NORTH PERTH were one of WA’s powerhouse clubs during a trophy-laden period from the 1920s to the 1960s. And now North Perth United are keeping the name to the forefront in Western Australia, albeit it at an amateur level.
North Perth United secured the Belt Up Amateur Premier Division title (Football West’s top amateur league) last weekend after drawing 0-0 at Quinns. The point was enough for them to be crowned champions for the second time in three seasons.
United were formed in 1973, and their home ground is at Woodville Reserve in North Perth, which was also the headquarters of the original North Perth club. But that is where the link between the clubs ends.
North Perth folded in 1966 after finishing bottom of the State League with only one point. The amateur club emerged seven years later, but did not involve officials or players from the semi-pro club.
In its time North Perth won six league championships, two D’Orsogna Cups, two Charity Cups and two Challenge Cups.
When football split in 1960 with the introduction of semi-pro football, North Perth lost most of their star players to the “breakaway” clubs, but they joined the new group in 1961 and went on to finish runners-up to Tricolore in the State League in 1963 and 1964. But the expense proved too much and the club disappeared two years later.
North Perth’s lasting legacy, however, is the Ager Cup – an impressive trophy that shares a display cabinet with many other trophies from different codes in the sporting history exhibition at Optus Stadium.
It was originally presented in 1934 to North Perth by club president Wally Ager as the annual award for the Best Player of the season.
Some of the famous names on the Ager Cup include Football Hall of Fame WA Legend Ron Adair, WA’s first football Olympian Con Purser – and Bert Robertson, Don West and Don McArdle, who were all selected in the top 100 players when the Century of Champions celebrated the State’s best in 2004.
Amongst the other top players to figure for North Perth were Alex Mansfield, ‘Tich’ Martin, Sandy Thompson, Doug Stewart, Hugh Miller, Mike Ireson, Roger Dale and two former State team goalkeepers in Chris Wissink and Frank Franken (the father of Socceroos keeper Tony Franken).
North Perth were the first team from WA to compete in the national Australia Cup competition in 1964, and they also figured in the first live televised full game when they took on Olympic in a league game at Bayswater Oval in 1960.
They had a fierce – and at times firey – rivalry with near neighbours Perth Azzurri in the 1950s. One clash attracted 7,000 to Woodville Reserve.
It’s thanks to WA’s leading football historian Richard Kreider that much of this information has been uncovered (see his book Paddocks to Pitches) – and the Ager Cup was handed to Richard for safe-keeping many years ago. He restored it to its current pristine state and is thrilled that it now occupies a place of considerable importance at Optus Stadium.
Pictured: The North Perth line-up from 1964; The Ager Cup (left) on display at Optus Stadium; North Perth United celebrate after winning the Amateur Premier Division title.