Football – Perth (1931-1937)

While I was at Perth Boys School I started following the West Perth Club in league football. They were not doing too well in 1931 but their red and blue colours were similar to those of the Norwood and Fitzroy clubs that I had cheered along in the East. In later years a practical bookmaker friend of mine, Jim Carroll, told me that supporting the underdog was always a losing proposition, and he would have been right that year. However, in 1932 West Perth came good when led by Jack Cashman from Fitzroy, they won the Grand Final. I still have the original Sunday Times photo of the team and its officials all smiling at last.

Sunday Times, Sunday 9 October 1932, page 1 – 1932 WAFL Grand Final. Source: Trove (also exists in the Doug Cash Collection)

Perth Central team played its first match for the 1933 football season at Forrest Park and had a good win against Bassendean. Our team players that I remember from that year were Joe Mossy, Alvan Whittle, Bill Tanner and Arthur Woodall. Players for rival teams included Laurie Bancroft and Jim Woods (Subiaco), Ron Pilgrim and Ossie Diggins (Mt. Hawthorn), and Lloyd Lethbridge and Harold Kidd from the Charles Street team. I only played in the first few games for the season as later in the year we moved up to Muchea.

Sunday Times, Sunday 14 May 1933, page 11 – Band of Hope Perth v Bassendean. Source: Trove

During the cycling season I played football with the Temperance League Perth Central team. Our captain was Arthur Woodall and the vice-captain was Basil Gorman. Paddy Woodall, who later fought with great success as Paddy Boxall, was on the receiving end in one game when he got a broken nose. He was the youngest of the four Woodall brothers who played for the team. Paddy later won the Australian lightweight championship belt from Tod Morgan, and Jimmy and Arthur were both top welterweights. All three were still going in 1988. Halfway through the season we were in second place, only two points behind Subiaco. We were just two points ahead of Mt. Hawthorn which was a team captained by Johnnie Abbott who would then have been about 15. After leaving Perth Boys’ he was appointed to a good job in a WA State Government Department, perhaps Agriculture, and steadily worked his way towards the top.

When we moved to East Perth early in the year I just had to cross the road to Wellington Square for football practice on this oval where so much sport was played. It was pretty handy for me as I had been given the job of coaching the Perth Central Under 12’s side, which played on Saturday mornings. My younger brother, Roland, was in the team. Two other names I can remember, as I look at my team photo, are Wally Maskiell and Ken Foxcroft. Wally went on to be President of the Claremont Football Club in the WAFL. Ken later wore the red and black colours of the Perth Club with distinction. In World War II he joined the RAAF and was posted overseas, but was shot down on his first flight over France.

I was short and a natural lightweight, and usually roved or played on the wing in games with the Perth Central team in the Temperance League. There were some good young footballers playing in 1935 including Laurie Tetley, brother of West Perth’s State player, Max Tetley, Alan Herd, “Ossie” Diggins, the Larcombes, Les Bancroft, Sarsfield Ryan and his twin brother, Owen, “Butch” Shackleton, Merv Cecil, “Sonny” Stone, and Eric Sweet. Some players who went on to play league football were Harry Hopperton, Alvan Whittle, Angus McRobbie and Max O’Loughlin (all East Perth). Charlie Hicks, Dick Hill, and Bill Baker, (all to West Perth) as did Alvan Whittle later, Eric Strauss (Perth) and Jack Sweet (East Perth). When Dick retired he became Treasurer of the WPFC. There was one occasion when Dick had to grab some togs and return to the league side because the team was one player short. Dick Hill was later appointed as Secretary of the WAFL where he gave great service. Charlie Hicks took up bowls after football. He was 1980 President of the WA Bowling Association.

I think Bill Thomas was still on the East Perth players list when he played some mid-week games with the Postal Institute team. The PI team trained at Wellington Square and I trained with them. Billy and a telegraphist, “Sharkey” Reardon, gave me tips on the best way to hold the ball when kicking and the importance of both balance and follow-through to proper delivery. It helped a lot. Both my coaches put in a lot of work on the drop kick and that forgotten art, the stab kick, on our training nights. After a few nights in their care and with some of the rough edges knocked off, Billy found me a place in the Postal Institute team.

Our opponents from time to time included a number of former, and future, league players. I seem to remember a couple of East Perth players running with our team and the names that stick in my mind are Alf Mussman and Seff Parry. Alf had formerly played with Sturt, and Seff Parry with both Fitzroy and West Adelaide. Sef was later coach of Subiaco and then East Perth. If they did have a run with Postals then it was while they waited-out completion of residential qualifications before playing in WA League games. Seff Parry first played for East Perth early in June 1935 and then Alf Mussman about a month later. What a difference they made to East Perth! Seff and Alf helped East Perth to improve out of sight and fight their way into the 1935 finals, and then to Premiers in 1936. East Perth defeated Claremont for the premiership in 1936 when that great player Dick Lawn was still tied to East Perth as a player, but was coaching Claremont. Lawn was cleared to play for Claremont for the 1937 season and Claremont were again runner-up, this time to East Fremantle

Billy Thomas watched out for me during our games and picked me out when he could. I was fleet of foot, and when I was resting in the forward pocket he would stab kick the ball right onto my chest as I broke away from the slower-moving giants in the backline. It was easier in those days than now when the ruckmen can run as fast as the rovers. A fair share of the kicks came my way and I kicked a couple of goals now and then but Billy and my teammates probably made most of it happen. I really was a bit small for that grade of game, being built like a jockey, but the games were played in a good spirit. I must say that none of the bigger players ever crashed me to the ground deliberately, and that was just as well for I might have ended up under a memorial plaque on some oval.

