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A Review of the 1979 Football Season

East Fremantle's Kevin Taylor evades Geoff O'Brien of South Fremantle

Sandgropers Soar

The 1979 football season saw the first ever state of origin carnival taking place place in Perth during October. Tasmania and Queensland played one another in the first match which was to determine which team would compete in section one and which in section two. Tasmania won fairly comfortably by a margin of 32 poings, 17.20 (122) to 13.12 (90). The Queenslanders then defeated the ACT in the section two final by 31 points. New South Wales and the Northern Territory did not participate in the carnival.

Section one was contested on a straight knock-out basis with Western Australia accounting for Tasmania in one semi final and Victoria downing South Australia in the other. The play off for third place saw South Australia fend off a determined challenge from Tasmania to win in the end with deceptive comfort by 39 points. The final between the home state and Victoria was a thrilling affair with Western Australia trailing narrowly at every change before surging home with 6 last quarter goals to 3 to win by 15 points, 17.21 (123) to 16.12 (108). Western Australia’s Brian Peake was awarded the Tassie Medal as the best player in the series.

VFL: Blues Hang On

Just 3 games into the 1978 season Carlton coach Ian Stewart had stood down in mysterious circumstances, having allegedly suffered a minor heart attack. By the time a permanent replacement had been found in the shape of skipper Alex Jesaulenko the Blues were dead set last with only 1 win from the opening 6 rounds. Miraculously, Jezza managed to get his charges into the finals where they convincingly defeated Geelong but then bowed out after a hard fought loss to Collingwood.

Jesaulenko remained at the helm in 1979 and the Blues enjoyed an outstanding year, losing only 3 times during the home and away rounds before jumping straight into the grand final with a 15.21 (111) to 11.7 (73) demolition of North Melbourne. To everyone at Princes Park's delight, Carlton's grand final opponents proved to be arch rivals Collingwood, still without a premiership since 1958. Despite a strong last quarter from the Magpies which saw them add 4 goals to Carlton's 1 the Blues held firm to win a thriller (an all too rare occurrence in VFL grand finals over the next couple of decades) by 5 points, 11.16 (82) to 11.11 (77). Half forward flanker Wayne Johnston and back pocket Wayne Harmes vied for best afield but it was Harmes who was the recipient of the newly instituted award bestowed on the best player in a VFL grand final, the Norm Smith Medal. (Incredibly, in one of those unfathomable quirks which enliven football from time to time, Norm Smith happened to be Wayne Harmes' grandfather.) Other prominent performers for the Blues included centre half back Bruce Doull, wingman Peter Francis, ruckman Mike Fitzpatrick and rover Jim Buckley. The 113,545 crowd paid record receipts of $849,316.

By winning their last four matches of the minor round Collingwood were enabled to qualify comfortably for the finals in third place. This afforded them the double chance which they promptly utilised by kicking themselves out of contention against North Melbourne in the qualifying final. North won easily enough in the end, but their triumph owed more to straight kicking for goal than any outright superiority. Final scores were North 18.13 (121) to Collingwood 9.28 (82).

In the followeing week’s first semi final the Magpies again lacked accuracy in front of goal but so, fortunately for them, did opponents, Fitzroy. The first half was fairly evenly contested, with Fitzroy going into the main break a single straight kick to the good. However, after the interval Collingwood’s markedly superior pace told and they cruised to victory by 22 points, 16.20 (116) to 12.22 (94).

The preliminary final brought a rematch with North Melbourne and this time the Magpies hit their straps in magnificent fashion to win by 27 points, 18.14 (122) to 13.17 (95). The victory ultimately meant little, however, as in the grand final against Carlton they fell agonisingly short by 5 points.

There was some small cause for celebration at Victoria Park, however, as Collingwood won their first ever night flag. In front of a record crowd of 37,753 at Waverley the Magpies overcame Hawthorn by 28 points in the final. Scores were Collingwood 12.8 (80) dfeated Hawthorn 7.10 (52). This season saw the expansion of the VFL’s night competition to include all eight WANFL clubs plus representative teams from the ACT, Tasmania and New South Wales.

