Jim Everett of West Perth
Pakey O,Callaghan (West Perth)
East Fremantle's Charlie Doig
The ending of the 1905 season in the Western Australian Football Association was one of the most controversial and confusing ever. Two clubs, West Perth and North Fremantle, were head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. West Perth topped the ladder with 13 wins and 2 defeats, while North finished 1 win adrift. In the semi finals, however, East Fremantle surprisingly accounted for North Fremantle, thereby qualifying to meet the Cardinals, conquerors of South Fremantle in their semi final, in the final. It was then that the confusion started. The match was closely contested all day, with West Perth leading by 2 points at the first change, and Old Easts by 4 points at half time and two straight kicks at “lemons”. The Cardinals dominated the final term, and when the bell rang the scoreboard showed that they had fallen short by a solitary point. Old Easts celebrated as though they had clinched the premiership, but the Cardinals were convinced that, as minor premiers, they were entitled to challenge their conquerors to a re-match. Unbelievably, those pulling the strings in the WAFA seemed as confused as anyone. Shortly after the conclusion of the match, however, in what it is difficult not to view as a contrived solution to the dilemma, it was announced that the score as displayed on the scoreboard was incorrect; the game had, in fact, been tied, with scores of East Fremantle 6.5 (41) to West Perth 5.11 (41). Much to Old Easts’ disgust therefore, a replay was necessitated.
The match took place at North Fremantle Oval, which had recently undergone some improvements in order the better to cope with large crowds. The pavilion was reserved for ladies, two extra entrance gates were added, and a mound was erected between the pavilion and the press box with a view to improving visibility for spectators.
West Perth was regarded as a strong all round team, which combined well, and was prone to using rather more handball than was the norm for the time. East Fremantle boasted strong half back and half forward lines, and the strongest ruck division in the competition. Opinion was almost equally divided as to which side would prevail, with the previous Saturday’s draw having emphasised their evenness.
The Cardinals won the toss, and opted to kick to the northern end of the ground which was favoured by a slight breeze. However, it was Old Easts who started more brightly, with their players appearing both stronger and packer than their opponents. West held firm, however, assisted by the fact that East Fremantle squandered several relatively easy scoring chances. First blood ended up being drawn by the Cardinals, after McNamara marked closed to goal and made no mistake.
In terms of possession and territorial advantage, play remained quite even for the rest of the term, but whereas Old Easts failed signally to trouble the scorers, West Perth added another goal and a succession of behinds to lead at the first change by 15 points, 2.3 (15) to nil.
East Fremantle opened the second quarter at a frenetic pace and attacked relentlessly. However, the Cardinals half back line of Renfrey, Bant and Everett was in superlative form, and repeatedly repelled their opponents’ advances. Finally, midway through the quarter, Charles Doig registered the blue and whites’ first major score, but despite peppering the goals for much of the rest of the quarter only minor scores resulted. At the long break, West Perth enjoyed a 2 point advantage, 2.4 (16) to 1.6 (12).
Making good use of the breeze, West dominated the early stages of the third quarter, but Old Easts’ defence proved as hard to penetrate as the Cardinals had in the previous term. Finally, however, Lemon registered a fluky goal to give the Cardinals a little breathing space. Old Easts rallied, and when Hunter marked Dolph Heinrichs’ precise pass he promptly placed the ball on the turf and the ensuing kick elicited two flags from the goal umpire.
The closing stages of the third term were dominated by West Perth and a clever snap from Lemon secured his second and his team’s fourth full pointer. East Fremantle attacked from the resumption, but a running shot from Sharpe veered off course and only a behind resulted. Shortly afterwards the bell rang with the scoreboard showing the Cardinals 9 points to the good, 4.4 (28) to 2.7 (19).
East Fremantle made strenuous efforts to bridge the gap between the teams but West Perth’s defence, as it had all day, reigned supreme. Nevertheless, the final margin was less than a single straight kick, and the closing moments of the game had the crowd at fever pitch as Old Easts attacked relentlessly and gallantly, but ultimately without success.
West Perth’s triumph was popular with most of the football-loving public as East Fremantle had been a dominant force since the turn of the century. However, it would be another twenty-seven years before the Cardinals again enjoyed premiership success. By common consent, the best player afield was West Perth defender Horrie Bant, who was in his first season with the Cardinals. He later played in the VFL with St Kilda and Essendon, had three separate stints with Subiaco, and spent the 1913 season with VFA club Prahran.
The challenge final drew a crowd of 6,000.
In the contest for the state flag West Perth overcame Goldfields premier Kalgoorlie Railways by 21 points, 8.10 (58) to 4.13 (37).
Cardinals' Popular Triumph - WAFA Challenge Final Replay, Saturday 7th October 1905: West Perth versus East Fremantle at North Fremantle Oval