Richard Michael (Dick) COONAN


Guernsey Number:
Career: 1880 to 1882
NFC Games:
NFC Goals:
Debut: 1880

Premierships: 1880, 1881,1882
South Australian Games: 1


Dick Coonan came to Norwood from South Adelaide in 1880 and immediately proved himself a thorough all-round footballer with a clean, quick kick.
That year he was a member of the Norwood team which impressed during a visit to Victoria, defeating Melbourne and drawing with Carlton and defending champion South Melbourne.  A highlight for Dick was a trip on the express to Glenrowan the day after Ned Kelly was captured on 29 June 1880. With George Giffen and Frank Chapman, he saw the smouldering ruins of the hotel where the Kelly Gang made its last stand.

Aged only 20, Dick was selected in the South Australian team which went down to Victoria, 5.18 to 2.7, on 14 August 1880 in the first intercolonial game played in Adelaide. It was a disappointing result in the light of Norwood's recent performances in Melbourne.

Dick proved his mettle four days later when the visitors crunched a team of 23 native-born South Australians, 3.21 to 0.6. The South Australian Register said: "Decidedly the best man on the side of the vanquished yesterday was young Coonan, who made a number of brilliant runs down the wing, but even he was repeatedly at fault in not getting his kick."

After three premiership years with Norwood, Dick appears to have stood out of football in 1883, the year his younger brother Jack joined Norwood. Dick and Jack both played with the junior club North Park in 1884.

Dick was elected to Norwood life membership at the club's Annual General Meeting on 18 March 1885, along with 27 other retired players.  He did, however, play with Adelaide in 1885 and again had Jack as a team-mate.  In 1886 he finally hung up his boots to take on umpiring.

Dick was a popular cricketer, walker, runner, rower and swimmer. He defeated 20 contestants in a lightweight boxing tournament organised by Irish-American pug Jack Burke at Roachock's Athletic Hall in 1888 and thereafter proudly displayed his prize, a silver cup - even though he found it was made of tin !
He was a good friend of the jockey Bobbie Lewis and a keen punter. He walked to the Gawler races one day, had a nice win, and walked home again.

A machinist at The Register for 50 years, he was 71 when he died at St Peters on 3 April 1931, survived by his widow, Janet (née Forster).

P Robins Dec 2017

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