A further source of pride and celebration was ruckman Peter Moore’s Brownlow Medal win. Like his predecessor as Collingwood's premier ruckman, Len Thompson, Moore combined prodigious height (198cm) with tremendous dynamism, athleticism and all round skill - in football terms, a highly effective, not to say lethal, combination.  He made his Magpies debut in 1974 and went on to play a total of 172 VFL games and boot 192 goals for the club over the course of the ensuing nine seasons, earning a Brownlow Medal in 1979, and securing the club's best and fairest award both that year and the next.  He also won Collingwood's top goal kicking award on two occasions, and was selected as an All Australian player in 1979.  Between 1982 and 1987 Moore added another 77 games and 51 goals for Melbourne, overcoming the injuries that had dogged him late in his Collingwood career to the extent that he procured a second Brownlow Medal in 1984.  Injuries returned to undermine his last few years with the Demons, but overall he gave the club tremendous service, and his rare feat in annexing Brownlows at two separate clubs ensures that he will long be remembered as one of football's bona fide “immortals".

Prior to the start of the finals North Melbourne were being popularly tipped to win the premiership on the grounds that they boasted considerably more finals experience than any of the other finalists. In the upshot, however, many of their best and more experienced players simply failed to perform as expected, and although the ‘Roos commenced their finals campaign with a comfortable enough win over Collingwood after that their form was dismal. It may not have quite been the end of an era for North who did at least qualify for the finals the following year, for the seventh consecvutive time. However, the Kangas’ days as a major force in the competition were numbered.

Fitzroy exceeded expectations by qualifying for the finals in fourth spot before annihilating Essendon in the elimination final. A 9 goal opening quarter laid the foundations of the win which ended up being by 81 points, 17.22 (124) to 5.13 (43). In the following week’s first semi final clash with Collingwood the Lions played well in three of the four quarters only to effectively lose the match in the single term when they didn’t perform. During that term - the third - the Magpies booted 7 goals to 1 tio eke out a 32 point advantage which Fitzroy never looked like fully bridging. Nevertheless, the Lions had enjoyed by far their best season of the 1970s and optimism about the future appeared justified.

Like Fitzroy, Essendon probably exceeded expectations in 1979, but after qualifying for the finals in fifth place they suffered a humiliating elimination final defeat at the hands of the Lions. The 1980s would prove to be an altogether more enjoyable decade for the Bombers.

Geelong’s commendable sixth place finish was achieved largely as a consequence of a fine home record which yielded 8 wins from 11 matches. Only Carlton (10 wins and a draw) did better on their own turf. Away from home, however, the Cats tended to lack conviction and often struggled. 

Reigning premiers Hawthorn suffered a surprising slump in fortunes in 1979, winning just 10 games to finish seventh. The Hawks were still capable of beating anyone on their day, but they were equally capable of lowering their colours to ostensibly inferior opposition. Thus, while they counted North Melbourne, Geelong at Kardinia Park and Essendon among their victims, they also contrived to provide wooden spooners St Kilda with one of only three wins for the season. Furthermore, thrashings at the hands of Carlton, Collingwood and North were as uncharacteristic as they were painful.

Richmond were another side capable of blowing hot and cold. The Tigers were certainly capable of amassing prodigious scores - 22.26 over Footscray, 25.16 against South Melbourne, 22.20 versus Fitzroy, and 28.22 against St Kilda, for instance - but defensively they were suspect. The 1980 season would see them continue to score heavily whilst shoring up their backlines considerably, conceding over 500 fewer points for the year. It would be enough to propel them to a flag.

Ninth placed Footscray’s best performance of the season was probably their round thirteen victory over North Melbourne at Arden Street. Ten points adrift at the final change the Bulldogs blitzed the ‘Roos in the last quarter adding 5 goals to 2 to clinch victory by 12 points. As the final scores - 12.9 (81) to 8.21 (69) - make clear Footscray’s success owed much to their straight kicking for goal, something which wholly deserted them a couple of weeks later when they went down to one of the most crushing defeats of the year against Collingwood. After kicking 7 opening term goals to 1 the Magpies did more or less as they pleased in romping home to victory by 122 points, 23.17 (155) to 3.15 (31). Such unpredictability typified Footscray’s season.

For the second season in succession Footscray’s Kelvin Templeton was the VFL’s top goal kicker, registering 91 goals.

South Melbourne and Melbourne managed just half a dozen wins apiece to finish, respectively, tenth and eleventh. South’s superior percentage owed much to their slashing round eighteen defeat of Footscray when they amassed one of the season’s highest scores, 31.9 (195), compared to the Bulldogs’ 15.16 (106).

Melbourne’s most noteworthy win probably came in round eighteen when they accounted for Essendon by 29 points. Conversely, just one week prior to that they succumbed to the season’s heaviest defeat in going down to Fitzroy by 190 points.

