WPFC Life Member Bios

John Britten - Life Member

John Britten’s journey with West Perth all began at a timber mill out the back of Bridgetown in the Lower Southwest of WA.
My dad ……. ran the Donnelly River Mill, which was owned by the Bunning Brothers.
Dad loved his footy, especially West Perth and Fitzroy. To travel from the mill to Perth in the fifties and sixties was a long haul, I remember as a kid I used to count the miles down on the road posts.
In 1969 mum dad and I travelled to Perth for the grand final and I vividly remember as a 23-year-old, sitting in the middle tier of the new 3 tier stand watching Laurie Richards marking up where the planes travel!
The timber industry was not going too well, mills were closing and so in 1972 Pauline and I decided to move to Perth and start a life of our own.
I went to as many Cardie games as I could to watch. In 1976 or maybe 1977, I met a bloke named Dave Arthur, who introduced me to Bill Spittles, who then introduced me to “statistics”, the rest is history.
Graham Campbell was our coach and apart from kicks, handballs, goals, and points, he asked for much more detail, like who won the ball from the centre, was it by foot or by hand, was it effective or not! We could not handle the worked required, so Dom and Joe Cosoleto, Steve Wheatley and John Jarvis joined the team to handle all this additional information that the coaching staff wanted. After every game the stats were added up and handed in to the coaches. It wasn’t always easy [especially at Leederville] to get into the changerooms, the “doorman” Darryl Wilson was very strong on who to let in or not! We were ok, we had the stat sheets that the coaches wanted, although there were always peering eyes over our shoulders from the boys to see if they could see if they had a good day or not.
In 1992 Jeff Gieschen arrived as coach and if us boys thought we had enough to do with what Graham had given us, think again. A sheet was devised with the oval, centre square and the forward and back 50metre arc. From this Jeff required numerous things, which kept one boy very busy, head down bum up.
I finished my time at the end of the year 2000. It was an eye opener to meet so many coaches, players, and board members, who were and still are always open for a chat, this is probably the main reason why West Perth is such a successful club. I am very grateful that the club saw fit to award me life membership in 2021.
We met many, many, people during our time at the club. I feel very, very, honored and I still catch up with Bill and Dom at the footy, it is so good to see some of those old faces still coming along to see the boys pull on the red and blue jumpers in 2023.
I lost my brother Steve Wheatley in 2011. Football today seems to me to be totally different to yesteryear when it was man on man. I used to love the duels between Whinnen and Sorrell for example, but today’s game leaves me scratching my head and I doubt very much if we will ever see the high-flying Laurie Richards type ever again, which is a great shame, the game needs that type of player.

Dustin Burns - Player & Life Member

Dustin Burns finished school in country Victoria, then moved to Wodonga to complete a sports coaching course. He became great mates with James Harris, brother of Darren Harris.  Dustin played two years for the Wodonga Raiders (Harro's old team) and that is when Darren convinced Dustin to come over to Perth for a crack at the WAFL. Dustin moved over to Perth at the start of the 2003 season. He was blown away with how talented the playing group was. His first training session was on Buzzy Fewster, and he could not believe the size of him. He had big doubts if he would get a kick playing against guys like Buzz.
West Perth had a sensational group of younger guys when I first moved to WA, and initially I spent a lot of time with Jas and Adam Sala, Matty Guadagnin, Anthony Tslakis, Mitch Leithhead, Daniel Halloway, Dylan Eiffler, Blake Arnold, Dizzy Fleay, Dave Crossland, Regan Duckworth, Cameron Branch, Michael Taylor and Joshy Pearce.
I look back very fondly on my time playing for West Perth.  I was lucky enough to win a Breckler medal in 2010 after coming back from an injury year in 2009, I polled 110 votes to edge out midfielder Ray Bartholomew on 98 and captain Jason Salecic on 93 for the award. Also am proud to say l won a couple of Best Clubman awards but creating lifetime mates is my highlight of my time at West Perth. Unfortunately, I was not involved any team success during my time at West Perth.  I got dropped in the finals of '03 and I didn't play in a winning final for the Falcons.
I loved how passionate the Falcons supporters are, and without a doubt they are the greatest supporters of our club, l have seen.  While playing they were sensational and even now, walking around the ground or upstairs after games there are so many happy and familiar faces that love a chat.  It truly is the biggest source of what makes the place so great.
The person I have the greatest respect for and who helped me tremendously over my time at the club was Todd Curley.  Firstly, playing alongside Todd and then being coached by him.  He even convinced the admin at Edith Cowan Uni to get me into a teaching course after I missed the application deadline.  Not sure I would have lasted long in WA if that didn't happen.  He was a great source of knowledge, and I loved the way he played and coached.  He is such a terrific bloke too.
I played in Baldivis for two seasons after West Perth.  Played alongside some former Falcons in the Radici brothers, Dylan Eiffler, Blake Arnold, Sam Palm, Josh Pearce and Tim Guatta. Went to Wanneroo after that for 3 years.  Loved it there. Won the Best and Fairest in 2015 and 2016 and then we won the B grade premiership in 2017.  Blake Arnold, Brayden Duckworth, Marc Crisp, Tim Guatta, Cameron Branch, Stephen Healey were all former falcons playing there too.  
Tried to play a couple of seasons out at York with Matt Gaudagnin after that but I pulled more hamstrings than I got kicks.
Being a life member is a terrific honour and I still love getting down to watch the Falcons in action.  I am coaching my two sons in their junior footy, Jimmy (9) and Ted (6), my sons, play at Kingsley Junior football Club.  I coach their teams and they absolutely love it.  In Subiaco zone however so might need to use their Nana's address in a few years’ time!!
I will always follow the team and feel connected to the club even though only a couple of players remain from my playing days. 
172 Games West Perth
Breckler Medal 2010
Played 10 years, (2003 – 2012)
Life Member 2011

