HAYDN BUNTON INJURED!
1970: Despite a disappointing loss to East Perth in the First Semi Final, the season must go down as a successful one for the club. For the 3rd successive year the league side had played in the finals, a feat not accomplished for 30 years. Finishing in 3rd position on the ladder with 13 wins was an encouraging effort after losing captain- coach Haydn Bunton mid season with a severe archilles tendon injury. Off the field the club was improving the facilities at League Headquarters with concrete terracing on the Roberts Road side of the ground costing $37,000 and expecting to accommodate 14,000 fans. A loan of $200,000 from the Subiaco City Council assisted in the proposed development of new clubrooms and a social hall adjoining the existing clubrooms. Things were looking good for the Maroons. Star centreman Cam Blakemore won his 3rd Outridge Medal for Fairest & Best, 1 vote ahead of Colin 'Evil' Williams. Goalkicking machine Austin Robertson finished with 116.70, the sixth time he has headed the WANFL goalkicking. A wooly-headed, wirey little rover named Keith Watt won the Best First Year Player award and the Fourths won the premiership under coach Bill Cox. We said farewell to Reg Hampson (224), Warren Marshall (42) and Eric Sarich (14) who all announced their retirements.
1971: With Bunton out injured, Col Williams was elected captain with Peter Metropolis his deputy. Amongst 'internal problems' at the club, which saw unsuccessful applications for clearances by Robertson to East Perth, Peter Featherby to Claremont, Stephen Heal to West Perth and George Young refusing to play due to a clearance wrangle involving his big brother Robbie, Bunton fought to keep the league team together. Peter Burton added to the turmoil by resigning due to a pay dispute and then returning to the field to finish the season. Thankfully all of the above occurrences were settled. Just imagine Featherby in a 'Tigers' jumper or 'Ocker' kicking a bag of majors for East Perth against us! To add to the woes, last season's Club Champion Cam Blakemore was restricted to just 12 games due to having a melanoma removed. There were some positive events taking place off field during '71. The Subiaco Football and Sporting Club Inc. opened it's new magnificent facilities as the Home of the Mighty Maroons on July 10. Back on the field the pocket dynamo Keith Watt stamped his mark in WANFL football by representing WA and winning the Outridge Medal for the Fairest and Best Player. This was highlight of a bleak season for the club. Players who finished their careers in '71 included Graham Dearle (65), Graham Heal (58) and Rob Kitchen (57).
1972: This season was also frustrating and disappointing. The 'Think Subi' campaign was launched but did little to lift our success rate. A recruiting drive was launched with some 'big-names' hopefully being attracted from the VFL. Two players that were not high profile but did join us were Fitzroy giant Peter Ellis and Essendon defender Gary Crouch. Both were to play significant parts in the clubs climb to the top. The league team managed only 3 wins in the first 14 matches and the club looked down and out . A remarkable 5 successive wins late in the season brought a sniff of possible September finals action, but a loss to Perth by a goal in the second last round cost the team its 4th finals appearance in a row. Many media scribes were calling us to 'Think Again Subi!' and 'Forget Subi!', as we yet again missed out on the finals. In an effort to secure the long awaited premiership, on July 10 the committee decided that a playing coach was required and a replacement for Bunton was sought. This ended 5 years of development and 4 years of finals appearances. Bunton's coaching record with the Maroons was 55 wins from 108 matches. Former St. Kilda premiership player Brian Sierakowski won the Fairest and Best from Dennis Blair and Featherby. 'Ocker' played his 200th game and again lead the goalkicking with 98.71. Ron Jacks and Peter Burton both played their 100th game. The club did have some reason to smile due to a magnificent effort by the Reserves side coached by George Woodhouse, clinching a premiership from 3rd position, winning all 3 finals. Players to retire or leave the club that year included Cam Blakemore, the popular centreman announced his retirement after a wonderful 175 game career, Ron Jacks (103), George Young (76), Chris Simpson (65), Ross Gorton (52) and Alby Brackenridge (30).
