Herbie Screaigh

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Herbie Screaigh
Herbie Screaigh 1933 (2).jpg
Personal information
Full name Wyborn Herbert George Screaigh
Date of birth (1911-05-12)12 May 1911
Place of birth York, Western Australia
Date of death 7 July 2002(2002-07-07) (aged 91)
Place of death Nedlands, Western Australia
Original team(s) Central Football Club (YDFA)
Height / weight 165 cm / 61 kg
Position(s) Rover, forward pocket
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1932–46 East Perth 206 (359)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
1933–39 Western Australia 7 (13)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1946.
Career highlights

Wyborn Herbert George "Herbie" Screaigh (/skr/;[1] 12 May 1911 – 7 July 2002) was an Australian rules footballer who played for the East Perth Football Club in the Western Australian National Football League (WANFL).

Originally from York, Western Australia, where he played in the local league, Screaigh made his debut for East Perth in 1932, and went on to win three club best-and-fairest awards in his first three seasons. Playing mainly as a rover, Screaigh was a member of East Perth's 1936 premiership side, and also led the club's goalkicking in three seasons. He captained the club in 1941, but enlisted in the Australian Army the following year. Screaigh returned to football in 1945, playing two final seasons before retiring. He had also represented Western Australia in seven interstate matches between 1933 and 1939. Screaigh was posthumously inducted into the West Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

Football career[edit]

Born on May 12, 1911, in York, Western Australia, Screaigh was one of twelve children (nine of whom survived infancy) born to Edward Screaigh (1878–1959) and Maud Weatherall (1879–1974). On his father's side he was of English and Irish descent, with his father's maternal grandfather, James Hayden, born in Dublin in 1809.[2] Screaigh originally played for the Central Football Club in the York District Football Association (YDFA). He first attracted the attention of East Fremantle recruiters at the end of the 1930 season, but declined their invitation after no job could be found for him in Perth.[3] He again drew the interest of recruiters the following year after winning the Selby Medal for the best player in the YDFA,[4] and was recruited by East Perth for the 1932 season. He had an immediate impact, winning the club's best and fairest in his first season. He also played in the losing grand final side against West Perth.

Screaigh again won the club best and fairest in 1933, and was selected as the rover in a WANFL representative side at the 1933 Sydney Carnival, at the time being considered "the leading rover in the league".[5] He kicked six goals in four games to be considered one of the side's best players. He also finished runner-up by one vote in the Sandover Medal to Claremont-Cottesloe's Sammy Clarke.[6] He again represented the WANFL at interstate level in 1934, playing two games against the SANFL, kicking three goals.[7] He won his third consecutive best and fairest award, and was also East Perth's leading goalkicker, in part due to the absence of a key marking forward. This was repeated in 1935.

Screaigh was a key member of East Perth's successive 1936 finals competition which culminated in a grand final victory. Despite being considered strong underdogs, East Perth defeated Subiaco in the first semi-final 6.11 (47) to 5.16 (46), winning through to a preliminary final against East Fremantle. In front of a crowd of 10,079 at Subiaco Oval, East Fremantle led by 13 points with four minutes remaining. East Perth managed to kick 2.2 in the final minutes to win 14.14 (98) to 14.13 (97), with Screaigh kicking 1.2, including the winning goal, crumbed from a pack with three seconds remaining. The club subsequently won the grand final against Claremont 11.5 (71) to 9.6 (60), with Screaigh again kicking a goal with the last kick after the match [8] After the retirement of previous captain Mick Cronin due to a leg injury before the 1940 season, Screaigh was appointed captain of the club for the 1940 season, with Cronin remaining in a role as non-playing coach.[9] Cronin returned to the game in 1941 and was re-appointed captain, with Screaigh returning to the role of vice-captain.[10]

Screaigh enlisted in the 2/11th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) as a private in 1942.[11] He served on home duty and in New Guinea during the war. Screaigh captained the battalion's football team in the 6th Division's football league hosted in North Queensland, and was also captain of a combined AIF team in 1944.[12][13] He was discharged from the army in 1945 after the 2/11th was disbanded, and returned to East Perth for the 1946 season,[14] playing his 200th game on 13 July 1946, against Claremont.[15] The Daily News reported Screaigh had "maintained much of his skill of former years".[16] He retired at the end of the 1946 season.

Later life[edit]

Screaigh had married Jean Augustine Marwick on 3 December 1932 at St Patricks Catholic Church in York, with whom he had two daughters, Maureen (later Otto) and Deanne (later Hetherington).[17] Outside of football, he worked as a fitter's assistant and storeman at the East Perth Power Station.[18] As well as winning the F. D. Book Medal four times as East Perth's fairest and best player (in 1932, 1933, 1934, and 1937), Screaigh also won trophies for "serviceable play" in 1936 and as the "most determined player" in 1942.[19][20] He was made a life member of the club in 1958. Screaigh died in 2002 in Nedlands, and was buried at York Cemetery.[21] In 2006, he was selected as the 19th man in East Perth's pre-World War II Team of the Century,[22] and in 2011 was posthumously inducted into the East Perth Hall of Fame.[23] In March 2012, Screaigh was inducted into the West Australian Football Hall of Fame.[24]

Playing style[edit]

One of the most admirable features of Screaigh's play, and one which is not usually found in small men, in his straight-ahead style. He does not waste time and ground by long, sweeping turns or dodging backwards and forwards. If in trouble he turns like an eel, swiftly and sharply, and does not waste time in getting rid of the ball. When going through with the ball and confronted by an opponent, he drops the ball and at the same time throws up his head, almost invariably causing his opponent to give away a free-kick for holding him round the neck.

