Hillwood/North Launceston/George Town/Latrobe/Lilydale, Wingman/Rover, 1955 – 85
- 205 games for North Launceston 1958-59, 1962-64, 1966-72, 1974
- Around 20 games for Latrobe 1975
- North Launceston captain-coach 1969-71
- Latrobe captain-coach 1975
- North Launceston NTFA premierships 1961, 1963
- Tasman Shield Trophy 1963 (NTFA Best and Fairest)
- North Launceston Best and Fairest 1959 (Equal), 1962, 1967, 1968, 1969
- Around 300 games for Hillwood/George Town/Bridport/Lilydale, 1955-1985
- Played in five country premierships – Hillwood (1955, 1961), George Town (1965, 1973, 1977)
- East Tamar FA Best and Fairest 1965
- Tasmanian National Carnival representative 1966 (Hobart)
- Nine representative matches for Tasmania 1959-68
- 20+ representative matches for NTFA 1959-72
- North Launceston “Greatest Team’ 1945-1999 (Wing)
A classy and courageous wingman/rover and a legend of northern football, Kevin McLean’s highly decorated playing career lasted a total of 31 seasons, while his involvement in the game as a whole spanned more than 50 years and nine different clubs.
Born in 1939, Kevin McLean’s senior career began with East Tamar FA club Hillwood in 1955, aged 15. Three years later he made his first foray into top-flight football with NTFA powerhouse North Launceston, quickly establishing himself as one of the brightest young stars in the association by winning a club Best and Fairest as well as selection for both the NTFA and Tasmania in his first two years. It was therefore a surprise when McLean returned to Hillwood in 1960 for two seasons, disqualifying himself from playing for the Robins during that time. Despite this, McLean was granted an amnesty which allowed him to return to North Launceston once Hillwood’s season was over, and as a result McLean played in senior premierships in two consecutive weeks at the end of 1961, following Hillwood’s East Tamar FA premiership with North Launceston’s thrilling one-point NTFA victory over Longford.
McLean returned to North Launceston full-time at the start of 1962 and picked up where he had left off, winning his second club Best and Fairest award and following that with the Tasman Shields Trophy as NTFA Best and Fairest the following year. 1963 also saw McLean claim his second NTFA premiership medallion, starring in North Launceston’s two-point premiership triumph over Longford. The star rover’s sharp skills, outstanding courage and cat-like agility both through the middle of the ground and around packs had long attracted the attention of VFL clubs, and late in the year McLean signed with Hawthorn, however he was persuaded to stay in Tasmania after his employer offered him a lucrative promotion. McLean’s outstanding attributes had also been noted by the state selectors, and when the Tasmanian team for the 1966 Hobart Carnival was named, McLean’s name featured, having returned to North that season after two years back in the East Tamar FA with Hillwood and George Town.
1967-69 were arguably McLean’s finest years, taking out a hat trick of North Launceston Best and Fairest awards and earning podium finishes in the NTFA Best and Fairest each year. This form combined with his outstanding leadership ability saw McLean appointed captain-coach of North Launceston in 1969. Unfortunately, his tenure would produce one of North Launceston’s worst runs in the NTFA, with the Robins winning just 12 games and two wooden spoons in the next three seasons, and McLean resigned at the end of 1972. After a year away in 1973 – during which time he coached George Town to a premiership – McLean returned for one final year at North Launceston in 1974, departing at season’s end after 205 senior games and as one of the club’s most decorated individuals.
Upon his departure from North Launceston, McLean spent a season as captain-coach of Latrobe in the NWFU, before ending his playing career with periods at George Town again (1976-77) Bridport (1978) and Lilydale (1979-85), finally retiring as a player at the end of the 1985 season at the age of 46. Post-playing career, McLean enhanced his reputation as a successful country coach, guiding Hillwood and Bridgenorth to drought-breaking premierships, as well as coaching North Launceston’s U/16 and U/19 sides for several years. A most popular clubman, McLean’s contributions to the game have been recognised with Life Membership of both the Hillwood and North Launceston Football Clubs, while in 1999 he was named on a wing in North Launceston’s Greatest Team.