Tuesday, 7 August 2018

ARTICLE: "My tribute to East Fremantle FC of Moss Street", by K. James, 7 August 2018.

I grew up in East Fremantle territory in the 1970s and 90% of students at Mount Pleasant Primary School supported the mighty Old Easts. The East Fremantle austere culture of success and pride was in the air you breathed, you could have bottled it. They probably should have. The East Freo winning culture is now in decline and disarray. I hope it can be restored to its former greatness. I suggest a head coach who played in one or more East Freo premiership teams is what is needed; make more use of the ex-premiership players around the club. What is Murray Wrensted doing now? I'm not saying it has to be him but someone of that profile is needed. A big name from the past is needed to rejuvenate the club. Since Glasgow Rangers appointed Liverpool and England star Steven Gerrard recently the whole club and supporter base was rejuvenated before a game was even played. Robert Wiley was a great player but he played for Richmond and Perth Demons in eras when those clubs were not shining examples of excellence and stability off-the-field (read Mal Brown's book where it recounts how shocked Browny was after leaving South Fremantle to join Perth in 1985).

Here is the section of my book, written a few years back (around 2013), about East Fremantle FC:

East Fremantle Oval, where the aloof hostility and relentless force of the home team and home crowd are matched only by the winds blowing in from the Indian Ocean only a few kilometres away, has always been regarded as a remote and inhospitable place. It was (and is) the most difficult traditional WAFL ground to reach by public transport as it does not have a nearby train service. People were required to either take the low-profile local suburban bus services (numbers 146 and 154 in the 1980s) up Marmion Street from Fremantle or the high-frequency flagship 106 route along Canning Highway from either Perth or Fremantle. Taking the 106 meant walking from Canning Highway through vaguely hostile back-streets to the northern corner of the ground where one was met by barb-wire fencing and the rear of a tin shed. A trip there during the 1980s was the local WAFL equivalent of journeying to Millwall Football Club’s famous Den ground in south-east London.

Given East Fremantle’s great success, as the club with the most premierships won in the WAFL[1] (West Perth is second[2]), a trip to East Fremantle Oval usually meant a resounding defeat at the hands of the home team. East Fremantle had and has an amazing culture of success, whereby anything less than a grand-final appearance is viewed as a disappointment and a bottom-four finish is simply beyond the pale, the end of the world, and totally unacceptable. As an example, East Fremantle’s history book comments about the 1975 season as follows: “What went wrong?” The author Jack Lee cites the club’s magazine Scoreboard which stated: “All sorts of excuses will be put forward for our failures in 1975, but the simple truth lies in the simple statement that we just weren’t good enough”. However, this “failure” was actually a season when the club won 10 games, lost 11, and finished fifth out of eight clubs. Such a result would not have been considered a major failure at some other WAFL clubs including perhaps West Perth which often finished fifth or sixth during its premiership “drought era”. Full Points Footy’s John Devaney comments indirectly on the East Fremantle winning culture in the following passage:

“As far as on-field performances go, the twenty-first century has, to date, been far from auspicious, with the club failing to qualify for the finals every season between 2003 and 2009, and even succumbing to the rare, if not quite unique, indignity of wooden spoons in 2004 and 2006. Restoring the club to what many would argue is its rightful place at the forefront of the West Australian game is going to be far from easy, but the [East Fremantle] Sharks have faced stiffer challenges over the years, and triumphed, and it would surprise no one to see them challenging seriously for premierships again within the next two or three seasons”.

However, Brian Atkinson correctly points out that:
“[T]o balance East Fremantle’s great successes in the 20th century, perhaps reference should be made to their disastrous start to the 21st century. In the first 11 seasons of the 21st century from 2001 to 2011, East Fremantle have only made the finals twice, 4th in 2002, and 3rd in 2010. They have finished 9th (last) twice, 8th once, and 7th three times”.[3]

The only other Australian Rules club in Australia with a similar long-term winning culture to East Fremantle is the club John Devaney has supported since childhood, Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL. How the East Fremantle winning culture gets retained and transmitted from one generation to the next, especially in these days of the WAFL as a feeder-league with a high regular turnover of players, is itself amazing. Nearly all football followers in Perth, including me, have total respect for East Fremantle, its successes, its culture, its sheer force and (long term, historical) dominance, and its complete professionalism. For Fat Pam’s West Perth cheer squad to take such a large and organized group with flags and floggers to East Fremantle Oval in August 1981 is also worthy of tremendous respect. This is especially so given that this match was between fifth (WPFC) and seventh (EFFC) on the ladder and West Perth was four premiership points outside the top-four before the game. As it was West Perth only one won more game for the season and finished in sixth position with 8 wins and 13 losses (percentage 77.3%).


[1] As at 26 December 2016.
[2] As at 26 December 2016.
[3] Brian Atkinson, personal e-mail communication to the author dated 19 November 2011.

Facebook comment by Neil GardnerRemember going with mates to games and meeting Hank Cox with his flag as a teenager. He came to every game home & away for years regardless of weather. Everyone knew Hank. His health has declined sadly and he can't get to games now, but my heroes were blokes who wore that jumper and you could go and see them for an autograph after game.

I got the privilege at 20 years old to run water for some of the blokes I worshipped. Now I'm older but still timekeeping and we recently celebrated the 20 year reunion of 1998 premiership teams with 17 of 21 league blokes who played that day attending. Also our Colts and Amateur Colts teams attended as well. Incredible to share that moment. Next year is 40 years since the biggest attended crowd in WAFL history saw Old Easts beat arch rivals South by 33 points in a memorable game. WA celebrated 150 years and Old Easts won that, then celebrated the WAFL centenary in 1985 with another flag beating Subi by 5 points - unfortunately we were away on a family holiday and got home a week after.

The first flag I saw in person was 1992 when the Sharks stormed home in another derby GF to win by 4 goals against the odds.

To buy the book MORE GARLIC WITH THE CHIPS PLEASE: West Perth Football Hooligans 1984-86 by K. James (U.S. letter size, 21.59cm x 27.94cm, £9: http://www.lulu.com/shop/kieran-james/more-garlic-with-the-chips-please-west-perth-football-hooligans-1984-86/paperback/product-23740655.html

To buy the book MORE GARLIC WITH THE CHIPS PLEASE: West Perth Football Hooligans 1984-86 by K. James in U.S. Trade size, £6: http://www.lulu.com/shop/kieran-james/more-garlic-with-the-chips-please-west-perth-football-hooligans-1984-86/paperback/product-23740637.html

1 comment:

  1. SHARK PARK my home away from home where i have seen many a champion player wearing the Blue and White play their hearts out for the Club we all love.

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