Jimmy Mullins played for five SA Football Association clubs but made his name on the national stage as an elite cyclist. A follower, he came to Norwood in 1885 when the South Park club folded. He played for Victorians in 1882, South Park in 1884, Norwood in 1885-86, South Adelaide in 1886 and West Adelaide in 1887.
He also was a member of the Norwood Bicycle Club and in 1889 won the Austral Wheel Race, the oldest track bicycle race in the world still existing, stretching back to 1887. Mullins rode a penny-farthing bicycle in his historic win before perhaps 20,000 people at the MCG. Regarded as Australia's greatest track cycling event, the Austral in later years been won by the likes of Sid Patterson (twice) and Charlie Walsh.
The Austral changed Mullins' life. With the 200 guineas prizemoney (approx $420 then and $45,000 now) the one-time carpenter was able to establish a bicycle shop in Pirie Street, Adelaide. He sponsored bike races and named one of his sons Robert Austral and his house Austral Villa. With legs like tree trunks, he could ride his penny-farthing from the city to Strathalbyn without dismounting. Two sons, Jack and Jim, became competition riders.
When the modern bike arrived, hundreds of people would go to Botanic Park to see Jimmy Mullins teaching women to ride. He died of pulmonary tuberculosis at Sydenham Road, Norwood, on the 26th November 1911 aged 48. He was survived by three sons and three daughters.
P Robins Nov 2014