Haydn Bunton Jnr. was also elevated to Legend status on the night, joining the likes of Barry Cable, Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer, John Todd and Bill Walker as Legends of West Australian football.
The West Australian Football Commission established the WA Football Hall of Fame in 2002 to honour players, coaches, umpires, administrators and media representatives who have made a significant contribution to the game in this State.
Since the WA Football Hall of Fame's inauguration, 135 individuals across four eras have been inducted and 13 have been elevated to the status of WA football Legend, including last night's inductees.
Player 1942-1943, 1946-1955, 1957
Games 263 (South Fremantle 254, Western Australia 9) Goals 5 (South Fremantle 5 WA 0)
Honours: Sandover Medal Runner Up 1951
South Fremantle premierships 6 (1947, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954)
South Fremantle Captain 1954, 1955, Fremantle FC Hall of Legends 1998
The exquisite ball handling skills of David Wirrpanda are said by old timers to be reminiscent of Frank Treasure, one of only 3 men (along with Steve Marsh and Bernie Naylor) to play in all six of the South Fremantle golden era premierships between 1947 and 1954. A specialist half back flanker, Treasure was ultra reliable, super cool under pressure and able to dispose of the ball to great advantage. He seldom missed a game in his 14 seasons and his 254 games remained the club record for more than 10 years.
Frank Treasure was born and bred in Fremantle and learnt the game at CBC, Fremantle. He joined South aged 17 from the Fremantle Ex Scholars competition in the first season of the wartime underage competition. After showing significant promise as a defender in his first season, Treasure joined the Army in February 1943 as a corporal in the 47th Infantry Battalion and missed nearly 3 seasons of senior football although he was a regular member of army teams. After rejoining South in 1946, Treasure was a fixture on the left-half-back flank for over 10 years and was one of the clubs most effective and reliable players.
He was particularly strong at ground level, being an artist at reading the play and he gave his opponent no latitude. His reliability was extraordinary and he missed only 5 league games of the 221 played by the club between 1947 and 1957 with the exception of 1956 when he was living interstate. His best season was undoubtedly 1951 when he was runner up to Fred Buttsworth for the Sandover Medal and was ranked as Western Australia’s second best player in the first state game between WA and Victoria at Subiaco.
In that match however, he played on the wing and although he played 9 state games in all, many felt he was unlucky not to play more. The mandatory selection of so many other brilliant South players in the state team may have told against Treasure in the search for equity in club representation. Frank Treasure was club captain in 1954 (when he played his 200th game and South made it a hat trick of flags) and 1955 but then accepted a coaching position with Coolamon in country New South Wales. He returned to play every game for South in 1957 before retiring with a club record 254 games.
This was eventually bettered by the equally durable Gary Scott in 1969. In 1958 Treasure again accepted a country coaching role – this time with Meckering in the Avon Football Association. He gained immediate success with a premiership but returned to the port after 2 years in the country and renewed his association with South in various off field roles including league selector and property man. He also coached CBC to premiership success in the Amateur Association and had the pleasure of seeing his son Frank progress to league football at his old club. Frank Treasure passed away in April 1998 aged 73 of mesothelioma but his playing exploits continue to be recalled.
Austin Robertson senior in 1967 regarded Treasure as the finest post war half back flanker. “Anticipation, ground play and ability to create opportunities for the man in front of him make the South Fremantle champion my choice as the greatest post war half back flanker” he wrote in the Daily News. “Treasure was a classy player in a classy side”
Player 1942-1943, 1946-1958
Games 267 (Perth 253, Western Australia 14) Goals 29 (Perth 27 Western Australia 2)
Honours: Sandover Medal 1943 Perth Fairest and Best 1942, 1943
Perth premiership 1955, Grand Final 1949, 1950, Perth Captain 1943
The longest standing WAFL club games played record has stood for more than 50 years but Perth’s outstanding and enduring half back flanker Terry Moriarty, deserves to be remembered for much more than his Perth club record of 253 games. He was a Sandover Medallist, 9 time state representative, vital member of Perths 1955 drought breaking premiership and dual club fairest and best. Moriarty was always destined to be a Perth league footballer having been born in East Victoria Park and first playing football in the local Temperance League with the Victoria Park 12s and 14s.
