Chris Carmody’s new book relives the golden era of Fremantle’s footballers & wharfies. John Todd, John Gerovich, Jack Sheedy, George and Tom Grljusich, Ray Sorrell, Wilson Onions, Steve Marsh, Trizzie Lawrence, Paddy Troy, JJ Miller and many others feature in this fascinating new book.
A new book penned by local author Chris Carmody relives the colourful history of Fremantle, its footballers and its wharfies in the 50s and 60s. Based on personal interviews with footy stars, coaches and wharfies including George Grljusich, John Todd, John Gerovich, Jack Sheedy, Paddy Troy, JJ Miller, Gerry Bahen and Ray Sorrell, Yesterday’s Heroes is an engaging trip down memory lane.
Chris’s interest in Fremantle began back in the early 50s, when as a youngster he lived in Merredin with his family. At Christmas holidays, the family would stay at a home his father had built in Solomon Street Beaconsfield. Many happy days were spent at South Beach, swimming and picnicking. Chris soon became fascinated with the activity at the port, the beating heart of the Fremantle economy, which at its peak employed around 5000 people. There were wharfies, foremen, tally clerks, stevedoring firms, Port Authority staff, policemen, the pillage squad, gatekeepers, tug operators, ferry operators, mooring gangs, union officials, crane drivers and slipway workers.
Fremantle in those days was a tough place, as Chris says: “Fremantle in those times was a male-dominated society where on paydays, quite a few women would have to race into Fremantle to get money from their husbands before it was all spent in the pubs! The book appears to be solely about men, but that’s what Fremantle was like in those days. Jimmie Bahen breaks the mould a little with some delightful stories about her times serving behind the bar at the P&O Hotel in High Street. Thank goodness the standing of women in our community has improved greatly since those times.”
The majority of these workers lived in Fremantle, East Fremantle, Palmyra, Cockburn, Hilton Park and Spearwood. Housing was very affordable. For example, in 1948 wharfie and South Fremantle footballer Jack Murray bought a house in South Fremantle for 400 pounds. At the time a wharfie would have been earning something in the region of 350 pounds per annum. People could afford to live near their work, their sporting venues and their local pub.
Football has always been very big in Fremantle. In the late 40s and early 50s, South Fremantle had a team that won six premierships in eight years, while East Fremantle were undefeated in 1946 and were perennially in the finals. Both clubs contributed heavily to the make-up of the state teams. The Fremantle derbies generated huge hype and the games at East Fremantle Oval and Fremantle Oval always played before packed houses. The rivalry between these two teams and their legions of supporters was legendary.
“This book has been a long time coming. My first interview took place in 2002 and the last in 2017. During that time some of the contributors have, unfortunately, left us. But they did tell their stories, and I am pleased for their families – and what I anticipate will be a much wider audience. Fremantle may never return to the way it was, but my hope is that these recollections of the era will help to keep its story alive in our collective memory.”
Former Fremantle Dockers president Rick Hart will officially launch Yesterday’s Heroes at the South Fremantle Football Club function centre on Friday 9 March at 5.30pm
Come along and meet Chris and purchase a copy of the book for $35
Everyone is welcome to attend this free event. Please RSVP by calling 0409 371 674
The book is also available to purchase online, please visit email@example.com or contact Chris
by email: firstname.lastname@example.org by phone: 0409 371 674 or visit the facebook page: fb.me/YesterdaysHeroesFremantle