2017 Life Members Reunion

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 - 12:21 PM

The annual Life Member’s Reunion was held on Sunday April 30th with Life Member Jim Christie given the honour of toasting the South Fremantle Football Club. Jim’s heartfelt speech, highlighting the Premier Family Club theme, was very well received by all the guests in attendance and the full speech is included below for your interest. Well done Jim and congratulations on receiving the honour.

"Ladies and Gentlemen and Distinguished Guests. I am privileged to propose a Toast to the South Fremantle Football Club – The Premier Family Club.

Since its foundation and the building of this hall, our founder Griff John looks down on us, however there is one continuing thread that binds our Players, Administrators, Members, Life Members, Lifetime Members and our thousands of loyal supporters situated all over Australia. That continuing thread is collectively, the 'love of South Fremantle'.

It is worth mentioning here that Griff John’s Grandson continues to support South and sponsors Marlion Pickett.

We are all very proud of the achievements of South Fremantle, the Premierships, Grand Final appearances, Sandover Medallists, Bernie Naylor Medallists and State players etc, and although these stats are for the record books, the South Fremantle story is much more than just statistics.

South Fremantle has been blessed with wonderful Administrators, Presidents and Chief Executive Officers who have led the Club to where it is today but the achievements are by the Club – the people of the Club, like yourselves. By the collective attitude and philosophies of the people of the Club, some playing major roles, others minor but all contributing to the end result.

Here, I’d like to welcome our new CEO Tom Bottrell. No introduction needed, son of our late Life Member and Hall of Fame Inductee Tom Snr. Who can forget that Tom passed the ball to Warren Campbell who kicked that goal that was enough to beat East in the 1997 GF.

South have contributed a number of firsts.

Today, it is generally considered that the AFL List Manager is one of the most important people in the Club. South played in consecutive finals & Grand Finals between 1945 to 1956 and won 6 Grand Finals. The first in 1947 and the 6th in 1954 and well, our part time Secretary, Frank Harrison (working in a full time job) and his Committee replaced:

  1. All of the 47 side apart from 3 champs – Steve Marsh, Bernie Naylor and Frank Treasure. Our list management was very good by those numbers.

B. Our Lady Life Members. In 1975 our Club inducted 11 ladies who had all been long time workers on our Social Committees and since then a further 14 Lady Life Members have been inducted, including Jenny later today. Our Club was the first WAFL Club to induct ladies as Life Members.

C. Our major junior development was the creation of modified versions of Australian Footy for small children. Initially there was modified rules for Under 10s, which was created and trialled in South Australia and then was first introduced to WA, by the South Fremantle Football Club.

The next version was Freeball footy for Under 8’s which was created and implemented by SFFC in the late 1970’s.

Because we invented this version of Australian Football at Fremantle Oval we called it Freeball – being short for Fremantle Football. Also Free stood for free play, free of pressure, and free to have fun.

Freeball wasn’t created and initiated by the AFL, the VFL or by the old WA Development Trust, but by the South Fremantle Football Club.

      D  The Premier Family Club.

This Club is filled with champions, individuals, fathers, sons and brothers, who had major influences on the game and what exciting players with such outstanding talent we have had, all giving us so much enjoyment from the Golden Years until today.

The likes of Steve Marsh’s brilliance, Bernie Naylor’s kicking, Clive Lewington’s poise, Laurie Green’s high marking and ground play. This is just a small sample but you would know all the champs. Incidently, Laurie Green won the AW Walker Medal in 1949 so he is here today, and our earliest Winner. Steve Marsh went on to win 4 Walkers, John Todd 3, Stephen Michael 5, Wally Matera 3 and Kris Miller 3. Noel Carter also has a unique record that will never be broken because Noel won the Walker Medal in 1980 and the Hughes Medal in 1984. 

Families that have pulled on the Red & White Jumper with distinction are:
Grljusich - 469 games
Doigs - 459 games
Collards - 437 games
Reillys - 389 games
Lewingtons - 381 games
Scotts - 372 games
Whites - 355 games
Treasures - 315 games
Riolis - 293 games
Materas - 247 games
Richardsons - 250 games.