He then progressed to the Victoria Park metropolitan juniors aged 16 in 1941 and to Perth the following year, when a restricted age wartime WAFL competition commenced. As a defender from the outset, Moriarty starred in his debut season winning the club fairest and best trophy despite an ankle injury which caused him to miss 10 games. The following year he played in all 17 games and won the Sandover Medal comfortably by 8 votes after being the clear favourite. Moriarty was a fitness fanatic ahead of his time, and he was renowned as one of the closest checking half back flankers in the game. Stan Heal in 1967 noted of Moriarty that “his ground play was faultless, he combined superbly with his centre half back and was a master at turning defence into attack”.
The role of attacking defender was little acknowledged until the 1990’s but with his ability to judge the flight of the ball and read the play, Moriarty was unafraid to leave his opponent when the opportunity arose. Enlisting in the Army in September 1943, Terry Moriarty missed 2 years of WAFL football but he played in various armed services teams and also notched seven games with South Sydney, in the strong wartime New South Wales league before resuming with Perth in 1946. As a highly consistent performer in some very strong Perth teams, Moriarty played in two losing Grand Finals (in 1949 when he was close to best afield, and 1950) before the clubs epic 1955 premiership triumph.
Qualifying third, they had to come through from the first semi final and in the Grand Final they came from behind in the dramatic final quarter against East Fremantle to snatch a thrilling 2 point win. Unfortunately the celebrations were somewhat muted for Terry who had copped a broken nose during the game. At the close of his senior career half way through the 1958 season, Terry Moriarty had compiled a club record 253 games and might have played 300 but for various hamstring strains which cost him a number of games in most seasons.
These were later discovered to be back-related but sports science was then only in its infancy. Moriarty remained a fitness fanatic in his post football days and still indulges in an early morning swim and a regular round of golf. Although modesty compels him to point out that his Sandover medal was won in the under-age war competition, Terry Moriarty need feel no reticence about joining the WA Football Hall of Fame. His reputation as one of the finest half backs in WAFL history is secure.
Games 268 (West Perth 256, Western Australia 12) Goals 4 (West Perth 4 WA 0)
Honours: West Perth Fairest and Best 1952
West Perth premierships 3 (1942, 1949, 1951) Grand Finals 1946, 1947, 1948, 1952, 1953
West Perth Team of the Century 2000
The unsung position of back pocket specialist is never likely to produce a Sandover Medallist but Wally Price was one of the best of many fine WA players to fill this vital defensive role. He was so effective at curbing the star rovers of his day that he captured a fairest and best award for his club, represented his state 12 times and was a vital player in three premiership teams.
Wally Price joined West Perth from the metropolitan juniors at the commencement of the war restricted age competition in 1942. He immediately assumed the back pocket position and although only small in stature, he had pace and a delightful long clearing dropkick. He was also a superb reader of the play and played his opposing resting rovers so closely that they seldom caused scoreboard damage whilst on him. Although tough and resolute his methods were very fair and he rarely gave away a free kick.
The 1942 West Perth side contained many future stars and Price occupied the left back pocket position in both the Second Semi and Grand Final victories. The following year Ray Schofield commenced with the club and he and Price developed a near perfect understanding in the last line of defence that was to last for over 10 seasons in both WAFL and state football. Price’s ground play and anticipation were a great foil for Schofield’s strong spoiling tactics and the pair went on to represent Western Australia on 12 occasions together between 1947 and 1953.