For the second time in three seasons St Kilda finished last. Their 3 wins were achieved at the expense of Hawthorn by 25 points in round one, by 2 goals against Richmond in round seven, and versus South Melbourne in round seventeen by 20 points.

BACK TO:   Season Reviews 2

SANFL: Bunton’s Boys Bow to Port Pressure

Appointed to the South Adelaide coaching hotseat in 1975 Haydn Bunton had slowly but surely improved the beleaguered club’s fortunes. The Panthers’ fast, fluent style of play enabled them to contest the finals for the first time in eleven years in 1977 and their elimination final triumph over Norwood was their first major round success since 1966. They ultimately finished fourth before suffering a surprising slump in fortunes in 1978, when they missed the finals altogether. This proved to be just a temporary blip, however, as in 1979 they enjoyed their best season since winning the 1964 premiership.

Port Adelaide did not always have things their own way during the minor round but came good when it mattered. The Magpies qualified for the finals in second place with 14 wins from 22 games before producing arguably their best performance of the season in seeing off the challenge of South Adelaide in the qualifying final. In front of 28,310 spectators Port had opened up a 70 point advantage by three quarter time before easing up in the last term to secure victory in the end by 38 points, 21.10 (137) to 15.9 (99). Minor premiers Central District in the following week’s second semi final afforded a somewhat sterner challenge but, after trailing at half time by 14 points the Magpies pulled away, adding 10 second half goals to 4 to win by 26 points, 17.12 (114) to 13.10 (88).

This victory put Port Adelaide straight into the grand final where they would be opposed by South, the Panthers having performed well in downing Centrals by 13 points in a high scoring preliminary final. In point of fact, all of the 1979 finals prior to the grand final were relatively high scoring and crowd pleasing affairs. All of this changed on Sunday 30th September, however.

With rain cascading across Football Park South Adelaide began the 1979 grand final brightly but Port’s defence held firm. Play was haphazard and scrappy, with players of both sides fumbling and frequently resorting to soccer kicks to keep the ball moving. Nine minutes in Port full forward Tim Evans soccered the first of an eventual 4 goals for the match heralding a dominant quarter for the Magpies. At quarter time they had registered 5 goals without a miss whilst keeping the Panthers scoreless. South made a semblance of a comeback in the second term when they dominated open play but kicked erratically. At the main break the Magpies led 5.3 (33) to 3.7 (25) and when they added 4 third quarter goals to nil the flag was effectively theirs. South in fact did not manage to score another goal and Port ultimately won with relative ease, 9.9 (63) to 3.14 (32), a margin of 31 points.

In the NFL series, played this season for the last time, South had achieved success for the second time in a row. However, the competition, now contested by just the ten SANFL clubs plus two each from Queensland and the VFA, had lost much of its lustre. Nevertheless, a premiership is a premiership, and for the record the Panthers won with defeats of Western Districts by 63 points, Sturt by 13 points, West Torrens by 17 points, and Norwood in the final by 11 points. The final took place at Norwood Oval and was watched by a comparatively respectable crowd of 12,516.

For the first time in their existence Central District, who had entered the SANFL in 1964, finished as minor premiers. The Bulldogs won 15 and drew 1 of their 22 home and away matches but once the finals started their form deserted them and they bowed out of premiership contention in straight sets at the hands of Port and South. John Duckworth’s Magarey Medal triumph represented consolation of a sort but a premiership was still a long way off for the cub from Elizabeth.

While engaged in National Service training in Melbourne, West Australian John Duckworth turned up at Fitzroy Football Club asking for a game.  He had already had a couple of trials with East Perth and failed to impress, but the Lions brains trust liked what they saw, and signed him up.  Volatile, dynamic and robust, he also possessed plenty of flair, and would probably have enjoyed a highly auspicious VFL career had his National Service commitments not repeatedly interfered.  As it was, Duckworth performed serviceably in 58 VFL games in 1970 and between 1974 and 1976, kicking 24 goals.  Some of the intervening time was spent fighting in Vietnam.

In 1977 Duckworth - who gloried in the nickname 'Whatsa' - returned home to Western Australia and joined West Perth, the team he had supported as a boy.  He enjoyed a fine year, representing the state, and running fifth in the Sandover Medal voting.  After just two years and 44 WANFL games, however, he decided he wanted to leave, and Central District won the race to procure his signature.

