ARMSTRONG'S ARMY SHELL SHOCKED!
1980: 'Save Subi' was the catch-cry for season 1980. The club was on the brink of collapse and survival was a struggle. Peter Burton was 'chopped' after one season for former Perth dual premiership coach Ken Armstrong. His appointment, the first full time coach in the club's history also attracted a major sponsor, Houghton Wines. The season was as bad on the field as it was off, with a mere 2 wins. We managed an unlikely 78 point win at home against the 'Sharks' on May 17. The other came on July 19, with a 1 point victory over West Perth, also at home. Apart from those 2 games the defeats were mostly decisive and demoralising! As in '79, Alex Hamilton again lead home Gary Buckenara in the Club Champion award. David Court won the Best First Year Player award and Peter Munro was our leading goalkicker with 61. Phil Lamb was our Reserves Fairest & Best. We said farewell and thanks to three fine players in George Young, after an injury effected come- back to football and Dennis Blair (146) who announced their retirement. Another star of the future was to make his mark. 'String-bean' ruckman Laurie Keene won the Colts Fairest & Best award. Other players who left after the season were Fred Davenport (159), Zane McDonald (57) and Ken Screech (53) who transfered to the 'Garlic Muncher's' as part of a deal to obtain Bill Valli to the Lion's Den.
ON THE IMPROVE?
1981: A vast improvement was shown, with 9 wins elevating the league team to 5th position. It seemed, at last we were competitive. We managed winning margins of 94, 90 & 50 points during the season but received a huge thumping of 123 points at Bassendean, which made it a somewhat mixed season. One solid performance was that of lanky, ex-Karrinyup junior Laurie Keene who kicked 9.5 against East Perth at Subiaco Oval on July 4. Neil Taylor was Club Champion and 'Bucky' was again runner-up and leading goalkicker with 42. Former West Perth, Collingwood and Essendon champion Bill Valli and Claremont and Perth ruckman 'Big' Vic Melville were our best performers in the Sandover. These two players performed consistantly well all season and were 'nice guys' as well. Valli especially, battling a nagging groin injury put in some B.O.G's. Tough defender Ray Reeves was named Best First Year Player and Ken Marshall our Reserves Fairest & Best. It looked like Armstrong had found the formula to success that may take the club back up the ladder. The morale was good and there is nothing like being around a footy club when the expectations for success are high. We said thanks and goodbye to some champions in Ron Bayens (184), Brian Douge (81), Graeme Schultz (89), who headed back to the Bombers, Alex Hamilton (81), who returned to the Royals, Gary Buckenara (61) who was traded to Hawthorn for $260,000, Phil Brown (38), Peter Munro (33) and Brian Cook (25).
1982: My, how things can change over a summer! For whatever reason the 'wheels fell off' in '82. A solitary win at home on July 26 against East Fremantle was to be the only day we smiled! Another humiliating record was broken, being the first time since 1906 that the club had managed only 1 win in a season. Although there were many matches where we seemed to 'grab defeat from the jaws of victory' that season. A 99 point loss to the Bulldogs on June 21 was the only big loss and there were games we missed out by less than a kick. Do we call that bad luck, or what? Dwayne Lamb played consistantly all season was fined $250 for abuse and threatening language toward umpire Ross Capes. Tim Gepp was reprimanded for misconduct after disputing a Capes decision. These were signs of frustration and an indication of the way the team was performing. Undisciplined play also saw Collingwood recruit David Miers receive a 11 week suspension for breaking the jaw of East Perth's Russell Sparks behind the play at Perth Oval on May 8. Dwayne Lamb however was controversially named Club Champion, after not scoring votes in the Sandover Medal. Brian Taylor was runner-up and our best performer in the Sandover. Best First Year Player was Michael Mort and the Reserves Fairest and Best was Paul Wilson. Our best 'sharp-shooter was Brian Taylor with 34 goals. It was to be Ken Armstrong's final season at the Lions Den. He coached the Lions for 50 matches during a period when club morale and stability was more important than a win, loss ratio. Ken was a great coach and a gentleman and I feel fortunate to have been around the club at that time and to know Ken Armstrong. Players to leave that season were Ken Bell (105), Tim Gepp (84), Ken Marshall (68), Frank Bucknall (46) and Bill Valli (37).
NEW COACH SACKED!
