Great days at East Freo

by Bruce Houston


As a ‘past player’ of East Freo I receive their regular mag. I was looking at it on the weekend and thought I must send you a list of EF players in the AFL. Surely, no other individual club could match it. I’d be pretty confident that EF would still hold the record for the most premierships of the major competition clubs around Australia.  


I played my first game for East Fremantle under 12s (as an 8yo) and was lucky enough to captain the EFFC under 12s, 16s and 18s and progressed through the 4ths, 3rds and 2nds and finally cracked it for my debut league game in the derby against South Freo late in 1972. I missed a goal that would have given us a win in a very tight game and was dropped back to the seconds by Alan Joyce the following week. It was around this same time that a guy from Qld offered big money (for then) to come and play in Brisbane to help get the game kick started. They had just signed Billy Ryan (ex Cat) and a couple of others out of Melbourne. Like a good mercenary I accepted and drove to Qld for $75 win, lose or draw. At the time EF was paying $28 a win and $15 a loss.


Anyway, a lovely piece by Dave Warner. He’s right about the difference between East and South. South were flashy and great to watch when they’re on fire. I can vividly see that John Gerovich mark. I’m sure he’s standing on the shoulders of EF’s Ray French to take a freakish mark.



I originally went to Qld to play for Wilston Grange but soon after arriving I was approached by the then Windsor Zillmere (now North Brisbane) and offered more money. I accepted so had a year with WZ (blue with a white eagle). Incidentally, Dave may be interested to learn that I was accompanied on the trip to Queensland by Danny Malone who played a few games with Old East. Danny didn’t stay in Brisbane and returned to the west in time for the 1973 season. A great bloke but a fair dinkum mad man – loved a fight.


Billy Ryan initially played for Coorparoo. I believe he went down to Southport a bit later.


A bit more on Dave’s article. I was born in 1952 and East Freo was a terrific team to follow as young bloke. I grew up idolising blokes like (from the backline) Con Regan (local copper), Ray French (Gero’s marking victim), Norm Rogers (CHB and mad), Ray Sorell (left foot drop kicks out of the centre were only ever matched by Todd at South), Daryl Cormack (winger who later became my teacher at John Curtin High), my favourite of all Ken Holt (CHF and number 20 – I wore No. 20 from under 12s on), Ray ‘Trizzy’ Lawrence (rover with pistol stab kick), Jack Clarke (one of the great ruckman of all time and helped deliver the national championship in that epic win over the Vics in Brisbane in 1961(?) and No.16 at full forward, Big Bob Johnson. He had the garage at Petra Street and I think Laurie Hunt (a back pocket at EF) worked there in the mechanic’s workshop.


The ‘guns’ in the year I was on the senior list were David Hollins, Doug Green, Graham Melrose (captain and a really good man) and Brian Peake.


Enough musings for now. Nice to hear from you and I look forward to reading more of the same stuff on John’s Footy Almanac website.







  1. Bruce, I played with and against Danny Malone and I can attest that he was a wild character both on and off the field.

    Crazy, but a very good player.

  2. DAMO SHANKS says

    BRUCE IM 2 YEARS YOUNGER lived and played all my juniors at EF wauhop park . i remember the day you took that big pack mark in the derby in 72 at the marmion st end .yeh shame you didnt kick it a minute to go would have put us in front . i play lawn bowls now at EF with lots of guys who know you. Jesus you were a big unit and who knows what you could have achieved if you stayed. weve had a terrible run losing players from the 70s

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