The History of the
South Perth Rugby League Club
Where it all began: WA Rugby Union
They trained on the Perth esplanade and played at Windsor Park, South Perth. after the game the boys would make their way to the Royal Hotel on the corner of Wellington St & William St for a few beers before closing time at 9pm.
South Perth went through undefeated to win the premiership. They beat university at Leederville oval. Alf Schaffer was the youngest player in the South Perth side. He played fullback.
South Perth was the leading team in the competition. They were due to play university in the grand final on September the 3rd. the war had broken out and 8 of the South Perth players, who were members of the peacetime services, were moved across to Rottnest as part of war time services.
The University boys were thinking they would get an easy win, with 8 of South Perth’s best not being able to play. However, in true South Perth style the secretary at the time, Mr Roy Nicholas, contacted the commanding officer or heads of various battalions and was able to obtain special leave for the players. They charted the aircraft, that was used to fly from Maylands to Rottnest, and brought all eight players back on the Saturday. With cars waiting, they ferried the boys to Leederville just in time for kick off. South Perth won the game and was again the premiership club in 1939.
1940 – 1945
During the war years there was no rugby played. It was not until 1946 that South Perth reformed. South Perth won the premiership in 1946. They played university in the 1947 grand final but were beaten in the dying minutes, because of a field goal, right on full time.
During this time in our club history the family environment started to emerge. One such family was the Burns family, from Bagot road Subiaco. It was very common for the boys to meet there, have BBQs and a few beers. The Carroll family were also a big part of the South Perth club. This was the start of the strong character and mate ship that is what our club is about.
The Spawning of Rugby League
It was on an end of season train trip November 1947 when South Perth and university went down to Australind to play a game. Here, Roy Williams, Gordon Squire & Alf Schaffer got discussing the formation of a rugby league competition.
On his return to Perth Alf Schaffer spoke with the committee members of the South Perth Club and Gordon Squire did the same with the Fremantle club. Both clubs were in agreement to switch to the rugby league code.
At a meeting convened at Roy William’s home, 55 Stubb Terrace Daglish. Alf Schaffer, Roy Williams, Ken Allen & Gordon Squire, discussed and worked on a plan to form what would become the first Rugby League competition in Perth.
Each one of the men at the meeting would then go back to their respective clubs to hold a special meeting of members to put in place the process of breaking away from Rugby Union.
January 1948, a special general meeting of the South Perth players and supporters was held in the Mends street hall, next to the old council chambers on the corner of Mends street and Mill point road South Perth. There were 82 members present, it was a unanimous vote in favour of converting to Rugby League. The other clubs to come over were Fremantle, Cottesloe, Perth & Nedlands, along with South Perth this was a five-team competition. The games were played on the Esplanade Perth. The South Perth Lions dominated the competition during the early years, winning premierships in first grade and second grade. We had two third grade sides a & b and nine junior sides.
South Perth Rugby League Club, the Lions, moved over the river to Windsor park, Mill Point Road South Perth. This became the spiritual home of the mighty red & white Lions of South Perth.
Reg Fisher recalls, the first committees were made up of office workers, ex-army and RAAF personal. Most of these men had served in the horrors of world war II, Mr Bob Chester and Mr Dan Fogarty flew thirty bombing missions over Berlin. It was the spirit, discipline and hardness of people like Bob that set the foundations for our club. Bob and his wife Gwen were the corner stone of our club in the early years. Gwen in her own right was the female manager of the 1960 Olympic games team.
Jim Burns was our first President, Captain and Life member. He was succeeded by Alf Schaffer as President for the next Twenty-Two years.
Bob & Gwen Chester owned Robert’s dairy, with help from members of the club in the early fifties they converted the dairy to Chesterton lodge, this was located just off Mill Point Road. The lodge was used for wedding receptions and social functions, it also became the main meeting place and headquarters for the club. Many fundraising, and club social functions were held at the lodge. With the help of Bob & Gwen many dress up nights were held, as well as major fund-raising nights. On one-night Bob auctioned off one of his milk cart horses that had been killed in a traffic accident, he offered the horse up as a “ready to run, race horse.” The unfortunate winner was not all that impressed when told the true story and that he had to remove the horse, before the health inspector arrived the next day. It was activities like these that helped the club raise funds and create good club spirit. Bob served as club and state coach for the next ten years. Before the lodge, the boys in this period would gather at the Esplanade Hotel where the publican made an upstairs room available for meetings & functions.
There was no building or change rooms at Windsor park, the boys would get changed in their cars and after the game would shower in the artesian hot pool at the zoo. The baths were run by an Afghan who was not too pleased about being called Affy. One of the long time and great club men, Barry Gennoe, unintentionally (so it is said) kept a towel and Affy was not too pleased, it took some smooth talking from big Max White, our front rower, along with the police inspector to solve the problem.
