|Formeroo Bunny Nunn dies aged 81|
|Wednesday, 10 December 2008 20:32|
By Alan Fouche, Courier Mail
HAD "Bunny" Nunn played football in the modern era, some of the world's biggest clubs would have been queuing for his signature.
A deadly marksman who scored more than 700 career goals, Mr Nunn was once described by former Australian Soccer Federation chairman Ian Brusasco as "one of the all-time great attacking players".
"If it was on for a goal then Bunny Nunn wanted it. He fought tooth and nail to get a crack at the goal," Mr Brusasco recalled in an interview after Mr Nunn's retirement from the game in his mid-30s.
His precocious talents came to the fore early and by the age of 11 he represented Queensland Schoolboys, cracking in five goals against NSW in his first representative match.
When he made his senior debut as a 17-year-old striker with the St Helens club in Ipswich in 1945, the talented youngster found himself playing alongside international teammates such as Lex Gibb, Dan Roderick and Cliff Sander.
Far from being overawed, he soon showed he was not out of place in such elite company. In the Queensland side at 19, he soon caught the eye of the Australian selectors and toured New Zealand in 1948 and South Africa two years later.
In South Africa he even upstaged the renowned NSW centre-forward Frank Parsons, netting 18 goals on tour, including the two by which Australia won the final Test 2-0 to square the four-match series.
Mr Nunn's versatility made him a selector's dream, combining the pace and skill to operate effectively on either wing with a striker's instinct for goal which made him one of the most dangerous centre-forwards in the game. During the 1950s, a period in which Ipswich clubs dominated the Queensland football scene, Mr Nunn's goalscoring exploits with St Helens made him an automatic selection in state teams as well as earning 33 appearances for his country.
But one decision he lived to regret was spending a season with Brisbane club Caledonian in 1953, even though his 27 goals in 18 games propelled the unfashionable club to third place in the premiership.
Despite his subsequent return to St Helens, that move was to cost him a chance of representing Australia in the 1956 Olympics.
He was ruled ineligible because he had turned professional when he joined Caledonian.
"I signed on for pound stg. 1 and threepence a game," he later recalled, "which to me was a lot of money in those days."
In fact, Mr Nunn had already turned down an opportunity to become one of the few Australians to play professional football in England at that time, having declined an offer from London club Fulham because of his wish to support his young family in Australia.
Nevertheless, on the domestic front the 1956 season turned out to be the most triumphant of his career.
Under canny Scottish coach John Pattison, father of another Australian international striker, Eric, Mr Nunn spearheaded Queensland to four consecutive victories over NSW, a feat unique in a century of rivalry between the two states.
After struggling to a 2-1 win in the opening match of the series in Brisbane, Queensland stunned the Blues with two resounding 6-2 triumphs before winning the final game in Sydney by 5-3.
Of the 19 goals netted by Queensland in the 1956 series, Mr Nunn scored eight against a defence bristling with Australian internationals.
His final seasons were spent in the colours of Azzurri (now Brisbane City), and at the age of 35 he was still capable of cracking in four goals in a 7-3 defeat of 1962 premiers Hellenic.
He also took the reins for a brief spell as state coach but was unable to replicate his playing success, with Queensland losing all three of its games against NSW that season.
The ultimate accolade to his footballing prowess came more than 30 years later when he was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Gordon David Nunn was educated at the Bundamba State School, followed by enrolment at the Ipswich Technical College, where he learnt the art of signwriting which was to become his trade.
As a youth, he showed keen enthusiasm for aviation and joined the Air Force Cadets while still at school, later enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force and serving in the Air Sea Rescue until the end of World War II.
In 1969 he abandoned signwriting to manage his own transport business and later gained the hotelier's licence at the Caledonian Hotel in Ipswich.
After almost 10 years as a hotelier, Mr Nunn retired to the Gold Coast where he remained until his death.
Bowls provided a sporting interest in middle and later life, and at different times Mr Nunn was Booval Bowls Club champion in singles, pairs, triples and fours, as well as being club president from 1969-1970 .
In 1950 he married Elizabeth Smith and they had four children -- Gregory, Ross, Gail and Paul.
A blow from which he never recovered was the loss of his wife in 1972 to an inoperable brain tumour.
Popular on and off the field, Mr Nunn is regarded as a Queensland sporting icon.