Football at Hale School: 1885-2008


The first game of Australian Rules football was played in August, 1865. It was described as

 'Â… a wild, free-flowing affair played between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College on the gravelly slopes above the MCG Â… the game was played over three days and ended in a draw - one goal each. Martin Flanagan, in his novel The Call, has his narrator saying: 'I say it's a bastard of a game - swift, bold and beautiful - for a bastard of a people.'

  Tom Wills   F C Faulkner

Tom Wills, widely acknowledged as the founder of the game, proposed that cricketers play the game to keep themselves fit during the winter months. In a letter to Bell's Life in Victoria and Sporting Chronicle, he wrote:

Sir, Now that cricket has been put aside for some months to come, and cricketers have assumed somewhat of a chrysalis nature Â… rather than allow this state of torpor to creep over them, and stifle their new supple limbs, why can they not, I say, form a foot-ball club, and form a committee of three or four to draw up a code of laws? If a club of this sort were got up, it would be of a vast benefit to any cricket-ground to be trampled upon, and would make the turf quite firm and durable; besides which it would keep those who are inclined to become stout from having their joints encased in useless superabundant flesh Â…

And so it transpired, but Paul Bateman records that the rules changed game by game. 'They were "not born ready-made ", as historian Geoffrey Blainey puts it: "The rules just grew, spreading more like a climbing vine than a tree ". Bateman contends that 'the broad philosophy of football was as a preparation for battle. Football at Rugby [School] during Wills' time was explicitly a war game, the forwards being the heavy brigade, the backs the light brigade'.

And so the game evolved, somewhat haphazardly. Which may explain some of the ambiguity within the modern rules?!

The trickle of Victorians coming to the infant colony of Western Australia in the 1870s and 80s undoubtedly brought the game with them. The WA 'establishment' were not at all impressed. 'Already there was concern about the disorderly character of the game. '... the fears of the gentry seemed realized when, at a Fremantle versus Perth match, the barrackers invaded the field in a display of violence without precedence in the sporting annals of the colony. There was talk of football fostering juvenile larrikinism.'

It is recorded that Walter Hartwell James was one of a group led by Hugh Robert Dixon, who were instrumental in forming the WA Football Association in 1885. There were four teams in the initial competition. High School [Hale] was one of the teams entered; the others were Rovers, Victorians and Fremantle. Apparently High School did not last long. The competition proved to be too robust! [for schoolboys]

The game developed momentum considerably with the influx of Victorians into Western Australia during the 1890s gold rush period. Indeed the ranks of clubs like South Melbourne, Essendon, Geelong, Carlton and Collingwood were almost depleted by the exodus to the west:

Some of the best men who ever played the Australian game - notably Albert Thurgood, Irving, Watson, Grecian, the Duggans, Rolfe, Marmo, MacKenzie, 'Les' Jones, Robertson, and dozens of others, were playing either metropolitan or goldfields football. [in Western Australia]

The School Football Team: 1897



In the Cygnet of 1905, mention is made of the High School playing British Association Football - Soccer. It refers to games being played against Fremantle, Perth Juniors, Training College and, from 1909 onwards, Modern School. Some interesting venues are mentioned, namely High School's grounds at Kings Park, Fremantle Park, Wellington Square, Claremont Oval and Loton's Paddock (later Perth Oval, now Equity Stadium). But where was Australian Rules?


When F.C. Faulkner arrived from New Zealand to take over the reins of the struggling High School in 1890, enrolments had fallen to 26 boys. According to comment from the Board of Governors at the time, the succession of English headmasters, in their opinion, had proven counter-productive. Enrolments had been 43 boys in 1888 but had fallen to 26 at the beginning of 1890. On 21 January, Headmaster Raymond Gee resigned.

Accordingly, the Board of Governors now chose to advertise for applicants from within Australia and New Zealand. In September 1890, Charles Faulkner, a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, arrived from Christchurch in New Zealand. He had been one of six applicants.