Our first official building was in the mid-fifties, when the city of South Perth council agreed to let the club build a change room at Windsor Park. The agreement was that they would supply all the material and the members would build the rooms. This was not a good thing as most of the members were office workers. There was not a trades man among them, apart from Keith Fisher, a second-year apprentice bricklayer. After a lot of spilt blood, skinned knuckles and two years of not a lot of progress the council finished the job.
The building was 10mtr x 4mtr, it had four shower heads at one end, a timber slatted bench seat along one side wall and the rear wall, two cupboards for storage & a rub down table. There were no toilets, the toilets were the public toilets at the back of the community hall behind the rooms. Both the home side and the away side used the rooms to change and shower in.
This was the clubs first official home at the ground, a lot of meetings were held there as well as a lot of kegs and good times. On many a Sunday, a keg would be sorted, and the boys would have a get together. It was also the meeting place for the bottle top club, and many a court case was conducted. In later years we were able to use the Scout hall across on the zoo side of the oval for away teams to change. There were no showers in the scout hall so away teams still had to shower in our rooms.
To begin with there were only two light poles for training on the bowling club side, later on two more were installed on the tennis club side of the oval.
Up to this point the in our history of our club as a rugby league club we had won premierships under:
• Jim Carrol – 1948
• Bob Chester – 1949, 52, 53,54,57,58, 59.
• Alf Schaffer 1951 – 1972
The next stage in the history of South Perth saw the club go through some very difficult times. It was in 1962 that we lost Peter Doulis and Reg Wakeford in an accident while returning from a club picnic. They were very prominent members of the club and the tragedy set the club back a long way, both on and off the field. As years rolled on the club was on the brink of folding and was battling at times, to fill a first-grade side.
Mr Ken Allen from the Fremantle club was appointed First Grade coach and Red Rosser, also from the Fremantle club, was appointed Second Grade coach. These appointments proved to be a master stroke, Ken straight away started to install inspiration and pride back in the club. The rebuilding of the club spirit was once again coming to the fore.
This period in our history, while being hard to win on the field had a positive up side, with the building of a new group of club members that would take the lions on to greater achievements on and off the field. Members who not only had a passion for South Perth but also for rugby league. Some took on administration roles, others took on coaching and support roles. History will tell us that families like the Fisher’s, Collin’s, Quinlan’s, Lee’s and Gennoe’s played a big part in getting the club back on track.
• Bob Chester & P Jones – 1960
• Bob Chester – 1961
• Bob Quinlan Snr – 1962
• Bob Chester – 1963, 1964, 1965
• L Carnahan – 1966
• A Burdon – 1967
• Ken Allen – 1968
The resurgence of South Perth as a power house in Rugby League in Western Australia. After coming through the past decade, the club started to get its house back in order. 1971 we won the 3rd Grade Premiership, 1972 the 2nd Grade Premiership and in 1973 the Lions won all three grades, a record that to this time (2014) has not been matched. On the night of the Grand Final Reg and Marj lost their house in a fire.
Gary Torrens who was appointed club coach at the time and Vale Murphy the Second-Grade coach. Gary had played first grade with Easts, and Newtown prior to coming to WA. Having played under Jack Gibson he bought a whole new standard to the game in WA.
As well as being player coach of second grade at the time, Vale would go on to be a valued committee man of the club and in later years an administrator of the then WARL.
At this time the club approached the publican of the Windsor hotel about having the unused saloon bar for drinks after the game. This soon became known as the Lion’s den and it took no time before an ornate sign was installed on the outside wall. After game drinks with visiting teams became a big sing along with our Mick Haynes leading all into the old bawdy English football songs. It was a place to be, the doors between the saloon bar and the front bar were the old bat wing type, as you would see in the old western movies, the boys would often have a mock fight and come falling through the doors into the front bar.
128 Mill Point road was the next big thing in the history of South Perth Rugby League Club. The club needed to oversee its own destiny and not rely on publicans etc.
It was at this time that Reg Fisher (the white god) president approached Joe Corica, the owner of a three-bedroom house at 128 Mill Point Road which was across the road from Windsor Park about leasing the house and making a few internal modifications, so the club could use it as it’s club rooms.
The working bees started, the inside of the house was guttered, walls were knocked down to create an open area and windows were put in the front veranda. The ceiling on the veranda was lined and a bar was built. Trees were removed to make way for a cool room, the kitchen cupboards were removed, and the back bedroom was turned into an office. A men’s toilet was built on the back veranda. A patio area with BBQ was constructed in the back yard where there was many a yarn and beer shared in the process of the transformation from a house to what we called “our club.”
Many incidents and mishaps occurred, one that comes to mind was when we took out three dividing walls, with a plan to put in two big beams, the beams were man handed through the windows and there were accrow props holding up the roof. As the beams were about to be lifted and put in place there was a scream from the white god “hold everything, no one move.” It came to light that the roof was about to collapse on us, there was another problem. It seemed the beams were not going to span the area, Keith (crackles) Fisher brick layer extraordinaire, was taken off floor tiling duties to quickly run up a brick pier to support the beams. In doing so it stopped the roof coming down, when the pier was up, the lifting of the beams took place. When they were fixed into position the (white god) yelled again, but this time it was down tools and let’s have a beer.