John Duckworth spent just two seasons at Elizabeth but created a significant impression.  His coach at Centrals, Darryl Hicks, said of him, "I doubt if a bigger, truer or more real personality has ever played the game in South Australia”.[2]  In 1979, Duckworth represented South Australia, headed his club's goal kicking list with 41 goals, and topped things off by becoming a surprise, but highly popular, winner of the Magarey Medal.  The following year, however, he suffered a ruptured kidney during the opening round clash with Port Adelaide, and although he returned to the fray later in the year, he was never able to produce his best form.  At season's end, now aged thirty-one, he decided it was time to return home and finish his career with West Perth.  He continued playing league football for the Cardinals for three more years, took a year off, and then made a one season comeback at the behest of club coach John Wynne, who needed an experienced hand to help steady his predominantly young team.  All told, John Duckworth played a total of 120 senior games for West Perth to add to the 42 he had played with Central District.  He also represented both Western Australia and South Australia 3 times.

Although his time in South Australia was brief, he probably made the biggest impact there, and few people would have been surprised with his inclusion, at centre half back, in Centrals' official 'Best Ever Team 1964 to 2003'.

Reigning premiers Norwood endured a mediocre season by the standards of recent times. During the minor round the Redlegs won just 11 games, but in what was an exceptionally evenly contested year this was good enough for fourth place heading into the finals. Once there, they proved much too accomplished for Woodville in the elimination final, winning by eleven goals. In the following week’s first semi final, however, the boot was firmly on the other foot as South Adelaide downed them convincingly. Final scores were South 13.28 (106) to Norwood 13.7 (85).

Woodville, who had entered the competition at the same time as Centrals, like the Bulldogs achieved a significant breakthrough in 1979. In the ‘Peckers’ case it was a first ever finals appearance. A total of 10 wins from 22 fixtures was good enough to book an elimination final clash with Norwood but, as noted above, there was to be no fairytale conclusion as the Redlegs scored an emphatic win.

Sixth placed North Adelaide failed to qualify for the finals only on percentage. At their best the Roosters could match it with the top sides as they proved by defeating Port Adelaide, Norwood twice, and Woodville during the minor round. However, they were equally capable of losing against teams ranked below them on the ladder.

Glenelg and West Torrens both won 9 and drew 1 of their home and away matches to finish, respectively, seventh and eighth. The Bays’ best performances arguably came in round five, when they downed Centrals, and round fifteen, when they overcame South Adelaide in one of the best matches of the year. Glenelg ultimately won 25.11 (161) to 20.15 (135). The pick of the Eagles’ displays occurred in round twelve when they scored a 9 point win over Central District. Torrens also achieved an opening round draw against the Bulldogs.

Sturt (9-13) and West Adelaide (7-14-1) occupied the bottom two rungs on the premiership ladder. As far as the Double Blues were concerned this represented a significant fall from grace as they had come within a couple of points of claiming the 1978 premiership. As far as Westies were concerned the 1979 season represented an improvement in terms of matches won over 1978 when they had finished second from last with 5 wins and a draw. 


VFA: Lions Find Their Roar at Last

After more than half a century in the football wilderness Coburg scored a highly charged come from behind victory over Geelong West in the 1979 grand final to clinch their fourth top level VFA flag. (The Lions had also won second division premierships in 1970 and 1974, but while these had afforded a measure of satisfaction at the time it was satisfaction derived from securing a return to the top level rather than of proving themselves the best team in the competition.) During the first half of the grand final Geelong West were the better team, and at the main break they led 8.9 (57) to 5.8 (38). During the third term there were a number of heated physical exchanges which seemed to have the effect of inspiring the Lions whilst simultaneously causing the Roosters to lose their way. At the final change it was Coburg by 14 points and although Geelong West had marginally the better of a frenetic last term the Lions managed to hang on and win by 8 points, 16.15 (111) to 14.19 (103).

The second division grand final between Camberwell and Oakleigh was a much more one-sided affair. By three quarter time the Cobras led by 57 points and although they eased off a little during the final term the result was never in doubt. Final scores were Camberwell 18.14 (122) defeated Oakleigh 12.11 (83).

A crowd of 17,947 attended the first division grand final which took place at the Junction Oval. Meanwhile, at Toorak Park, a total of 12,023 spectators watched the second division premiership decider.


Other Grand Finals

In the TANFL Clarence achieved a thrilling 3 point grand final win over Glenorchy. The ‘Roos’ win gave them only their second senior grade flag. The NTFA grand finbal was even more closely contested, with North Launceston overcoming a wayward Scottsdale by just a couple of points. In the NWFU grand final Wynyard were comfortable 53 point victors over Cooee giving them their fourth senior grade premiership.