Faulkner had every reason to be discouraged because, apart from the lack of pupils, there seemed to exist a lack of interest in the School. Many believed that it was so poorly supported by parents that it must close down. This attitude Faulkner countered during the first holiday break by moving around among new found friends to make them thoughtful about the needs of secondary education for their boys.

When the School re-assembled in February 1891 he was able to report that 33 boys had enrolled, including 11 boarders. Â… By August 1891 the roll was 41. A year later it was 81.

Charles Faulkner's appointment was to prove fortunate in a critical phase of the School's evolution - with the exception of one facet of the School's activities. According to F.D. Adams, 'Faulkner achieved some successes, and, as the son-in-law of Augustus Lee-Steere, commanded the allegiance of the West's most prominent families. But he lacked drive and enthusiasm, was a mediocre teacher and an insensitive disciplinarian [weren't they all in that day and age?], and held deprecating views on colonial culture. He was so dedicated to 'Englishness' that he banned Australian Rules Football,'!   

The arrival of Mathew Wilson in 1914 from Melbourne Grammar and from his former post as a Captain of the Essendon Football Club [note the Bomber's colours in a corner of the modern Wilson House crest ] changed the football orientation back again after a long break. In the football notes of the December 1916 the editor had this to report:

This season the School reverted to the Australian game after some 12 years devotion to the British Association game. Such a change naturally left a good deal of prejudice to be overcome, and at the beginning of the season the new game was not so popular as it might have been. It was, however, in the interests of the School football that this course should be taken, as it brought us into line with the other schools in the Association, and enabled us to take part in the competition for the Challenge Cup.

 High School Football Team - 1916
Back Row: A Robinson, M Brooking, H Readhead, W More, J Parker
Second Row: H Reading, R Mead, S Oldham, Mr Campbell, T Vincent, C Williams
Third Row: L Woodroffe, D Sanders, C Veryard, R Knight, F Malloch
Fourth Row: H Huntington, C Randell, A Veryard, L Eves

First mention is made of Australian Rules Football in the 1916 Cygnet when the High School fielded a 1st XVIII side against CBC, Scotch College and Guildford Grammar School. Photographs of team members and reports on games played in what is now the PSA competition are contained in copies of the Cygnet from 1916 onwards up to the present day.

The Public Schools' Association was formed in 1905 by the then Headmasters of Perth High School , CBC, SC and GGS. It was not until 1921 that the High School managed to win the Alcock Cup for the first time with Jack Roydhouse as coach and Arthur Christian, the 1925 Western Australian Rhodes Scholar, as captain. Christian later went on to play for West Perth. His son, Geoff, also a Haleian, became a prominent sports journalist and currently the medal for the Fairest and Best Western Australian AFL player from either the Eagles or the Dockers is named after him.

 First Time Alcock Cup Winners - 1921
Back Row: G Gwynne, E Sanders, P Henriques, M Halbert, T Hantke, S Brumby, N Drummond
Second Row: Mr Roydhouse, W Farmer, L Loton, E Blackman, J Curlewis, A Boas, H Johnson, Mr Wilson
Sitting: K Brown, G Thiel, R Cockburn, G Mann, A Christian, T Money, J Broadhurst

Guildford Grammar School won the first cup in 1905, Scotch won it the following year but Christian Brothers' College then won it a total of 25 times within the next three decades, their last victory as CBC being in 1937. The Perth High School had become Hale School in 1929 and CBC was renamed Aquinas College in 1938 on moving to Mount Henry.

After a long break Hale School next won the Alcock Cup in 1939 under Trevor Rowlands, a Perth League player and master at the School, with Bob Walker, who also later played for Perth, as captain.  

Two years later they won it again, still with Trevor Rowlands as coach and this time with Alec Tregonning, twin brother of Ken, as captain. Ken Tregonning was also in that team. In the final match against Guilford Grammar he kicked five goals.

Trevor Rowlands was still at the helm when the team won in 1947. David Broadhurst was captain that year.

Wesley was admitted into the PSA in 1951, CCGS in 1956 and Trinity College in 1968.