Val Murphy and Dave Bishop put in a great deal of time getting a liquor licence, before this could happen the nearest licenced outlet, had to approve of it. Reg and Alf approached the publican of the Windsor on a Sunday morning with the document that needed to be signed for the court. Back then the publican lived upstairs at the Windsor. Reg and Alf got the publican, at his weakest moment, Sunday morning after a big Saturday night, he had a massive hangover and was suffering from a bad bout of gout, he signed the document and the club got its licence.
The club was open and ready for business to commence the 1975 season. We won the First Grade Premiership that year, beating Fremantle in the Grand Final at Belmont oval, the home ground of the WARL at the time.
The club was roaring along, trading in our own right, with voluntary bar staff. We were in a good position with our finances for the future. The club was only open on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturdays and for two sessions on Sundays, one at 10am – 1pm and the other from 4.30pm – 7pm. The morning session would always see a pool competition running, founded by Dave Bishop and the afternoon session, if we played, would have Alf Haynes’s disco.
We maintained a good relationship with the Windsor and the Hurlingham Hotel owned by Ron (Plum Jam) Higgins, on Canning Highway. The Hurlingham was where a lot of the boys would meet on Fridays after work for a few beers and its counter meals were some of the best in town.
Monday after work was choir practice and a summary of weekend events, on some Monday nights we would have the whole bar singing along with us. It was there that the boys got to know Dr Hensbury, who became the unofficial club doctor. Monday mornings, after games, you would always find a few boys lined up at his Angelo St practice, looking for a certificate for time off work.
John K Watts & Barry Martin, the DJ’s from the breakfast show on 6PR, quite often had drinks at the Hurly on a Friday, they would always give a wrap of the games on the weekend in their Monday morning show, with a special mention to the boys from South Perth.
It was also a time when Hondo had a few spare racing form guides laying around the bar, so the boys could keep up with the local and interstate trots and races. Hondo never charged the boys for the use of the guides and on some occasions, he would be called to the hotel phone to give tips to those who could not get to the pub.
At this point we need to mention, Barry (Pixi) Gennoe. He was a legion, with no formal training in book keeping, he was the Club Treasurer, property manager, football sports trainer, masseur and he also marked out the field for match day. Barry would get the shits, big time with footballers who did not have their socks pulled up. He had a mop head and he would pull strands out of it and make players tie up their socks. We need also to mention Joan Williams who took on the role of Club Secretary, Joan brought great professionalism to the club and the game in general.
Back in these times the club relied on players coming into Western Australia from over East and overseas from NZ and England. A big part of the club’s role, was to get rental properties in the area for these players.
Many a BBQs and kegs were enjoyed on Sunday afternoons at places such as; King Edward St, Coode St, Labouchere Rd, and Leichfield St. We always had a tent on Grand Final day, this was normally held at one of the above addresses. One party that springs to mind was Robert st Como, this end of year party went for four days. We drank through fifteen, 18-gallon kegs, all the pubs in the area donated a keg just to keep us away from their pub.
In the mid 1970’s the WARL moved their headquarters to the Cannington Central dog track. The ground was in the middle of the dog track, all matches “of the round games” were played there on Sundays, as well as all Finals and Rep games.
Up to this time the club used great local coaches such as Bob Chester, Ken Allen and later on Joe Gush, John Adams & Mick Haynes. It was during this time that Mick Press coached the colt side, this competition fluctuated between the age groups of under than eighteens and under than twenties from year to year. Mick and his wife Chris did a great job getting players to training and to games, they would start at Gosnells and work their way to South Perth, picking up players on the way. Mick won the premiership in 1975 with the under twenties team.
It was during the Seventies that the club made the bold move to get coaches from the Eastern States Rugby League Clubs, this was a big step away from local players who took on coaching. Russell Devonshire and John O’Dwyer were two that spring to mind. Both brought a whole new set of game plans and training processes with them. Russell went on to become one of the most respected coaches in the WARL.
The Seventies saw the competition increase to eight first grade clubs, South Perth, Fremantle, Willagee, Applecross, Vic park, Belmont, Cottesloe, and North Beach. All clubs had three senior Grades, third, second and first and most had under eighteens. All games were played on Saturdays, except for the match of the round being Sunday at Cannington Central. The competition in this period was second only to the WAFL as a winter sport. It was not uncommon to have coloured action photos in the West Australian, along with a back page write up.
