|V/AFL Clubs||South Melbourne|
Known as 'Gentleman Jim', Cleary had a reputation for fairness and sportsmanship that was somewhat besmirched after he was involved in one of the many unsavoury incidents to litter the 1945 VFL grand final, and ended up being suspended for eight matches. Nevertheless, he was a fine and extremely popular player, who held down the full back position for South for the majority of his 222 games between 1934 and 1948. A dual winner of the club's best and fairest award, he vied with Collingwood's Jack Regan for selection in the key defensive position in VFL representative teams. After leaving South at the end of the 1948 season, Cleary was appointed captain-coach of Port Melbourne, winning the club's best and fairest award in his debut season, before steering his charges to three consecutive losing grand finals. In 1953 he was appointed coach of Brunswick, where he remained for six seasons. Under Cleary, the Magpies achieved a success rate of 55.3%, but their only finals campaignin 1956 was brought to an immediate end by Box Hill. From 1959 to 1961, Cleary coached Dandenong, getting the side as far as a losing second division grand final against Northcote in his final year. He later made a name for himself as a panelist on the popular Channel Seven TV show 'World of Sport'.
Author - John Devaney