Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : AFL Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

THE LAFRANCHI MEDALS

Blampied 1898

Blampied farmer Mick Cleary's cousins back home in County Limerick were well versed in anti-imperialist rhetoric by the time Mick was kicking a football with the local team. First cousin Donncadh OhAnnigan would soon be taking the fight to the British Army. As Commander in Chief of the East Limerick Flying column OhAnnigan struck fear in the Black and Tans and their allies throughout 1920 and ’21.

At Dromkeen in February 1921 he ordered the execution of two RIC men captured in an ambush that left 11 of the ‘British’ enemy dead.The closest Mick Cleary came to war with the British Army was knocking a pro-conscriptionist off his feet on the bridge outside the Cleary home in Mt Prospect.

Notwithstanding the decision of Vin Dalton – adopted grandson of Mick’s uncle, Dinny - to join the invading army at Gallipoli, Mick and the local Irish Catholics were ardently anti-war. War was a long way off when the Creswick Advertiser of Wednesday 21 September 1898 described how about 50 people attended the night at the Swiss Mountain. With Mr T Fletcher in the chair and ‘a good supper tastefully laid out by Mrs Lafranchi’ and songs by Jos Hutchins, C Pedrotti, and Mr Hammerton, a proud ‘Mr A Lafranchi responded on behalf of his mother’.

The Mount Prospect team - left half - Mick 'Punga' Cleary - arrowed.

Andrea Lafranchi, a prominent Swiss-Italian immigrant had died a year earlier after promising the boys individual medals if they won the premiership. They didn’t lose a match in 1898, and so, the medals were presented posthumously.  Swiss Italian immigrants – Olympian Steve Moneghetti is from such heritage - were prolific in the area. 

Names such as Righetti, Gervasoni, Caligari, Pedrotti, and Morganti can be found in the local Catholic cemetery at Eganstown. It really was a multi-cultural community and this must surely have been the first football club sponsored by a European immigrant.

The Mount Prospect team (right half of the above photo) won the premiership in 1898. Given Mick Cleary was born in 1872 this could be the photo.

Mr J T Yates concluded the night with a toast to the players, acknowledging that they'd ‘won every game and had only two goals kicked against them.’ And so Margherita Lafranchi, widow and mother, bade the guests good night and hoped her late husband was happy in heaven.

Mick 'Punga' Cleary, born in 1872 to John and Joanna Cleary of Mt Prospect. The first born, he was named after his grandfather, Michael Cleary, of Anglesboro, County Limerick. Is the word Punga aboriginal for sun? Or is it Maori for anchor.

Where are the medals, I wonder? Some years ago I held one of the Lafranchi medals in the palm of my hand.  It was a finely crafted, oval shaped medal. As I recall the medal carried no inscription identifying the recipient. I’d love to hear from anyone who still has one of those medals.

 

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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