In the late Seventies, Gordon and Pauline Dixon set a plan in motion to rebirth the South Perth Juniors, all the ground work and preparation, such as a committee, coaches and putting the word out in the community took place over an eighteen-month period. The setting up of the Junior club was, and still is a major part of the South Perth club. Thanks to Gordon & Pauline’s efforts it continues to provide local talent coming into today’s grade football. In the early years of rebuilding the juniors, Gordon had great helpers from people like the McGoldrick’s, Bobby & Carolyn Tanner, Collis’s, Dobby Donnelly, David & Phyllis Saunders, the Press family. In this period, we achieved another First Grade premiership.
• Garry Torrens – 1970
• Mick Haynes – 1971
• Joe Gush – 1972
• Joe Gush – 1973, we also picked up second grade & third grade in this year.
• Joe Gush – 1974
• John Adams – 1975, this was the last game at Belmont oval, the WARL moved to Cannington dog track.
• Keith Baldrey – 1976
• John O’Dwyer – 1977
• Mick Haynes – 1978
• Garry Torrens – 1979
• Reg Fisher was president 1973 – 1978
• Keith Baldrey – 1979 *Keith had to step down as President for family reasons and Gordon Dixon took over.
During the 1980’s major changes for the game in Western Australia, were taking place. This meant that South Perth would need to have a new approach to the way we operated our club. Building blocks were put in place to secure our future in the game. The days of getting players to play for the love of it, were gone.
Being able to run a football club on chook raffles and bar takings was not enough. We needed to get outside sponsorship to help with offsetting the cost of putting teams on the paddock and staying competitive.
Ross Jones, former first grade player and coach, introduced his brother Ron to the club. Ron was the State Manager for Toyota Genuine Parts, it was agreed that a meeting be held in Ron’s office with a delegate from the club. Reg fisher and Joan Williams sat down with Ron and discussed a sponsorship deal for the club. A partnership was then formed, and Toyota Genuine Parts became the first official Major Sponsor of the South Perth Rugby League club. This package not only had a money component but also provided merchandise such as jackets, umbrellas and polo shirts etc and best player awards. The famous South Perth red v jumper now had Toyota Genuine Parts across the front. Part of the deal was that every year, in October, the club would have to submit a written Annual Report and an application for sponsor ship for the upcoming season. The partnership with Ron and his company grew from strength to strength over the years.
As the eighties rolled on the club managed to stay competitive on the field. We were also providing a good social atmosphere for the members, with Friday night dinner and entertainment, we would get a special function licence for these events. We also staged many Sunday morning men’s smoko sessions with the likes of Peter Dee, Shagger McGee and baby doll. It was at the Sunday morning sessions that the Great Ted (Texas) Fisher would get on the pool table to give one of his inspirational speeches. Texas Ted would start off with ‘’I rode a thousand miles to be here today…’’ Each sentence the boys would give a cheer, these were very funny times and there was a great atmosphere around the club.
During these years, Joe (Juggler) Collins had a contract with the Perth City growers market to unload produce from chiller trucks coming down from Carnarvon. After games, he and his son Neil (Molly) would ask a few of the boys if they would like to make some cash money on Sunday morning unloading the trucks. There were normally about half a dozen who would go in and work until the trucks were unloaded, about three hours generally. The fun would be the water melon season, they would need as many as they could get. The melons came down loose in the pantec’s and straw was used to cushion them, this was very dusty and dirty work. The boys would make a chain from the trucks to the doc and pass the melons like footballs until the load was empty. The bloke picking up the melons also had the problem of picking up rotten ones, they were not much fun. The boys would always get back to the club for the Sunday session, dry as chips. On one such session Molly consumed a club record of 20 middies for the session.
It was during the 1980’s the club also formed a partnership with Carlton United Breweries, through Mike Jackson & Ross Poultney. They were introduced to the club by Frank Treen who was running the Victoria Park hotel at the time. Frank was a good supporter of the club.
Russell Devonshire was appointed first grade captain coach in 1981. Russ brought a whole new set of standards of what was expected to be part of the playing group at the club. The standard of football in the WARL at this time was very high, the state side won the developing states carnival on a regular basis, they also beat the QLD Country team. They played a second string Australian side and also an end of season Canberra touring team.
During the 1980’s the club sort permission from the council to fence in Windsor oval. Bruce Greenwood with the help of a few willing workers spent some long days getting this task completed. This allowed the club to charge a token entry fee to games, these were much needed funds that the club would need to stay competitive.
The next few years would see a big rise in player payments as clubs strived to win premierships. It was during this time there was an influx of ex-Sydney based players. During the 1980’s the club appointed coaches who had come out of first grade in Sydney, such as Terry Quinn, Colin Frazer and Mal Creevey.
It was also during the 1980’s that the club had to look at the bigger picture because of the expansion of the game and the fact the council had plans to redevelop Windsor oval. The club had to make some strong stands on player payments and our overall football budget, while we wished to stay competitive we made a very conscious decision not to get caught up in the whirlwind that was sweeping the League. Clubs were spending way above their income, in trying to win a premiership, this would ultimately bring the demise of quite a few clubs.
