An IntroductionEstablished in 1898, East Fremantle had an astounding first 50 years. For those unfamiliar with what happened, the following table gives an indication of Premiership years (Gold), Grand Final appearances (Silver) and Finals appearances (Bronze).
The story of the East Fremantle Football Club is A History Of Triumphs
Western Mail (Perth) 31-May-1951 p23
(Extra Images added by Michael Riley)
WITH 21 premierships to its credit since 1898, East Fremantle has established itself as the dominant power in West Australian league football down the years. Never more than six seasons have gone past without the club gaining top honours, and in 1946 it achieved its crowning glory when it went through the season undefeated to win the premiership.
On May 11, 1898, at the W.A.C.A. ground; Tom Wilson led the first East Fremantle team on to the field and at the start of its football career the club suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the opposition, Rovers. It scored only two points!
But even at this early stage there were several players who were giants in the game, including "Dolly" Christy (who played with the club till 1912), Dick Sweetman and "Scotty" Doig. With such good foundation members the future of the club was assured, and although it came last in 1898, the following year it missed the premiership by only four points from West Perth.
The 1900 season was started with an air of confidence. Most of the men who had almost brought the club to victory the previous year stripped for the team and Freddie Roberts, Dolph Heinrichs and C. Wakely were only a few of the players who gave the club reason for feeling sure of itself. Throughout the year few defeats were suffered and the "blue and whites" went ahead to win their first premier- ship; a remarkable achievement for a club in its third year. In 1901 it came second to West Perth out this proved to be a mere lull before the storm of victory.
Instrumental in the easy win in the I902 competition was the presence of several players whose names will never be forgotten by the club; Charlie Tyson, the follower, Palmer at centre, Christy and Sweetman; these were some of the team which swept all before it that year.
"Carbine" GullanOLD supporters of the club remember 1903 as "Carbine" Gullan's year. He came from the Goldfields and was with the club for little more than one season, but during that time lie brought strength and speed into his role as ruckman, and played a major part in bringing the club its second successive premiership. In 1904 followers of the game saw what was probably East Fremantle's strongest team, even though it was beaten seven times by opponents al- most as powerful. Early in the sea- son widespread grief resulted from the death of "Carbine" Gullan, who accidentally took poison one night and died next morning. It was not unnatural that "Old Easts" lost several matches after his death. Towards the end of the year, however, the club picked up again and with the help of such players as the Kelly brothers, "Scotty" Doig, Ern Bromley, F. Palmer and Tom Wilson, East Fremantle went on to win from Perth in the telling game of the year. It was the third premiership in three years. Several good players were missing from the 1905 team, although in their place came Dolph Heinrichs (who had been a member of the team several years before) and his brother Albert, a player who was to prove one of the best followers ever to strip for the club. The four Doig brothers -"Hooky," "Scotty," Charlie and Norman-also shone that year, but despite the presence of so many good individuals the team did not win the premiership. The final game of the season, against West Perth, ended in a draw and in the re-play "Wests" won by four points.
The next year "Old Easts" made up for its loss in 1905 and beat West Perth to gain its fifth premiership. Again in 1907 it looked the premier team and at the conclusion of the final was five points ahead of Perth. But a protest was lodged by the defeated team. At the end of the second quarter, Charlie Doig had marked well out about the time of the bell, and goaled from his kick. Perth contended that the bell had gone while the ball was in the air and the protest was upheld.
A Successful SeasonFEELING ran high among "Old Easts" followers at the time but by the start of the next season-one which has gone down in the club's annals as one of the most successful ever-it was forgotten. East Fremantle lost only three games that year and in the final, Perth went under with only eight behinds on the board. This match was the last for Tom Wilson, who retired after captaining the team for nine seasons and playing for 12.
Assets to the 1909 team were two strong men from the Murchison-Jim and Alan Spence. Jim especially proved a marvellous, follower and proved a thorn in the side of opposing teams. "Old Easts" was particularly strong that year and lowered its colours on only two occasions. It went on to win the premiership from West Perth by 26 points.
The 1910 team was somewhat weaker; but after years of magnificent teams the high standard could not continue indefinitely. "Scotty" Doig was captain and at the beginning of the year several matches were lost. However the team kept its head above water and worked its way into a leading position by the end of the season. The final was played by the two Easts-East Fremantle and East Perth. Although "Old Easts" was behind at the end of the third quarter, it came through with typical last-minute dash to win by 13 points. The club proved its dominance again in the final of the 1911 season, when it thrashed West Perth to gain its third successive premiership.
Percy Trotter, who, when playing in Melbourne in the early part of the century, was regarded as the most spectacular player in the game, came to East Fremantle as captain in 1912, and with men like A. J. Robinson, Charlie and Cleave Doig, Arthur Dix and Rawlinson in the team, the club was hopeful of adding another premiership to its already glorious record. But that year Subiaco had come to power and it beat "Old Easts" in the final to win its first premiership. The following year Subiaco won again, and East Fremantle dropped to third position on the list. When Jack Scobie, Bruns, Goddard, "Chitter" Brown, Deardon and Carlson appeared in the club colours for the first time in 1914, the future looked brighter/Throughout the sea- son East Fremantle showed league followers that it had regained its former strength and went on to win the final from its port-side neighbour, South Fremantle.
During the war years enlistments sapped much of the club's strength, although there were some good players who kept the blue and white col- ours flying. Tom Cain, Archie Strang and "Nipper" Truscott were a few of the great men of the time. But it was not until 1918 that the club won another premiership. That year it won the final from East Perth.
