Merv Keane

Mervyn Keane (pronounced: "cane") (born 29 July 1953), commonly known as Merv Keane, is a former Australian rules football player and coach who played in the VFL between 1972 and 1984 for the Richmond Football Club.


Merv Keane

Born in 1953 Mervyn Keane was a farm boy from Wycheproof in the north-west of Victoria.
He was one of eight siblings, each of whom has ventured into the world, pursuing their own careers and families.

Merv married Kaye Herd in 1979 and they had three beautiful children together – Joel, Emily and Zac.
Sadly Kaye and Emily died in tragic circumstances in 2017.

Merv excelled in the AFL, carving for himself a remarkably successful career as a player, coach and recruiter.
He played 238 games for the Richmond Football Club and won three premierships.
He was positioned mainly in defence but became a midfielder later in his career.
45 With Joel and Zac Receiving AFL Life Membership at Melbourne Town Hall (2019).

Merv received great recognition at Richmond and was selected in the Richmond Team of the Century.

He was a member of the Richmond Hall of Fame and is a Richmond Life Member. In 2019, following 48 years of continuous service to football, he was awarded AFL Life Membership.

Having retired from the AFL, Merv spends time writing books in addition to working at Royal Women’s Hospital developing programs around welfare and wellbeing for junior doctors. His first book was published in 2019 – ‘Playing With The Field’ and this, his second book is titled ‘You Don’t Understand.’

We hope you enjoy this intriguing story about Anthony McDonald Tipungwiti, and about Merv himself, growing up as teenagers, 40 years apart, in parallel universes, at opposite ends of the Australian continent.
Having spent much of his life coaching and mentoring young footballers, Merv understands the demands and challenges facing aspiring professionals.

His daughter Emily was a brilliant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist which is the reason he is involved with mental wellbeing for junior doctors. He gained recognition for an outstanding presentation to the Annual Conference of RANZCOG – the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Merv and Kaye became interested in gardening while living at Carn Avenue in Ivanhoe. This sparked a challenge to enhance, with the support of Parks Victoria, the Yarra Riverbank near Merv’s current home in Abbotsford. Several planting days to re-manage the riverbank have turned the river walk into the ‘best kept secret’ along the Yarra.

In 2023, Merv received a Community Award from the City of Yarra – the Community Initiative of the Year Award. Merv enjoys inner city life, as well as working the family farm at Wycheproof.

The farmhouse has been re-built and restored to its original glory for family to enjoy. In many respects, he has done a U-turn to his country grass roots having rekindled his interest in farming. Merv enjoys reading and understanding the fast pace of politics at all levels. He adores his grandchildren – Oscar, Oly, Beatrice and Bobby. He admires their loving parents Zac and Erin and Joel and Marija, their devoted Uncle and Auntie.

Written by Justine Isherwood Copy Editor MY JOURNEY WITH ANTHONY MCDONALD-TIPUNGWUTI 23

AFL Life Membership awarded to Merv with a host of AFL luminaries - the pinnacle of Merv's career after 48 years of service to the AFL.


  • My Journey with Anthony McDonald -Tipungwuti

    Separated by generations and great distance, Merv Keane, and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti from the Tiwi Islands, were brought together by their love of Australian Rules Football.

    But there is more to this story than football.

    This is a story about overcoming hardship and obstacles through hard work and determination and fulfilling a dream that would seem out of reach to most.

    The story unfolds as Merv immerses himself into the Australian and Tiwi Indigenous cultures in an effort to understand.


    “You don’t understand, you don’t understand.” These words Jane McDonald keeps repeating to me.

    I listen and I am trying to understand. I am trying to make sense of everything. But I cannot keep up which is developing into stress and frustration. Jane’s thoughts are exploding in multiple directions, and I am having trouble connecting the dots.

    In a light bulb moment, I say to her – “That is a good title for the book .... You Don’t Understand.”

    Jane is the white mum of Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. She is straight down the line and uncomplicated, with a heart of gold. She does not often draw breath when she is on a verbal roller coaster. She wears her heart on her sleeve and has no filter. She is as tough as nails and has been through hell. She sometimes needs her own space to find peace.

    Here is the story of Anthony, her ‘adopted’ son, from a teenager to a young man who we may never fully understand. But his life slowly emerges like the peeling of an onion, the multiple layers of an onion. And as with an onion, elements of his story may bring a tear to your eye.

    His growth takes us on an extraordinary journey. From many places and many experiences on Tiwi Islands, to the Top End of Australia and the Red Centre. From his family and community on Tiwi to his new world family in the Gippsland region of Victoria. From his name change to McDonald-Tipungwuti, through the day to day grind, to his triumphs and struggles, and the frequent wrestling with his demons. And all the way with his football progression.

    Anthony was born in Darwin hospital, and was named after his maternal grandfather. He was raised on Tiwi where he says he grew up without much love or fun ... with a lot of anger.

    From birth, he acquired a medical condition which transpired into a learning disability – or a learning need – as he describes it.

    From a low intellectual base, he continues to achieve many things in a unique and humble way. His personality always shines through. And with direction from Jane and opportunities from many, he becomes a beacon for generations to follow, a man of the people, a face of the AFL.

    He starts as a Rookie in the AFL, modest without ego, exciting to watch and scrupulously fair in a brutally competitive sport, incredibly tough, resilient and courageous.

    Following an Anzac Day clash at the MCG, his coach called it as he saw it when he said to the media – “Get out of the way and let him play.”

    From these humble beginnings it is hard to envisage a more compelling story about a boy named Anthony. He is a fun loving, beautiful man. He has endured and he continues to endure. And while searching through this young man’s life, I came to realise many of us have a similar story to tell. A lot of his story resonated with me on the farm at Wycheproof, in terms of dreams and remoteness. And although we come from different backgrounds, our lead into football is connected. Like a parallel universe many decades apart.
  • As mother and daughter, Kaye and Emily were best friends.

    It was impossible to separate their love and devotion.

    Merv was happy to observe from close quarters their extreme shared happiness.

    Kaye and Emily passed away in 2017, and 'Eternal Flame' captures their life in the book 'You Don't Understand.'

  • the Story of Scott Field

    Australian football measures its players by skills and bravado that sets the great Australian game apart from many others.

    At Unley, in suburban Adelaide, Scott Field’s name is remembered for his six senior seasons, his 125 SANFL league games, his 127 goals and his best-and-fairest award in 1992 at the Sturt Football Club.

    But the real measure of Field’s strength was far from any sporting field. And far from home. At 24, Field spent 24 days in a Palestine Liberation Organization camp in the Middle East, hoping to get close enough to quiz then-Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat.

    This trip gave Field first-hand insight into the conflict in the Middle East and marked the beginning of his pursuit for peace in the region.

    Field’s untimely death in 2014 on Mont Blanc-while serving as special envoy to Syria for the United Nations-left many who had known this young man from Adelaide as ‘just a footballer’ to marvel at all he had achieved in the two decades since his last game.

    -Michelangelo Rucci, Chief Football Writer, Adelaide Advertiser.


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