Price celebrated a second premiership success in 1949 but the 1951 Grand Final was perhaps his finest moment. West Perth took a 17 point lead into the final quarter but the defence had to withstand a barrage of attacks by South Fremantle kicking with the aid of a strong breeze. The difference was down to 3 points with 2 minutes remaining and the Sunday Times reported that “Price, who had defended stoutly all day, and Schofield were remarkably cool under fierce pressure and won the game for the Cardinals”. Although Don Porter won the Simpson Medal, the performance of Price and Schofield in the hectic final minutes of that game will long be remembered by West Perth faithful.
In 1952 Wally Price won West Perth’s Fairest and Best award ahead of a champion field but the club lost the Grand Final against the outstanding South Fremantle team. At the end of the 1954 season at the age of 28, Price retired from the WAFL to accept the position of captain coach of the Griffith Football Club in New South Wales. He held the West Perth club record of 256 games and but for this coaching opportunity he may well have become the first WAFL player to play 300 league games. He was later appointed coach of the West Perth reserves team ( 1958 and 1959) and in 1960 joined the WAFL umpiring panel serving for 4 years umpiring mainly Country matches.
In the 1960’s Wally Price was instrumental in the formation of the prestigious WA 200 Club and has remained a regular attendee at West Perth matches. He was unanimously selected in the back pocket in West Perth’s Team of the Century in the year 2000 and his effectiveness was recalled by Mick Cronin in the Daily News in 1967 “Wally Price tops the poll in my book as the greatest back pocket specialist. He had all the essential qualities of a good footballer. Most notable were his ability to read the play and his beautiful clearing kick which invariably turned defence into attack.”
Category - Administrator
Games Played 122 (Swan Districts 1951-1958), Goals 4
Honorary Treasurer Swan Districts 1957-1960, Honorary Secretary 1966-1970
President Swan Districts 1976-1982 WAFC Commissioner 1988-1989
Life Member Swan Districts and WAFC
The most enduring legacy of the extraordinary administrative career of John Cooper in West Australian football might well be an event that did not happen during his term as President of Swan Districts – the sacking of John Todd. The outstanding strength of character displayed by Cooper in resisting the groundswell against the initially unsuccessful Todd coaching reign has been well documented, but his 7 year term as President culminating in a drought breaking premiership, is only a small component of the nearly 60 years of continuous service to the game provided by this WAFL legend.
As a player John Cooper is remembered as a highly serviceable back pocket specialist in 122 games for Swans after coming up from his home town of Manjimup. His senior football career had started at Carey Park (Pastimes) whilst still at school in Bunbury and he played in a seconds and senior premiership side with that club after recovering from a severe attack of the bone disease osteomalacia in his early teens. Returning to his home town, he then had 3 highly successful senior seasons with Manjimup Imperials and came to Swans in 1951.
As a pacy centreman, he immediately caught the eye and tallied an impressive 10 Sandover Medal votes in his first season of 10 league games. A less successful stint on a half forward flank followed but he found his niche as a specialist defender in his fourth season and continued as a league player for eight. Cooper was notable for a slightly swaying run and played with odd sized boots – a size seven on one foot and six on the other - legacy of his severe illness which had threatened both his football career and his life.
In his final two seasons of league football, John Cooper’s passion to assist his club and the game in whatever capacity he could became apparent when he took on the role of honorary treasurer of Swans. He then also served as coach of the colts team in 1959-60 before a transfer in his bank employment took him to Kalgoorlie for 5 years. There he coached and served on the committee of the Boulder Mines Rovers club but upon return to the city in 1966 he began more than 40 years continuous service to both Swans and the WAFL.
He served as the last of Swans honorary secretaries for 5 seasons, was board member and senior vice president (3 years) and President and WAFL director for 7 critical years in the history of the Swan Districts Football Club. Appointed to the newly created West Australian Football Commission in 1988, John Cooper campaigned tirelessly against VFL exploitation of the WAFL during his 2 year term. He afterwards continued to assist Swan Districts and the WAFL by serving on a vast range of committees and subcommittees including WAFC Life Members Association president, WAFL salary cap officer, chairman of junior football development, WAFL permit committee, WAFL umpires board and WAFL boundaries committee.
