Disorderly Proceedings in the Park
Western Australian Football in Colonial Times
by Steve Errington
ISBN 978-0-85905-637-3, (2016, New), A4, illustrated, 194 pages, 535 grams
In the early 1880s in the sleepy towns of Perth and Fremantle young men played loosely organised rugby matches. But in 1885 some keen young players of Victorian Rules imposed their will on this tired scene and formed what is now the West Australian Football League, starting a competition which continues 131 years later.
Clubs came and went: Centrals, Metropolitans, Victorians and West Australians are no more. Unions changed their name. An early East Perth club lasted two years.
The first Fremantle club won the premiership then promptly disappeared. A long-lasting and often bitter rivalry was established between the second Fremantle FC and the Perth Rovers. West Perth joined the fray in 1891 and during the gold boom top players poured in from the other Australian colonies.
Rugby returned in 1893 and soccer got organised in 1896 but Victorian Rules spread out into the country and goldfields and took a firm hold. In 1900, as the century ended and WA stood on the brink of statehood, four of the present day clubs were firmly established and West Perth, East Fremantle, Perth and South Fremantle competed for the last premiership of the colonial era.
This book, the result of decades of archival delving, is a must for all lovers of the Australian game.