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​Hugh "Bonny" Campbell (South Fremantle)

​George "Staunch" Owens (East Perth)

“The stiff breeze made combination rather a difficult matter. East Perth rely so much on their exchanges that, in my opinion, they were handicapped a little more than South Fremantle. The red and whites are a vigorous side, with combination playing a secondary part, and anything that tends to haphazard play, such as wind etc., would give them an excellent chance of winning.”[1]

East Perth had finished the minor round at the head of the premiership ladder, with South Fremantle two places below them. In their three meetings during the home and away series East Perth had enjoyed 100% success, winning by 23 points at Perth Oval in round three, by a solitary point at Fremantle Oval in round eight, and by 8 points in round thirteen, again at Fremantle Oval. Not surprisingly therefore the Royals were favoured to win again, but they might not find the windy weather conditions to their liking as their style of play was based on fluent, precise movement of the ball. By contrast South were a robust, hard tackling side who might be expected to benefit to some extent from the unsettling effects of the breeze. The South Fremantle changing room prior to the start of the match was a place of confidence and steely intent. As their head trainer remarked “All fighting men today”.

In the opening term East Perth enjoyed the advantage of the breeze, which was blowing strongly towards the city end of the ground. Despite this, the Royals took a while to settle into their stride, and South had the better of the early exchanges, and indeed kicked the first goal of the match rounding off some excellent combination play of which the Royals would have been proud. Chalmers, using a place kick, was the goal scorer, but the move leading up to the goal was initiated by half back flanker Adams, and went via Tuxworth, Johnny Campbell and Heinrichs before ending up with Chalmers.

East Perth’s response was determined and vigorous but lacked coordination and as a result a succession of good scoring chances went begging. Ten minutes in the Royals had still not troubled the scorers. Finally, after a scramble in the goal square, Giese managed to soccer the ball through to level the scores.

Following East Perth’s goal it was the red and whites who took up the running, and it was not long before Ochiltree, with a place kick, had registered their second six pointer. The Royals, with centre half back Brentnall and rover Duffy to the fore, dominated the remaining minutes of the term and their efforts were rewarded with a goal from a long punt kick by Owens. This made the scores at quarter time East Perth 2.4 (16) to South Fremantle 2.3 (15).

“The vigour of the game was refreshing, and the heavy artillery was the dominant factor. But what of the hand-passing? I have never seen it so thin.

“If Allen and Giles were not throwing that ball we don’t know the meaning of the term. With double-handed palming they sent it sideways and over their shoulders. But it made for pace, and umpire O’Connor was consistent in allowing it all day.”
[2]

South went a considerable way toward winning the match in the second quarter during which they added 4.6 to 2.1. However, it was the Royals who drew first blood thanks to a goal mere seconds in by Giese. This produced a vigorous riposte from South, and shortly afterwards their wingman White added what was probably the goal of the day after a coruscating run from his position on centre wing deep into the forward lines.

With the red and whites generally faster to the ball and superior overhead the blues were forced onto the back foot. A goal to wingman Giles gave South the lead, and a few minutes later “Bonny” Campbell added another with a thumping punt kick.

The best player on view in the second quarter was Adams, at half back left for South. Playing with great dash and tremendous anticipation he single-handedly repelled many East Perth attacking forays. 

“Almost invariably when the blues succeeded in plating up, this grand defender dashed their hopes. Not once did he err.

“Could East Perth make up their leeway and hold a substantial lead at lemons? Their supporters remembered the blues being six goals behind Souths at lemons, and still winning.”
[3]

When the bell sounded for half time the scoreboard showed the southerners in front by 16 points, 6.9 (45) to 4.5 (29).

From the opening bounce of the third term the Royals raced into attack. Owens picked out Hebbard who in turn found Matson and the veteran, with a lovely running shot, registered full points. Moments later Giese wasted a golden opportunity to add another goal and the red and whites seemed on the verge of cracking. However, the next few East Perth attacks were foiled by Adams, who was in resplendent form, and “worth any three - friends or foe - absolutely unbeatable”.[4]

The play during the third quarter was not at all pretty to watch, but both sides were relentless in pursuit of both ball and ball carrier. The goal of the match was scored by East Perth’s Val Sparrow by means of a superlative drop kick from an acute angle. This was followed shortly before the bell by another Royals goal courtesy of Giese, who snapped truly under pressure. At the final change East Perth had edged in front by 3 points, 7.7 (49) to South Fremantle’s 6.10 (46). But, given the strength of the breeze, with which South would be kicking in the closing term, would this be enough?

“In the roughest quarter of the year, Adams at times was playing almost a lone hand. At the other end, Brentnall was coming through like a locomotive, and Owen’s marking was very attractive even though his kicking lacked accuracy. In the relentlessness of the terrific struggle, the hefty Bateman and Sunderland had been cruelly battered.”[5]

The early stages of the last term saw East Perth playing with great vim and determination, and no small amount of flair. However, with the exception of a shot from Weston which struck a goalpost they proved unable to score. Eventually, South found their feet, and goals in quick succession to Bunny Campbell, Staton and Johnny Campbell made the margin three straight kicks in their favour.

East Perth would not give in, however, and the remainder of the quarter saw them attacking relentlessly. With barely a minute to play Giese pulled a goal back, and directly from the ensuing centre bounce they raced into attack once more and Harrold booted another. Had the match lasted another two or three minutes it is highly possible that the Royals would have emerged victorious; as it was, South had won a hard earned and well merited triumph by 3 points, 9.11 (65) to 9.8 (62).

South Fremantle might have won the battle, but victory in the war would go the way of East Perth. In the followin Saturday’s final South succumbed to West Perth by 28 points, leaving the Royals, as minor premiers, to challenge the Cardinals for the flag. This they did successfully giving them their fourth successive premiership. In 1923 they would go on to make it five in a row, a sequence of success which would be unsurpassed in the twentieth century.


FOOTNOTES


[1] The “Westralian Worker”, 15/9/22, page 8.

[2] Ibid, page 8.

[3] Ibid, page 8.

[4] Ibid, page 8.

[5] Ibid, page 8.

​Royals Overturned - WAFL semi final: South Fremantle versus East Perth, Saturday 9th September 1922

East Perth's Reg Brentnall