Glenorchy full forward Peter Hudson registered 209 goals in all competitions during the season - a TANFL and, it was believed, Australian record.

For the second consecutive season and playing in their fourth straight grand final North Shore claimed the premiership of the NSWAFL. Opponents Western Suburbs’ cause was not helped by poor kicking for goal, but all things considered the Bombers were worthy winners by a margin of 19 points. It was their seventh senior grade flag.

In the QAFL grand final Sandgate proved comfortably superior to Western Districts, winning in the end by 28 points.The win gave the Sea Eagles’ their sixth senior grade QAFL premiership.

The ACTAFL grand final saw Ainslie convincingly account for Belconnen to claim their tenth senior grade flag, and their eighth since the war.

St Marys won a second successive NTFL premiership with victory in the grand final over Nightcliff by 31 points.


Other Interstate Matches

Prior to the state of origin carnival held in Perth during October the following non-state of origin interstate matches too place:

VFA 28.26 (194) defeated Queensland 5.8 (38) in Melbourne

South Australia 35.12 (222) defeated Queensland 12.17 (89) in Brisbane

VFL 26.21 (177) defeated Tasmania 8.14 (62) in Hobart

VFL 15.20 (110) defeated South Australia 6.13 (49) in Adelaide

South Australia 15.15 (105) dfeated Western Australia 10.15 (75) in Perth

In addition a series of qualifying matches for the Perth State of origin section two carnival took place. The results were:

Australian Amateurs 27.17 (179) defeated Northern Territory 13.15 (93) in Melbourne

ACT 22.12 (144) defeated New South Wales 19.21 (135) in Canberra

ACT 16.21 (117) defeated Australian Amateurs 16.15 (111)

The ACT thus qualified to compete in Perth.


FOOTNOTES

[1]  Among the season's highlights were Western Australia's 17.21 (123) to 16.12 (108) vanquishing of Victoria in the inaugural state of origin championship final, and East Fremantle's 32 point defeat of St Kilda in Melbourne in the VFL night series.  During the pre-AFL era victories by Western Australian club sides over their Victorian counterparts were rare enough; wins in Melbourne, however, were the equivalent of hen's teeth.  Another memorable feature of the 1979 football season was the establishment of an all time WAFL aggregate attendance record of 1,013,615 which included an all time high of 52,817 at the grand final. 

[2] “Football Times”, 28/6/79, page 3. 


Grand final results - VFL: Carlton 11.16 (82) d. Collingwood 11.11 (77); SANFL: Port Adelaide 9.9 (63) d. South Adelaide 3.14 (32); WANFL: East Fremantle 21.19 (145) d. South Fremantle 16.16 (112); VFA: Division One - Coburg 16.15 (111) d. Geelong West 14.19 (103); Division Two - Camberwell 18.14 (122) d. Oakleigh 12.11 (83); TANFL: Clarence 12.11 (83) d. Glenorchy 11.14 (80); NTFA: North Launceston 15.7 (97) d. Scottsdale 13.17 (95); NSWAFL: North Shore 13.17 (95) d. Western Suburbs 9.22 (76); NTFL: St Marys 17.15 (117) d. Nightcliff 13.8 (86); QAFL: Sandgate 18.18 (126) d. Western Districts 14.14 (98); NWFU: Wynyard 21.24 (150) d. Cooee 15.7 (97); ACTAFL: Ainslie 17.18 (120) d. Belconnen 11.8 (74); NFL: South Adelaide 7.9 (51) d. Norwood 5.10 (40).

Perth State of Origin Carnival results - Section One Qualification Decider: Tasmania 17.20 (122) d. Queensland 13.12 (90); Section One Semi Finals: Western Australia 23.23 (161) d. Tasmania 9.10 (64); Victoria 25.30 (180) d. South Australia 20.15 (135); Section Two Final: Queensland 23.13 (151) d. ACT 18.12 (120); Section One 3rd Place Play-off: South Australia 22.20 (152) d. Tasmania 17.11 (113); Section One Final: Western Australia 17.21 (123) d. Victoria 16.12 (108)

WANFL: Old Easts Back in the Pink

Under new skipper Brian Peake, now sporting trademark seventies facial hair, Old East fielded an all Western Australian combination in 1979 in what was a noteworthy season all round for Western Australian football.[1] Peake himself enjoyed another memorable year, winning his fourth consecutive Lynn Medal as East Fremantle's best and fairest player, and rounding off the season by winning the Tassie Medal at the Australian championships, the first - and only - Old Easts player to do so.

