INJURIES HIT HARD!
1990: As in '89, we could only manage 6 wins. This was however a rebuilding phase at the club due to retirements and injury. The season commenced with a 'belting' of East Perth at Perth Oval by 105 points. Unfortunately this dream start was not to continue and by mid season we were 5/5. Rounds 11 to 20 were a disaster! 10 straight losses blew our season to shreds and destroyed any chance of a finals appearance. Two of our great players had milestones though. Brian Taylor and high-flying Clint Brown both played their 200th game. Son of the champion Reg, Damian Hampson, won the Club Champion Award, with Garry Kemp runner-up. Kemp also was our best performer in the Sandover Medal. Best First Year Player was Mitchell White and Wayne Golding was our top goalkicker with 38. We said farewell and thanks to Clint Brown who retired after 204 games and Warren Dean (82) who joined the Melbourne Demons.
1991: The sniff of another flag was in the air! All 3 grades were playing on that 'one day in September' and surely we would secure a flag this year? The week prior to the Grand Final was historic for the club with Ian Dargie winning the Sandover Medal, the first medal winner since Haydn Bunton Snr. in 1941. It was all falling into shape. It turned out a disaster! Not only did we not win a premiership that day, we lost the Reserves after leading comfortably into time-on in the last quarter. I remember looking towards their captain Brian Taylor as the final siren sounded. He has on his knees, it was his final game, his career had ended in the worst possible way, a way not deserving of the player and person that he is! I really felt for him and the whole club that day. I thought about standing up and going home that moment. I regret that I didn't! A lot of things pointed to us being long-odds to win the league that day. One being that the competition had gone to a final 5 format, meaning we played 3 hard finals to get to the 'big one'. Our opponents had to play only one. In a season that saw the league team win its last 8 matches, there was so much expectation....so little result! The match was also a disappointing and demoralising display. The quarter time score was 8.2 to 1.1 and things only got worse! We were ripped apart by a ferocious 'Tigers' team who, I must admit, fully deserved their premiership. Andrew Macnish claimed the Club Champion award with tough defender Glenn Coyle runner-up and Best First Year Player. Our leading goalkicker was Todd Breman with 55 goals and who, together with Mick Lee (157), Brian Taylor (211) and Fintan McGuire (34), announced his retirement.
END OF AN ERA!
1992: The league side finished the season 4th position with a 50/50 win loss ratio. Two good wins against the 1991 premiers Claremont and a comfortable win in the second round over eventual premiers East Fremantle were the highlights. Losses to the lowly Perth, South Fremantle and a massive 85 point loss to East Perth in the Elimination Final sealed the fate of Haydn Bunton. The committee met and decided it was time for a change. This decision ended the most successful partnership in the club's history. Five grand finals and 2 premierships from 1984 to 1992 was a wonderful achievement. Bunton considered himself lucky to be able to coach Subiaco for the past nine years and commented "Not only does the club need a change, but I also need a change". The Club Champion was the popular Phil Scott with former 'Garlic Muncher' Malcolm Williams runner-up. In an outstanding season, Williams was our best performer in the Sandover Medal, only three votes behind the winner West Perth's Robbie West. The Best First Year Player was Tasmanian Errol Bourn and the club Goalkicking Award went to Rod 'Spinner' Willet. Leaving us were Phil Scott (110), Brad McDougall (56) and Malcolm Williams (35).
SOLIN IS NEW COACH!
1993: The season commenced with a new coach. Former Swan Districts and East Fremantle player Tony Solin was the surprise selection. Solin did not have immediate success with the league side losing it's first 5 matches. It steadied to then win the next 5 straight, but lost badly the following week to South by 128 points. 10 wins placed us in 4th position and after winning the first final we were defeated by West Perth in the Preliminary Final. Rod Willet was named the Club Champion, with Diamond Valley recruit Jason Heatley runner-up and also named the Best First Year Player. Heatley was outstanding at full forward finishing the season with 111 goals. Rookie of the Year went to Nathan 'Bones' O'Connor and Errol Bourn gained the most votes in the Sandover Medal. Players to leave at the season's end were Shane Cocker (113), Bret Hutchinson (105), Garry Kemp (105), John Georgiades (103) and Errol Bourn (39).
FINAL'S FADE OUT!
1994: As in '93, the league side were slow to start, with loses in the first 5 matches of '94. Defeats of 64 points by Claremont in round 2 and 87 points by West Perth in round 5 did not look good for a successful season ahead. Round 6 we met the Royals at the WACA. We hit our straps that day scoring a 70 point win, 23.11 149 to 12.7 79. Was this the real Subi? At the halfway mark we were 3 & 8 and not very impressive. Rounds 12 to 19 saw a magnificent 8 match winning streak that included a 75 point thrashing of West Perth. In the final round we set up another finals appearance with a 121 point 'hammering of South Fremantle at home. Again though, we were to 'bomb-out' in the finals, which lead I'm sure, to the sacking of Solin as coach. The highlight of '94 was the announcement of the Sandover Medal. After a remarkable home and away season, Ian Dargie won his second medal in 4 years. He was also honoured with the Club Champion Award. The runner-up was Matt Connell and David Snow was third. The Best First Year Player was Sam McFarlane. Jason Heatley again topped the club's goalkicking tally. Players leaving in '94 were Laurie Keene (140), Ian Dargie (131), Wayne Golding (84), Glenn Coyle (80) and Gavin Keyser (57).
