South Fremantle Football Club

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South Fremantle
Full nameSouth Fremantle Football Club
Nickname(s)Bulldogs, Souths
2023 WAFL season
Home-and-away seasonEighth
Leading goalkickerBrandon Donaldson
Best and fairestTom Blechynden,
Club details
Founded1900; 124 years ago (1900)
Colours  White,   Dark red
CompetitionWest Australian Football League
PresidentPeter Christie
CEOCameron Britt
CoachTodd Curley (2015–)
Captain(s)Dylan Main
    • 14 (1916, 1917, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1970, 1980, 1997, 2005, 2009, 2020)
Ground(s)Fremantle Oval (capacity: 18,000)
Other information

South Fremantle Football Club is an Australian rules football club based in Fremantle, Western Australia. The club plays in the Western Australian Football League (WAFL) and the WAFL Women's (WAFLW), commonly going by the nickname the Bulldogs. Since its founding, the club has won 14 WAFL premierships, the most recent of them in 2020.

Founded in 1900 after disbanding the successful but debt-burdened Fremantle Football Club (not related to the AFL Dockers entity), the club enjoyed its most successful era in the immediate decade following the end of the Second World War, winning six premierships, including a hat-trick from 1952 to 1954.

South Fremantle has a long-standing rivalry with cross-town WAFL club East Fremantle, a fixture commonly referred to as the Fremantle Derby. The club has played at its home ground, Fremantle Oval, from inception and were co-tenants with East Fremantle until 1952, when the Sharks moved to East Fremantle Oval. From the beginning, Souths adopted the club colours red and white, first adding the iconic front vee to its playing jumper in 1928.[1]

For a club with a history of over 120 years, South Fremantle does not yet boast a footballer who has played 300 or more senior League games in the red and white guernsey. The club is also recognised for its significant contribution of players who hail from Indigenous Australian, Italian and Croatian heritage.



The Fremantle Football Club (originally known as Unions and unrelated to either an earlier club and the current AFL club of the same name) had won ten premierships in the fourteen years that they were in the WA Football Association (now known as the West Australian Football League). By 1899, however, the club suffered from financial problems that caused the club to disband. The South Fremantle Football Club was formed to take their place following an application to the league by Griff John, who would be appointed secretary of the new club, with Tom O'Beirne the inaugural president. Most players, however, were from the defunct Fremantle club.[2][3]

The new club did well in its first year, finishing runners-up.[4] However, over the next three seasons the performance fell away badly and, in April 1904 a Fremantle newspaper confidently reported that South Fremantle would not appear again. However, the club decided to carry on and centreman Harry Hodge took over as skipper, but the season was a disaster. The club won only one game.[5]

South Fremantle in 1905

They won their first premiership in 1916 and went back-to-back in 1917, both times defeating their local rivals, East Fremantle in the final and challenge final.[6] The 1930s were not as successful, marred by the death of the 23-year-old captain-coach Ron Doig as a result of injuries sustained in a match.[7] After World War II, South experienced their greatest era, with the arrival of future Hall of Fame members Steve Marsh, Bernie Naylor, John Todd and Clive Lewington.[8] Between 1945 and 1956 they would win six premierships, be runners-up three times and make the finals in every season. Since then, however, they have won six more premierships, in 1970, 1980, 1997, 2005, 2009 and 2020.[9]

South Fremantle was the first WAFL club to have won 10 grand finals since World War II. Four of their 14 premierships were won against the club's traditional rivals, East Fremantle. The club completed a rare double in 2009, claiming both the league and reserves premierships. This was the first time the club had taken the Premiership double since 1954.

In 2020 the club received a license to field a team in the WAFL Women's league.[10]

On the 14th of March 2023, the club was fined $25,000, deducted 8 premiership points for season 2023, received a deduction amount to their TPP of $10,525 for 2023 as well as a reduction of 10 player points for 2023.

Fremantle Derby


The Fremantle Derby, is traditionally one of the biggest game of the year on the WAFL calendar. The derbies still have a great following but have decreased in importance compared to the Western Derby, the match between WA's two AFL teams.

The Foundation Day derby on the first Monday in June (a public holiday to mark the Foundation of Western Australia in 1829) is commonly the highest attended game of the home and away season. To the end of the 2023 season the two clubs had met 389 times with South Fremantle winning 186 to East Fremantle's 199 wins, 4 Draws have occurred between the two sides.

The club


Club guernsey & colours


South Fremantle's Guernsey (shown right) used for all WAFL matches is all white with a red V in the centre of the guernsey. During the 1990s they also introduced the reverse of the traditional guernsey with a white V on a red jumper. The South Fremantle colours of red & white stem from the first Fremantle based team who wore red and white in the mid-1880s.