Today at over 80, John Cooper continues to serve on WAFL committees and last season was All Australian team selector at the AFL Womens National Championships. Through all these associations with the game, John Cooper’s name has been a byword for honesty, integrity and sincerity. He has received Life memberships of his club and the WAFC, an Order of Australia, an Australian Sports Medal and a Commonwealth Centenary Medal. Induction into the WA Football Hall of Fame caps a phenomenal career of football industry contribution.
Games 241 (East Fremantle 180, Swan Districts 21, Claremont 27, WA 13)
Goals 285 (East Fremantle 217 Swan Districts 19, Claremont 45, Western Australia 4)
Coach Swan Districts 1959 South Fremantle 1977 West Perth 1978-1979
Honours: East Fremantle premiership 1957 Grand Finals 1954, 1955, 1958, 1962
Claremont leading goalkicker 1960
As a superbly athletic and agile ruckman in over 200 senior games, an excellent teacher and developer of young talent as a coach, and an erudite and incisive media commentator, few people have made as significant a contribution to WAFL football as Percy Johnson.
Born and raised in the goldfields but never a footballer there, Percy learnt the game under the expert tutelage of Jerry Dolan at Aquinas College. As a topline fast bowler, outstanding track and field athlete and captain of the school tennis team Johnson was a superb all round athlete but he excelled as a footballer, initially as a forward but for one season as an outstanding centre half back.
After joining East Fremantle in 1951, Johnson was recast as a ruckman due to an abundance of quality defenders at the club. Under the expert tutelage of coach Jim Conway, Johnson shone brilliantly in patches in his first season but tertiary study and travel commitments mitigated against consistency for his first few seasons. After a state debut against Victoria in 1955, Johnson became a regular state ruckman, participating in the Australian Carnival series in 1956 and 1958, notwithstanding the presence of both Polly Farmer and Jack Clarke. He attained premiership honours with “Old Easts” in 1957 playing a superb game in the Grand Final and would have been a deserving Simpson Medallist. In all Johnson played in 14 final round games in his 12 WAFL seasons.
In 1959 Percy Johnson began a new career phase when he was appointed Captain Coach of Swan Districts. A number of young stars emerged under his tutelage including Fred Castledine who recently told Ron Head of the Footygoss web site “Percy was a great coach. He saw things in me, and taught me about football. I credit Perce with laying the foundation for my career. When Percy fell foul of the committee late in the season and was replaced by Charlie Doig, it was disappointing.”
When sacked after 16 games by the Swans committee when he stood firm on a principle, Percy received widespread support from the players and members and played out the season under Brian Gray. The following year he played at Claremont under Ray Richards but quit during the austere Peter Pianto reign in 1961. He enjoyed one last season as a player at East Fremantle in 1962 and his final game was the losing grand final against Swans. Johnson achieved a little known but extraordinary record of being runner up for the fairest and best award at three different clubs in these final seasons.
In subsequent years, Percy Johnson became a very well known and respected television critic with a long running position on the Channel 7 World of Football show and had his own slot 3 days a week with “Percys Point of View”. He was also involved in junior coaching and in 1977 somewhat out of the blue, he was appointed senior coach at South Fremantle and again played a significant role in the development of young stars. The following year he accepted a 2 year position as senior coach at West Perth but his forthright approach and a philosophy difference with the board over interstate recruiting resulted in the termination of his contract during his second season.
Today Percy Johnson continues to relish involvement in the WAFL as a mentor and developer of young men as ruck coach at Swan Districts Football Club. His induction into the WA Football Hall of Fame recognises a superb overall contribution to Football in Western Australia.