1983: The club went through the turmoil of changing coach mid season after former Essendon player and Tasmanian premiership coach Peter Daniel was sacked. The league team had started the season well, with 2 wins. As has been the custom of past seasons, the next 9 games were losses and following a 127 point decimation by the Bulldogs on June 11, Daniel was asked to resign or be sacked! Former Claremont player Brian Fairclough was appointed caretaker coach for the final 10 rounds of '83. A threat of strike action by the players was averted by Fairclough who managed to 'calm the waters'. A total of 4 wins for the year was a big disappointment, but with all the off field happenings, what else could be expected! Massive losses to the Bulldogs by 111 and 122 points, Claremont by 196 points and Swans by 140 points ended another depressing year. Neil Taylor won his 2nd Outridge Medal with Phil Lamb runner-up. Laurie Liddlow won the Reserves Fairest & Best, and new recruit from Old Scotch Amateurs Greg Wilkinson was our Best First Year Player and also along with Rod Brown, polled best in the Sandover Medal. Former defender Clinton Brown was our leading goalkicker with 59 majors! We said farewell to Brendon McFaull (22), who announced his retirement. Others to leave the Lions were Mick Johns (64) who headed to Swan Districts, Gerry Cotter (42), David Court (41), Vic Melville (40) and Michael Sheldon (36). Roll-on 1984!
1984: The massiah had returned! Haydn Bunton Jnr was back at Subi. With him came another champion Peter Featherby. If ever there was a sign of good things to come at a football club it was in '84 . Although our 9 wins could get us only 7th spot, things began to turn towards a big change of luck and confidence. A 102 point thrashing of Perth on June 2 brought back smiles to the 'stoney' faces of the club supporters. Dwayne Lamb won his 2nd Outridge Medal, Neil Taylor was runner-up. Victorian recruit Stephen Sells was our Best First Year Player and Laurie Keene was our best Sandover vote-getter. Clinton Brown was our leading goalkicker again with 54 goals. 'Bunts' was there for the long haul, to rebuild a slow old broken down pack-horse into a million dollar champion, as only he can! The revival had commenced......Along with the hopes of success with the league team came the Reserves Premiership, the first since 1972. We said goodbye to Rod Brown (101), Mitch Fussell (55), Ray Reeves (54). The season ended sadly for myself and all members of the club with the sudden death of club stalwart Lionel Piesse. 'Lion'-el was exactly that, a lion supporter through and through, dedicating his spare time to the club for over 20 years. He was a great mate, who taught me many things, mainly to enjoy life and always look on the lighter side of bad situations....we had many laughs whilst working in the Property Room and his friendship I will never forget. The profits from the Members' Bar dropped considerably after Lionel's departure...RIP Lionel.
ONE KICK SHORT!
1985: Season '85 was to be one of new experiences, uphoric high's and depressing low's, but a season that formed the launching pad for one of the most successful periods in the club's history. The timing was right. A mixture of home grown talent, experience and eastern states recruits, balanced by the coaching skill of 'The Little Master', we set our sights on the long awaited premiership. .....The season commenced with a 35 point win over Perth, and a loss to the Tigers by 8 in round 2. By mid season we were 7/4, with the biggest loss to the Sharks by 77. Rounds 15 to 21 were all victories with the biggest by 118 over the Royals at Perth Oval. This elevated us to 2nd on the ladder with a showdown against top side East Freo. in the 2nd Semi. We were in the finals for the first time since 1974 and it was a great feeling. I'm sure all the fans were excited and the expectation all around the club was high. In front of 23,500 fans, we put in a great effort but went down by 12. This meant a meeting with the '82, '83, & '84 Premiers Swans in the Preliminary Final. Todd's boys were chasing 4 in a row and it was to be, in my opinion, the most important victory the club had experienced since the '73 premiership. With a crowd of 25,703 watching, we hit Swans with everything and came out 51 point victors in a memorable game. We were there, in the Grand Final against the Sharks. We all joined the GF week celebrations, feeling like a kid going to school for the first time. It really was an exciting time. Imagine how the players felt! 'Feathers' was the only player on the list who had done this before! It was September 21, a blustery day with showers forecast. 42,657 fans saw a classic grand final with everything! We had a great first quarter and led 7.4 to 3.1. East's were 6 points up at half time and still led by 3 at the last change. East's led by 17 points in the last term and we looked gone....but goals to Brian Taylor with a left foot snap and Phil Scott brought the margin back to 5. The siren beat us, it was all over! It was devastating to lose, a feeling worse than finishing last on the ladder. But, there was something to be proud of. The boys tried their best and were gallant in defeat.....and Brian Taylor winning the Simpson Medal was a wonderful achievement. The club was to remember that day and take into the seasons to come! We said thanks and good luck to Steve Leishman who retired after 48 games in the Maroon & Gold.....roll on 1986!
