ONE of WA football’s least-known trophies, the Ager Cup, is sharing pride of place with some of WA sport’s best-known awards in the lavish memorabilia display at the new Optus Stadium.
The major trophy cabinet at Optus Stadium boasts seven Brownlow Medals, which are on loan to the stadium, four Norm Smith medals plus several Australian Rules cups and a World Series cricket trophy…
…And the Ager Cup, a tall, handsome silver trophy with a footballer on its lid.
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.
North Perth was one of the powerhouse semi-professional clubs of WA’s major leagues from the 1920s through to the late 1960s before folding. In its time North Perth won six league championships, two D’Orsogna Cups, two Charity Cups and two Challenge Cups.
Amongst the other top players to figure for North Perth were Alex Mansfield, ‘Tich’ Martin, Sandy Thompson, Doug Stewart and two former State team goalkeeprs Frank Franken and Chris Wissink.
Former Football Hall of Fame Committee member Bob Brown also played briefly with the club. He recalls: “I had just come to Australia from Britain and hadn’t played for several years. I found the fitness level of North Perth a bit hard to handle – Con Purser was a demanding coach – and I played in the reserves for a while, but there were some terrific players in the team.”
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 played most of their league games at Woodville Reserve in Fitzgerald Street and had a fierce – and at times firey – rivalry with near neighbours Perth Azzurri in the 1950s. One clash of the neighbours attracted 7,000 to Woodville Res.
Top amateur Premier League team North Perth United currently occupy Woodville Reserve, but are not associated with the original North Perth.
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.
Football, in fact, enjoys a huge profile at the world-class stadium with pics and biogs of the seven Hall of Fame Legends – Ron Adair, John McInroy, Gary Marocchi, Robbie Dunn, Robbie Zabica, Sandra Brentnall and Alan Vest – and a section dedicated to listing the names of all the Football Hall of Fame WA inductees.
There are also stunning actions shots of former Perth Glory star Bobby Despotovski and current Matildas superstar Sam Kerr on prominent display, along with team pics of the Glory’s inaugural 1996 NSL squad, the 1955 WA State team that played South Africa and the all-conquering Perth Azzurri team that were unbeaten in 1953 and won three major trophies.
There is an impressive Timeline section that traces the history of sport in Western Australia from the early days of cricket, Australian Rules, football, athletics, hockey and other codes through to the present day.
Among other football memorabilia in the Timeline, there is a picture of Fremantle Wanderers, the first WA league champions in 1896, and also several action shots of WA’s first international challenge game, against England at Fremantle Oval in 1902.
Some members of the Football Hall of Fame WA Committee made the tour of Optus Stadium to view the impressive displays, most of which are in areas not usually accessed by most spectators who attend sporting events at the stadium. But they can be viewed by taking part in the daily tours of Optus Stadium. There are four public tours each day when there is not a clash with events at the stadium.
PIC ONE: The Ager Cup (left) in the major trophy cabinet. PIC TWO: WA’s sporting Timeline. PIC THREE: Fremantle Wanderers in the Timeline. PIC FOUR; Sam Kerr in action. PIC FIVE: Some Hall of Fame Committee members (Richard Kreider, Mel Moffat, Alex Vagliviello, Elizabeth Re, Louis Prospero) in front of the Hall of Legends display.
Pictures courtesy of Richard Kreider.