Games 219 (Claremont 204, Western Australia 15) Goals 279 (Claremont 254 WA 25)
Honours: Claremont Fairest and Best 1957, 1962
Australian Carnival player 1958, 1961 Claremont premiership 1964
Claremont Captain 1964, 1965, 1966 Claremont Leading Goalkicker 1962
Although slightly pre-dating an era of lightning fast and highly skilled rovers such as Cable, Walker and Doncon, the short and stockily built Les Mumme was similarly effective and influential for both his club and his state over a 12 year period. By imposing his strong frame on every contest with relentless determination, Mumme provided energy and resource to his team and was a vital contributor to the magnificent victory of Western Australia at the 1961 Brisbane carnival.
Les Mumme was born and educated in Collie and was a champion junior footballer. He arrived at Claremont in 1955 as an 18 year old playing on weekly permits, but after 2 league games in the first 5 rounds he returned home to Collie. The following season, despite having obtained a clearance, he again travelled up on a weekly basis for half the season before leaving to undertake national service training. In his first full season with the Tigers in 1957, he captured his first fairest and best trophy and repeated this success in 1962. After selection in the 1958 Centenary Australian carnival team, Les became a regular state squad member, and his 16 interstate appearances included many fine displays.
For Claremont, Les Mumme was the consummate team player and his tough in and under work and highly efficient disposal sustained the club through many years of residence in the bottom four. Appointed captain in 1964, his persistence was richly rewarded with a stunning premiership against the odds. Mumme was a key contributor to Claremont's grand final win over East Fremantle booting 2 goals and being listed high among his side's best players.
Les Mumme also led the side in 1965 and 1966, and retired from league football in 1967 after 204 league games. He went on to coach Gosnells the following season but returned to Claremont to coach the thirds (now colts) in 1968. For twenty years after his retirement he was part of the golden years of football radio in Perth, when there were shows across the dial after the game and during the week.
Still busily involved in his Financial Planning business, Les is now a vice patron of the Claremont Football Club, and is a regular at Claremont Oval. His son Brad looked like being a chip off the old block as a junior, being part of the much lauded Teal Cup team of 1985, but a knee injury put paid to a promising career. There will be few prouder recipients of WA Football Hall of Fame membership than this highly popular football personality.
Games 283 (East Perth 101, Geelong 172, Western Australia 8, Victoria 2)
Goals 29 (East Perth 29 Geelong 0 WA 0)
Honours: All Australian 1979 (State of Origin Carnival), VFL Team of the Year 1983
East Perth Fairest and Best 1973 East Perth Premiership 1972
A list of regular opponents that included Hudson, Quinlan, Templeton, Blight and Roach would daunt most defenders but for the hard working and dedicated Gary Malarkey it was all in a day’s work. An All Australian and a Victorian as well as West Australian representative prior to state of origin football, Malarkey was recognised as the most effective full back of his era.
Malarkey was born at Armadale, but learnt the Australian game at Trinity College and joined East Perth at the age of 18. Although he debuted on a half forward flank in the second game of 1971, he could only notch 2 senior games that year. Tried in defence the following year, he quickly demonstrated his outstanding potential by appearing in all 23 games and lined up at full back in the Royals 1972 premiership team.
Although not tall for a key defender (185cm) Malarkey was extremely strong and he showed an early propensity for close checking defence, revelling in tough man on man duels. He had excellent anticipation and good pace over the first 20 meters as well as being a strong mark and superb kick, often challenging the centre circle with his punts from the full back line. In his second full season (1973) Malarkey captured East Perths fairest and best trophy and represented WA against South Australia. He was signed by Geelong but East Perth imposed a minimum service requirement of 100 league games before a clearance would be granted. He thus stayed for a further 3 years before finally crossing to the Cats in 1977.