THE LONG DROUGHT IS BROKEN!
1973: The signs of improvement had been there in '72, it was now time to produce the goods! Former St Kilda champion Ross Smith was appointed captain coach. It was an outstanding season with only 6 losses, 4 of them to our Grand Final opponents West Perth. The 'Maroons' became 'The Lions' in July. The club produced 6 state representatives to play against the VFL & SANFL. In Grand Final week we lost one of our legends in Tom Outridge. The 1924 premiership player and first Sandover Medallist passed away within hours of our most famous victories in our club's history. Saturday September 29, Grand Final day, was warm and windy. Victories in the 3 home and away matches and the 2nd Semi-Final made 'The Cardinals' unbackable favourites. It was, I suppose, typical of the favourites to be confident. Maybe a little too confident, as shown by their back pocket specialist Leon O'Dwyer who ran out wearing a 'Cardies' beanie. It was to be a dream come true for many thousands of Lions fans amongst the 46,855 who witnessed the match. Many, like myself, had never seen a Subi premiership. Our last grand final appearance was in the year I was born 1959, when we lost to East Perth. The scores were close for most of the first half, but it was the magic of little Keith Watt in the third quarter that sealed the victory. Kicking with the breeze for the last time he collected nine kicks, 3 of which hit Mick Malone on the chest and finished in majors. Watt's 4 goals straight for the game was the match winning performance. There it was, the 49 year drought was over 10.12.(72) - 6.4.(40). The Lions at Last! I remember losing my scarf whilst madly running down to the fence before the final siren. I also remember raiding the lockers in the rooms early the next morning and finding a poster that had been left behind. Bunton's past 5 years of development had set-up a sensational premiership, it was left for Ross Smith to 'ice the cake' in 1973. Post match, the packed clubrooms were evacuated due to a bomb scare, but nothing was going to stop the party. The following weekend we travelled to the Adelaide Oval for the 'Champions of Australia' series. After disposing Tasmanian team Scottsdale, we prepared for VFL premiers Richmond, coached by Tom Hafey. A best on ground performance by Mike Fitzpatrick was not enough to hold off the 'Tigers' who won 12.20 (92) to 10.19 (79). 'Yibbida, yibbida'! big forward Rex Hunt was the match winner scoring 4 goals in the final quarter. It was a brave effort against the power-house team of the VFL. It was a season to savor, the memory of which every diehard Subi fan will cherish. Mike Fitzpatrick won the Outridge Medal from Featherby and Smith. The Sandover Medal was won by Perth's Barry Cable with Featherby 3 votes behind and 'Fitzy' and Ross Smith bringing up the minor placings. Although we were the best of the best in '73, the premiership was short lived. It would be 13 seasons before we tasted premiership success again. We said goodbye to Peter Eakins (68), 'Zorba' Metropolis (159), Barry 'Banjo' Paterson (96) and Keith Watt (71), who announced their retirement. Watt's premature departure from the game was a shock to everyone at the club and ended the short but successful career of this little genius.
1974: How could we better the results of last season? Will there be a premiership hang-over? The season started with Fitzroy and Victorian wingman David Rhodes joining the Lions. Peter Featherby collected 40 odd possessions on Anzac Day at Perth Oval. The stars of '73 were still performing but with only 3 wins out of 8 games and injuries to key players, the team fought back well in the 2nd half of the season. Austin Robertson played his 250th, 'Evil' his 200th and Ronnie Bayens his 100th. Fitzpatrick won the Outridge Medal by 10 votes from Featherby. Our 12 wins got us to the 1st Semi Final but a loss to Swans Districts closed the book on a wonderful team and the end of an era of champions. One shining light was the premiership won by the Colts, coached by Viv Dearle. Young rover Neil Taylor won not only the club's Best Player award, but also the Burley Medal, the WANFL Colts competition's Best and Fairest. We also saw the retirement of the magnificent 'Ocker' Robertson (251) with a tally of 1,211 majors, 'Siera' (115), Rod Jasper (47) and the little champion Ross Smith (39), also hung up his boots. The '74 finals assault would be the last for a decade as we also said farewell to 'Fitzy' (97), and 'Feathers', who headed east. To lose such big names in one year, it wasn't hard to predict that there was a long, long road ahead for the club.