East Fremantle's 1979 premiership victory was by no means the consummation of a season's dominance. As a matter of fact, the side looked distinctly mediocre at times during the home and away rounds, losing on one occasion to Claremont by 86 points, and on another even less auspicious occasion to East Perth by 103 points. This latter defeat was the first ever time that East Fremantle had lost a game by more than 100 points.  Once the finals arrived, however, it was a different story. Old Easts achieved revenge against both their minor round conquistadors in quick succession, overcoming the Royals in the first semi final by 2 points in a high scoring thriller, and then, responding vibrantly to the incentive of a potential “derby” grand final, emphatically downing Claremont by 27 points in the preliminary final.  

The blue half of Fremantle had enjoyed marginal supremacy over the red half during 1979 (2 wins to 1) and grand final day saw their dominance extended.  In a high standard, see-sawing tussle Old Easts ultimately displayed superior fitness and desperation to see off their opponents with an 8 goal to 2 final term after trailing by 4 points at 'lemon time'.  Forward pocket/rover Kevin Taylor booted 7 goals to earn the Simpson Medal and take his season's goals tally to a competition best 102, while not far behind him were Tony Buhagiar, the irrepressible Brian Peake, and Doug and Stephen Green. If it was not exactly the club's finest hour, it was certainly one of the most highly satisfying.

After finishing the home and away rounds in second place South Fremantle were justifiably confident heading into the finals. That confidence was then bolstered by a 17.21 (123) to 14.19 (103) second semi final defeat of minor premiers Claremont. As noted above, however, perennial arch rivals East Fremantle proved to have South’s measure when it mattered most, on grand final day. The red and whites would have to keep the champagne on ice for the time, but premiership glory would not be long in arriving.

Claremont’s third place finished showed that they were a team with a bright future. The Tigers actually finished the minor round in pole position but fell short in both of their finals, against South Fremantle by 20 points, and Old Easts by 27 points. Only fifth placed Swan Districts accumulated more points for in the home and away series than Claremont, and the Tigers achieved many noteworthy wins. Among the best were a 24.19 (163) to 10.17 (77) thumping of eventual premiers East Fremantle in round sixteen and a 35.8 (218) to 14.15 (99) annihilation of Perth in round twenty one.

Reigning premiers East Perth qualified for the finals in fourth place but the fact that they had the best percentage in the competition was felt to be grounds for optimism. In the first semi final against East Fremantle they fell short by just 2 points, and every Royals supporter among the crowd of 30,236 at Subiaco Oval that day will always maintain that they were hard done by. Nevertheless, in sudden death semi finals the margin of defeat matters little as every loss has the same consequence: elimination. For East Perth, the coming decade would prove to be considerably less rewarding than the one which had just ended.

For the second season in a row East Perth’s Phil Kelly won the Sandover Medal. He is profiled in
the review of the 1978 season.

Fifth placed Swan Districts finished the minor round with an 11-10 record which was two wins less than the fourth placed Royals. Had they boasted the same quality in defence as they did across the centre, in the ruck, and up forward they would in all probability not only have made the finals but given the flag a real shake. Perhaps Swans’ most memorable performance came in round nineteen at Bassendean Oval when, in front of a sparse crowd of just 6,990, they becamde the first - and so far only - WANFL club to rack up 40 goals in a match. They eventually tallied 40.11 (251) compared to opponents Subiaco’s 20.7 (127) - a score which would normally have been enought to secure victory, not succumb to defeat by 124 points.

Perth managed just 8 wins in 1979 to end up sixth, their worst finish since 1975. Although still capable, on their day, of seriously challenging the top sides - as, for example in their rounds six and eight defeats of East Fremantle and South Fremantle respectively - they were alarmingly inconsistent, both between and during matches. With three rounds still to play they still had a mathematical chance of qualifying for the finals but all form and confidence deserted them and they lost all three games.

The league’s bottom two, West Perth (4-17) and Subiaco (3-18), were the only two teams not to register 2,000 points for the season. West Perth’s only wins were at the expense of Subiaco in rounds one and fifteen, East Fremantle in round twelve, and Swans in round thirteen. Subi meanwhile defeated Claremont in round six, West Perth in round eight, and East Perth in round seventeen.