At Geelong, Gary Malarkey was an immediate and outstanding success in his customary full back position and represented Victoria. He was widely recognised as the finest full back in Australia over the following 10 seasons and was remarkably consistent in one of the toughest roles in Victorian football. In 1983, the Geelong and now AFL historian Col Hutchinson said of Malarkey in his book “Cats Tales” that he was “one of Geelongs most effective full backs and probably the strongest defender to ever represent the team. His great concentration, solid marking, effective spoiling tactics, courage, pace and superb kicking resulted in nightmares for opposing forwards. Few players have emulated his consistency.”
Gary Malarkey was a regular WA state of origin representative whilst at Geelong and gained all Australian selection after the 1979 State of Origin carnival. He was named in the VFL Team of the Year in 1983 and he was also runner up in Geelong’s fairest and best award that season. When he decided, at this point, to return home to Perth to finish his career, Geelong, in a measure of their appreciation, granted him life membership despite his 143 games being 7 games short of the qualifying tally.
Unfortunately no agreement could be reached with East Perth, or any other WAFL club and Malarkey returned to Geelong. He quickly forced his way back into the side but a shoulder reconstruction two years later brought an unfortunate end to a long and distinguished senior career. He had played 283 senior games but later had a final playing stint at the Geelong West club in the Victorian Football Association and he was the last ever coach of that club in 1988.
Gary Malarkey later returned to WA and is now a distinguished member of the staff at the school that gave him his start in football – Trinity College. His students may well gain inspiration from the knowledge that years of perseverance, hard work and dedication by their master have been rewarded with well deserved induction into the WA Football Hall of Fame.
Games 349 (Subiaco 190, West Coast 151 WA 8) Goals 113 (Subiaco 67, West Coast 44 WA 2)
Honours: Subiaco Fairest and Best 1982, 1984 and 1985
Subiaco premiership 1986 West Coast Eagles premiership 1992
Simpson Medal 1988 v Victoria in Bicentennial Carnival
Subiaco Team of the Century 2008
Only 11 West Australians in history have played more senior football than Dwayne Lamb but no one exhibited more courage or played at a more consistent level from the start of his career to the end. As a ruck rover with a precise left foot kick and a shuffling running style that belied deceptive pace, Lamb’s durability and consistency enabled him to reach the 50, 100 and 150 game milestones ahead of any other West Coast Eagle from the clubs inception in 1987.
Commencing his football journey at North Innaloo as an 11 year old, Dwayne Lamb moved to Subiaco at 18 and made his senior debut as a back pocket player in week 2 of the 1980 season. This game immediately followed the mid week sacking of coach Peter Burton and the Lions, under stand-in coach Peter Metropolis, copped a caning from Perth. Media reports had Lamb among the better players but Subiaco officials saw it differently and he spent the rest of the season in the seconds.
From the commencement of 1981 however he was a fixture in the Lions improving line up, winning fairest and best awards in 1982 (as a back pocket specialist), 1984 and 1985, when they fell just short of the Sharks in the Grand Final. In 1984, new coach Haydn Bunton converted Lamb into a defensive midfielder charged with cutting off opposition ”seagulls” hovering forward of the play. Excelling in this role but still occasionally posted in defence, Lamb enjoyed premiership success with the Lions in 1986, the last WAFL season uncompromised by VFL expansion.
His concentration, stamina and ability to attract the football ensured Dwayne Lamb was an automatic selection in the inaugural West Coast Eagles squad in 1987. At the Eagles “Fatty” Lamb was a midfielder of extraordinary consistency with season disposal averages of 19.9, 19.6, 19.4, 20.8, 18.5 and 19.3 per game in the 6 seasons from 1987 to 1992. In his 151 AFL games he averaged 19.1 disposals per game which compares favourably with the top midfielders (eg Chris Judd 22.1 in 178 games). Lamb was a vital component of the historic first premiership side in 1992 and his toughness and durability were the stuff of legend. A dislocated shoulder did not keep him out of the clubs first final against Melbourne in 1988 and a broken wrist in the 1989 pre-season competition kept him out of only 2 games.