Billy was made Treasurer of the EPFC (East Perth Football Club) in 1932 while still playing in the league team, and he continued on in that job till 1941. He was on the player lists till 1936 but I think he may have only played the odd game, if any, after the 1934 season. I was talking with former East Perth player, Max O’Loughlin, down at our Yokine Bowling Club, and he told me that Billy was a good treasurer as he was pretty tight with the club’s money. Billy was so cautious in his approach to any spending proposal that he had the nickname “Ironsides”. He was a life member of East Perth and went on to be the Club President from 1951 to 1955. In 1956 he was to become Mayor of South Perth and hold that office till just before his death in 1968, at the age of 65. Billy (William Charles Gordon) Thomas was an outspoken man with a good sense of humour, and was a friend to many. He is still well remembered.

The football season was starting to get underway and though I do not remember Postals playing a Saturday team in the Amateurs in 1936 I think they played some mid-week games. Now that I was off shift work in my tax job these games were out for me. My football was all with Perth Central Temperance League Seniors now and more so when I had the responsibility of captain given to me during the season when our skipper moved away somewhere. Luckily I was able to keep my Number 13 guernsey instead of swapping to Number 1 for I had always worn the same number for most games. We had a mixed season with wins and losses, but that’s football.

The football season was starting to get underway and though I do not remember Postals playing a Saturday team in the Amateurs in 1936 I think they played some mid-week games. Now that I was off shift work in my tax job these games were out for me. My football was all with Perth Central Temperance League Seniors now and more so when I had the responsibility of captain given to me during the season when our skipper moved away somewhere. Luckily I was able to keep my Number 13 guernsey instead of swapping to Number 1 for I had always worn the same number for most games. We had a mixed season with wins and losses, but that’s football.

When our games ended about 2.30pm we were making way for teams like the Amateurs who used the same ovals as we did. I am not sure that this was the case when we played at the WAFL grounds like Leederville and Loton’s Park (Perth Oval). Once our game was finished we would hop on our bikes and pedal to one of the League matches, usually in my case West Perth. In the middle of the year we saw WA beat SA by 7 goals at Subiaco which became the League Headquarters in 1936. South Australia won the return match on the Tuesday. In the previous year the WA v Victoria match was played at Perth Oval before a big crowd who were so packed up that they pushed over the picket fence and finished up sitting alongside the boundary. We do not have crowds like that anymore.

Daily News, Perth, Saturday 18 July 1936, page 5 – WA v SA. Source: Trove

Dick Lawn told us that he had seen many footballers and teams handicapped through drinking habits, and yet he had never known one player who could definitely say that his drinking habits assisted him in his game. That great East Fremantle goalsneak, George Doig, was a teetotaller and non-smoker and I have mentioned that three of Australia’s greatest sportsmen, Hubert Opperman, Walter Lindrum, and Don Bradman were all non-drinkers throughout their long sporting careers. Today our young hopefuls are glued to their TV screens watching their favourite sports and trophy or medal presentations while a subliminal attack on their senses is perpetrated in one way or another without them being aware of it. The sponsors want more sales, the TV stations want more revenue.

The newspapers and TV media are both at fault. They were right on the spot when an Australian test cricket player tipped a can of beer over the Australian test captain to celebrate a match win. A local test cricketer gets picked to play for Australia and we see his picture in the paper with a bottle or bottles of champagne celebrating. News photos of successful sportsmen usually show up the brand of the can they are holding. What they do privately is their business and the business of the coach but if they would only use their heads a bit, a youngster here and there might be saved from taking the wrong road. There has been some hope in recent times for Coca Cola cans have been on show in some match replays on television and this is a welcome sign.

Sporting commentators are prone to do some harm from time to time and I remember one classic ABC case when the commentator (not now in this state) indicated that now the sports session was ended they would crack open a bottle of whisky. Little minds, big thirst. It was only recently that a football hero kicked a hundred goals and it was a good performance. Kids at home watching this hero of the day receive his accolades were bright-eyed at the player’s deeds. The interviewer farewelled him to the change rooms with some­thing like, “Off to break open the champagne now”. Thoughtless rather than deliberate, but they should use their brains a bit.

I was privileged to hear some addresses by league football coaches to their teams in the post-war years and what they said to their players on good days and when they had a bad day varied considerably. Some “bad day” bouquets to players cannot be printed here. One pre-match pep talk at my favourite club still sticks in my mind for the coach’s last words were “and when it’s over we’ll all go and get p….d.” They never made the finals and that was no surprise.