South hold three notable WAFL Grand Final attendance records, 1979 v East Fremantle, 52,781, the highest ever attendance at a WAFL Grand Final, 1975 v West Perth, 52,322, the second highest ever Grand Final attendance and 1989 v Claremont, 38,198, the highest ever Grand Final attendance in the post AFL period.[11]

Club song


"We're the Bulldogs" is the theme song of the South Fremantle Football Club which is sung to the tune of "With a Little Bit of Luck", played as the league team comes to the field at home and away games, and after a victory.

We are the mighty Bulldogs
Always fighting on
With victory and flag our goal
With guts and determination
We put the rest to shame
Because our fighting spirit wins the game.
We're the Bulldogs (yes we are)
And we're the greatest (yes we are)
The mighty red 'V' which stands for victory
The rough tough Bulldogs (yes we are)
South Fremantle (yes we are)
The Southerners for ever more
Down by the Port of Fremantle
We hit them really hard
With true grit and courage we win
So come on Souths let's show them
How to play the game to win
South Fremantle for ever more
We're the Bulldogs (yes we are)
And we're the greatest (yes we are)
The mighty red 'V' which stands for victory
The rough tough Bulldogs (yes we are)
South Fremantle (yes we are)
The Southerners for ever more.


John Dimmer (coach) and David Gault (captain) celebrate after winning the 2005 WAFL Premiership.

Club honours

Competition Level Wins Years won
WAFL Seniors 14 1916, 1917, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1970, 1980, 1997, 2005, 2009, 2020
WAFL Reserves Reserves 12 1936, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1985, 1986, 1991, 1992, 2004, 2009, 2013, 2015
WAFL Colts Colts (U19) 9 1970, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 2002, 2003, 2011, 2012
Other titles and honours
Rodriguez Shield Multiple 6 1983, 1984, 1992, 2001, 2004, 2009, 2016
Finishing positions
WAFL Minor premiership 13 1906, 1915, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1983, 1997, 1999, 2009, 2020
Runners Up 19 1900, 1914, 1927, 1929, 1930, 1940, 1945, 1951, 1956, 1975, 1979, 1981, 1989, 1992, 1999, 2001, 2006, 2019, 2021
Wooden spoons 12 1904, 1920, 1925, 1936, 1943, 1944, 1961, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1972, 1987

Individual honours



  • Highest Score: Round 21, 1981 – 40.18 (258) vs. West Perth at Fremantle Oval
  • Lowest Score: Round 5, 1904 – 0.4 (4) vs. East Fremantle at Fremantle Oval[12]
  • Greatest Winning Margin: Round 3, 1999 – 195 points vs. Peel at Fremantle Oval
  • Greatest Losing Margin: Round 1, 1944 – 256 points vs. East Perth at Perth Oval
  • Most Games: Marty Atkins 266
  • Most Goals: Bernie Naylor 1034 (1941, 1946–1954)
  • Longest winning streak (league): 17 games from Round 2, 1953 to Round 18, 1953
  • Longest losing streak (league): 18 games from Round 4, 1987 to Round 21, 1987
  • Most goals in a season: 167 by Bernie Naylor in 1953
  • Most goals in a game: 23 by Bernie Naylor vs. Subiaco in 1953
  • Record Home Attendance: Round 10, 1979 – 23,109 vs. East Fremantle
  • Record Finals Attendance: 1979 Grand Final – 52,781 vs East Fremantle at Subiaco Oval (also highest ever WAFL Game attendance record)

Notable players and coaches


Australian Football Hall of Fame


Ten former South Fremantle players have been inducted in the Australian Football Hall of Fame. Stephen Michael was the first to be inducted in 1999. Steve Marsh and Peter Matera were both in inducted in 2006 followed by Glen Jakovich in 2008, Hassa Mann in 2013, Peter Bell in 2015, Maurice Rioli and Ray Sorrell in 2016 and Bernie Naylor in 2018.[13] John Todd was inducted in the coaches category in 2003.[14]

West Australian Football Hall of Fame


With the exception of Hassa Mann, each of the South Fremantle players in the Australian Football Hall of Fame is also an inductee in the West Australian Football Hall of Fame, with Marsh, Todd and Michael awarded legends status.[15]

South Fremantle Football Club Hall of Fame


The South Fremantle Hall of Fame was inaugurated in 2011 with an initial induction of 45 players, coaches, administrators and staff from the club's inception in 1900 to 1979.