After becoming the first Eagle to 150 games in 1994, Dwayne Lamb returned to Subiaco for two final seasons before calling it a day, 3 months short of his 35th birthday. In 1996 Lamb was named in the Eagle's official 'Team of the Decade' and in 2006 he was named in the Eagle's Official Team 20.
WA Football Hall of Fame induction is just reward for a long and rich football career featuring premierships and life membership at 2 clubs, multiple fairest and best awards at Subiaco and multiple state representation.
Games 196 (South Fremantle 40, Geelong 146 WA 10) Goals 219 (South Fremantle 32 Geelong 172 Western Australia 15)
Honours: Sandover Medal 1986, South Fremantle Fairest and Best 1986, Four time All Australian team selection (1987, 1989, 1991, 1992), Three AFL Grand Finals (1989, 1992, 1994)
South Fremantle Captain 1986 Geelong Captain 1992, 1993 and 1994
By today’s standards, Mark Bairstow was a mature age entrant into senior football but he more than made up for the late start with immediate and sustained success at both WAFL and VFL/AFL level. An extremely fit on-baller, a prolific ball winner, and a deadly kick for goal anywhere within 50 meters, Bairstow was extremely unlucky not to celebrate at least one AFL premiership.
From a Lake Grace farming family, Bairstow was an established country football star when he commenced his WAFL career at the of 22 in 1985. With more than 150 senior games for Lake Grace including 5 club fairest and best awards and successive Leo Graham Medals in the Upper Great Southern Football League, he arrived at South Fremantle via a trade deal with Claremont as he lived in a Claremont zone.
At South, Bairstow was an immediate success, representing Western Australia in a state match against South Australia after just 9 games, winning the WA Media Guild's Footballer of the Future award, coming second to Wally Matera in South Fremantle's best and fairest award and equal third in the Sandover Medal. After 19 games in his outstanding first season he was named South Fremantle captain in 1986, one of the least experienced players to attain this honour. Despite his inexperience he lead from the front, twice more representing WA and going on to win both the Sandover Medal and South Fremantle's best and fairest award.
As a hot VFL prospect, Mark Bairstow signed with Geelong on 26th September 1986, five days before the 12 VFL clubs voted to allow a WA based team to join the competition. With his prolific ball gathering and highly effective disposal skills, Bairstow was an instant VFL star as a ruck rover. In his debut season he averaged 24.3 possessions per game, gained All Australian selection and a reputation as one of the premier midfielders in the game. In his 3rd season Bairstow played in the epic losing 1989 grand final against Hawthorn and achieved All Australian status for a second time.
Commitment to the family farm saw Mark Bairstow walk away from the AFL in 1990. He played in another losing Grand Final for Lake Grace but was coaxed back to Geelong the following year and produced some of the best football of his career to average over 26 possessions a game and earn All Australian selection in both 1991 and 1992. By the time of his retirement in 1994 after the resignation of coach Malcolm Blight, Bairstow had played 146 VFL/AFL games and captained the Cats in his last three seasons. These included a further 2 losing grand finals in 1992 and 1994.
As a proud West Australian, Mark Bairstow represented his state in every State of Origin game between 1986 and 1993 except 1990 (when he was back on the farm) and 1992 and was invariably amongst the best players. Subsequent to his football career, Bairstow has been engaged in his passion for racehorse training in Bunbury and has seen his son Toby graduate to senior football at South Fremantle. Richly deserved induction into the West Australian Football Hall of Fame might go some way toward erasing the pain of multiple grand final defeats for this champion product of West Australian football.
WA League debut: Swan Districts, April 15, 1961 v Perth aged 24 years and 10 days.
Games played in WA: Swans – 1961-1964 – 89 games, 112 goals; Subiaco – 1968-1971– 59 games; WA State Games – 1961-1964 – 11 games, 9 goals; Premiership player 1961, 1962 and 1963.