While the club was able to win three premierships in the early 1980’s, in the later part of eighties and early nineties we contested no fewer than six Grand Finals only to be beaten on all of these occasions. During this period the club appointed Terry Quinn, ex Penrith & Lakes United, as First Grade coach, Colin Fraser, ex St George and Mal Creevey, ex Canterbury, Balmain & Illawarra. All three played a big part in keeping the club competitive in a time when other clubs in the WARL were spending big money on players. As mentioned we were not successful in winning a premiership during this period, but we were able to maintain a strong and respected opponent in all four grades.
It was also during the eighties that Neil Collins started the South Perth touch competition. The club under wrote the setting up of the concept and at that time a greater number of the teams were formed within the club as was the committee. This was played in the Summer months on Windsor oval. As the team numbers grew Windsor park became too small to accommodate the number of teams, it was eventually moved to Curtin University and became Southern Districts Touch Association.
In the off season the boys would hold cricket games between themselves. Most games revolved around a keg of beer at Como reserve, two sides were picked, and simple rules were bat a maximum of four overs or when out. Bowling was a maximum of three overs, with only a two-metre run up. In most cases the first batting side were pretty well out of it by the time they got to bowl. It was during one of these games, in the later eighties, that we played a game at the trinity playing fields opposite where our club is now today. We were playing the game when a light aircraft circled overhead, the engine was spluttering, and it was obvious it was in trouble. Unable to crash land on the oval because of the power lines the pilot made a sweeping turn over Manning road and put the plane down on what was to become our playing fields at George Burnett Park. On hitting the ground, the plane made about six hops, nosed into the ground and flipped on its back, by this time we had scaled the fence and got to the plane and pulled out the four occupants. Terry Quinn was wicket keeper at the time and still had his gloves on when we helped one old lady from the rear seat. Her first question was who is winning, by this time the fire engines, ambulance, police and TV crews were rushing in. We promptly made our way back to the cricket and keg.
• Russell Devonshire, as coach, won the 1982 & 1985 premiership.
• Neville Greaves, as coach, won the 1983 premiership, this game was played at East Fremantle oval because the League ground at Cannington Central was under water.
• Terry Dwyer – 1984
• Terry Quinn – 1987 & 1988
• Mal Creevey – 1989
• Reg Fisher was president 1980 – 1982
• Keith Baldrey 1983
• Bruce Greenwood 1984-1985
• Darryl Britt 1986
• Doug Callaway 1987
• Bob Wilson 1988-1989
The hang over of the late eighties flowed into the early nineties with the club fielding strong and competitive teams, however the drought of winning a First Grade premiership continued.
The club had to make some major decisions regarding moving from Windsor oval. Pressure was coming from the City of South Perth and the Perth Zoo as to the future of Windsor oval. The South Perth Tennis Club was the first sporting body to move, second was the Mill Point Scout group.
A working group consisting of Mick Coleman, Bruce Greenwood, Doug Callaway and Reg Fisher was formed to investigate and liaise with council on possible sites, funding and design. Neil Collins was president of the club at this time we still had a football club to run as well as the pending move.
Robin Knott a good supporter of the club had an architect business he was commissioned to come up with a design for the new club. This was based on designs we had looked at of other sporting club structures around the metro area.
It was proposed by the South Perth council we move to the old Manning tip site at Karawara. This site was scrub and over grown with wild vegetation after being left for some time when the tip was closed. The site was under the control of the state government at the time.
THE FIRST HURDLE
The Wild Cats were running big time in the state at that time and regularly booking out the old entertainment centre in Perth. They approached the City of South Perth to do a deal on building a home at the site ear marked for the South Perth Rugby League club. Meetings were held with the Council on who should be the body that were to be given the access to the site, as their home. It reached the point where there was a closed meeting, this meant only rate payers with in the City of South Perth could attended and two representatives from each of the two sporting bodies. As mentioned in following points of history Bruce had moved to Sydney, and at that point in time Doug Callaway and Reg fisher were the two representatives from the club. We had very good backing from the local community and Mr Phil Pendal the then local member for the South Perth state seat. At the meeting the Wild Cats put forward their proposal for the site, it was recommended from the meeting that the site remain as planned and developed for use as Rugby League fields and Club rooms for the South Perth Rugby League Club.
Funding had to be organised between the South Perth Council, State Government, the Federal Government & South Perth Rugby League Club. It was estimated the cost of the building would be around $700.000.00, this was to be funded in equal amounts by the four parties. This did not include earth works on preparing the ovals, this work was funded by the City of South Perth with help from grants from the State Government.
Birth of George Burnett Park
Bruce Greenwood & Mick Coleman put in long hours in getting our proposal to the council, Bruce in particular spent a great deal of time working on design with Robin Knott. Bruce was also soon to be relocated with his work to Sydney for two years this meant getting all the costings and design work done well in advance. Mick also played a huge roll in getting the sums right as best we could.