'PARKO' HITS TOWN!
1975: Former Hawthorn defender David Parkin was appointed Captain Coach. Due to our popular General Manager Basil Fuller being there to meet the new coach at the airport, he was then jokingly known as 'the Parkin meter!' We christened our new 'Leaping Lion' jumper. In a not so memorable season, the boys displayed the new yellow jumper with maroon lion across the front at Subi oval. They were called the 'canaries' and some other less flattering names by the opposition crowd that day. It certainly upset the' fashion critics' because the shorts were actually red and not maroon! Our 9 wins could only propel us up to 7th on the ladder. Our captain Peter Burton played his 150th and was Club Champion with Stephen Heal runner-up. 'Blairy' played his 100th. Graeme Schultz polled brilliantly to nearly steal the Sandover Medal after playing only 12 games. He was 4 votes off the winner. Neil Randall was our leading goalkicker with 43 goals. Best First Year Player was Stephen Woodhouse, the Reserves Best was Tony Connolly and the Colts best was Shane Fanderlinden. Parkin announced his return to Victoria at the end of the season leaving the club with long lasting memories of his toughness, dedication and professionalism on and off the field. His 8 league match career was short but eventful. I remember a day at Claremont oval when he took a heavy knock to the head and refused to leave the ground. After some agressive swings at our runner Ross Prout, he was eventually escorted to the rooms with the assistance of 5 or 6 trainers. Anyone around the club during 1975 would have no doubt that 'Parko' would always make a great coach. His record in the VFL/AFL has proven this. He was quoted as saying his time at Subiaco was a 'terrific first- up experience' which provided 'the best foundation' for his long coaching career. Unfortunately his departure after just one season meant the club was again left searching for a coach. We said farewell to Gary Crouch (60), Lester Joyce (54) and Chris O'Farrell (33) and Peter Hall (21).
THE DOWNWARD SLIDE!
1976: With a new coach in Jack Ensor, the club looked towards a more competitive performance. Prior to the start of the season, we said farewell to premiership defender Dennis Blair, who headed east. We welcomed new recruit Vin Catoggio from Carlton in June. A 148 point thrashing by South Fremantle at the port was the low-light but we managed to beat league leaders East Perth by 19 points at home on August 21. 4 wins for the season was a poor effort and we finished as the 'cellar dwellars'. Neil Randall played his 100th and was named Club Champion with Peter Burton runner-up. 'Evil' Williams broke the club record of games played, 252. Gary Fathers continued his success as full forward. His tally of 35.24 was a significant effort in a team which registered over 12 goals on only 4 occasions. Another forward in Kalgoorlie recruit Dick Robinson won the Reserve Fairest & Best and local Glen Capelli won the Colts Best Player Award. Catoggio was an instant success scoring the most votes for us in the Sandover Medal. We farewelled some of our favourite players in 'Evil' (252), Peter Burton (182), Alan Shepheard (54), Dick Manning (49), Lloyd Page (38) and Brett Devenish-Meares (34).
DOUGE TAKES THE REINS!