Still playing is Ashton Hams (175 games) who with his twin brother Kyle (126 games for South) giving the brothers a total of 301 games for South.

Just as the Golden Years were ending (thanks to Steve Marsh and our Reserves captain at that time in Colin Potts (here today) two 16 year old Hilton Park boys, John Todd and John Gerovich showed their prodigious natural talent, playing in the 1954 Reseves GF. Toddy kicked a lazy 7 goals off the half forward flank and won the Sandover the following year as a 17 year old. Gero played in that game at half back and 2 years later was an All Australian following the 1956 Carnival.

The late 50s – early 60s were lean times, but the 1970 Premiership satisfied everyone. Who will forget Cicco’s dazzling display to win the Simpson Medal, Don Haddow's dominance, Tommy Grljusich's defence and Peter Troode’s goal from left half forward. Peter is today being made a Lifetime Member – Congratulations Peter.

Then came excitement of the early 70’s under Colin Beard’s mantra “Play on Madly” and what exciting footy our boys played, then the dominance of the 80's and our exciting game continued unabashed. We cannot forget the brilliance of the Darwin boys, Sibby, Maurice, Basil, Benny and Willie Roe, and from our Country Zone, perhaps the greatest of them all Stephen Michael, whilst Nicky Winmar with his marking and kicking skills excited everyone. George Grljusich's description of our Captain Noel Carter as 'the brilliant little weaver' was pretty apt as well.

Our 1997 Premiership was a wonderful year and to our South supporters & Members it couldn’t have been better. We struggled for a lot of the game but our cream rose to the top. David Hynes (Simpson Medallist and guest speaker today) ably supported by John Porter, David Hart, Clem Michael, Dean Rioli, Warren Campbell, Tommy, and Darryn Rennick and there is a good father/son/grandfather representation here.

Then going on to Premierships in 2005 and 2009 was fantastic, and again the Premier Family is re-enforced with Theo & Reece Adams, Ashton & Kyle Hams, father/son Mitch Cornell and Scott Delmenico, and current Life Members from those sides are John Dimmer (Coach), David Gault, Toby McGrath, Ray Smithers, Hayden North, Craig White and Kris Miller.


My understanding is that the following are the only families of 3 separate generations to have represented South.

The Dixons: Don Snr. Here today. 134 games and Hall of Famer, Don’s father Norm (98 games) and Don’s Son Don (15 games), who retired prematurely due to concussion issues. Then the McGilvrays: Bill Snr (36 games), Bill Jnr (11 games before crossing to Subiaco), and Peter (2 games).

Our Life Members include:

Claude Law, Hall of Famer and father of Pam McGuinness, her late husband Roy and their son Lorne.

Jack and Mrs Grose, Don Haddow’s grandparents, their son Ernie and Don himself. Both Ernie and Don are here today.

So Ladies and Gentlemen I say with some assurance we truly are THE PREMIER FAMILY CLUB. 

To Todd and the current players I’d like to say that South Fremantle has had 3 Unique players in :

Jack Murray who played 99 games including 4 Premierships, 2 in 1947 and 1948. Missed years 1949, 50 and 51 because he broke his back when he fell down the hold of a ship and then returned for 2 more Premierships in 1952 and 1953. Courage and perseverance personified.

Dave Ingraham and Charlie Tyson who are the only players to play in Premiership teams, then win the Simpson Medal in their team's Grand Final and go on to also win the Walker Medal in that same year. Charlie’s words to me were - “If you do that, it is safe to say you had a pretty good year”.

So boys, this year you have the opportunity to achieve what Dave or Charlie did. Go to it and we wish you all the very best.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding, charge your glasses and toast South Fremantle, THE PREMIER FAMILY CLUB, its achievements and its future and take a bow yourself because you are all part of The Greatest Club of All."