Football – Coolgardie (May 1937)

The Coolgardie football season started not long after I arrived in the town (in 1937) and the first Sunday in May saw me playing in a practice game for the Towns team. For the sake of posterity and family researchers, I list here the names of the players picked for the opening match on the following Sunday, 8 May 1937.

ALL BLUESSEAGLES
Braidwood, JimAnderson
Cash, DougBaker
Collins, Frank?Burgess, Charlie
Cotterell, VicClayton
Darcy, PatCrossing
Dawson, NormFahey
Falkingham, HFogarty, George
Feldman, MorrieGardiner, Austin
GriffithsHarris
Hayes, BunnyHighman
Howard, HarryKemp
Jones, R WKeyser, Vern
Lee, WMcCormack
LockhartMcKeegan
Martin, SMcNamara
Mincherton, GMilne
Nicholls, BobMoore
Page, Bob?Parkinson
Pass, RegRoberts
Petersen, JackWatkins
Sheridan, JackWiggins
Smailes, RonWatson
Stewart, LZafer, Andrew?
Yaksich, Chris

Norseman-Esperance News, Friday 13 May 1938, page 8 – Towns v Rovers (including reference to Doug Cash). Source: Trove

 

There was always a good crowd at the games and they were able to get into the ground for one shilling (10c). The spectators had it easier than the players as we played on an oval of ironstone gravel where not a blade of grass was to be seen. It reminded me of Coolgardie where I took one look at that playing surface and opted for bike riding instead. Down in Norseman I managed to get a couple of kicks amongst the burly miners so forgive me for now presenting the evidence from the match reports in the local paper the Norseman-Esperance News

May 8th – Towns v Rovers

  • Third-quarter. “Towns secured a point through Shillinglaw to Alcock who handballed to Cash, his kick being taken in haste for a point”. 
  • May 8th – Last-quarter. “Hard slogging by Thompson, Myers, Alcock, Cash and Curtin was nullified when Brown’s kick was picked up nicely by Shinnick and sent to Stewart and Gillet, who went forward and a goal (for Rovers) resulted”. 

May 15th – Towns v Tigers 

  • Second-quarter. “Bunyan, Cash, E. Meyers and Shillinglaw working hard and Sorrell finally sent a point rolling through for Town’s”.
  • Third-quarter. “Daly and Curtin were playing a great game and Cash and Thompson soon served Dimer for another Towns goal”. 
  • Last-quarter. “Curtin started off well, scoring a point with the help of Sorrell, but Towns lost Curtin when he was hurt as several men came down’’.

I was not under the pack when it came down. On that hard ground I was a fringe player relying on speed to keep out of trouble. Now and then I was caught out but no harm came to me as a rule. I did lose a couple of teeth later in the season but it was accidental. I must say that my job as everybody’s “mailman” may have kept me from being rolled now and then. I remember a couple of times when big fellows came behind me and picked me up by the waist, then set me down to one side while they grabbed the ball and went on with the game. At the final bell it was Tigers by four goals.

Football – Kalgoorlie (1939-1940)

Football was still a big interest with me (in 1939) and I had a run or two with Railway Rovers in the First Rates section of the Goldfields National Football League competition. The four teams were Mines Rovers and Boulder, and Railways and Kalgoorlie. Each club had to field three teams, “A” and “B”, and the “First Rates” (Colts). We were the Railway league team Rovers, and Wallabies came under the Kalgoorlie (“Kangas”) club. The other two colts teams “Militia” and “Moonta Turks” came from the two Boulder clubs. I do remember one Sunday early in the season when our Railway “A” Grade team won their match, the “B” team lost and we won our third game in a row. We had a keen rivalry with “Wallabies” and I recall one game when we lost to them 6.11 v 6.10. After one of these games one of our strong supporters described to me how he had seen me fly high for a mark. I waited for what would come next and then he put a damper on some anticipation as he delivered his “punch line”, “But you didn’t mark the ball”.

Some really good footballers played in Kalgoorlie over the years coming up from Perth to play or coach with local teams. The local talent provided many Sandover Medal winners and many top players. It was in football that I met two of the best players ever to leave Kalgoorlie to play in Perth. They were Stan (“Pops”) Heal and Bill Kingsbury who both went to West Perth, the team that I have followed since 1931 when we first arrived in WA. Bill had won the 1938 award for the most improved junior and in 1939 was off to West Perth where he gave that club many years of service as a player and club man. About the time we came back from Darwin late in 1982 Bill died suddenly and his death was a great shock to his family, and to his big circle of friends in the community.

Stan Heal showed plenty of form playing for Kalgoorlie and he was signed up by West Perth. When his RAN war service later took him to Victoria he played with VFL team Melbourne in the 1941 finals. Melbourne won the Grand Final by five goals. A week later Stan, with the flexibility of the rules made for servicemen, played for West Perth in their 1941 Premiership win. He is the only player to have achieved that feat. Stan was the West Perth captain from 1947-1951 and the Club coach 1947-1952. Stan and Bill were great friends of mine, particularly when we all settled down after the War. Stan, who was the MLA for West Perth/Perth from 1953 to 1965, was still going strong when I saw him at Parliament House in ‘88.

