Medical Practitioner, Footballer & VFL President
Interred in the same McClelland family plot with his father David Caldwell (q.v) and brother David John (q.v), William was also born at Buninyong in 1875 and educated at Brighton Grammar School (1892-95) and later Melbourne University (BA, 1899; MA, 1901; MB, BS, 1905); in 1895 The Australasian noted “Bill Mac’s” all-round sporting ability as “a fine batsman and bowler, a first-class footballer, a good runner, and moreover, the most popular boy in Brighton”. Dux of the school (1893-94), he joined the teaching staff after attaining his Batchelor of Arts while continuing his studies and spoke fondly of the founder, George Crowther (q.v.).
After attaining his medical degree he joined the Ballarat Hospital as a surgeon (1905-06) but the boy from Brighton soon returned and went on to establish a private practice at Merama – 171 Church Street, Middle Brighton and later succeeded William Macansh (q.v.) as Brighton Health Officer (1912-57); his residence was one of the unlucky victims of the great Brighton cyclone of 1918.
But it was in the sporting arena that McClelland made his name. A star player with the local Brighton side in the Metropolitan Junior Football Association, he was recruited by Melbourne (1898-04) in the Victorian Football League and went on to play 75 games and kicking four goals; he played in the 1900 premiership side and was captain from 1901 to 1904. Recruited as a forward where he “showed coolness and dexterity in attack” he went on to become a brilliant half back and played for Victoria against South Australia in 1901. Joining the committee of the Melbourne Cricket Club in 1911, he later became president of both the VFL (1926-55) and the MCC (1944-57) not before grumblings were heard from those who questioned the merit of the top man in football also being the top man in cricket; in recognition to services to sport he was awarded the CBE (1955) while the AFL’s McClelland Trophy bears his name.
McClelland died on 30 May 1957.
ADB Volume 10 1891-1939 (Lat-Ner).
The Age 31 May 1957.
The Sun 31 May 1957 & 4 June 1957.
Brighton Southern Cross 9 February 1918.
Dunstan, K., “The paddock that grew” (1988).
Hobbs, G., “125 yrs of the Melbourne Demons” (1984).
Holmesby, G. & Main, J., “The Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers” (1998).
Hall, H., Zachariah, H., & James, G., “Meliora Sequamur. Brighton Grammar School 1882-1982” (1983).
Biographical Sketch prepared by Mr Harry Zachariah (held by Brighton Grammar School).