Explore the History of australian football

In 1906 East Perth was admitted to the Western Australian Football Association bringing the total number of clubs in the competition to eight. East Perth initially wore red, white and blue playing jumpers and were known as the Tricolours, although this nickname was soon changed to the Royals. The newcomers’ first assignment looked on paper to be extremely difficult as they were drawn to play North Fremantle away. The northerners boasted a powerful combination which had finished third in each of the three previous seasons, and they were particularly hard to beat on their home turf. Few people seriously expected East Perth to challenge them, but there was a surprise in store.

With the North Fremantle Oval “in splendid condition for classical football”[1] the match got underway, Mr J.Kennedy officiating. The home side had the better of the opening exchanges but proved unable to score until ten minutes in when they registered a behind. The visitors responded forcefully and a seemingly goal-bound kick from Jim Hesford was saved a couple of yards out. East Perth continued to attack, however, and after a couple of near misses Besford secured the opening goal of the match, and indeed the only one of the first term. At quarter time 5 points separated the sides with East Perth on 1.2 (8) leading North Fremantle 0.3 (3).

East Perth dominated the opening exchanges of the second quarter and soon added a behind to their tally when a shot from McKinnon struck a goal post. A goal by the same player quickly followed, much to the dismay of the home fans, whose suffering was intensified when the North Fremantle captain, Craig, injured his knee and was forced to retire.

East Perth’s McKinnon in a forward pocket was seeing plenty of the ball and he soon added another minor score to his team’s total. North - known as the Magpies - rallied, but they could only manage a couple of behinds and just before half time the visitors rubbed salt into their wounds when McKinnon found Sherwood and the latter booted his team’s third goal of the match. At half time the scoreboard showed East Perth with 3.3 (21) leading North Fremantle 0.5 (5).

East Perth opened the third term brightly and increased their score by 2 points in as many minutes. Play was fast and furious, and the teams exchanged behinds before Bovell nabbed the Magpies first six pointer. With their skipper Jack Woollard prominent the Tricolours dominated the remainder of the term but on the only two occasions that they managed to spur the goal umpire into action he raised just one flag. At three quarter time East Perth enjoyed a 12 point advantage, 3.8 (26) to 1.8 (14).

Play hurtled from end to end during the opening phase of the final term but defences were on top. North finally broke the deadlock with a brace of minor scores but thereafter it was the visitors who gained the initiative. A fluent move along the left wing involving Sherwood and Toll culminated in the latter player eliciting two flags for the Tricolours with a fine running shot. Thereafter East Perth continued to dominate, but neither they nor North managed any further additions to their respective scores. Defying all the odds the Tricolours had run out victors by a comfortable 16 point margin, 4.8 (32) to 1.10 (16).

Best player afield was Jack Woollard the Broken Hill born East Perth captain and first ruckman. Among other members of the visiting team to shine were follower Jim Hesford, centre half forward Toll, and wingman Oliver. North Fremantle were best served by centre half forward Bovell, skipper and follower Craig, and full back Munro.

East Perth’s win was the first of five they would manage for the season, good enough for seventh place on the eight team premiership ladder. North would fare slightly better, winning five games and drawing one to finish sixth. In the longer term, however, it was East Perth who would enjoy greater success. North Fremantle in fact withdrew from the competition in 1916 whereas the Royals are one of Western Australia’s proudest clubs with a total of seven senior grade flags to their credit, a record exceeded only by East Fremantle (twenty-eight, plus one under-age wartime premiership) and West Perth (eighteen plus one wartime flag).


[1] “Sunday Times”, 13/5/06, page 2.

East Perth's inaugural skipper Jack Woollard, pictured later in his career when he played for Port Adelaide 

Tricolours Shock Magpies - WAFA round one, Saturday 12th May 1906: North Fremantle versus East Perth at North Fremantle Oval