Alistair MacMillan took over the reins as coach of the 1st XVIII from Bertie Mill in 1963. Thus began a 33 year tenure, with seven Alcock Cup victories, a multiplicity of apoplectic fits, broken clipboards, dented egos and memorable one-liners strewn along the way. One three-quarter time address in the last match of one season concluded, "Goodbye season, hello Alcock Cup. Now go and get the bloody thing!"

Bill Valli 1963-1968



The outstanding Bill Valli (West Perth) was in the '66 team with David Mill and Ray Tarik as joint captains, 'Croc' Williamson was captain of the '73 team, 'Beanie' O'Meehan captained the '78 team with current Chairman of the Hale Board of Governors, Brett Fullarton at fullback, Mark Palmer captained the '84 team, the late Jeff Brandenburg the '85 team (secretly, Jeff wrote poetry as an aside), Dale Warren the '89 side and Ryan Redfern the captain of the final successful Macmillan team in 1995. 


Bill Valli 1963-1968 - Champion West Perth Rover 

'Mac' played many parts at Hale School - history and mathematics teacher; inimitable football and athletics coach; Buntine Housemaster for 15 years; Deputy Headmaster for 10 years and, finally, as Director of Day to Day Operations until retirement.

Mac's inevitable cry as he stood on the boundary line at many a Hale School football match, was 'Be There!' In itself that probably describes the man. Mac was inevitably there, in fact hugely involved in most aspects of School life. He was pro-active and authoritative, but modest and good humoured at the same time. He expected much from the boys in his charge, but was empathetic if they fell short. Many have subsequently found that the Macmillan mantra is not at all a bad credo for life.

One of Mac's many tasks was to represent Hale School between 1965 and 2000 on the P.S.A. Sports Council. The members met at the end of each season's round of fixtures to discuss and perhaps amend the various proclivities involved, sometimes to even lodge complaints about the fixtures just completed.

Mac was not a shrinking violet; never short of pointed counsel for the organisers if he thought they had erred - but without a trace of malice. Perhaps his finest 'hour' was at the end of one meeting, the year in which the Hale VIII boat sank as it negotiated the old Narrows course. He rose and courteously thanked the Committee for laying out the course underwater!

Hale won the Alcock the following year under Graham Lange with Adam Lange (who later captained Swan Districts) as captain. Under Peter Mayne and Jon Wyllie, Hale won again in 1999 and then shared with Trinity under Mayne and Nick Cannon in 2001. Hale's next win was in 2003 under coach Sean Henderson and captain Courtney Moores.

In 2006 Hale's combined Year 8 & 9 team under Jeff Hopkins and Ross Sweet convincingly won the statewide 'Smarter Than Smoking' Cup at Subiaco Oval. That same team made up the bulk of the 2009 1st XVIII which won the Alcock Cup under Coaches Paul Peos, Brian Clarkson and Jason Norrish, with Michael Cook as manager. The Captain was Emerson Walker, with Vice-Captains, Anton Hamp and Harry Garland. It completed a rare Darlot Cup/Alcock Cup double for the School.

The following table gives the names of the Coaches and Captains of the 1st XVIIIn Teams from 1916 to 20015. The yellow entries denote the winning years for the School in the PSA competition.

Download Football Teams 1916-2015 (78.6 k)

Research & text by Bill Edgar   



Alistair MacMillan


Alistair MacMillan took over the reins as coach of the 1st XVIII from Bertie Mill in 1963. Thus began a 33 year tenure, with seven Alcock Cup victories, a multiplicity of apoplectic fits, broken clipboards, dented egos and memorable one-liners strewn along the way. One three-quarter time address in the last match of one season concluded, "Goodbye season, hello Alcock Cup. Now go and get the bloody thing!"


The following table gives the names of the Coaches and Captains of the 1st XVIII Teams from 1916 to 2015.

Download (78.6 k)


High School -1916 1st XVIII

'Sam' Clarke

'Sam' Clarke 1928-1929
State High Jump Champion 
and Dual Sandover Medalist
Peter Eakins
Peter Eakins 1961-1966
Tassie Medalist 1968