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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Cronin, Deverick John (Mick) (1911–1979)

by Lyall Hunt

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Deverick John (Mick) Cronin (1911-1979), Australian Rules footballer and commentator, was born on 18 March 1911 at Wagin, Western Australia, son of native-born parents Michael Henry Cronin, farmer, and his wife Nellie Agatha, née Dawson. Although of Methodist background, Mick completed his primary education at a convent-run boarding-school at Toodyay, then worked as a delivery-boy and as an apprentice to a butcher at Harvey. In 1930 he was recruited by East Perth Football Club which found him a job with a grocer in Perth. Cronin was later employed at Whitty's lottery agency and at Boans Ltd department store. In the 1930s he was also a middle-order batsman with the Subiaco Cricket Club.

Excelling in Australian Rules as an agile half-forward flanker and centreman with a penetrating, left-foot kick, Cronin played 164 games for East Perth between 1930 and 1940, and in 1931 received its fairest and best award. In 1936, the first of his five consecutive years as captain, he took the team from fourth place at the start of the finals to win the premiership. He regularly represented Western Australia and won the inaugural Tassie medal in the interstate carnival in 1937. After coaching East Perth (1939-41), he was made a life member of the club in 1941.

On 6 April 1940 Cronin had married a stenographer Roma Chipper at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Perth. That year he opened a confectionery shop at the Hurlingham Picture Theatre, South Perth. Mobilized in the Citizen Military Forces in January 1942, he served at home in the Australian Imperial Force for the duration of the war, engaged mostly in anti-aircraft activities. He was discharged with the rank of sergeant in October 1945, after which he ran snack shops in central Perth.

Returning to football, Cronin umpired twenty-five Western Australian Football League games in 1947-48 and officiated at the 1947 interstate carnival in Hobart. Well known for his didactic style, he taught football to juniors in Perth colleges and the South Perth district, and coached East Perth again (1951-55) and the State team in 1951. He was to be a successful agent for the Scottish Amicable Insurance Co. in 1966-79.

Benefiting from a football boom in Perth, Cronin became a dominant figure on TVW-7's weekly 'World of Football' television programme from 1965 until his death; he earned respect for his sincerity and knowledge, but aroused controversy by his frankness and dogmatism. Meanwhile, he also broadcast football matches over radio 6IX and contributed through a ghost writer to a weekly column, 'On the Back Page', in Sports Review.

A man of natural wit and bubbly charm, sincere, honest and forthright in his manner, Cronin was popular in sporting circles and esteemed for his community work. He was a Freemason, and a lifelong non-smoker and teetotaller; he enjoyed punting on the horses and liked a game of golf. Cronin died suddenly of a ruptured aortic aneurysm on 1 September 1979 at Royal Perth Hospital and was cremated; his wife and son survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • M. Glossop (ed), East Perth 1906-1976 (priv pub, Perth, 1977)
  • G. Christian, The Footballers, R. Jordan ed (Perth, 1985)
  • Sports Review (Perth), 28 Aug 1964
  • Daily News (Perth), 3 Sept 1979
  • West Australian, 4 Sept, 5 Oct 1979
  • Cronin papers and newsclippings (privately held)
  • private information.

Citation details

Lyall Hunt, 'Cronin, Deverick John (Mick) (1911–1979)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 1 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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