Daily News, Saturday 11 October 1941, page 22 – Stan Heal. Source: Trove

Many goldfields footballers have done well in Perth and among them there have been several Sandover Medal winners. Names that come to mind are Tom Outridge who won the First Sandover Medal in 1921 and Bill (Digger) Thomas (1923), a different Bill to my friend Billy Thomas who won the medal in 1929. Both played with East Perth. Others were Johnny (Jack) Rocchi (1928) of South Fremantle who later played bowls with us at Yokine, “Blue” Richards (1931) of East Fremantle, and George Krepp (1935) of Swan Districts who tied with Lou Daily of Subiaco. Later medallists were “Sonny” Maffina (1949) of Claremont, and Steve Marsh (1952) of South Fremantle. It was only two weeks ago (January 1989) that “Sonny” and I played for our Yokine Club in the same winning team at pennant bowls.

In my time Ted Holdsworth of Swan Districts fame came up to the goldfields to coach and lead Kalgoorlie’s “Kangas” who also wore the black and white colours. Jack Anderson who played in Victoria before coming West to play in West Perth’s 1932 Premiership year also came to Kalgoorlie in 1939 and he coached Railways. He was a good centre-half forward and kicked many goals for his new team. I liked his style of play.

One football story I read is worth repeating here. Rough play has always been in the game and nothing has changed over the years as 1985/6/7 overseas exhibition matches have shown. Umpires have not always faced up to their responsibilities in this regard in a consistent manner. TV replays have put the onus on officialdom to do something about vicious play but sometimes they keep an eye on the “gate” in the belief that people like to see some really rough play and a bit of blood-letting. A short-sighted policy. Some assaults on players by their opponents have put footballers in hospital and out of the game, and some spectators away from the turnstiles forever. “‘Oh! Yes, the story.”

Back on the local football oval, we were still enjoying our sporting activities while the details of our involvement in the War were being worked out by the Government and their military advisers. In the first semi-final matches, the Kalgoorlie “Kangas”, with Stan Heal playing at centre, had beaten Boulder City by 11 points. In the “B” Grade, Railways beat Mines Rovers by 4 points, and in the First Rates Kalgoorlie “Wallabies” beat Militia by 16 points. 

In the second semis Railways “A” team beat Mines Rovers by 26 pts with Jack Anderson kicking 5 goals for us. In the “B” Grade game Kalgoorlie drew with Boulder, 11.9 to 9.21. In the First Rates it was a loss to Railway Rovers against the Moonta Turks and we had to play the Wallabies in the Final. In the “A” Finals, Mines Rovers defeated Kalgoorlie by 30 pts and Railway Rovers beat Wallabies in the First Rates. The “B” Grade teams Kalgoorlie and Boulder City replayed the second semi-final with victory going to Boulder. The Railway Club was now able to look towards the last game of the year as the big chance to finish up with honours.

Grand Final day was 17 September and 4,500 people turned up to see Railways beat Mines Rovers by 6pts, 14.13 to 13.13. The First Rates game went to Moonta Turks who beat Railway Rovers by 17 points, 8.5 to 5.6. For us it was one of those days. In the “B” Grade preliminary final, playing one week late because of the earlier drawn game, Kalgoorlie defeated Railway by 37 points. It was “three cheers” for the “A” team keeping the Railways flag flying. Takings at the gate were 250 pounds ($500) and that is roughly 10c a head. It was enough to please Rex Mitchell, the well-known and popular town personality, who was Secretary of the Goldfields Football League and also the local football commentator on radio. The delayed “B” Grade Grand Final played the following week saw Kalgoorlie go down to Boulder by 44 points.

Kalgoorlie Miner, Monday 18 September 1939, page 3 – Railways Wins Premiership. Source: Trove

 

The 1940 (Kalgoorlie) football season was now a few weeks away and regular training soon became part of our routine. Nothing as strenuous as today but a few laps of the Kalgoorlie Oval and plenty of “kick to kick” practice seemed to fit the bill, as far as our Railway Rovers team in the First Rates (Colts) was concerned. Players I recall include Jack Donovan, Joe (Hymie) Jordan, Bill Gill, Peter Moss, Jack Vincent, Alan Jones, Bertie Thomas, John Hall, George Kirkby, and the Crannage brothers. Frank Puddey could have played with the team.

 

Football – RAAF Station Geraldton (1941)

Soon after the trainees were settled in (at RAAF Geraldton base) we started training for the Geraldton football season. In those days that meant Aussie rules. Today football might mean anything. When the GNFL held its April AGM and approved the RAAF entry into the competition, I was one RAAF delegate and Charlie Doig, the former East Fremantle champion, was the other. Charlie gave a hand with the coaching.

The services recruiting had weakened the local teams so it was decided to reorganise the local players into two teams, Railways and Rovers, and accept two teams from the Air Force. Our teams were the All Blues, and the Eagles who were mainly aircrew. I was the All Blues delegate to the GNFA and Frank Marshall was the delegate for the Eagles. At that meeting I was appointed to the Finance Committee along with Clem Penniment from the Commonwealth Hotel, and Bill Sewell, the President. Later Bill became the MLA for the district. Matches with teams from the Country Association were part of the discussions. I remember going out to Northampton for a rough and tough game and playing on a ground as hard as a brick. It was about 40miles north of Geraldton.