With peace came East Perth's period of supremacy and for five years in succession (1919-1923) that club won top honours. Nevertheless "Old Easts" was not far behind -and could boast some of the best footballers of the time; Red Ion, Cinoris, "Poet" Smith, Baird, Clark, Truscott and Jarvis among them.
The Laurels RecoveredIT was in 1925 that the club recovered the laurels. With "Jerry" Dolan captain for the first time (following two great predecessors in "Nipper" Truscott and Ray Mudie) it won the final from. Subiaco. But the following year, when it came fourth, to Subiaco, the club dropped to the lowest place it had occupied since 1915.
East Fremantle lost its premiership chances in 1927 when "Souths" defeated it in the first semi-final. But although the club finished in third position, 1927 will be remembered as the year when several good youngsters stripped for the side. They were to help in bringing "Old Easts" to the top again in the very near future and included players of the calibre of Clarrie Reynolds, Eric Glass, and the sons of four previous team members -Munro, Pierce, Lethridge and Bee. Nothing could stop the blue and whites during the four seasons from 1928 when it won every premiership. East Perth, West Perth, South Fremantle and Subiaco all fell in that order. Some of the most notable of East Fremantle's players in that period were Richards, Jarvis and Gabrielson (a famous half-back trio) "Barney" Sheedy, Dinny Coffey, Jerry Dolan, F. Butcher, J. Munro, Baird, Dick Buchanan, Jones, Laurie and "Blue" Richards. The last-named won the Sandover Medal in 1931.
Fights On And Off The Field
VICIOUS football marred the 1932 season. Players were flattened, and brawls occurred frequently both on the field and among the spectators. Never before had the injured and suspended lists ® contained so many names and very often leading players of all clubs were off the field. "Old Easts" battled hard but West Perth was the team of the year and won the premiership from East Perth. Many of the players who had brought East Fremantle to the top a few seasons before left the team in 1933. But captain-coach Jerry Dolan had many young men putting on club guernseys who were to prove their worth. Foundations for future success were laid when men like the second generation of Doigs-George, Charlie, Norman and Edgar-and F. Mann began their careers. The new- comers fitted into the team perfectly alongside the older players and al- though at the beginning of the season it seemed the club would have no chance of fielding the premier team, as the year advanced it improved and defeated Subiaco to win its seventeenth premiership. George Doig distinguished himself in- that, his first season, by kicking 106 goals-a re- cord surpassed only by himself in future years and by his brother Charlie.
The slide down the ladder began again in 1934 when the club finished runner-up to West Perth. Dave Woods, who had begun with East Fremantle in 1923 and rose to great heights as full-back, retired that year. However he came back again for several matches in 1935 when good players were so urgently needed. Ross Hutchinson came to the team the same year and in his first season was awarded the Lynn Medal for the side's best player. The team finished fourth in 1935 and the next year was third. After three years without premiership honours, East Fremantle went to the top again in 1937. Hutchinson led a fine team which included George Doig, G. Mann and W. Truscott (ruck), McGlinn, Skeahan, Seubert and Martiensen. lt went through the season to win from Claremont in the final match.
There have been few grand finals more exciting than that of 1938, when Claremont and East Fremantle played a draw. The replay went to the younger team, to give it its first premiership since it had entered the league 13 years before. Claremont stayed on top for three years and in 1941 West Perth clinched the grand final. By this time World War II was in progress and although good players were still strip- ping for East Fremantle among them George Doig, McGlinn, Vic French, G. Meiers, G. Prince, A. Ebbs and Gabrielson-and Jerry Dolan had returned as coach, the club was unable to get further than second place in 1941.
During the under-age league competition of 1942-45, East Fremantle did well, and under Jim Conway in 1943 and G. Meiers two years later, won two premierships. Outstanding players in this series included Fred Boli, Jack Sheedy, R. Mason and Vic French.
RARE occurrence in football took place in 1946 when East Fremantle went through the season undefeated to win the premiership. This had happened only twice before, when West Perth swept all before it in 1897 and East Perth in 1944. The remarkable courage and skill of this team was shown to advantage during the grand final, when West Perth was leading near the end. In a brilliant final burst "Old Easts" came through and won by a goal. There were many great players that year. Allan Ebbs, Gabrielson. French and Sheedy were probably the best of a brilliant bunch.
No team to wear the East Fremantle colours was keener to win a premiership than that playing in 1947-the club's jubilee year. However, the periodic slump in form which comes even to the best teams struck at the side that season land it finished third behind South Fremantle and West Perth. Since then the club has been eclipsed but not disgraced and has managed to keep in the four every season.
Jim Conway, captain-coach of the team this year, gained the league's highest award the Sandover Medal-for his roving last season. He became I the second club man to win it.
SINCE 1898 there have been men not in the public eye who have contributed fully to the life of the club. They are East Fremantle's officials, and without them the club could never have functioned as successfully as it has done. Among the most notable of these men are Jack Capp, Leonard Brown, Jack McCabe, Theo Ulrich (secretaries for long periods), J. J. Holmes, R. J. Lynn, Geoff Lynn (patrons), Charlie Doig, W. H. Kitson, L. E. Bowden and J. T. Tonkin (presidents). They are just a few of the many names which the club lists with pride on its board of honour.
Will East Fremantle win the premiership this year? That is a question which has all league followers wondering. The club has not had a premier team for four years and scanning back through its history, one finds that it's at a time like this that a come-back is made.
East Fremantle is keeping near the top of the list and if it comes through with a final burst of form-as it has done so often in the past-then a 1951 victory is not beyond the realms of possibility.
GEORGE DOIG, the brilliant East Fremantle goalsneak who. in 1934 kicked 152 goals to set an Australian record which still stands. He averaged 120 goals for nine consecutive seasons and in all kicked 1.111 goals in the club's colours.