If ever there was a Queensland football star who should have been a 200-game AFL player it was Barry Clarke. The ultimate utility player, he represented Queensland at full forward, centre and centre half back and won the Wilston-Grange B&F in five different positions – centre, ruck-rover, full forward, centre half forward and centre half back.
It was never a question of if he would be included in the Queensland Team of the Century but where, and when it came time to pick the best of the best he was named at half forward.
Originally from Rosebud on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, he played Under-19s and Reserves at Hawthorn before deciding he preferred the surfing lifestyle of Queensland to the cold of Melbourne and headed north in 1971 aged 21.
Supremely skilled in each facet of the game, he played 226 games for Wilston-Grange from 1971-85, broken only by a 12-month stint as coach back at Rosebud in 1975.
He enjoyed QAFL premiership success in 1972, won the Grogan Medal in 1972-76, and topped the League goal-kicking in 1978. He also won his club goal-kicking in each of his last four years and once kicked 12 goals in a game against Coorparoo.
Grange playing coach in 1980-81, he also played 16 times for Queensland and skippered the Maroons at the national carnival in Perth in 1979 before finishing his playing career with brief stints at Labrador and Burleigh Heads.
Also a State baseballer, he served as president of Wilston Grange and the Sunshine Coast Junior Australian Football League and coached junior teams before six years as an assistant coach and selector for the Queensland Under-18 side. His son Nathan played with the Brisbane Lions, was a dual NEAFL premiership coach with the Lions Reserves in 2011-12 after serving as captain-coach of ACT club Eastlake.
Barry Clarke was inducted into the Queensland Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and elevated to Legend status in 2023.