Coaching Record: Total: 409 – Won 225, Lost 181, Drawn 3 – includes 2 wins and 1 loss as coach of WA in 1972. Swans Coach – Total 92, Won 55, Lost 35, Draws 2; Subiaco Coach – Total 314, Won 168, Lost 145, Draws 1; WA Coach – Total 3 – Won 2; Lost 1.
Following in the footsteps of a famous father, Haydn Bunton Junior had more obstacles to overcome than most. As a boy he suffered from Perthe's disease and spent six years trapped within leg-irons or a frame before making use of crutches in order to gradually re-acquire the ability to walk. By the time he was fifteen he was not only playing high school football with and against boys who were, on average, two or three years older than he was, he had also made some telling adaptations to his style of play in order to compensate for his perhaps understandable lack of leg speed.
Chief among these adaptations was his uncanny proficiency at handball, which in terms of its accuracy and the speed with which it could be implemented, was ahead of its time. Quick to note its effectiveness, Bunton would later, when coaching, accord intelligent use of handball pride of place among his arsenal of attacking weaponry.
Bunton commenced his League career as a 17 year old with North Adelaide in 1954 and two years later was one of South Australia's best players at the interstate carnival in Perth, earning All Australian selection and the plaudits of team mates and opponents alike.
At the end of the season he finished first in North's best and fairest voting, but was controversially stripped of the honour when he asked for a clearance to Norwood – a club which, ironically, he had loathed as a Port Adelaide-loving youngster. Although still aged only 19, Bunton already had coaching aspirations, and aware of this, the Redlegs had offered him the job of senior coach for 1957.
Bunton coached Norwood for two years, steering the side to a losing grand final against Port Adelaide in 1958. In 1959 he moved to Tasmania as coach of Launceston, but after suffering horrendous injuries in a car accident prior to the start of the season it was feared he might never walk again.
However, the same determination that had helped him shrug off the effects of Perthe's disease returned to the fore again, and Bunton not only walked once more, he returned to the football field. In that season's final series he picked himself at centre against City-South and managed over 30 disposals, all but four of them handpasses.
After spending the 1960 season back with Norwood, Bunton embraced the greatest challenge of his career to date by accepting an offer to coach WANFL club Swan Districts, which at that point in time had yet to win a senior flag. Bunton's achievement in lifting Swans from last place in 1960 to an odds-defying grand final defeat of East Perth in 1961 seems, if anything, even more miraculous in hindsight than it probably did at the time.
Further premierships followed in 1962 and 1963, and Haydn Bunton's reputation as a master coach was born. Perhaps even more miraculously, the man who just three and a half years earlier had been groaning semi-conscious in a crushed vehicle, with shattered ribs, mangled kneecap, and profuse internal bleeding, was in 1962 awarded the Sandover Medal as Western Australia's pre-eminent footballer.
The 1965 season saw Bunton back at Norwood where, although he failed to achieve success in premiership terms, he played a major part in establishing the youth policy that would prove to be the foundation of the club's return to greatness in the 1970s. It was a similar story at Bunton's next port of call, Subiaco, where he remained from 1968 to 1972, the last two years of which saw him coaching from the sidelines.
In 1973, with Bunton's replacement Ross Smith at the helm, the Lions broke through for their first flag in almost half a century, but few people were in any doubt that it was the man affectionately dubbed 'the little master' who was in actual fact the prime architect of the victory.
Haydn Bunton's coaching reputation was further enhanced by stints at South Adelaide (from 1975 to 1982) and back again at Subiaco, where he masterminded premierships in 1986 and 1988. Only at Sturt, where he failed to lift the club off the bottom in 1993 and '94, could he be said to have under-achieved.
In many ways the antithesis of his flamboyant, some would even say egotistical father, the importance of Haydn Bunton junior's overall contribution to the game he loved loses little if anything by comparison.