Highlights 1880s-1945

A potted history of the major happenings in the game in Western Australia, from its beginnings in the late 1800’s to the mid-20th century.

1909 Western Australia and New South Wales State teams


Known as the ‘British or English Association game’, early social football is played mostly on the Esplanade, Weld Square and Russell Square. Piles of rubbish are often used for goals.


Following prompting through newspapers by public servant Willem Siebenhaar, the English Association and Rugby Union Football Club is formed on Thursday 5th May at the United Service Hotel. While rugby progresses, football lacks sufficient numbers and support diminishes the following year.


The first recorded game of association football in Western Australia takes place on Wednesday 25th May between the ‘whites’ and the ‘whites with black sash’ on the New Recreation Ground (aka the Esplanade). Impromptu games games continue in and around Perth for the next few years.


The Burt boys

As a result of more letters in local newspapers, including those from brothers Frederick and Archibald Burt, the Western Australian British Football Association is formed on Wednesday 13th May at the United Service Hotel, a popular ‘sporting hostelry’ on St George’s Terrace in central Perth.


A week later the Association Committee of Harry Brown (chairman), John Davies (president), Henry Saunders, Thomas Hardwick, J.L. Jones (vice-presidents) and Edward Pope (secretary) is elected.


Organised football arrives on Saturday 30th May with the staging of a league fixture between Perth and Civil Services at Towton’s Paddock (opposite Perth Oval) in East Perth. Perth win 2-0 with both goals coming from 16-year-old Reg Burt.


1897 Fremantle Wanderers team

Fremantle Wanderers win the first WABFA league championship ahead of Civil Services, Perth BAFC and Crusaders. Fremantle, who play at a ground called the Halfway House in Cottesloe, dominate football’s early years by collecting further league titles in 1897, 1900, 1901 and 1903.


The first championship trophy, donated by Perth BAFC member James W Harrison, is presented to Fremantle Wanderers.


Civil Service are the first recipients of the Wilson Cup, donated by WAFA (Australian Rules) secretary Edward L Wilson. Civil Service are awarded the trophy as League Champions, having gone through the season undefeated..


Fremantle Wanderers win the first knock-out competition, Wilson’s Challenge Cup, by defeating Civil Service 1-0 with a second half goal from Bristow.


The first Goldfields league is formed with four teams: Boulder City, Boulder Mines, Coolgardie Pioneers and Kalgoorlie.


High School are the first champions of a new Schools League, which also features James Street, Fremantle, St Peter’s and East Perth.


1902 Western Australian State team

Western Australia has its first taste of ‘international’ football when the State team takes on the England Cricket XI at Fremantle Oval, the visiting Ashes side winning 4-0. Entrance cost 6d, with children half-price and a crowd of nearly 5,000 turned up.


Perth’s first recorded floodlit games take place at the WACA Ground. Played with a ball painted white, Civil Service defeat Casuals 5-0 on Thursday 3rd September and the following night Olympic down Perth FC 5-2.


Donated by WC Thomas, a new Challenge Cup & Shield competition starts, along with a jarrah shield presented by RB Pettigrew. The two trophies are competed for together up until 1959.


The first tour by a State team takes place when players representing the Junior British Football Association of WA visits South Australia. The squad of fifteen plays an exhausting seven games inside twelve days.


A Metropolitan XI visits Bunbury for a friendly on the Bunbury Recreation Ground. The visitors win 5-1.


1909 Western Australia State squad

Western Australia embarks on its first senior interstate tour. Wearing dark green shirts, white shorts and dark blue socks, the fifteen-player squad picks up three wins and five draws from the ten-games played in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.


With World War I raging in Europe, the league season ends early with Claremont and Thistle declared joint champions. Around 400 players and officials of the local leagues will enlist in the Australian Forces.


The amazing Jack Conduit begins his career as a junior with Perth City. He later plays a key role in Victoria Park claiming nine First Division titles and countless other trophies, scoring 421 goals in 262 games.


The games controlling body changes its name to the Western Australian Soccer Football Association.


Jimmy Gordon puts away 48 goals across the winter season as Northern Casuals win the Challenge Cup & Shield and Charity Cup after placing second in the league.


Claremont teammates Harold Boys and Wally Gardiner become the first players from Western Australia to represent Australia when they are selected to play the England FA in Adelaide. The English win the game 4-1 with Gardiner the scorer of Australia’s goal.

Vintage football


Tom Moss finds the back of the net nine times as North Cottesloe register a 12-0 thrashing of Rangers, who withdraw from the league after nine games.


Western Australia participates in their first Australian Schoolboys Carnival, which takes place in Adelaide. They finished bottom after losing all four of their games.


A Czechoslovakia-Bohemia squad is the first European team to officially visit Australia. Stopping off first in Perth, they whip the State team 11-3 on Thursday 5th May at Perth Oval. But the locals are more competitive two days later, losing 4-6 in front of 5,000 spectators at Cottesloe Oval.


The Western Australian Under-18 team play in the Australian Junior Under-18 Championships in Adelaide. Like the Schoolboys the year before, the State team fails to win a game.


Thistle defender Syd Hinton gains selection in the Australian squad for a two-month tour of East Java and Singapore. Hinton features in 14 of the 23 games played against local club and representative sides.


Jack Conduit

Jack Conduit scores 10 goals in Victoria Park’s 17-1 thrashing of his former club, Perth City. In the next game the striker helps himself to another seven goals in a 15-2 victory over Armadale.


A prize is awarded to the seasons best player for the first time. The inaugural Dunkling Medal winners are Thistle’s Albert ‘Vic’ Hayter (First Division), G.Ross of Midland (Second Division) and William Burbridge (Claremont-North Cottesloe)


Western Australia records its largest ever winning margin by defeating the Japanese Navy 12-3 on Saturday 13th April at Claremont Showgrounds. Jack Conduit leads the way with six goals, J.Waddell scores three and the remainder is shared by Williams, S.Smith and an own goal by Nakumura.


Western Australia defeats India 5-1 at the WACA Ground. Bill Waddell gets four of the goals with Jack Conduit the scorer of the other. Most of the Indian players perform without boots, preferring to wear simple strappings.


Victoria Park claim the First Division title for a sixth season in a row. They finish level on points with Caledonian but secure the trophy with a 3-2 play-off victory courtesy of goals from Evans, Jack Conduit and A.Henderson, the latter coming in the second period of extra-time.


Caledonian win a six-team First Division competition after which local leagues are suspended due to World War II.

Next : Highlights 1946-1989