THE HISTORY OF FREMANTLE RUGBY CLUB
The Fremantle Rugby Club was formed in 1928 and converted to the Fremantle Rugby League club in 1948. It has been playing in the WA 1st division (WARL) for some 54 years now and our club has always relied on attracting local juniors to be the foundation of the club and to carry on into the senior ranks. As can be seen from the following pages and history, the Fremantle Rugby league club believes in being pro-active so as not just to ensure a successful senior team but to ensure the grass roots of the game are developed.
THE HISTORY OF FREMANTLE RUGBY LEAGUE CLUB
While evidence of Rugby being played in Fremantle has been traced back to the 1880's, it was in February 1948 when the Fremantle Rugby League Club was established. The first meeting was held by seven men, at the Park Hotel in Parry Street, Fremantle. Among the men at the meeting were Gordon Squires, R.W. Baguley, W. Watkins, Dr E.R. Dermer and Mr Hudson Taylor. Interest in establishing Rugby League started following the arrival of several ex-servicemen who settled in Perth after World War 2. These men included Gordon Squires, Roy Williams, Frank Baguley, Vie Hodgekiss, Alf Schaffer and Ken Allen. Meetings were held during the 1947 season at Barney Silbert's shop in Fremantle with the goal to establish a Rugby League competition in Perth. It commenced in 1948 with four clubs: Fremantle, Perth, South Perth and Cottesloe.
Fremantle's home ground for its first season was at Hilton Park-not far from their current home ground at Ken Allen field. It won it's first rugby league premiership in 1950. The club relocated to Gibson Park in 1952 where it remained until moving to its current location in 1978.
The 1960's and 1970's was a period of great success for Fremantle both on and off the field. The club benefited greatly from the many industries in the area at the time. Most players were recruited from the workshops, wharves and woolsheds that were a major part of Fremantle life in this period. Russell Addison and Brian Wedgwood, who both played for Fremantle in this era, progressed to play first grade in Sydney. From these teams were the names of players who would serve the club for many years to come including Ross White, George Booth, Vic Thacker, Fred Henderson, Bob Sanders, Bob Hogue, Brian Wedgwood and Bob Rosser to name a few.
In the late 1960's, Fremantle adopted the Roosters nickname and the club song was conceived. Success continued in the 1970's thanks to a new generation of local players including Alec Lockley, who won a record four Brice Trophies, Ray Dorey, Gary Holtham, Peter Slater, Peter Cumins and Don (Rocky) Kurgan. Alec won his first trophy as a seventeen-year-old in 1973 and played a significant part in the Roosters 1976 & 1977 successes. Fremantle had plenty to celebrate in 1978. Apart from being the current premiers and moving to a new ground, the club also celebrated its Silver Jubilee. The social highlight of the year was the 50th Anniversary dinner held at Ascot Racecourse.
Besides celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the club, it also was a fundraiser for the construction of the new clubhouse. The purchase of gold, silver and bronze bricks from members, supporters, sponsors and local businesses funded the construction of the club. Built mainly on voluntary labour and the generosity of club members, who donated materials, the clubhouse was officially opened in February 1980. Apart from being the first licensed Rugby League club in WA, its design that allows members to watch the game from a balcony overlooking the field, has been successfully copied in other sporting codes. In 1980, the ground was officially named Ken Allen Field after the man who played a major role in establishing the game of Rugby League in WA.
Fremantle played in the 1981 Grand Final in a match that and is still talked about as one of the best games of rugby league ever seen in WA. Scores were locked at 28-all at full-time and an extra 20 minutes of extra time failed to separate the sides. With players constantly going down with cramp in the intense heat, both captains refused to play a further five minutes of extra time and the League unable to schedule a replay, a joint premiership was declared.
In the early 1980's Fremantle enjoyed a tremendous home ground advantage thanks to a large and vocal crowd support. By the late 1980's, the game had progressed to levels of professionalism never seen before and came the start of television exposure. This continued into the early 1990's until the Western Reds were formed.
Players are now drawn from a large catchment area that includes the local Fremantle area and the rapidly growing suburbs around Jandakot and Bibra Lake. While many other clubs pursued players for the eastern states, Fremantle has always prided itself on promoting its local junior players into its senior teams. This is still evident today as the sons and daughters of past players proudly don the Roosters colours in junior and senior grades.
Fremantle celebrated its 50th anniversary as a Rugby League club in 1998 and created it's own piece of history in 1999 when it fielded a women's team for the first time. Season 2000 saw the first Fremantle player ever to be chosen for an Australian team, Miss Danielle Parker.
In coming seasons, Fremantle aims to consolidate its position as one of the state's leading clubs. It shall be endeavouring to field teams in the First Grade, Reserve Grade, Metro Cup (3rd Grade) and U/18's in the senior competition, and nine junior sides.
Senior Matches are usually held on Saturdays with junior grades playing on Sundays. The season operates on a home and away basis with matches at Ken Allen Field held every second week.
On top of Rugby League, Ken Allen Field is also sub leased to the Fremantle City Soccer Club who plays in the WA Premier League. This ensures the ground is used every weekend over the winter months. Touch Rugby is also played all year round with separate summer and winter competitions and hopefully the club will secure the tenancy of a WA Grid-iron team to play there in summer also.
Visit our trophy room for a complete list of Fremantle's Player Awards and Premierships.