Geraldton Guardian and Express, Saturday 26 April 1941, page 2 – Geraldton Football. Source: Trove

 

We started off the season with a good side for we had a number of players with WAFL or Victorian league experience, on the station. Some of my fellow players as I remember were Norm Dawson, “Bunny” Hayes, ex-Claremont players, Harry Maitland, Vic Partington, and McPartland, Jack Petersen, Bob Nicholls, T Walker, Don Page, and Jim Braidwood. A chap named Hartshorn was from the East (Essendon?). Morrie Feldman and Jack Sheridan were other players. Charlie Doig may have helped coach us before he was posted to 25 Squadron. F/Sgt Vern Smith was the team coach or the manager, and Dougie Woods was the umpire we provided for some league matches. Dougie worked in the Commonwealth Bank at Perth after the war. The town oval was good but it was only hard gravel at Northampton where we found it hard to win against the locals.

The football season opened on 3 May at the recreation ground where the GNFL paid three pounds ($6) rent for Saturday and Sunday. Spectators paid a small charge, 6d (5c) for ladies and one shilling (10c) for men. The All Blues v the Eagles was the match for the day starting at 3 o’clock. There was only one minor problem. The Blues were strong and the Eagles short of players on that weekend. Some of us had to play with the Eagles to try and balance up the sides. Those of us who drew the short straw did our best but to no avail for the Blues won easily by 15 or more goals. On the Sunday the Rovers defeated the Railways/Fire Brigade team by 10 goals.

Geraldton Guardian and Express, Saturday 3 May 1941, page 3 – All Blues v Eagles. Source: Trove

 

The next Saturday the Eagles were at full strength and beat last game-winners, Rovers, by over 10 goals. We were back with our own team, the All Blues, but mis-kicked ourselves out of a win when we went down to Railways by 3 points, 13.18 to 14.15. After two weeks we had all won one game. Our teams varied from week to week because of station commitments for some and leave for others. One weekend the Eagles could not field a team as the aircrews had been granted leave long enough for them to go home via Perth. Some were from the country and there were three from Kalgoorlie.

Postings to and from 4 SFTS brought team changes for both teams. Most of the Eagles team were aircrew and I take space here to mention some of their names, along with those of the All Blues. They had happy days at Geraldton not knowing what lay ahead. For some of them it was just as well. The A-Z list for May 1941 is minus some first names, but I may be able to work them out late.

TOWNSROVERS (1937 Premiers)
Lofty Alcock (C)J. Roberts (C)
Don ArnoldP. Rafferty
E. McoyF. O’Callaghan
Doug CashD. Christensen
T. Waters? Hubbard
E. Myers? Gilette
B. Myers? Parry
? McNamaraS. Nixon
Taddy CurtinRoy Lymn
Wally DalyRon Lymn
Max ThompsonA. Dodd
Harry PriceM. Shinnick
Lee WatersDave Price
E. SmithR. Page
Jack ShillinglawE. Harvey
C. SeymourA. Bovell
? Jones? Stewart

 

Well there they were, some players of 1941 at No. 4 SFTS Geraldton.

The GNFL used to hold its meetings in one of the lounge rooms at a local hotel. I have an idea that they were officially prevented from holding meetings in the bar type areas. I can remember going into the hotels for this purpose from time to time but normally would have no reason for being on the premises. The hotel people supported football in such ways as they did other sports. Hotels I remember from Geraldton are Len Shepheard’s Victoria, and the Freemasons run by Dudley Nevile who I knew from Norseman. Clem Penniment ran the Commonwealth. There were several others.

The football scribe for the local paper was wrapped up in the keen rivalry existing between the Eagles and the All Blues. He was moved to write that the play in their previous match provided patrons with one of the most pleasing exhibitions of football seen on the recreation ground for some time. He went on to say,

“a fast pace was maintained from the initial bounce to the close. The game at times was rugged (and he was right) … but Eagles battled successfully … and ran out winners”.

 

Geraldton Guardian and Express, Tuesday 27 May 1941, page 4 – Geraldton Premiership. Source: Trove

 

Still smarting from that loss and having to take a bit of ribbing from our fellow airmen at the base, the All Blues set their minds to winning the “One Day Premiership” games on Sunday 22 June. Held at Geraldton it drew teams from Mullewa, Northampton, Yuna, and Nabawa. The locals were All Blues, Eagles, Railways, and Rovers. The matches were played over 4 hours made up of two 15 minute games. 1,500 people saw the play-offs and the All Blues win the Grand Final by beating Rovers by 3 goals. The “Cup” was ours.

Many of the Eagles team were having their last football game in Geraldton in that one-day premiership. Their training completed, No. 8 Course passed out a few days later. These men were among the first 92 aircrew trainees to go to Pearce to enter the newly created Initial Training School (ITS) in November 1940. They were the first wartime pilots entirely trained in Western Australia for the RAAF air force in the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS). I had a few friends on that course and knew most of them fairly well, so when they were set to leave the station it was a shake of the hand and a few parting words to speed them on their way. “Cheerio, give Hitler a kick in the bum for me. See you when it’s over.” They did their job well but many never made it back.

