History of Perth FC
The Perth Football Club was formed in 1899, originally to field a team in the Perth First Rate Junior Competition. However, promotion to senior ranks was rapid. The Rovers Club, which had been an early force in WA football at senior level, was forced to forfeit a mid-season match. When it became apparent that Rovers couldn't guarantee being able to field a regular team, Perth was invited to take its place in the senior league. The Club has been a force in WA football, and at various times the clear pace-setter, ever since.
The Club quickly made its presence felt in the four-team competition of the time, playing off for the premiership in 1904. But it had to wait a further three years to achieve premiership honours. That was against East Fremantle in 1907, under captain-coach, Jack Leckie. The scoreboard at the final bell read: East Fremantle 6-11 (47), Perth 6-6 (42). Perth officials lodged a protest before the end of the game against a goal kicked by East Fremantle from a free kick they believed to be awarded after the half-time bell. The protest was upheld and the goal was disallowed. The flag was awarded to Perth with a win of one point, in a result which threatened to split the competition!
For its first 60 years the Club was based at the WACA ground where it played virtually all home games. The clubrooms were located in the public stand, which was subsequently demolished to make way for the Prindiville Stand. The playing colours have always been red and black, and with the adoption of red socks, the Club became known as the Redlegs.
The Club's second premiership was achieved in 1955 against East Fremantle, before a record crowd. It was all the more memorable because it was champion ruckman Merv McIntosh's last game - crowned by winning the Simpson Medal for best on field. The team was coached by highly decorated former player Ern Henfry, and captained by rugged wingman Keith Harper.
As the city expanded, the administration felt it was time to move across the Swan River closer to both the residential and business heart of the club's district. The first league game at the new home of Lathlain Park, now known as EFTel Oval, was on Anzac Day 1959 with a victory over Swan Districts. There was also a new nickname - the Demons! It was the start of the most successful 20-year period in the Club's history.
Aided by a vigorous junior football council and strong support from local businesses, the move across the river started to pay dividends. With the appointment of Malcolm Atwell as captain-coach in 1966 and the emergence of talented junior players led by Barry Cable, the Sandover Medallist for 1964, Perth quickly became the team to beat.
In fact, Perth scored a 16-point win over East Perth in the 1966 Grand Final, to record the Club's third premiership victory. The next year, in 1967, the same clubs played off with a similar result - with the margin stretched to 18 points. Then in 1968 it was Perth, again over East Perth, by 24 points. In each case Perth was led by Atwell, with Cable collecting three Simpson Medals for brilliant best-on-ground roving performances.
The Atwell-Cable combination proved to be one of the most potent ever seen in WA football. But a new decade brought new challenges, as the other clubs sought to match standards set by the Demons.
In 1974, former captain and 1955 premiership player Ken Armstrong, was appointed coach. He took that year's team, skippered by the versatile Bob Shields, into the Grand Final - with wingman David Pretty winning the Simpson Medal. But the Demons had to wait a further two years before tasting premiership success in the 70's.
Under Armstrong as coach and new captain Colin Lofts, Perth took out the 1976 Grand Final by 23 points, again at the expense of East Perth. Courageous defender, Mal Day, won the Simpson Medal for an outstanding game. It just got better for the Demons, with the team dominating in 1977, capping the season off with a record 26-13 (169) winning score against East Fremantle. Ruckman Wim Rosbender marked his best season, winning the Simpson Medal.
Armstrong and new captain Ken Inman had high hopes of another premiership hat-trick with big wins during the 1978 season. Their goal was denied by just two points in a grand final marred by very wet conditions.
Perth players have been recognised at the highest levels of the game. Champion ruckman Merv McIntosh and master rover Barry Cable are both members of the AFL's Hall of Fame. In 2004 they were also named as inaugural members of the WA Football Hall of Fame. Other club champions in the WA Hall of Fame include Malcolm Atwell, Keith Harper, Ern Henfry, Billy Orr - a 1907 premiership player and league administrator - Brian Peake - who played most of his football with East Fremantle - Robert Wiley and Greg Brehaut.
Wiley has won more Butcher Medals for Fairest and Best in the league team than any other player. He has won eight, just edging out McIntosh and Cable, with seven each. McIntosh and Cable have both won three Sandover Medals and a Tassie Medal for best player from all states at national carnivals.
Other Sandover Medallists include Cyril Hoft, Terry Moriarty (who played a Club record 253 games) George Bailey, Neville Beard, Pat Dalton, Ian Miller, Bryan Cousins, Mark Watson and Gus Seebeck.
The Club has also been fortunate to be served by outstanding administrators, led by Vince Yovich, who was president from 1970 to 1978. He also became president of the National Football League and was awarded the Order of Australia in 1992.
The Perth Football Club has recently gone through a rebuilding phase, both on and off the field. Officials are confident the impact will be reflected in all three grades, as supporters and sponsors become impatient for further success.