Kevin Crathern

A key figure in the history of Australian football in Cairns, he was originally from Melbourne and trialed with Richmond FC before joining the Royal Australian Navy and serving in World War II.

He assumed a huge place in the code’s history in Cairns when he was acknowledged as the founding father of Australian Football in the region after the inaugural meeting of the Cairns Australian Football League (CAFL) was held in August 1955.

In 1956 he formed the South Cairns FC and the first games against North Cairns were held at the North Cairns Reserve. He went on to win two Webb Medals as the best and fairest player in the CAFL, the inaugural medal in 1956 while playing and coaching South Cairns, and the second in 1958 as captain coach of Centrals. An integral member of the CAFL from its inception, he formed a lasting friendship with the inaugural CAFL president Jack McCahon, and when McCahon stood down he took over the reins remaining as president for 18 years, continuing even during his time as Mayor of Cairns.

As a hands-on leader, he was involved with every aspect of the code, umpiring the 1957 grand final and coaching many junior and school teams. He also coached senior and junior representative teams and in 1961 was the first Queensland recipient of the Australian National Football Council Merit Award. His most important legacy was the location and acquisition of the land on Mulgrave Road in Cairns that became Australian Football Park before he led the CAFL in efforts to clear the mangroves, level and grass the area in preparation for football. During this period he found time to form the Centrals FC before establishing the CAFL Social Club, fulfilling his passion to establish a home for football in Cairns and taking on the role of Secretary-Manager. At the completion of his term as Mayor he held positions on the CAFL, the CAFL Social Club, Cairns Junior Australian Football Association and North Queensland committees while also serving as President of the Centrals Aloomba. 

His involvement with Australian football in Cairns continued well into his later years, and the early 1980’s he identified an opportunity to secure a ground at Trinity Beach for Centrals. In retirement he spent many hours working with volunteers to clear the farmland and build the clubhouse on what was to become Crathern Park.  Since 1970 the Crathern Medal has awarded to the player annually selected as the CAFL B&F. All of his work was completed in partnership with his wife Norma, and with her he was awarded life membership of the CAFL and CJAFL, among other football organisations.

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