One course passing-out was around the time the return rounds of the one-day football premiership were played at Northampton late in July when the Eagles were short of players for a week or two. The Northampton/Upper Chapman Football Association made all the arrangements for the big day. Children 3d (3c), ladies 6d (5c), and men 1/- (10c). As players we had to pay the same as ladies. RAAF transport took us over to Northampton and a diesel coach was put on for the Geraldton locals. That left around ten o’clock and returned a couple of hours after the final game. More than a hundred people could not get on the coach and like many others had to use up some of their petrol ration coupons to get to the games. Over a thousand people turned up to cheer the players on.

The draw for the day was Railways v Northampton, Eagles v Yuna, Mullewa v Rovers, and All Blues v Nabawa. All matches were over two halves of 15 minutes each. The Eagles and the All Blues were short on players, for with No. 8 Course finished and free transport home for airmen on leave, both teams were scratching for players. Our All Blues team fought hard but lost to Nabawa 8.0 to 5.2. The RAAF teams did not adapt to the rock-hard playing surface quick enough for a thirty-minute game. The final match was won by the Northampton team who beat Nabawa. Good luck to them.

The next week we were still in trouble for players for our two teams. Some of us from the All Blues had to bolster the Eagles so that we could field two reasonable teams and keep faith with the football public. On the day it was the worst weather that we had ever played in. Cold and wet with gale-force winds blowing on the Saturday and Sunday. The Blues lost to Railways and the Eagle went down to Rovers 14.23 to 4.16. I kicked two of the four goals but must have contributed to that points tally as I roved for most of the day. I mostly played on the wing or as a half-forward but being only an average player I filled the role of a utility player filling midfield gaps. I managed a few goals each season.

The end of the football season was close at hand with the final four settled with the RAAF Eagles finishing on top with 32 points and then a game away were the Rovers with 28, then the All Blues 24, and in fourth spot Railways with 12 points. On 10 August the Blues were first to be eliminated, going down to Rovers by 5 points. The Eagles accounted for Railways by 7 points in the second semi-final, and Railways went down to Rovers in the final.

The great day for the Eagles came in the Grand Final when they fielded a strong side (it included one of the McRobbies from East Perth) and had no trouble in beating Rovers by more than ten goals. It was a big day for the RAAF players, several having played with the Eagles and the All Blues at times when we were swapped to keep faith with the public and put on good games.

 

Football – Kalgoorlie (1946)

 

Sunday was the sports day in the town and the morning often saw me at the start of the cycle races. It was like old times when I was the secretary and the commentator. Now I was content to just be a supporter. In the afternoon it was the football. Railways, Kalgoorlie, Mines, and Boulder were the four teams, with their supporters as intense and loyal as the Collingwood mob have been through the years. One fixture was put aside for charity during the season and the day we went the one-day competition was won by my team Railways. It could get bitterly cold at the Oval in July and August so we sometimes stayed home by the fire and listened to the radio. The Secretary of the GNF League was Rex Mitchell who also did the radio commentaries from the match. I used to see a lot of him at the Post Office. He had a leg disability and used a crutch as I recall. Very well-known and well-liked.

The football final round was only a few weeks away and early in August, Railways were at the top of the table and well clear by 16 points from the other sides. We were also leading the “B” Grade. On Sunday 18th August, West Perth came up and played a combined goldfields team out at Boulder. Who was I going to barrack for? West Perth has had my support since 1931 and nothing could change that. Several old team-mates from my Temperance League football days were regulars in the side including Alvan Whittle, Charlie Hicks, Bert Sampson, and Bill Baker. Several other players were ex the Temperance League which gave them their first coaching.

The WANFL had no junior teams in those days, and the Temperance League filled the gap by providing young lads with the chance to play competitive sport on an organised basis and keep themselves usefully occupied at training under dedicated coaches, all doing it for free. The Temperance League never did get the full credit they deserved when the WANFL finally woke up and helped our young players. WANFL (Why change that?) waffled to WAFL and now SFL????

Back to the match at Boulder. Ross Hutchinson, captain-coach, led West Perth on to the field. Ross is still going in 1990 and when l meet him twice a year at a special evening he still looks fit. West Perth beat the local team 14.28 to 12.19. A 21 points win. The best players for West Perth were Ross Hutchinson, Len Harman, Bert Sampson, Norm Lamb, Wally Price, Checker O’Keefe, Falconer. The best local men were Vince Zanni (later a Yokine bowler), Andy McPartland, Tony Bizzaca, and George Krepp. George was a local boy who won the Sandover Medal in 1935 when with Swan Districts. Big crowds went to the football in Krepp’s day and I can easily recall one match l saw in 1935/36 when we were playing Victoria. The game was at Lotons Park (Perth Oval ) which was named after Thorley Loton who lived opposite in a two-story house which is now Dilhorn War Museum. The crowd was so crammed up and excited during the game that the boundary fence on one side of the oval was pushed fiat on the turf and the crowd spilled onto the oval.

