Thursday, December 1, 2016 - 12:00 AM by Chris Pike

IF anything sums up the heart and commitment Luke Tedesco gave to the West Perth Football Club it was the lengths he went to so he could play in the 2013 premiership but the way he stuck fit to see out 2016 is every bit as admirable.

Tedesco achieved an enormous amount in his 152-game career at West Perth that sees him retire as a life member, premiership player and a captain of the club.

That is quite the resume in its own right and he will be remembered as one of the finest and most dedicated servants in the history of the West Perth Football Club. But there are two occasions where his commitment has shone more than ever.

Not to diminish his efforts to return quicker than expected from shoulder, ankle and cheekbone injuries and the subsequent surgeries but two examples do standout.


There are numerous examples every year of players who put continuing WAFL football in the too hard basket and leave their club. Nobody could have blamed Tedesco if he followed that route, but that wouldn’t be in his character.

Even when it was obvious his back was going to continue to cause problems and that finding a spot back in the back-line would be difficult, not once did Tedesco's commitment to West Perth diminish.

He took it on the chin going back to the reserves and led the increasingly young group admirably while patiently waiting for his chance even though it was a little nervous given he was stuck on 149 games after initially losing his place in Round 7.

Tedesco did get to play his 150th game in Round 14 against South Fremantle at HBF Arena, and then two more league games to close the season and ultimately his career that ended with the reserves' last game in Round 23 at HBF Arena against Swan Districts.

That dedication to see things through right to the end is exactly why Tedesco is so respected at West Perth.

"Seeing out this season is one of the proudest things that I have accomplished in footy and I'd like to think that it was for a reason," Tedesco said.

"I'd like to think the guys at our footy club use myself as an example in years to come that when things get a little bit tough, that they can push through it and stick at it because life always throws up challenges that you have to work through.

"It was a goal of mine as I was planning to finish up that I wanted to continue on the things I had learned and pass it on to the next group coming through to keep that going."

Then his effort to play in the 2013 Grand Final and ultimate premiership victory is the thing of legend. Tedesco tore his calf in Round 21 against Perth in Moora. Immediately there was every likelihood his season was over.

Then when he couldn’t get right for either the league semi-final Claremont or the reserves first semi-final against East Perth, both at Claremont Oval, his hopes looked dashed when the Falcons won through to the league Grand Final with the win over the Tigers.

But he found a way to play the next week in the reserves preliminary final and helped them win as the Falcons booked two spots in the Grand Final for 2013.

Just getting up to play that game was a huge effort from Tedesco but he knew he had to do it to be any hope of being there the following Sunday.

"From when I did the injury it was five weeks to Grand Final day and I was very fortunate to be living with a physio, Adam McKnight. In that first week it was all about the recovery so I was going into his clinic three times a day, applying an ultrasound to my calf and he was awesome to give me the opportunity to do that," he said.

"Then it was just a well throughout out process from there between Soles (Craig Soley) and Macca to pick dates for me to start walking and jogging, and the stretching that was required. I did get lucky in a lot of ways as well. The reserves had finished fourth and were playing an elimination final during the league's second semi.

"I said to Bill I wasn’t quite ready that week and I was banking on the fact that either the reserves would win or the league would lose so I could play the next week. Both ended up winning so the league were straight into the Grand Final so it was all or nothing in the reserves prelim final week.

"I didn’t start running until Tuesday and just did what was required for Thursday night training, but I was so nervous that I was almost feeling sick walking into the game on the Sunday knowing if it went again it was over. But once I got through that first 10 minutes I forgot about it and played the game as it was, and got through."

Getting through the reserves preliminary final didn’t guarantee anything either. Especially when Tedesco pulled up a little sore 24 hours later. But by Wednesday he got the nod from coach Bill Monaghan and the lengths he went to in rehabilitation became worth it in that moment.

"Then the Monday night I pulled up a little bit lame but trained the Tuesday night no problems and Wednesday night I got the call from Bill saying that I was fit, and that I was playing," Tedesco said.

"At that point I felt like I had been through so much that nothing would stop me, or us. Heading into the Grand Final was like a dream and I remember everything about it from arriving, what it was like pre-game and looking at everyone in the rooms and the way they were preparing themselves. There was a feeling that nothing could go wrong."

That 2013 Grand Final will be one forever remembered by the West Perth faithful. Firstly the Falcons beat the minor premiers Claremont who were on the hunt for a third straight premiership to get there.

But then it was East Perth the opponents in the Grand Final and not just the Royals, but one boosted by the alignment with the West Coast Eagles. Everything combined for a remarkable day for Tedesco and everyone at West Perth.

"As a group we never spoke about their alignment or anything. It was always just about what we were going to do and in a lot of ways that's what led us to the win," he said.

"The fact that we just concentrated what we had to do and weren’t intimidated by their personnel, and played the game on their merits. When you look back on the replay, we won most of the positions on the day and we played so well as a team.

"I call it a classic Grand Final where it was neck and neck for three quarters, but we were finally able to break the game apart and that last 15 knowing that we were in a position where we couldn’t lose, and were continuing to kick goals with everyone involved, that build-up to the final siren was an amazing feeling. It still gives me goose bumps to think about."

Tedesco's commitment to excellence, leadership and the West Perth Football Club could never be questions over any moment of the past decade.

He has been an outstanding performer both defensively, with his one-percent acts and his kicking skills to set up play, but his leadership and setting the example stands out above everything.

Looking back now that he's in retirement, Tedesco couldn’t be more proud of everything he achieved and how hard he worked for everything.

"I'm very proud that I got the most out of myself and it's all the sweeter knowing how hard I had to work for everything. I just absorbed everything that I could, listened to what people had to say and persisted," Tedesco said.

"I played 18 games in my first three years and could have gone anywhere I guess, but in Bill's first year he gave me the confidence to take my game to the next level.

"His coaching strategy fitted in with the way I played where I think I was more a smart than skilful footballer. One of my biggest attributes was the ability to work with my teammates and I probably had as much value in that regard as anything I delivered with my physical output."