1986: The season commenced on March 15 when VFL side St. Kilda, coached by Graeme Gellie flew over to play us in a pre-season match. They had some big names in their side like Barker, Frawley, McConville, Sidebottom, Narkle, and a 'thin' Tony Lockett. It was the start of a memorable season for the club. There seems to be a trend in footy that a team usually lose a grand final before winning one. It doesn't always happen, but it did for Subi. in 1986. Not only did we go one better than '85, but we stamped our authority on the competition, finishing on top of the ladder and winning the last premiership, pre-AFL dominance of state football. The season was also remembered for it's support from major sponsors Western Underwriters and Channel 9, who offered $200,000 if we could win the Premiership. This incentive was the biggest amount offered to any sporting club in Australia. On the field, the players had a wonderful season winning 17 matches which included floggings of 115 points over the Royals, 100 points over Swans and 98 points over the Falcons. Finals time brought a 2nd Semi showdown against our rivals the 'Sharks'. They again flogged us by a 50 point margin and they went straight to the Grand Final. Our 71 point victory over Perth in the Prelim. brought a confident air of expectation through the clubrooms. Here we were, in the GF again and no way were we going to let this one get away! The sweetness of victory! It was a tough Grand Final, they always are, but to come out 69 point winners was like a dream! To cap off a wonderful day Mark Zanotti was named the Simpson Medallist. His speech on receiving the award meant a lot to me. Only days before the grand final we lost my dear friend and long time stalwart Ted Doherty. Ted was not only a tireless worker for the club for almost all of his 70 years, he was a wonderful person who always had a joke and loved a drink with the boys. He was my boss when I started in the Property Room and the fun times we had will always stay with me. The fact that the players dedicated this premiership to Ted means so much to all who knew him. RIP Ted!. September 20, 1986 is a day I'll never forget. It was a season to savour, and thankfully there were more successes to come. A week after we celebrated premiership number 6, we played host to the mighty Hawthorn premiership team in 'The Clash of the Premiers'. Stand-in coach Alan Joyce replaced Allan Jeans, who was unwell. With stars such as Brereton, Buckenara, Tuck, Platten, Langford, 'Dipper', Dear, Dunstall and Schwab, it was always going to be a tough task to win, but we threw everything at the Hawks, being in front at half time by 23 points. It turned out a classic match, with a kick after the final siren by Laurie Keene missing by centimetres, leaving Hawthorn the victors by 2 points. It was one of our best performances of that era, against one of the best teams to head west from Victoria. As expected, Big Laurie Keene won the Club Champion Award with Brian Taylor runner-up. The Best First Year Player was Ian Dargie, leading goalkicker, Stephen Sells with 74 goals and the Reserves Best Player was Kalgoorlie recruit Mick Lee. After the satisfaction of a premiership, we said farewell to Stephen Sells (57), Michael Crutchfield (51) and Peter Spencer (21).
FINALS CAMPAIGN AGAIN!
1987: The Subiaco Football Club was halfway through the most successful period in it's history. The premiership in '86 was a release of many years of pressure for players, officials and the fans. It was important that the club continued its success and not relinquish the dominance it had produced. The season started with 1 win from 4, but it was a big win. April 11 saw us 'batter' East Perth by112 points at Perth Oval. By round 9 when we drew with Claremont, we were 4-4 &1 and things looked a little better. We finished the qualifying rounds with 15 wins and 2nd spot on the ladder. And for the 3rd season in a row we faced a 2nd Semi showdown this time against the 'Tigers'. Now, as most of you who have read this far into this website will know, we are not the friendliest of neighbours with Claremont! I don't really know why...but the finals of '87 did nothing to soften the relationship. After a 70 point pounding at their hands in the 2nd Semi, we faced our other rivals, the 'Sharks'. Thankfully 'Bunts' got the boys revved-up and we were able to win the Prelim. by 38 points. After many years of languishing in the bottom four, it was a strange feeling to suddenly being faced with the drama-filled tension of grand finals year after year. It was great in some respects, winning is just so good, but the losing bit really hurts! Claremont had beaten us 3 times, by 15, 4 & 70 points and drawn once, so I wasn't over confident at all. Boy, a 71 point thrashing sat us all back in our seats. Enough said about that game, lets look at the positives of season '87. Greg Wilkinson had a great season winning the Club Champion Award. Tireless ruckman and former 'Royal' Shane Cocker was runner-up and also polled the most votes for us in the Sandover. A favourite player of mine, Bret Hutchinson, recruited from Melbourne won the Best First Year Player with Todd 'Turbo' Breman booted his way to the WAFL goalkicking award with 111 majors. This was the first time a Subiaco player has won the League goalkicking since the great Austin Robertson back in 1972. Michael Mort grabbed the Reserves Best Player Award. We said farewell and thanks to a great player in Phil Lamb who announced his retirement after 227 games. Players to leave were Phil Lamb (227), Glenn O'Loughlin (75), Bevan Warner (55), Clint Roberts (25).
