The club was formed in some haste at a meeting held 20 April 1900 at the old Club Hotel - where the Orient Hotel now stands in High Street. Haste was needed because the once invinsible Fremantle Football Club that normally carried the hopes of football followers at the port was in debt and disarray.
The new season was only a month away. It was unthinkable that sport-mad Fremantle would not be represented when the season started in May so Tom O'Beirne and Griff John hatched a plan: they would simply abandon the old club and form a new one in its place. O'Beirne, publican of the Club Hotel and former president of the Fremantle Football Club, and John a young man who had played on the wing for Fremantle for the past three seasons, knew they had to move fast.
Registering the club
The WA Football Association had already called for applications for new teams and was to hold its annual meeting on April 18. To beat the deadline John appointed himself secretary of the non-existent South Fremantle Football Club and applied to join the Association. Finding a name was easy because the South Fremantle Cricket Club was already doing well in the WACA competition. As it happened the Association meeting was postponed until Monday 23rd.
The players and the committee
John and O'Beirne rounded up the Fremantle players for a meeting at the Club Hotel on the Friday night and the rest was straight forward. They already had the players, an Oval, changerooms and a trainer. They kept the Fremantle colours of red and white, and confirmed John as secretary.
Disaster struck but the club was resurrected
Led by George 'Smiler' Wills, the new club did well in its first year, finishing runners-up. However, over the next three seasons the performance fell away badly and, in April 1904 a Fremantle newspaper confidently reported that South Fremantle would not appear again. However, the club decided to carry on and centreman Harry Hodge took over as skipper, but the season was a disaster. The club won only one game. Something had to be done, and it was.
Five members of East Fremantle's premiership eighteen were recruited to the ranks together with several Victorian players and the club surged into the top four in 1905, only to lose the semi-final. In 1906 the Southerners were minor premiers for the first time, but again lost the semi-final. Eight times in nine seasons the club would make the semi-finals, never once advancing further.