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From “Media City” to premiership glory

Robbert Klomp pictured at the President's Function before Carlton's match against North Melbourne in Round 18, 2015. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)
Robbert Klomp pictured at the President's Function before Carlton's match against North Melbourne in Round 18, 2015. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

If multiculturalism means “the existence, acceptance, or promotion of multiple cultural traditions within a single jurisdiction” then Carlton can surely claim the lofty label of football’s multicultural dominion.

Amongst the club’s ranks is a solid collective of former players boasting generational links with the old world – like Angelo Azzopardi, a Carltonite of the knickerbocker days of the 19th century and the son of Australia’s first Maltese immigrant.

Another was Wally Koochew, whose father was Chinese and mother Norwegian, and yet another was Anthony Koutoufides, whose father and mother were of Greek/Egyptian and Northern Italian origin respectively.

Then there was the dual Carlton premiership half-back endearingly remembered as “Clippity”.

Robbert Klomp was born in the Dutch town of Hilversum, some 31 kilometres south west of Amsterdam. Hilversum has often been dubbed “Media City” as it’s the principal centre for radio and television broadcasting in The Netherlands.

Born on May 14, 1955, Klomp was but a babe in arms when he and his mother Wilhelmina, father Jan and older brother Andre followed the Southern Cross to the Great South Land in the Melbourne Olympic year of 1956.

“It’s pretty straight forward,” said Klomp of the journey. “My Dad was an apprentice at a sports school gymnasium in Hilversum, but he just wanted a change of environment. He looked at three places - Canada, New Zealand and Australia - and he believed that Australia offered opportunity.

“I came to Australia at the grand age of eight months, so I have no real recollection of the old country. The family returned for a brief stint when I was seven and there are a few flashbacks, but I don’t know whether these are memories in my imagination or whether they’re real.”

The Klomps took advantage of the famed ten-pound fares then on offer, but on arrival had to fend for themselves. They were amongst the thousands of Europeans housed in Australia’s first migrant reception centre in Bonegilla, just east of Wodonga, before Robbert’s father found work in South Australia – “and we followed him, initially finding accommodation at the Woodside Migrant Hostel in Glenelg”.

“I was less than a year and a half old, so I have no memories of the hostel at all,” Klomp said. “My earliest memories are of the first house we lived in, which was in Bray Street, which runs around the back of the Morphettville Racecourse.

“As such, my upbringing was quintessentially Australian, although I didn’t speak English until I started going to kindergarten.”

Robbert Klomp walks arm in arm with Alex Jesaulenko at the 1979 Grand Final.

Klomp is thesedays domiciled in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. His father and mother are still alive and well, as is older brother Andre, younger sister Yvonne and younger brothers Kim and John. Kim Klomp, it should be noted, represented North Adelaide in 235 senior matches including the victorious Grand Finals of 1987 and ’91, the later as captain.

Klomp, the no-nonsense Sturt recruit who strung together 84 solid games alongside the great Bruce Doull, last weekend joined his old teammate as guests of the President at Etihad Stadium to cheer on their beloved Blueboys.

Now 60, Klomp commended the AFL for its commitment to the cause of multiculturalism through the force of the great Australian game.

As he said: “We are, after all, a multicultural country, and it’s great to see the variety of names out on the paddock and learn about their heritage”.

Carlton International XVIII

Backs: Ted Brewis (born Bedlington, England), Michael Sexton (born Lae, Papua & New Guinea), Bernie Bignell (born Birmingham, England)

Half-backs: Robbert Klomp (born Hilversum, The Netherlands), Val Perovic (born Yugoslavia), Zach Tuohy (born Portlaoise, Ireland)

Centres: Milham Hanna (born Kantara, Lebanon), George Renwick (born Surrey, England), Wayne Blackwell (born London)

Half-forwards: Ian Muller (born South Africa), Fred Pringle (born Assam, India), Henry McPetrie (born Cathcart, Glasgow)

Forwards: Tommy Hughes (born at sea, registered Launceston), Alex Jesaulenko Captain-Coach (born Salzburg, Austria), Jim Coucher (born New Zealand)

Followers: Warren Jones (born Wellington, New Zealand), Jim Davies (born Cardiff, Wales), Peter Bevilacqua (born San Marco in Lamis, provincia di Foggia, Italy)

Interchange from: Johnny Davies (born Wales), Bob Edmond (born Scotland), Harry Haughton (born New Zealand), Barney Lazarus (born London, England), Kris Massie (born Sweden), Charlie Meadway (born New Zealand)