The 1935 entrance gates pictured on completion

We read in the news that the Minister for Heritage has declined to register all of Subiaco Oval, much to the disappointment of the local authority. Although allegedly against the advice of the Heritage Council, the government seems happy with just having the 1935 gates heritage listed.

But in all this discussion we’ve not seen anyone comment on the fact that the current Subiaco Oval is not the first Subiaco Oval, but the second. Most people know the stadium first opened in 1908, but Subiaco Football Club was founded way back in 1896. Do you imagine they had nowhere to play and train for their first twelve years?

Towards the western end of Nicholson Road is a reserve called Shenton Park and it was here, in 1897, that Subiaco FC made their home. It was simply known as Subiaco Oval at the time. Trouble was, to the south of the ground was a large lake, and during the winter months the water on the playing field proved impossible to drain.

The local government spent a small fortune trying to make Subiaco Oval playable, but there were still times when games were played wading ankle-deep through the water. But play they did, because footballers were harder back then.

In the end, the council gave up trying and instead decided to develop a new oval on Mueller Park, starting work in 1906. And how did the Subiaco locals react? As you would expect: with outrage. Angry letters were written to the newspapers, protest meetings were held, and people were generally grumpy. How dare they fence off part of our park and charge admission for football games? This is the people’s park, and those dirty footballers should stick with their current ground in Shenton Park.

Of course, like all good councils, Subiaco ignored the protests and built a new Subiaco Oval anyway. And with a new stadium due to be opened soon, the future does not look bright for the historic ground. Well, at least we’ll get to keep the gates as they develop the oval into yet another housing complex.

Balls to those rules!


Picture courtesy of TLA Industries Pty Ltd

How did this building almost stop Western Australia getting a world champion? 13 King William Street, Bayswater, has its own charm. The external tiling and the original 1920s parapet indicate exactly what it was: a men’s and women’s hairdressers, later converted to a drycleaners, and now used as shops.

But when the site was developed in 1919, it was as a billiard saloon. A couple of years later it was bought by Bob Marshall, something of a great player himself as well as a hairdresser, who had just relocated from Kalgoorlie. Bob first set up a small hairdressers in a shed next to the saloon, before building the shopfronts we see today front of the saloon.

This story is less about Bob, though, and more about his son, Bob Jr who was born in Kal in 1910. The son grew up in Bayswater’s billiard hall, and quickly proved himself a genius on the table. He also learned to cut hair. Playing all the time improved his game, as well as the chance to meet and challenge professional billiard players, such as the great Walter Lindrum. Before long, Bob Jr was undoubtedly the best player in Western Australia.

So, when the national amateur championship came up in 1936, there was only one candidate for us to send over to Brisbane for the competition. The other players, though, seemed to have recognised that they had no chance if Bob Jr was in the tournament, so they challenged his eligibility under every rule they could find.

They claimed our man had played professional players (not allowed under Rule J), that he worked in a billiard saloon (Rule H), and that he hadn’t paid for his own ticket to Brisbane (Rule D). He’s no amateur, claimed Bob Jr’s opponents, he’s a professional in disguise.

In his defence, Bob pointed out that his job was as a hairdresser, not a billiard saloon operator, that he only played professionals to improve his game, not to make money, and the travel issue was a complete lie. This was accepted, Bob won the tournament easily and went on to win several world amateur titles. He was last Australian champion in 1986 at the amazing age of 77.

After Bob’s father died, his mother, Esther, had taken over the running of the billiard saloon. Her biggest rule change was that the men were no longer allowed to swear on the premises. But she still couldn’t call on Bob Jr for assistance. The second he helped her in any way, he would have immediately lost his amateur status.

And that is how this building almost, but not quite, lost WA a world champion. Rumour has it that it might become a bar soon. If so, they definitely need to put in a billiard table so we can produce our next hero.

Do footballers prefer blondes?

He's a one stop shop, makes my cherry pop

He’s a one stop shop, makes my cherry pop

What do we know of our football idols off the field? Well, in 2015 just about every single thing. Including lots of things we don’t want to know.

But in 1938 it was considered novel to interview an entire football team and discover the answer ot the most pressing question of the day: did they prefer brunettes or blondes?

Following is a selection of answers from the Perth starting eighteen:

Keith ‘Pop’ Hetherington A 22-year-old, who worked at the Government Printing Office. Not married; not engaged. Perth’s utility man, he came to the team from Wembley. One of the many blondes in Perth’s eighteen, he was an appreciative judge of a good looking girl. Blondes or brunettes were all the same to Pop; he considered a girl is only as good as the breakfast she can cook.

