Something to crow about

THE Fremantle Roosters Rugby League Club recently marked their 75th anniversary with a celebration at their new home ground, Treeby Reserve in Cockburn. 

The event brought together past and current members. 

Amidst the laughter and camaraderie on the night, the Roosters unveiled a special tribute – a men’s and women’s team of 75 players spanning each decade since their establishment.

Roosters board member Kevin Allen said the secret to a long-standing club, “is a dedicated committee”.

“If you don’t have a good structure, doesn’t matter how good you are on the field, you won’t last,” Mr Allen said

Founded in 1948, the Roosters were among the pioneering rugby league clubs in WA, alongside Perth, South Perth and Cottesloe, and thrived from the outset.

• The inaugural Fremantle Roosters team from 1948.

Mr Allen’s father Ken was one of the club’s founders and holds a special place in its history. 

Ken served as a captain in New Guinea during WWII, and afterwards while continuing his officer training in Darwin, met his wife Gwen. 

The couple moved to Perth, where Ken played a pivotal role in re-introducing rugby league to Western Australia. 

In 1948 he met with life insurance salesman Gordon Squires, who’d been the first to attempt to crack the rugby union stronghold in the 1920s, only to thwarted by the Depression.

Meeting somewhat clandestinely at Barney Silberts (where the High Street mall now sits) they and some like-minded conspirators schemed to convert the state’s oldest union club, Fremantle, into league.

Ken was chosen as captain of the first team to run out onto the field.

In 1979, the club made a significant move to Ken Allen field, “which was named after my father,” Mr Allen said. 

But in recent years the club had experienced a decline in the numbers of juniors signing up to pull on a jersey, which was put down to Fremantle’s ageing demographic.

The Roosters started looking further afield, and when a report from the Australian Rugby League Commission identified Cockburn as a growth hotspot, the die was cast.

In 2019 the club successfully submitted a tender to take over a new reserve in the emerging suburb of Treeby.

Mr Allen said the move was logical, despite having to relocate from Fremantle where the club’s roots actually stretch back to 1886 when its union iteration was formed.

“Eighty per cent of our juniors were coming from the Cockburn area.

“The move out to Treeby Reserve has been good for the club.”

Three junior teams advanced to the first-grade side this year. 

The club has an impressive record of reaching seven grand finals in the last decade, winning four of them, including three consecutive victories in 2019-2021.

“We hope this is a trend that will continue for years to come,” Mr Allen said.

by NATASHA UNIEWICZ

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