1977: A 100 point loss to the Bulldogs at home on April 23, heralded another season to forget. With former Hawthorn premiership defender Brian Douge as our new captain coach, the Victorian style that Dougey brought hardened the boys, but 7 wins proved it was not hard enough! I have vivid memories of training nights, handing out house bricks to the players to carry in each hand whilst running laps of the oval. Training nights were long in those days with an 8pm finish not unusual and many clashes of bodies, some causing injuries, occurring due to training in the pitch blackness of a then unlit Subi oval. If there was one thing that Brian Douge was, he was tough! A dispute erupted between Subi and Carlton over the appointment of 'Blues' 173 gamer David 'Swan' McKay as the assistant Lions coach. The result was McKay not being cleared to the west and Col Williams was appointed Douge's deputy. 'Feathers' returned to the club and won the Club Champion award by 8 votes from John Dimmer and former 'Blue' Vin Catoggio a further 6 points behind. Vin & 'Feathers' polled best for us in the Sandover. Best First Year Player was Greg Maslin and the Gary Fathers again topped our goalkicking with 84. The Reserves Best Player was Garry Richardson and young ruckman Mick Johns was the Colts Fairest & Best player. We say goodbye to Stephen Heal (138), David Rhodes (48), Gary Fathers (37) and Vin Catoggio (30). Friday June 3, 1977 was a significant date in the clubs history. The 'Night of Champions', the brain-child of the Club's Promotion Director Leon Larkin was held in the social hall. A selection committee was formed of past players and officials, WANFL and media identities and chaired by Subiaco stalwart Norm Clyne. The rules were that only players who played their first game with Subiaco and participated during the period of 1946 to 1976 would be eligible. The famous 'Champion Team 1946-76' is listed in the next section of this site.
DOUGE RESIGNS AS COACH!
1978: We welcomed Keith Watt back to the Lions. Peter Featherby was a run away winner of the Fairest and Best Medal with 100 votes, from Neil Randall on 43. Featherby also played his 100th game during the season, as was the best performer in the Sandover Medal. Premiership player Mick Malone also played his 100th and topped our goalkicking with 54.47. The league team were never higher than 7th position, managing only 5 wins. The biggest win was 21.24 to 7.20 at home over Swan Districts. We were belted by Claremont by 128 and East Perth by 114 points during this depressing season. Ruckman Mick Johns won the Best First Year Player Award, with Wayne Loxley winning the Reserves Fairest and Best. The Colts Fairest and Best award was won by Brian Taylor with 75 votes. This was the sign of bigger things to come for this champion player. We lost the following players at the end of '78. Mick Malone (104), Keith Watt (71), Greg Wright (49), Roch Devenish-Meares (43) and Geoff Clark (33). Toward the end of the season Douge indicated that he would be unable to afford the time to continue as coach in 1979 but would be available to continue as a player. The Subiaco Contact of '79 stated, The dedication, courage and honesty that Brian has displayed in his 2 years as a playing coach is quite remarkable and it is a pity that the club could not reward his efforts with greater results. Dougey was a great bloke who earned respect from everyone at the club and I have great memories of his courage and leadership.
BURTON'S TOUGH START!
1979: In the off season, club favourite Peter Burton was announced the new coach. Burton, who had just coached Wanneroo in the WAFA to a premiership, became the first Subiaco player to coach the club since 1949. Other famous Subiaco names in Brian Sierakowski was named his assistant and Reg Hampson Reserves coach. The lack of success was effecting the finances of the club with a net loss of $53,000. New coach Burton found the task a difficult one, with injuries to 6 of our most experienced players effecting the on field performances and the loss of Peter Featherby to Victoria after 10 matches was a crutial blow. Burton commented in the Subiaco Contact, "Derogitory comments and insults were the order of the day, as everyone decided it was a God-given right to denigrate Subiaco and its players". Only managing 3 wins and massive losses of 149, 124, 126, 116 and 124 points, our confidence and moral were at an all time low. In a memorable match against Swans we were 'belted' by 20 goals, 40.11 to Subi's 20.7. It was memorable not only because 20.7 isn't a bad losing score, but also there was a super individual performance by Gary Buckenara. 9 of the 20 goals we scored were kicked by this youngster who came straight from the amateurs into the league side. Former 'Royal' Alex Hamilton won the Fairest & Best with Buckenara runner-up. Former South Fremantle recruit Alan Rose was our highest vote winner in the Sandover Medal, 'Schultzy' won our goalkicking with 38 and Brian Taylor clinched the Reserves Fairest & Best. Players who left after the season were Ian 'Fox' Cunningham (182), Neil Randall (151) who transferred to South Fremantle, John Dimmer (90), Peter Ellis (88) and Wayne Williams (50).