Old East Fremantle Would Have Been A Contender


by Rod Gillett and Dave Warner


When Paddy Ryder was awarded the Anzac Medal for his game for Essendon in this year’s match against Collingwood it occurred to me that here was yet another top-class player produced by the East Fremantle Football Club. I thought there was a story in it. I contacted a mate of mine, Dave Warner (From The Suburbs not from the 20/20 side) who is a fervent Old Easts supporter so much so that for his album Free Kicks (1978) he appeared on the cover wearing an East Freo footy jumper -which he often wore in live performances. He even recorded the East Fremantle Team song in 1979 – a year in which Old Easts beat arch rivals South Fremantle in a derby grand final. I asked Dave to pick a team of current AFL players that had been recruited from East Fremantle; he did more than that he wrote a piece on it. Here it is:


One of the tragedies since the AFL gobbled up the VFL, SANFL and WAFL is that history becomes re-written.   For example, the traditionally powerful, some might say “great” Australian Rules clubs are generally quoted as Essendon, Collingwood, Carlton and Port Adelaide.   In fact, the team I grew up supporting, East Fremantle has claims to be greater than any of these. East Fremantle was the first club in Australia to win 1000 games and I think may have been the only club to have won more games against every other club in its competition than it has lost.  East Fremantle held many other records. In 1946 the team went through the season undefeated.  None of the other clubs mentioned have achieved that. East Fremantle was also the first team from WA, club or state, to win a game on the MCG.  But somewhere around the club’s 25th premiership and 50th grand final appearance, a traumatic episode in WA football was allowed to transpire.  The West Coast Eagles were formed.  The great and proud East Fremantle were relegated to a second-rate competition.   Even worse, a decade later the Fremantle Dockers were formed,  and spuriously hailed as team representing the traditions of Fremantle football.  This artificial football club was really part of the WA public service, run by types the government of the day found pleasing.  If it bore any relationship to the traditional Fremantle football clubs in its DNA, then the club it was most like was South Fremantle, East Fremantle’s great rivals. I have always had a soft spot for South Fremantle in the way people have a soft spot for St Kilda. Souths invariably turned out a number of brilliantly skilled players and when Souths were “on” they were dazzling. Players like John Todd, Maurice Rioli and Stephen Michaels wore the red and white of South Fremantle with great distinction. Their full-forward of the 1960s, John Gerovich is immortalized in probably the most famous football mark outside of Jezza’s.  The trouble is that Souths for all their skill rarely won the premiership. They were always a team of champions and rarely a champion team.   East Fremantle have their champions of course. Jack “Stork” Clarke who usually beat Polly Farmer in the ruck, as well as George Doig, possibly the greatest forward ever. He kicked eight centuries in successive seasons between 1934-41. Three of those times he kicked in excess of 140 goals for the season (finals not included). Norm Rogers, Doug Green, Alan Preen, Brian Peake were other marvellous players.

Of course, this could all be the ravings of a one-eyed lunatic, footy supporter but I have evidence to back up my claims that East Fremantle are still the greatest team in Australia.  Just have a look at the playing lists of the AFL clubs. Your club is almost certain to have an East Freo boy on its list.  Below is a team I have constructed from current AFL players who were drafted from East Fremantle:


B: Lockyer    McPharlin     Dodd


HB: Ibbotson   Ryder          Cassissi


C: Dalziel      Black        Hadley


 HF: Cousins   J Kennedy    Kerr


F: Masten      M Clarke  Swallow


R: Sandilands   Haselby  Palmer


INTERCHANGE: Griffin, J Carr, Peake, Johnson (Carlton


EMERGENCIES: McNamara, Dick,  Hooker, Anthony,  Polak, Foster, King 



There are Brownlow medalists, All-Australians and a Rising Star in this lot.   Can any other club in Australia even come close to fielding a team like that from their own juniors?

As for South Fremantle, they currently supply: Duffield, Gilmore, Hayden, Head, Murphy, Thornton, Wilson, McGrath, Cox, Jetta, Williams, Surjan, and Jones (St Kilda)

I hope you’re getting an idea of the relative contributions of these clubs to Australian footy.

The trouble with The Dockers is that they have a South Fremantle mentality, not an East Fremantle one – don’t graft for the hard ball, do the flashy thing.  I’m not sure that the Dockers can be saved from themselves.  I hope they can.  I’m a Freo boy and I want them to do well but perhaps my mate Pitch is right when he says the AFL should bite the bullet and disband the Dockers, replacing them with East Fremantle.    All we’d need is our own players back.


Dave Warner


  1. Dave Warner says

    Rocket just got back from debating to watch the footy and realized poor Harry Taylor had missed out on my team, too many players you forget them all! – slight re-jig

    Lockyer McPharlin Ryder

    Ibbotson Taylor (Geelong) Cassissi

    Dalziel Black Hadley

    Cousins J Kennedy Kerr

    Masten M Clarke Swallow

    Sandilands Haselby Palmer


    Dodd Griffin J Carr Peake Johnson (Carlton) McNamara Dick Hooker Anthony Polak Foster King

  2. Dave

    I still have a cassette of one of your live versions of Half Time At The Football.

    Played it the other day because I wanted a quote… which I won’t reproduce at this here family blog.

    Suffice to say: gold!

  3. I have that 45 vinyl club song.

  4. Chevonne Young says

    I have a 45 vinyl copy of the club song too!!

  5. Brad Sheppard in. The kid is going to be a star. He can take Dodd or Dalziel or Ibbotson’s spot.

  6. Dr Rocket says

    Is the 45 vinyl club song by Dave Warner?

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