The West Australian, 18 July 1933

Screaigh was one of the smallest players in the WANFL at the time, standing only 165 centimetres (5 ft 5 in) and weighing 61 kilograms (134 lb).[25] He had only been recruited to East Perth after convincing the club secretary, F. D. Book, who had on appearances thought Screaigh was "too small and meek", to allow him to play in several scratch matches before the 1932 season.[3] Screaigh was adept at twisting out of tackles, and talented at drawing free kicks for head-high contact by dropping his head during tackles:[26] Even with his small stature, Screaigh played well in packs and scrimmages, and used a "safe pair of hands" and a "driving boot" to his best advantage.[1] Despite playing as a rover, Screaigh kicked a large of amount of goals, averaging 1.75 goals per game throughout his career. Against Subiaco in July 1933, he kicked nine goals, at the time the second-highest goal-kicking total of a player playing as a rover in the league.[27]


  1. ^ a b "...Screaigh (who by the way pronounces his name "Screech")..." AUSTRALIAN RULES.The Western Mail. Published 16 June 1932. Retrieved from Trove, 6 May 2012.
  2. ^ Wyborn George Herbert SCREAIGH – bradyfamilytree.org. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Screaigh's fine performance" – The West Australian. Published Tuesday 18 July 1933. Retrieved from Trove, 22 September 2011.
  4. ^ "COUNTRY NEWS" – The West Australian. Published Thursday, 22 October 1931. Retrieved from Trove, 24 September 2011.
  5. ^ "FOOTBALL. Rovers for the Carnival Side.The West Australian. Published Tuesday, 16 May 1933. Retrieved from Trove, 22 September 2011.
  6. ^ "THE SANDOVER MEDAL. S. Clarke Succeeds in First Season" – The West Australian. Published Wednesday, 20 September 1933. Retrieved from Trove, 9 September 2011.
  7. ^ WA STATE MATCH RESULTS 1904–1950 – wafootball.com.au. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  8. ^ 1936 Premiership Season – Fight On East Perth. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  9. ^ "LEAGUE FOOTBALL. H. Screaigh Elected Captain.The West Australian. Published Friday 24 May 1940. Retrieved from Trove, 22 September 2011.
  10. ^ "FOOTBALL. D. Cronin Reappointed Coach" – The West Australian. Published 11 February 1941. Retrieved from Trove, 22 September 2011.
  11. ^ SCREAIGH, WYBORN HERBERT GEORGE – WW2 Nominal Roll. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  13. ^ "PERTH PRATTLE" – The Sunday Times. Published Sunday, 12 November 1944. Retrieved from Trove, 22 September 2011.
  14. ^ "EAST FREMANTLE v. PERTH. Screaigh back with E. Perth." – The West Australian. Published 17 May 1946. Retrieved from Trove, 24 September 2011.
  15. ^ His 200th. Game" – The Sunday Times. Published Sunday, 14 July 1946. Retrieved from Trove, 24 September 2011.
  16. ^ SCREAIGH'S 200TH GAMEThe Daily News. Published Friday, 12 July 1946. Retrieved from Trove, 8 March 2012.
  17. ^ Jean Augustine MARWICK – bradyfamilytree.org. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  18. ^ Interview with Deanne Hetherington (interviewed by Christine Nybo) – Trove. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  19. ^ EAST PERTH'S RE-UNIONThe Mirror. Published 21 March 1936. Retrieved from Trove, 6 May 2012.
  20. ^ Cronin Made Life MemberThe Daily News. Published 22 April 1942. Retrieved from Trove, 6 May 2012.
  21. ^ York Cemetery – ozburials.com. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  22. ^ EAST PERTH Official Team of the Century 1906 to 1944 – FullPointsFooty. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  23. ^ Screaigh honour could spill into WAThe West Australian. Written by John Townsend. Published 27 July 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  24. ^ 2012 WA Football Hall of Fame inductees – West Australian Football Commission. Published 6 March 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
  25. ^ THE STATE TEAM. 23 PLAYERS CHOSEN. MATCHES AGAINST S.A." – The West Australian. Published Monday, 9 July 1934. Retrieved from Trove, 24 September 2011.
  26. ^ Full Points Footy's WA Football Companion. Written by John Devaney. Retrieved from Google Books, 22 September 2011.
  27. ^ "A CONTRAST IN FORWARD WORK. East Perth Defeats Subiaco" – The West Australian. Published 17 July 1933. Retrieved from Trove, 5 October 2011.