The other big problem we faced was the uncertainty of what lay below the ground. The only site suitable for the building is where it sits today. At the northern end of the club as it sits today extra earth works were required in excavating below where the change rooms are today to get to suitable ground before the slab could be poured. This meant excavating a hole as wide as the club by approximately ten meters long by around three meters deep, this then had to be filled with suitable back fill and compacted these works were outside the scope and incurred extra funding by the club.
As part of the arrangements made with the builder, club members volunteered their time in a whole host of tasks to save on cost, as listed following. It needs to be noted the number of volunteers in providing general hand and labouring duties was very extensive and to try to name them all would be unjust, having said that we believe it important to mention some of the trades that were provided for without their services the costs would have been a whole lot more.
The structural steel work was a major part of the club this was prepared by a client of Mick Coleman at Caple (out of Bunbury). The steel work in its self was a cost, transporting to Burnett Park was arranged by the club at no cost. Kevin Gould used his semi prime mover and a trailer was arranged by Doug Callaway. With the help of a few of the boys the steel was loaded and moved to site. This task was not without incident the trailer had to be an extendable trailer to accommodate the length of steel when trying to extend the trailer a normal practice is to lock on the rear trailer brakes, remove the pins holding the chassis and drive forward, this than allows the trailer to extend from twelve meters up to sixteen meters. It soon came to light that the brakes on the trailer did not work, so the boys anchored the back of the trailer and pulled forward to extend the trailer only to go too far and break the air lines. After all these dramas the steel eventually arrived at Burnett Park.
The brick cleaning a big job was carried out over weekends with many giving their time and weekends to complete this task, and some receiving burns from the acid that had to be used. Hondo was always there with the hose to wash victims down on cold wintery days, this was not much fun. A point to remember is that the club was still playing football and we had to be involved in keeping the club at 128 Mill Point road going.
The electrical cable was another big cost and through the assistance of Jenny Collins, wife of Neil, her father was the State Manager of Olex Cable the club was able to get a good deal. The main feed cable had to be run from a junction down on Manning road up to the club, this task was huge when you are talking cable that is as round as a baseball that had to be dragged off a reel manually from Manning road up the drive way to the switch box at the side of the club. The process was to run out the cable the length to the switch box, we than had to sleeve it into conduit, before we could lay it into the trench, we had to double back the section from the south side of the staff car park (fire hydrant) so a tunnel could be made under the drive way which had already been put in for access for vehicles delivering material to the site.
Tunnelling under the drive way, that was an exercise in its self. We tried using water through a steel pipe this did not work all that well. Peter Callaway then arranged an air compressor through his work, the airline was connected to a length of 50mm pipe and a tunnel was pushed under the drive way to get the power cable to the switch box. After the exercise Peter looked like someone out of a coal mine all you could see were the whites of his eyes and teeth.
The bar cool room and kitchen cool room were the efforts of Neil (Ben) Coulter, the electrical work David (Bluefella) Saunders, the carpet laying Gordon Mulcaster, Brian Guthrie, Russell Robinson, Patty Cleavey. A lot of the floor and wall tiling was done by Reg Fisher, Joe Gush and his team built the time keepers box, Barry cheers and his team of brick pavers Jeff Seamer, Darrel Lewis helped do all the paving around the club.
The junior club through the hard work of Robert Donnelly and his junior committee and long-standing kitchen workers Barbra Nichols and Caroline Pettit paid for the fit out of the kitchen.
All the above works were carried out voluntarily with the club supplying the materials, and members supplying their time and labour to assist where possible.
As the club building progressed the grass on the ovals was coming along very well. When work started on, putting up the light poles we hit another hurdle. The ground was to unstable to support the light towers, so piles had to be driven into the ground to bolt the base of the light towers to. We also hit trouble when putting in the sleeves for the goal post, every time we tried to dig a hole we would hit some form of old rubbish that had been dumped when it was a tip site. We finally had to get in a mini excavator to dig the holes. At the end of the 1992 season at Windsor oval we had a small wake, the club rooms at 128 Mill Point road had to be cleaned out and all the club memorabilia taken and put into place at Burnett Park.
Towards the end of 1992 with the final touches being done and the testing of equipment completed we were in our new home. We had the 1992 annual Christmas drinks in the new club rooms at George Burnett park.
The Official opening was Friday the twelfth February 1993, special guest included Mr Kim Beasley Federal Minister for Sport and the seat of Swan, Mr Phillip Pendal State Minister for the seat of South Perth, Mr Peter Campbell Mayor of the City of South Perth, Mr Gary Larson, North Sydney Bears, Queensland & Australian forward and also our sponsors, players, members and their partners. This was to be a great event to not only open the building in an official way put the beginning of a new chapter in our history.
