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UTSA’s great punter, Lucas Dean, is actually a part of the third generation of a long line of football-playing brothers. Australian-rules football, that is.
Dating all the way back to the mid-1950’s, the Dean boys have carried about a reputation that has long been associated with a heavy boot – or strong kick – through the lands Western Australia. Australian-rules football, or “footy”, is deeply engrained into the realm Australian culture, much like American football is worshipped in this hemisphere.
Probably even more so, because not every American boy grows up playing football. But in Oz, every boy plays footy. It’s not something that’s up for debate; it’s a part of life from the time you’re a young bloke.
And the Dean family has been developing a strong gene for hand-to-foot coordination for, again, three generations. It’s hereditary at this point.
Now the oval (synonym – gridiron) in West Oz has long been governed by the WAFL (Western Australian Football League). The WAFL represents the best talent in the region and also works as a feeder league to the Australian Football League (formerly Victorian Football League), which is the highest level of footy in the country.
The story starts with Frank Dean and his brother Keith, who were a duo of sorts as followers for the Subiaco Lions in the 1950’s. Keith as a ruckman and Frank as a ruck rover, the two covered the length of the field and also fought for possession at center-bounces (think NBA jump-ball). Keith was the jumper and Frank followed through to secure the ball.
The two were a pair of bruisers. Almost like an earlier, Aussie version of Gordon Bombay’s Bash Brothers in The Mighty Ducks.
Both played over 100 games for Subiaco from the mid-1950’s to the 1960’s. The two were regarded as high-tier defenders and incredibly strong kickers. They almost won the coveted Grand Final in 1959 against rivals East Perth, at the time the highest attended Grand Final in WAFL history, with over 45,000 spectators.
East Perth was laced with stars that year, and in fact grabbed their third Premiership title in four years with the win. The Dean Boys and Subiaco defied odds just being in that Grand Final, their team was a group of hometown-hero types.
But as legend has it, Frank was a defensive powerhouse that day. Keith had actually suffered a knee injury in an earlier round. If both the Dean brothers would have been in, maybe they complete the Cinderella ending and defeat East Perth that day.
Ultimately they would both end up dealing with knee injuries through the back halves of their careers.
Frank Dean was at one point a State Long-Kicking Champion as a teenager. He’s also Lucas’ grandfather.
Frank had two sons of his own: Warren and Paul.
Warren Dean continued the family legacy at Subiaco, where he developed a hero-like status playing for the Lions in the 1980’s. This was during one of the club’s highest peaks, where they competed in the Grand Final four years straight from 1985-88. Warren was there for two of those.
There’s a story of Warren hitting a game-winning torpedo punt for the Lions from over 60 meters out (at least 200 feet/67 yards) at the Bassendean Oval in 1986, Round 7 against Swan Districts, on the Lions’ way to the Premiership.
1986 was Subiaco’s redemption year. The Lions lost the 1985 Grand Final to East Fremantle. Going into the 1986 Grand Final, East Fremantle was a heavy favorite to repeat, and had actually beaten Subiaco fairly handily in an earlier round that year.
But Warren Dean and the Lions had a tremendous showing in the Preliminary Final, with Dean kicking five goals as they routed Perth on the way to the title game.
In the Grand Finals rematch, Subiaco obliterated East Fremantle. Almost the exact narrative of the 2013-2014 Spurs title matchups against the Heat.
Warren had done it. He captured for the Dean family that elusive Premiership nearly 30 years after his father and uncle’s efforts, and a year after falling short himself.
The following season he got called up to the big leagues, the VFL. Dean had offers from nine clubs and decided to sign with The Melbourne Demons. He played wing for the Demons in 1987 and was immediately a big impact to the re-surging club.
Melbourne hadn’t been to the Grand Finals in over 20 years and was building back a talented roster when Dean joined. They pummeled through opponents in the elimination and semifinals rounds. One of Dean’s most storied performances came against North Melbourne in the Elimination Final, where he registered three goals and four behinds in a total massacre of North Melbourne.
They beat Sydney in the semis, but ended up one game shy of the Grand Finals. They lost the Preliminary Final to Hawthorn on a game-ending penalty. It was a contest they should’ve won.
Dean actually suffered the same fate of his father and uncle – a knee injury – the following year. His cleat got tangled up with another player’s leg and he suffered some cartilage damage. Unfortunately, in the 1980’s sports medicine was limited to more of “be a hardass” and “play through it”, rather than proper player safety.
Based off of poor advice from doctors and a misdiagnosis of his knee, he returned to the oval prematurely, worsening the injury.
Dean’s hobbled efforts would still be good enough to make the 1988 Western Australia State team and compete in the 1988 Adelaide Bicentennial Carnival, or the Australian National Football Carnival. Unfortunately, his knee would never recover enough to play another professional game after 1989.
Though Warren did dabble in taking on American football punting in NFL Europe during the early 90’s, it never came to fruition.
Warren’s brother, Paul, played for West Perth as a full back from 1990-1992. The full back in Australian-rules footy is primarily a defender, tasked with stopping the the full-forward from scoring.
Warren would go on to have two sons of his own: Lucas and Cameron.
Now with his own boys being just as heavy-footed as their forefathers, the legacy continues. Lucas transitioned to American-style kicking at age 17, with his eyes set on an American football scholarship. As his dad tells us, he would literally blow up American footballs kicking them at the local park.
And Cameron just capped off his first Premiership title with the Subiaco Colts, the juniors team for the club.
It’s safe to say the family genes are in good hands. Let’s see how much hardware Cameron and Lucas can add to the family trophy case.
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