William Civiall "Bill" PLUNKETT


Guernsey Number:
Career: 1896 to 1903,1908 to 1909
NFC Games: 103
NFC Goals: 10
Debut: v North Adelaide (Adelaide) 2nd May 1896
Finale: v Port Adelaide (Alberton) 15th May 1909

Norwood Captain: 1900, 1903
Norwood Coach: 1913
Premierships: 1901
NFC Life Member
Best & Fairest: 1903
South Australian Games: 3


Bill Plunkett was remarkable.  In 1901 he made red-and-blue history by leading West Perth to the WA flag, then jumping on a boat to Adelaide -  there was no road, rail or air link - and helping Norwood pip Port Adelaide in the SA grand final. No other player celebrated premierships in two states in one season until Stan 'Pops' Heal did it with Melbourne and West Perth in 1941.

The youngest of four brothers who played for Norwood,  Bill was captain of the Osborns feeder team before he made his senior debut in 1896. By 1900 he was  Norwood captain and a key part of  a  crack half-back line with brother Mick and  'Squasher' Barnes.
Bill and Mick were members of the SA team which lost 8.10 to 3.6 to Victoria at the MCG in 1899. They were teammates again, and Bill  was SA's best player, in the 9.19 to 5.12 loss to Victoria at Adelaide Oval in 1900.  

In 1901, Bill felt the lure of the "golden west" and became an integral part of the West Perth premiership team. WA did not have a grand final  at the time and when West Perth was assured of top spot by 24 August, Bill  sailed to Adelaide and played in Norwood's last four matches - culminating in a 4.9 to 4.5  grand final win over Port on 5 October.

Bill missed the first half of the 1902 season when, with team-mate Horace MacFarlane, he joined the 4th Battalion Commonwealth Horse to ply his trade as a farrier in the Boer War. 

In 1903 he was back as Norwood captain, played back pocket in the SA team that lost 13.14 to 4.11 to Victoria at the MCG, and was named club best and fairest.  He missed one important match against Port Adelaide because he was blacksmithing at the races.

In 1904 he captained West Perth and also led  WA's first interstate team to an upset 10.7 to 8.10 victory over SA at the Jubilee Oval in Adelaide. He piloted West Perth to the 1905 flag while recovering from a broken leg. He  hobbled through the drawn grand final but had to miss the replay. He was East Perth's inaugural coach in 1906 - and married Agnes May Colligan in Perth.

After one more season with West Perth, he was back at Norwood as a forward. He then umpired for two years but quit in 1910 after a violent but reportedly unwarranted demonstration against him by West Adelaide supporters at Unley Oval.  He coached an unresponsive Norwood in 1913.

Mick in 1953 described his short but powerful brother as: "A block of ice on the field.  I never saw him kick a ball to an opponent, give away a free or make a mistake in all his football career."

Bill gave his son William the second name Nug, the nickname of his deceased brother Henry, Norwood's 1893 captain. William Nug Plunkett was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1954 as a staff-sergeant in the Royal Australian Army Service Corps.

Bill Plunkett was born at Norwood on 17 November 1876 and died at St Peter's on 13 March 1949, survived by his widow, son William and daughter Patricia.

P Robins March 2017

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