The first year the lions would play at our new home George Burnett Park, it also saw the Southern Districts Touch Association move from Curtin to George Burnett park. We were also able to get a second division cricket club to make George Burnett their home ground, this meant we had all year-round sport being played and utilising the club rooms. The extra cash flow would mean we were able to bring our loans down a bit quicker and be able to stay competitive with our football teams. It also meant we were able to attract more juniors to our club, given we now had two fields with good lighting and first-class facilities.
The Club suffered yet another tragedy, with the fatal accident of Mal Creevey. Mal was a highly respected player and member of the South Perth Lions, a trophy was then named in his honour and is awarded every year to the most consistent player across grades.
1994 – 1995
This was the beginning of the build-up for the Western Reds who would be competing in the ARL in the 1995 competition and playing home games at the WACA ground. It meant a large influx of players coming to Perth, each club was allocated a number of fringe players that if not picked in the Reds sides would play in our local competition.
The Western Reds played two years in the ARL, in 1997 they joined the super league this was the beginning of the end of the existence in Perth, it came to pass they were folded up and moved to Melbourne.
During 1994 and 1995 the club stayed very competitive in all grades but were not able to bring home a premiership.
In 1996 the club appointed joint coaches in Russell Devonshire and Andy Whithers, the lions won the first, Grade premiership the first since 1985.
1996 was also a very tragic year in the history of the South Perth Club, during a trial match at George Burnett Park, Craig Press sustained serious spinal damage. The injury has meant Craig is now reliant on a wheel chair. Craig, Natasha and their children are still very much part of our club today.
In 1997 Russell Devonshire takes control of first grade and the lions were to contest all four grades with third grade & second grade taking out the premiership. The following four years were lean years for the lions in the way of premierships
• Colin Fraser 1990 – 1991
• Mal Creevey 1992
• Paul Thompson 1993
• Russel Devonshire 1994
• Darrell Lewis 1995
• Andy Withers & Russel Devonshire 1996
• Russell Devonshire 1997
• Grant (Shutters) Pointing 1998
• Peter Donkin 1999
• Dean Souter 2000 – 2001
During these four years while the club did not enjoy the spoils of winning a First Grade premiership as always, the club was very competitive.
• Neil Collins 1990 – 1991
• Bob Wilson 1992 – 1993
• Bruce Greenwood 1994 – 1995
• Doug Callaway 1996 – 1999
During the mid-eighties and the nineties clubs were spending way beyond their means. History will show these clubs fell by the way side, South Perth through good governance were able to keep a tight grip on expenditure while still maintaining a strong overall on field playing roster.
It would be remise a not to mention Mick (Artie) Coleman at this time in the club history, not only did Mick play over a hundred first grade games for the club, it has been his efforts as treasurer since the late eighties through to the time of these notes 2018 that has played a major role in the Lions being successful on and off the field.
A very important part of the Lion’s history is the South Perth Junior club, as mentioned in previous notes.
PAST JUNIOR CLUB PRESIDENTS:
• Inaugural President Gordon Dixon 1978 – 1983
• Beau Snell 1984 – 1985
• Gordon Dixon 1986 – 1988
• Ian McGoldrick & Darrel Britt 1989
• Robert Donnelly 1990
• David Saunders 1991 – 1992
• Robert Donnelly 1993
• Mick Woods 1994
• Robert Donnelly 1995 – 2000
• Kevin Wiseman 2001 – 2002
• Robert Donnelly 2003
• Paul Kopaczewskyj 2004 – 2008
• Kevin Sullivan 2009 – 2011
• Sean Terrell 2012
• Kevin Sullivan 2013 – 2019
• Joe Mcguire 2020 – 2021
• Joe Mc Guire & Troy Dixon 2022 (current)
A new ethos and direction for the club was with the appointment of Andrew Korn as club coach. Andrew’s appointment brought with it a whole new approach to the way the player group were coached, also what was expected of the players in their responsibility in supporting the club and social functions. As with Russel Devonshire back in the eighties who brought a fresh approach and professionalism, the same must be said of Andrew Korn. His work ethic on and off the field for the club was unparalleled.
Prior to Andrew’s appointment the club had endeavoured to try and appoint a local coach. This over the years had proven successful in that the coach knew the local market, knew the history of the club, and players.
While Andrew was not a local he had spent time in Western Australia as a fringe player for the Western Reds. While here, he played with the Applecross club and Belmont. Given that Andrew had a very sound understanding of the WARL, South Perth and our history. While under Andrew’s reign the lions won the premiership in 2002, lost the 2003 Grand Final and won the 2004 Grand Final.
Turned out to be a mixed bag as far as who was the coach. Andrew was appointed coach, however because of an infringement whilst playing third grade he was suspended from playing and coaching in the WARL. Cory Bush who was Andrew’s assist at the time took up the rains as coach and the lions went on to win the premiership.
Angelo Tsakalos was appointed club coach the lions lost the Grand Final that year.
Again, under Andrew Korn the Lions missed out on the glory.