Eric Strauss A blond 18-year-old giant (six foot was tall in 1938). This was his first year in football, and he was also a first-class cricketer. He was single, and claimed not to have given much thought yet about blondes, brunettes or redheads.

Reg Trainor Wingman, aged 25, dark and single. A school teacher by profession; a good swimmer and good cricketer. Non-committal on the subject of blondes or brunettes; says a man can’t mix football and women.

Fred Puddey Crack centreman, better known as ‘Fred the Giant Killer’. Not married, not engaged—not interested. Definitely does not like blondes: “Too many of them are gold diggers,” he said.

Bob Love The 25-year-old goalkeeper. Compactly built, he was dark and single. Came from the Perth Mets (of which he was, captain). Refused to be drawn on the subject of women. “Forget about them,” he said, “Love is only my name—not my nature.”

Girls, take your pick.

The Prince and The Don

The Nawab of Pataudi

The 8th Nawab of Pataudi

It was a horror movie, right there on my TV. We refer, of course, to the so-called English cricket team.

Dodgy Perth has already told the story of the time the English side pretended to be the crew of a meat ship in order to win a game against Wyndham Cricket Club.

So today we look back to 1932 when England played Australia at the WACA and The Don was simply awful. The tour is now remembered as the Bodyline series, but this three-day game took place before the first test in Sydney, so was the first chance to see the visitors in action.

The West Australian Cricket Association brought over five players from the Eastern States, and made up the rest of the team from locals. But what a five: Donald Bradman, Victor Richardson, Stan McCabe, Albert Lonergan and Jack Fingleton.

Trouble was, other than McCabe, none of these batsman could bowl. And, as it turned out, nor could any of the Western Australians. And they were up against Douglas Jardine’s bodyline side.

Our local bowling hero, Richard Bryant, managed to strain his leg early on the first day and had to leave the field. As a consequence, The Don was asked to take his position. Great batsman he might have been, he proved completely unsuited to this new role.

The English played the weak bowling without trouble, getting to 7/583 before becoming bored and offering the Aussies a go on the Saturday morning.

Trouble was, overnight rain made the wicket treacherous and this was where Hedley Verity was lethal. His left handed slow style made the ball fizz and kick off the pitch, and he was practically unplayable.

You want proof? Donald Bradman (c. Hammond b. Verity) scored three in the first innings. We’d like to repeat that. Three.

The huge crowd was completely unimpressed with the Australian batting display and made their feelings known. By the time the side was all out for 159, the follow on was inevitable.

The Australians responded defensively with slow, unattractive batting, and stretched out a tedious draw with 4/139. This time The Don outdid himself and got 10 (c. Pataudi b. Allen).

But some things never change. When the star player was caught in the second innings, large numbers decided they’d had enough and left the WACA. Some latecomers decided not to even bother buying a ticket when they heard Bradman was out.

And who was this Pataudi who caught Bradman, and scored 129 in the first innings?

Iftikhar Ali Khan (1910–1952) was the 8th Nawab of Pataudi and later captain of India. Known as ‘Pat’ to his English friends, Nawab is a title given to Muslim princes.

He had scoring strokes, a strong defence, quick footwork, and, above all, patience (a test match essential). Perhaps what England now needs is another empire from which they can grab great cricketers. And they need it bloody quick.

Ashes to ashes

As the Ashes start tonight, we thought it only right to look back at one of the most important cricket matches in Western Australian history.

In October 1954 the 10,000 ton freighter Paloma was en route to Fremantle with her cargo of frozen meat to be picked up at Wyndham. While the meat was being loaded, Captain Perry offered his traditional challenge to the Wyndham Cricket Club.

The match was played in extreme heat on a bumpy ground covered with a large number of trees. Because there was no discernible boundary, every run had to be sweated out.

One Wyndham batsman was hospitalised by an over-enthusiastic fast bowler, and everyone's heads were sore following the clubhouse drinks.

The game was close, but finally won by the men of the Paloma by seven runs. The only time a meat ship eleven had ever defeated a local side.

In celebration, a screw top jar was filled with The Ashes of Wyndham and presented to Captain Perry.

Now, it might be unfair to note that the Paloma was carrying the English cricket side, which had already won the other Ashes, even before playing at the WACA. You might even use the words 'eleven ring-ins'.

But at Dodgy Perth we prefer to remember it as one of the few times an English team has won on WA soil. Just because we can.



A level playing field


Foy & Gibson ladies football team, 1917

This morning, Dodgy Perth watched the USA v Australia game from the women’s world cup. Unfortunately the septics won. But sometimes bad things happen to good people.

