Dean Kemp

Australian Football | Inducted: 2017

Dean Kemp

 

When a scrawny, snowy haired kid from Kalgoorlie was drafted from Subiaco by West Coast in 1989, the football world didn’t raise an eyebrow.

 

Kemp was taken at 117 along with Tony Begovich and Brad Gwilliam as top up players for the West Coast Eagles.

 

But Kemp, whose game was shaped by playing at 16 years of age against men on the hard tracks in the Goldfields where pleasantries are rare, put everybody on notice the following year when he made his debut against Collingwood before playing in 23 games and finishing fifth in the club champion award.

 

He started his career in 1990 as an unknown skinny centreman with a flowing blond mane wearing No. 33, and 12 years later, wearing No. 2 and with considerably less hair, it ended in applause from aficionados of the game from Perth to Melbourne and all points in between.

 

Kemp, who goes by the name of Tommy because of his insistence to put tomato sauce on almost anything he eats, became a bona fide superstar, winning the club fairest and best in 1992, clinching the Norm Smith Medal in the Eagles’ 1994 premiership and co-captaining the club in 2001 with Ben Cousins.

 

Remarkably consistent and resilient, Kemp averaged 21 games a season and was runner-up three times in the club champion award, and on another four occasions he finished in the top 10.

 

Amazingly, while Kemp was lauded by critics and opposition players alike, the umpires didn’t rate him as highly as others, awarding him only 53 votes in his career.

 

But that mattered little to his coach Mick Malthouse and his team-mates who were forever glowing in their praise of Kemp’s ability to work through congestion in the midfield when opposition players were hell bent on knocking his block off.

 

The hostilities would come from every which way, but by hand or either foot, Kemp often found a way out, providing silver service to full-forward legend Peter Sumich or other grateful forwards.

 

The physical battering, though, caught up with him – the shirtfront from Adelaide’s Mark Riciutto on Kemp is often replayed during the ‘big hits’ of the 90s highlights package – and the gallant midfielder and crowd favourite bowed out of the game midway through 2001 following his battles with concussion.

 
Watch the Dean Kemp tribute here.