Under Andrew the Lions won back to back premierships.
2010 – 2011
Cory bush was appointed club coach he guided the club again in back to back premierships. that gave the lions four first grade premierships on the trot.
During this ten-year period the club contested nine first grade grand finals, and were successful in winning seven, a great result by any standard.
2012 – 2013
Under the coaching of Nathan Johnson, the Lions missed making the Grand Final.
Justin Nixon was appointed club coach the lions brought home the bacon again that year.
2015 – 2017
The lions were unable to collect another First Grade premiership. It needs to be noted during this sixteen-year period the South Perth Rugby League Club averaged up to eight local home-grown Juniors in the ranks of the First Grade sides from week to week.
This speaks volumes for the work and dedication put in over many years by all involved with the junior committee, coaches and volunteers. It also speaks volumes about the effort of the administration and committees also volunteers of the senior club, as with the player group its about team effort on and off the paddock.
Through the efforts of Paul Brown, Owen Bray and Shannon Coleman, the lions have been able to build a strong sponsorship base, the lions have been fortunate to have some very long-term sponsors as well as been able to get major sponsors to fill the void when these terms expired. Throughout the efforts of Mike (Artie) Coleman and Greg (Hondo) Richens the South Perth Supporters Club was formed, this has been a huge success in that regular supporters can contribute funds that are used in obtaining players and also the up keep of the club house.
PRESIDENTS DURING THAT TIME:
• Bruce Greenwood 2000 – 2002
• Paul Brown 2003 – 2005
• David Saunders 2006 – 2007
• Darrel Lewis 2008 – 2010
• Doug Callaway & Bruce Greenwood 2011 – 2014
• Bruce Greenwood 2015 – 2016
• Bruce Greenwood & Phil Hanna 2016 – 2021
• Seb Derham 2022 (current)
From 1948 the South Perth Rugby League Club has built up a wonderful history not only on the playing field also off them. Following is a list of volunteers, coaches and players that have been instrumental in being part of this great club.
This mark Seventy years that the South Perth Rugby League Club has been playing rugby league in the Western Australia competition. As a foundation club this mile stone is something to be very proud of and all through those Seventy years all the volunteers, players, coaches, juniors, supporters, sponsors are to be congratulated and should be very proud for any part they have played in making our club the bench mark of the WANRL.
Hayden Fisher has been appointed club coach for the 2018 season.
2018 was very much a rebuilding year for the club with the roster of players across all grades and with a combined big push on the social side of the Club to foster the family aspect. This was managed by Hayden and the senior players to restructure and reinstate Club culture, with a shared focus of football and family and friends.
Whilst the senior club did play finals we were unable to win a flag, however did win another Club Championship. Daniel Green won the Club’s most outstanding player award. Hayden announced that he would not be applying to coach 2019 as he was setting up a branch of his business in Queensland.
2019 – 2020
The club appointed dual coaches for the 2019/2020 seasons in Daniel Green and Isaac Thomas. Both have long playing careers with the club. Both have captained the club and each won the clubs most outstanding player award. Both Daniel and Isaac were still playing first grade during this period. As with 2018 the club was unable to get a winning flag in the senior ranks. All grades of women’s tag, 3rds, reserves and first grade made the finals. SPRLFC also picked up the Club Championship for 2020.
Eddie Proudler and Mason Hiko won the clubs best player award (first time it’s been shared) and Eddie was club captain for the 2020 season. Eddie has been with the club since under sevens, except for one year when he moved to Newcastle where he played in their under 20 NRL side. Both Eddie and Harry Debique played their 100 first grade games during the 2019 season.
The SPRLFC has always been fortunate in having a core group of volunteers working in the off field administration of the club. During the past three years Lee Callaway, Sean Terrell, Angela Terrell, James Sullivan received their life memberships from the club, for over ten year’s service to the club.
The covid-19 pandemic struck during this period and became an issue and challenge for the community in many ways.
Daniel Green appointed club coach while still playing first grade and kept the playing roster focused on what was re kindled back in 2018, pride in the jumper, being respectful and mindful of the history in the SPRLFC past and present. There is a complete new set of challenges in not only a football roaster with FIFO but also navigating through the Covid-19 situation. Daniel’s approach was a very professional one with an emphasises on good communication with his fellow coaches and the playing roaster along with the committee. Yet again the club had all senior grades in the finals, third grade were knocked out in the final, reserve grad lost the grand final by two points, first grade lost in extra time by two and he women’s league tag won their first flag. Another South Perth junior player in Kurt De Louis made his first grade NRL debut for the Manly Sea Eagles.
Seb Derham has taken on the club presidents position from Bruce Greenwood and Phil Hanna after many years in that roll. Phil was appointed life membership fat the 2021 AGM for over fifteen years service on the committee, President and part of the first grade side support staff.
Danial Green has been reappointed club coach for the 2022 season.
To be continued…