The second induction occurred in 2015, mainly covering the years up to and including 1987 (the year West Coast entered the VFL), and eight of the existing members from the inaugural intake were elevated to legend status.[16][17]

The third intake occurred on 14 August 2021, with a further eight members inducted and two existing members elevated to Legend status.[18]

There are currently 88 members in the club Hall of Fame. The current ten club legends, in alphabetical order by surname, are:

  1. Brian Ciccotosto
  2. John Gerovich
  3. Frank Jenkins
  4. Clive Lewington
  5. Steve Marsh
  6. Stephen Michael
  7. Bernie Naylor
  8. Tony Parentich
  9. John Todd
  10. Frank Treasure

South Fremantle Indigenous Team of the Century


During NAIDOC Week in 2009, South Fremantle celebrated their long and extensive link to Indigenous Australians by naming an Indigenous Team of the century from the 78 Indigenous players that had played for them since Jimmy Melbourne first played in 1902. Selected by former club captain and chief executive Brian Ciccotosto, premiership coach Mal Brown and journalist Ray Wilson.[19] Four of the players selected, Stephen Michael, Maurice Rioli, Nicky Winmar and Peter Matera, were also selected in the Australia-wide Indigenous Team of the Century.[20]

South Fremantle Indigenous Team of the Century
B: Roger Hayden Shannon Cox Ashley McGrath
HB: Willie Roe Basil Campbell Toby McGrath
C: Peter Matera Maurice Rioli Nicky Winmar
HF: Benny Vigona Stevan Jackson Dean Rioli
F: Jeff Farmer Mark Williams Phil Matera
Foll: Stephen Michael (c) Brad Collard Wally Matera
Int: Cliff Collard Clem Michael Sebastian Rioli
Bill Hayward
Coach: Mal Brown[21]

Military service


War Roll of Honour[22]
World War I
B. F. "Dido" Cooper † N. F. Knox † H. B. Porter † J. Ramshaw †
R. T. Straughair † H. Vagg †
World War II
A. J. (Jack) Calder † M. S. Haskell D. J. C. Ingraham C. W. Lewington
S. W. Marsh H. J. (Harry) Matison † J. V. Matison K. H. McKnight †
B. G. Naylor J. H. (Jim) Prosser † W. F. A. Richardson J. H. Reilly
W. A. Roach † F. W. Treasure
† denotes killed in action or died while serving

South Fremantle footballers at VFL/AFL level


Since the expansion of the Victorian Football League to become the national elite league in the late 1980s, numerous players from South Fremantle have represented various teams, especially the two Western Australia-based teams, West Coast and Fremantle. The list below is a summary of South Fremantle players who have achieved the highest individual honours while playing for a VFL/AFL club.

References and notes

  1. ^ "South Fremantle Home Jumpers".
  2. ^ Christian, Geoff; Lee, Jack; Messenger, Bob (1985). Jordan, Ray (ed.). The Footballers: A history of football in Western Australia. St George Books. p. 15.
  3. ^ "FOOTBALL". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 28 May 1900. p. 7. Retrieved 16 March 2011. The South Fremantle club, which has risen out of the ashes of the once redoubtable, but now defunct, Fremantle Club, possesses practically the same combination of players who wore the red and white colours last year. The name is changed but that is all
  4. ^ "FOOTBALL". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 17 September 1900. p. 6. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  5. ^ Christian, Lee & Messenger (1985), p 161
  6. ^ Christian, Lee & Messenger (1985), p 23
  7. ^ Christian, Lee & Messenger (1985), p 32
  8. ^ WA Football Hall of Fame
  9. ^ List of Premiers
  10. ^ "South Fremantle to enter 2020 Optus WAFLW competition". West Australian Football Commission. 29 June 2020.
  11. ^
  12. ^ lowest score was also recorded Round 2, 1904 against North Fremantle
  13. ^ "Australian Football Hall of Fame – Players".
  14. ^ "Australian Football Hall of Fame – Coaches".
  15. ^ "WA Football Hall of Fame Legends".
  16. ^ "Hall of Fame".
  17. ^ "Eight Legends elevated in South Fremantle Football Club Hall of Fame". South Fremantle Football Club. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  18. ^ "HALL OF FAME CELEBRATES OUR VERY BEST | South Fremantle Football Club News".
  19. ^ Wilson, Ray (3 July 2009). "South Fremantle Bulldogs announce Aboriginal team of century".
  20. ^ Moncrieff, Darren (19 June 2009). "South Fremantle to unveil Bulldogs Team of the Century".
  21. ^ Moncrieff, Darren (3 July 2009). "Bulldogs reveal Indigenous Team of the Century".
  22. ^ "WAFL War Dead - January 2015". Western Australian Football Commission.