West Australian, Tuesday 20 August 1946, page 5 – West Perth Wins. Source: Trove

West Perth were returning from a trip to Melbourne where they had played a combined RichmondEssendon side. I’m sure the Vics won, but our young players learnt a lot. The big weekend game in Perth was the interstate match WA v SA. There would have been over 30,000 there and the adults would have paid 2s/6d (25c) to go in. The locals, captained by Stan (”Pops”) Heal, fought off late challenges by the “crow eaters” led by Bobby Quinn, who had six stitches put in his head at halftime and did not play again that day or on the Monday. Les McClements and Bill Alderman were the best players for WA, Bill despite getting a fractured jaw in the first quarter. He made sure he played on at centre-half back and it was his persistence and courage that turned SA back again and again near the finish. WA won 20.17 to 19.11, victors by 2 goals.

Mirror, Perth, Saturday 17 August 1946, page 2 – Today’s Interstate Football Team. Source: Trove

 

Bill, a former 14 Squadron pilot in my time, was highly praised for his game. By one of those little coincidences that help make many stories a Sydney horse, named Alderman, won a race that day. The worst part about the injury to Bill was that he was due to be married a week later to Joan Troy, on the morning of 24th August. After the match his jaw was fixed in “plaster” and reinforced with some small wire clips. The wedding went ahead as planned “I do”s and all. Bill was also a State cricketer and much later than 1946 we were to hear about the family cricketing champions, Denise and Terry, both worthy Australian team representatives.

Once the racing “round” was over the town settled back to normal and everybody went about their business. By September the finals of the football were over with Railways winning the local final and West Perth going down to East Fremantle by six points. The best players for Wests were Bill Kingsbury and Stan Heal, both young men ex Kalgoorlie, Johnny Loughridge (1946 Sandover Medal), and Bob Clamp. Other Wests players were Fred Buttsworth, Ray and Don Scott, Johnny Larcombe, Ray Schofield, Neil Garland, Doug Lind. President at the time was Dick Fletcher and the secretary was Tom Soutar. Wests had a strong side but so did Easts. Their Grand Final win meant they went through the 1946 season unbeaten.

Over in Melbourne the football ovals occupied by the armed forces during World War II had been vacated as the service personnel packed up and left. The first post-war grand final played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was between the old rivals Essendon (22.18) and Melbourne (13.9). 74,000 fans saw the match. A big crowd for 1946 but small against the 108,000 people that crammed the Caulfield racecourse to see Bernborough run in the Caulfield Cup. My favourite team in the VFL was Fitzroy because Northcote where I lived in 1930 was Fitzroy territory. Fitzroy won the 1898 grand final and then in 1944 their eighth, and last so far (in 1996 Fitzroy merged with the Brisbane Bears/Lions). The cricket “Ashes” were up for grabs again in 1946 when the MCC came out to Australia to do battle with Don Bradman and his teammates.

 

Football – Perth (1946-1954)

Living in town and surrounded by baby minders at the Victoria Square house we were able to follow some sporting events on the weekends, especially football (in those days that word meant only Australian rules) every Saturday and the trots ever so often. We were solid supporters of the West Perth team which Il had followed since 1931, and we still are. We knew some of the players and the wives, Bill Kingsbury and Stan Heal were both ex Kalgoorlie, and met others through the years. Shirley Loughridge was a friend of Joan and we used to see Shirley and Johnny often. He had a great year in 1946 when he won the Sandover Medal, and when West Perth went down in the Grand Final he was the Simpson Medal winner for that premiership match. He also won the club’s fairest and best award. In the 1947 Grand Final we were at Subiaco Oval to see our team go down again, this time to South Fremantle, after losing to East Fremantle in 1946. Rain, hail, or shine, we saw most games.

 

West Australian, Monday 7 October 1946, page 5 – Johnny Loughridge. Source: Trove

The best evidence seems to indicate that West Perth is the oldest WA club, allowing that it was first the Metropolitans, and then the Victorians, before the club name was changed to West Perth on April 14th 1891. The first club home ground was a part of the Perth Esplanade, then it was changed to the WACA, and since 1915 it has been Leederville Oval (moved to Arena Joondalup in 1994), one of the best grounds in WA. From 1906 to 1931 it was a premiership drought for the club, but in 1932, 1934, and 1935, and 1941 and 1942 we were the premiers. The red shade of the club’s only colours ever, red and blue, gave us the popular name, “The Cardinals”. Our captain and coach was Stan “Pops” Heal in 1947/1948, (and in 1949/50/51). Ray Schofield took over as captain in 1952. The three main club administrators for 1947-51 were Dick Fletcher as President, Tom Soutar was the Secretary, and Dick Hill the Treasurer. All gave great service.

Cricket on the Esplanade, ca. 1905 Source: SLWA

On Saturday afternoons we would go to the football, usually on the trams, to see West Perth play. We had been runners-up in 1946 and 1947, and now 1948. Our captain/coach for the three years was Stan “Pops” Heal who was a brilliant player. In 1941 when his RAN service found him in Victoria, Stan played with Melbourne in the VFL Grand Final and they won. The special conditions for servicemen allowed him to play for West Perth in the WANFL Grand Final and when they won the flag he was in his second premiership winning team the same year, and created a record that would never be equalled in the VFL/AFL.