HOW SWEET IT IS!
1988: It began with the election of a new Club President in David Williams who replaced Michael Carlile. On the field, a 67 point loss to the Premiers Claremont in round 1 was a bleak start. We bounced back with 6 wins on end including a crushing 109 point victory over Swans and a 94 point win over South. A severe knee injury struck down our captain Greg Wilkinson who was out for most of the season. The league team finished with 14 wins in the home and away series and finished in 2nd position on the ladder come finals time. We again played the 'Tigers in the 2nd Semi. Our only win against them was in round 15 by 2 points. Memories of Grand Final day '87 came back to haunt us as we went down by 25 points. Although not a thrashing by any means, it was enough to put doubts on whether the 'little master' Bunton could pull off another '3 finals wins in a row to capture a flag' policy, of which he obviously liked and had successfully achieved in the previous 3 seasons. We face a determined East Fremantle in the Prelim. and what a match it was. In one of the classic finishes and certainly one of the most important wins for the club, it was down to the hard working Garry Kemp to slam through a late goal from 45 metres out and give us victory by 3 points in front of 13,112 fans. We were there again! GF number 4 in a row.....and it was the 'Tigers' again. September 9 was also a big day for the Reserves, they too were in the GF. Unfortunately they were runners-up, but the sour taste of defeat was made sweeter for the players and fans with the crushing victory by league side. It was even sweeter than '86, (could that be possible?). The magnificent 62 point win lead by acting captain Greg Carpenter, was as tough and relentless as ever. Our champion on-baller Mick Lee was judged BOG and walked away with the Simpson Medal. We won the fights, the Simpson Medal and the flag! In a year to remember, Brian Taylor won the Club Champion Award with Shane 'Joe' Cocker his runner-up. Todd Breman again booted his way to the Goalkicking Award with Brett Heady the Best First Year Player. Mick Lee (aka Lick Mee) also was our best performer in the Sandover count. Personally, I have always thought the 1988 premiership should be called 'The Laurie Keene Flag'! The controversy regarding his clearance to participate in the finals series could have been a motivating tool to inspire him to perform to greater heights. One weekend during 1988 he was selected as an emergency in the West Coast Eagles team and accompanied them to Melbourne. This of course meant that he could not play with Subiaco and therefore, it turned out, did not play the 5 games with Subi needed to qualify him for the finals. The Subi board complained to the WAFL and amongst grumblings from other clubs, they decided that this was a fair and reasonable request and he was allowed to wear the maroon and gold. No greater a decision they have made.....the rest is history! With another flag on the mantle, we farewelled Peter Featherby (197) earlier that season, Greg Wilkinson (113), Mark Zanotti (60), Michael Mort (54) and Kevan Sparks (50).
THE HONEYMOON IS OVER!
1989: With only 6 wins for the season and finishing in 6th position, it was a big disappointment after 4 successive finals appearances. It is important to mention that 5 of the 15 losses were by less than a goal, so in fact, our ladder position could have been higher. The league side beating the eventual premiers Claremont twice, by 30 and 20 points was a season highlight. As was the Colts side coached by Eddie Pitter winning the Premiership. Another important event was coach Bunton being honoured by the Club for his remarkable contribution over many years by naming the road outside the clubrooms 'Haydn Bunton Drive'. Former Bulldog Brad McDougall was named Club Champion with Clinton Brown runner-up. Dean Kemp was our Best First Year Player and Brett Heady was our sharp shooter with 35 goals. Our best performer in the Sandover Medal count was Kalgoorlie recruit Garry Kemp. We said goodbye to our champion little captain Neil Taylor after 260 league games. Taylor also passed Colin Williams long standing record of 252 games played. Other players who left the club were Greg Carpenter (84), Graham Jones (54), Andrew Brice (46), Alex Rattray (41), and Mick Jennings (33).