It got us wondering when the first women’s football happened in Western Australia.

According to soccer historian Richard Kreider, after WWII there were a few ladies social matches, particularly among the Italian community.

However, the first organised women’s soccer game was not until 1971 when the Vel-Belles played the Beauts as a curtain raiser to WA v Moscow Dynamo.

To find women’s football older than this, we need to turn to the Australian version.

In the late 19th century, when women in other countries were beginning to play games seriously, most men found the idea either ridiculous, or at the very least unladylike.

The West Australian even found space to mock the idea of women’s sport in a lengthy song, of which this verse is typically misogynistic:

The goal-keeper looked at the ball—quite amazed at it!
Now, the next time it neared her she’d turned to a friend
To examine the cut of her blouse, and to chat on it,
Said the captain, “Miss Bodgers, I wish you’d attend!”
So she turned to see where the ball was, and she sat on it.

With attitudes like this, it’s easy to see why women’s sport was slow to develop in WA.

But with so many young men away fighting in Europe during WWI, the women got a chance to play Australian Rules.

Taking place at Subiaco Oval on 29 September 1917, the event was organised as a charity fund raiser by Miss Gell Howlett.

A team in maroon played a team in gold. The former won three goals to two.

Even so, this ground-breaking moment in WA sporting history was scorned by the media, who mocked it as women in ‘fancy dress’ who showed little talent. Although there some amusement value, it was said to be a total failure as a game of football.

Seems the women didn’t quite see it that way, since leagues were quickly established both in the metropolitan area and in the Goldfields, and grand finals were keenly fought.

There’s a really good exhibition of the history of the women’s game on at the State Library right now. Get to see it if you can.

What’s in a name?

gloucester parkUntil the mid-1930s, Gloucester Park was called Brennan Park after one of the founders of the Trotting Association, James Brennan.

Known as the ‘father of trotting’ in this State, James dominated the local sport, and this didn’t make him popular with some of the committee who controlled the racecourse.

In 1935, taking advantage of a tour of the Duke of Gloucester to Australia and New Zealand, the committee announced that the course was changing its name to Gloucester Park. They telegrammed the Duke, and he graciously accepted the honour.

Only, the poor royal didn’t know what a firestorm was about to break around his head. The elderly James Brennan was not going to be robbed of his fame, and quickly organised a group to raise funds to have the original title restored.

As the two sides fought it out, the embarrassed Duke quickly announced that he would only allow the change of name if the entire membership of the Trotting Association was unanimous in its decision.

There was no possibility of such an agreement, but with James’ death in 1937, the issue appears to have been quietly forgotten.

It is, apparently, unlawful to name places after members of the royal family without their consent. If this was never actually obtained, perhaps it is time to restore the original name for our main trotting course.

Fight of the century. 1954 style.


Dodgy Perth spent Sunday morning in the pub watching one man hit another man in the head.

Because it was the Inglewood Hotel, this was happening on TV. Unlike our usual local, the Civic, where these kind of events happen in the car park out the back.

Anyway, we digress.

In 1954, the Empire Games (now called the Commonwealth Games) were being held in Vancouver. One of Perth’s star entries was Australian amateur heavyweight boxing champion, Steve Zoranich.

Steve was 25 at the time, having arrived in WA from Croatia at the age of eleven.

The Australian team was to fly to Canada via Hawaii, but for unexplained reasons, at the very last minute Steve was refused a USA visa, required to change planes.

Steve was bewildered: “My opinions have never affected anybody. I have never spoken from a platform, nor stood as a candidate for any Party. I have never appeared in court, nor even been cautioned for political reasons. I can’t understand it.”

He appealed to the American authorities but they refused to change their minds.

The only other way to Canada was via England, but this would have to be entirely at Steve’s own expense.

Fortunately his friends and family immediately started crowdsourcing the necessary money, which was raised amazingly quickly.

Even so, it took Steve nine days and 32,000 km to get to Vancouver, by way of Singapore, Calcutta, Cairo, Rome, London, and Iceland.

He also had no trouble with the Canadian immigration officials, the Americans still having failed to provide a reason for refusing a visa.

We wish that this story ended well, but it doesn’t.

In the first round his English opponent, Brian Harper, floored Zoranich with a solid right cross. Zoranich quickly got up, but before anyone knew what had happened, the referee claimed he had finished the count and the Englishman was declared the winner.

The manager of the Australian boxing team immediately protested, but his objections were waved away by the referee.

If there is a moral to this, it is that not all stories have happy endings. Bring on the next Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, so the right man can win at least once.