 

Sporting Globe, Melbourne, Wednesday 15 October 1941, page 12 – Under Two Flags, Stan Heal. Source: Trove

Photo – West Perth Football Club, 1948. Source: Doug Cash Collection

 

Football is exciting and gives you a good avenue to let off a bit of steam, especially if you are in an occupation that requires you to be patient every day with customers or fellow-employees who are having a bad day themselves. A modern day version sometimes turns up on TV when someone goes out into an empty field, or out into the bush, and all alone yells at the world, or up at Him? We were just as likely to shout out now and then as any of the opposition fans sitting near us. I was a dedicated student of the rules and knew the book well enough to join in discussion on anyone else’s interpretation, be he fan or umpire. Later on the boot was on the other foot when I took up the whistle myself.

Today when I watch TV football and see people sitting in the rain I comment to my wife, Joan, “Fancy anyone sitting out there and getting sopping wet”. She just laughs for we used to do that all the time. We would get caught in downpour after downpour and yet we would not move. We would have umbrellas and wet weather gear and the only dry spot was what you were sitting on. Many times we saw the oval at the WACA almost completely under water. The stand side and the river end of the oval was often up to six inches deep. The players splashed through it sending up sheets of spray and when they went to ground they used to “surf” for yards. Often the ball was soccered along most of the match and then we would see the “footie” skid along the water and float in for a goal.

Monty Menhennet (6IX ) often talked football with me in the shop (The Magazine). He asked me to try out for a vacancy on the 6IX footie panel and I did. Johnny (Jack) Larcombe was the main commentator. It was a great experience: the match (in 1951) was Claremont v Swan Districts at the Bassendean Oval. I would have preferred East Perth v West Perth. However, we had a good day but the new appointee was far better than I and he was Ross Elliot. Need I say more. He went on to a very successful career in sports commentating.

My Pyrox tape-recorder was put to good use at the end of the local football season when that great team Collingwood came over from Melbourne to play our 1951 Premiers South Fremantle. Down we went to Fremantle Oval carrying the weighty machine, 30 pounds, on the bus and extension cords to plug into the nearest power point. It was near the change rooms and I was up in the grandstand, as close to power as I could get, but I needed three joined leads. I set up the equipment watched by spectators and an interested Billy Orr, the WA Football League secretary, the real power in local football. My partner was a Collingwood committee chap. We finished up with a reasonable tape of the match. There was a good crowd, it was a good game, South Fremantle winning 22.9 to 15.12. It was the first defeat for Collingwood outside of Victoria. One tape copy went back to Collingwood but my original tape was wiped when we changed from 40 cycle power to 50 cycle. My carelessness. In 1997 I still have that machine, valves and all, stored away.

Now we were living in Wembley we were able to go to the football often. Joan’s mum and dad would look after the children for the afternoon while we went to the West Perth games if they were at the city grounds. This changed later when I took on umpiring Australian Rules in the senior grade of the Temperance League, 16 and 17 year old players. Many WAFL players came through this level and went on to the big league clubs. I still remember a match at Perth Oval (the East Perth league team playing away) when I umpired East Perth and Perth. The main two ruckmen were Bluey McClure (East Perth) and Ken Armstrong (Perth). They had a great tussle. Both went into their League Club teams in the next year or so.

Later Ken coached Perth. Another team was South Fremantle and I umpired a game when they played North Fremantle(?) at the North Fremantle oval. John Todd, under 16 then, played for Souths and his ability stood out. He was brilliant, outclassing the other players. At half-time he came to me and started to talk with me about the rules. I was sure that he knew them well. I heard him out then said “You play the football and I’ll umpire the game.” John played for South Fremantle league team at 16 and won the Sandover Medal at 17. Later he was a very successful league coach. Just for the record I need to recall here that I played a lot of football in my younger days, and in the RAAF at Geraldton kicked a few goals for our “All-Blues” team. Our coach was Charlie Doig of East Fremantle fame. We were the joint RAAF delegates to the meetings of the local Association for Geraldton and nearby towns. Later at Pearce our team there played the Army, and other service teams. Our captain was Bill Alderman, later a WA champion player.

The 1954 football season saw me change from umpiring the seniors in the Temperance League on Saturdays to blowing the whistle Sundays at the South Suburban Association matches. The players in these games were mainly senior players, many of them being former players in the WA Football League. Luckily most grounds were in walking distance from the train or bus along Albany Highway. The fee was 5 pounds a game. All contributions thankfully received.

Dick Hill, from the WA Trustees (opposite the shop) and a former West Perth backline player, came over to have a chat with me about his interest in taking on the full-time job of Secretary of the WA Football League. It was becoming vacant on the retirement of the legendary Billy Orr. No space here to talk about the man who ruled football in the West for so long. Later Dick Hill was appointed to the position which he held for many years rendering great service to football in WA.

 

Football – Later Years

 

In later years Doug was a vice patron of the West Perth Football Club in 1966 and a patron of the Osborne Park Sunday League Football in 1965.

 

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