captain. Clapson was small in stature, only 5ft 4 inches (165cm) tall but the word, “game,” was often used to describe his demeanour. One early report of his playing style appeared in the Daily Herald 9th June 1922 “Clapson played on the centre wing against Port and was in the picture all day. He is only a little fellow but is very game. His marking and ground work were a treat to watch and he kicks finely with either foot.”
A groin injury sustained in July had him sidelined for a few matches and consequently he struggled to earn back his place in the league side. This was a golden era for the Redlegs and the side had great depth on the wings. Harry had to compete with the likes of Heinrich, Fowler, Toovey and Hepburn to gain a league birth. He managed 14 games in three seasons before returning to Melbourne.
Harry’s next move was precipitated by the continued topsy-turvy history of his old club. In his absence, the Essendon VFL club not only came back to Essendon but took over the Association’s ground at Windy Hill. His old club could survive only by amalgamating with another VFA club. This they did and the club chosen was North Melbourne. So on his return to Melbourne, as a 30 year old in 1925, Harry joined North Melbourne. 1925 was a significant year for North Melbourne. It was their first year in the VFL.
Clapson missed selection in their first game in which they defeated Geelong at Corio Oval but he was selected the following week. This was their first VFL game to be played at their home ground at Arden Street. Unfortunately they lost to Fitzroy. Harry played six more games that season before retiring.
Henry (Harry) Clapson was born on March 5th, 1895 and died on June 6th, 1987, aged 92.
B Ridge March 2018