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY!
1995: Some old familiar names were back at Subiaco. Gary Buckenara was announce as league coach for the next 2 years, and with him came some former past players in Peter Featherby, Dennis Blair and Phil Lamb in support roles. We had a great start to the season with a 97 point win over Swans at Bassendean. A loss by 30 points in round 4 to East Perth and 25 points in round 14 to West Perth were the only defeats in the qualifying matches. This performance saw us finish on top of the table with 19/2. We won the Rodriguez Shield for being minor premiers, a feat not accomplished since our premiership season in 1986. The closest any other side got to us was the Falcons with 13/8. It was a remarkable achievement for all 3 grades to make the Grand Final. The league team were soundly beaten by a passionate and determined Falcons, who ran out big winners on the day. No doubt the big crowd was a red & blue house that day and although painful for all Lions supporters, it was a long awaited flag for all the the West Perth fans. I have actually erased that horrible memory from my brain! Our Reserves, coached by 'Blairy' were able to bring home the premiership. In an outstanding season, Andrew Donnelly won the Club Champion Award, runner-up was Bill Monaghan. Luke Toia was the Best First Year Player and sharp-shooter Jason Heatley again had a brilliant season, winning the WAFL Goalkicking Award with 123. Tony Godden was our best Sandover performer and Jon Langer won the Prendergast Medal for the best Colts player in the competition. We said goodbye to Rod Willet (188), David Snow (110), Karl Langdon (69) and Kane O'Brien (43).
1996: The outgoing coach Gary Buckenara summed up the season this way "It would be an understatement to say the 1995 and 1996 season were like chalk and cheese. Look at the facts - we lost approximately 2/3 of the '95 grand final side through retirements, the draft, AFL duties, injuries and transfers - and with the best of planning you could not have predicted what happened to us in season 1995". Those words were true. Players like Donnelly, Schofield, Toia, Metropolis and Parker were all on regular AFL duties and injuries to Jay Burton, Tony Godden and Jason Heatley meant we were struggling to perform to our potential. We finished bottom with only 6 wins for the season. The last time this happened to the league side was 1982. To make things worse both the Reserves and Colts finished in the bottom four. Nathan O'Connor won the Club Champion Award from Jarrad Hocking. The Best First Year Player was Evan Hewitt and the Leading Goalkicker was Jason Heatley. In the Reserves, Rob Thomson was Fairest and Best and in the Colts it was Chad Fletcher.
1997: The season commenced with a new coach, former East Perth and Claremont player Peter Thorne and what I consider THE worst jumper that the club has run out in. We added navy blue to the traditional maroon & gold and when I first saw the jumper I seriously thought we were looking at a merge with Claremont! I instantly thought about what hobby I would take up if that was the scenario...thankfully it never happened. What did happen was another forgettable season with again, no finals action. Damian Hampson won the Club Champion Award from Matt Gauci. Best First Year Player was Todd Holmes and Todd Breman was our leading goalkicker. It was all good news for the Reserves winning the premiership under the guidance of Kevan Sparks. Craig Richardson won the Reserves Fairest & Best with Jarod Shawcross collecting the Predergast Medal for the best player in the competition. In the Colts, Dane Carmody was the Fairest & Best Award winner from Chad Fletcher.
1998: The league side finished the home & away season in third position on the ladder, with 12 wins & 10 losses. This was a big improvement on the previous seasons mainly due to good prerformances by senior players. Todd Ridley, Dean Irving, Tony Godden Sam McFarlane & Chad Fletcher were all in good form. Losing the Preliminary Final was disappointing, but a week later the Reserves secured the premiership under Kevan Sparks. Damian Hampson played his 150th game, Nathan O'Connor and Paul Miller their 100th. Off the field, the first volume of a book titled, The History of the Subiaco Football Club - Diehards Vol.1 1896-1945 was launched. Membership of the club dropped from the previous season from 748 to 615. The Club Champion Award went to Todd Ridley, with Dean Irving runner-up. Ridley also secured the Leading Goalkicker Award for the WAFL and received the Bernie Naylor Medal. Irving was our best performer in the Sandover Medal Count with 23 votes. The Best First Year Player was Des Headland. In the Reserves Mark Attard was B&F from Jarod Shawcross. The Colts Award was won by Antoni Grover from Tyson Davenport.
1999: The Club appointed reserves coach Kevan Sparks as senior coach. With 15 wins and 7 losses, finals were again on the agenda. Unfortunately it was another devistating loss in the Preliminary Final that ended the dream of a premiership. The result promped the following comment from Football Affairs chairman Neil Randall, "The Subiaco Football Club has finished in the finals 11 times and played in the grand final 6 times in the last 15 years, quite an impressive record. The fact of the matter is that we have only 2 premierships during that period. Whilst there have been extenuating circumstances over the years, we should have won more. We, collectively as a Club, have got to get real and become more focused on winning that elucive premiership, especially next year being our 100th year in the WAFL competition". The good news came once again with the Reserves winning back to back flags, this time under new coach Peter Ashworth. The awards for season 1999 were: Club Champion - Nathan O'Connor, runner-up - Luke Toia, Best First Year Player - Todd Bennett, Leading Goalkicker - Todd Ridley and our best performer in the Sandover medal was Neil Marshall with 23 votes. In the Reserves, the Cam Blakemore Medallist was Brant Chambers and the Colts B&F was Luke Newick. Memberships again dropped from 615 in 1998, to 574.