WILLIAM (BILL) DE GRUCHY - Player & Life Member

Born 10th May 1930, to William Reginald and Ruth Maisie (nee Laker) De Gruchy. One of eight siblings. Attended St. Mary’s convent primary school, Leederville before progressing to St. Patrick’s Boys School, Perth for Secondary education. It was here that one of the Brothers encouraged Bill to practice his athletics, particularly running in 1941. Won school running championship that year in both under 12 and under 13, at the age of 11.
The De Gruchy’s lived in Mt. Hawthorn and Bill supported West Perth from his earliest memories. As a kid he helped the ladies at player teas on Thursday nights and sold lollies at home games during the half time breaks.
He played football for 2 seasons with Mt. Hawthorn Metropolitan juniors.
Before his distinguished career as fitness coach at West Perth his running ability gained him selection for Australia in the 1950 Commonwealth Games in Auckland NZ. Here he excelled himself by finishing second in 100 yards men’s final, fourth in 220 yards men’s semi-final. He then, as a member of the 4 x 100 yards relay final won a gold medal.
In the national competition he finished second in both 100 and 220 yards final in 1949-1950, first (in 9.8 seconds) in the 100 yards final in 1950-1951.
He also finished second in the 220 yards final. In 1951-1952 he finished third in 100 yards and second in 220 yards finals. In 1953-1954 and 1954-1955 he finished third in both finals.
In 1950 and 1955 he was a member of the winning W.A. 4 x 100 yards relay final in 41.8 and 42.5 seconds respectively.
Because of his times in 1949 to 1951 he qualified for the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. He was however overlooked with spots going to eastern state runners whose times were slower than Bills. (Nothing has changed to this day.)
He was appointed as fitness coordinator in 1931 under coach Arthur Oliver. He held this position for many years.
Whilst he worked the players hard to get their fitness levels up he was well respected as a person and a valuable member of the Club. He was at the Club for Premierships won in 1951, 1960, 1969, 1971 and 1975. For his efforts over a long period he was awarded Life Membership of the  West Perth Football Club.
After his stint at West Perth he continued umpiring in the country and Sunday football competitions.
His all-time favourite footballers include John Loughridge, Fred Buttsworth, Ray Scott, Ray Schofield, Bill Dempsey and Mel Whinnen. His favourite memories are the 1951 Premiership ( Both League and Reserves.) and the other premiership years 1960, 1969, 1971 and 1975.
He is the father to two sons and two daughters. Unfortunately, one daughter passed away as a baby. He also has 6 Grandchildren and 6 Great Grandchildren, spread around the world.
His son Mark played at West Perth and was a colts medalist. His other son Paul played many games for Scarborough in the WA Amateur Competition. His daughter Marie was an athlete and a netballer.
He still follows West Perth but finds it difficult to get to games at age 92. He resides in Mercy Care in Joondalup and has visits from some former team players.
 
Ray Garcia - Life Member
Was always going to be a lifelong West Perth supporter living in Shakespeare Street Mt. Hawthorn as a kid. Football was like a religion in Ray’s home and he started to go to the football as a 10 year old in 1959 with his father Syd and see West Perth games at Leederville Oval. Syd was a Barber in Oxford Street and used to give many West Perth champions a short back and sides haircut.
As a 10 -year- old Ray used to go down to Leederville Oval on a Sunday Morning and help the legendary Property man Syd Gardiner hang out the football jumpers. It was then that Ray got the idea of looking after the club’s playing gear..
Ray grew up in Mt. Hawthorn with Stephen Smeath, Bill Valli, Ian Logan, Alan Watling and Laurie Richards surrounding him.
As a youngster Ray loved watching Brian France, Brian Foley, Don Marinko, Ross Ayre, Peter Medhurst  and Keith London to name a few players.Being a friend of Jim DiCarlo, Jim invited Ray to be the runner for the West Perth colts. He did play a couple of games of colts under coach Tom James. He was runner for 5 years. He then became Manager of the colts.It was 12 years ago that Ray took over the Property Manager role that he loves dearly and especially during the premiership years of 1995, 2003, 2013 and 2022.Ray spends just about every day of his life at the Football club during pre -season and winter. Ray’s family are now used to it. He loads the players’ playing gear into the club’s van on a Friday for the away games and returns all gear on a Monday morning. He also loves pumping up 60 footballs every weekend.
Ray was a very popular choice for life membership in 2021.
He considers West Perth a united family club, enjoys meeting people in and around the club and absolutely loves being part of it.He enjoys a coffee regularly with Dennis Cometti, Bill Monaghan, Shane Sheridan and Jim DiCarlo.
Ray stands as a wonderful contributor to our great club.
Darrell Kent - Life Member
 
My Dad lived in Bruce Street Leederville, the street that runs next to the Re-Store. He went to CBC Leederville and was married in Saint Mary’s church. I was baptized by Father Foley, the brother of West Perth Legend and Sandover Medalist Brian, so it was almost pre-ordained that I was going to be a West Perth supporter. Our family moved to Northam when I was ten months old, but I still remember walking with him to watch the Cardinals play at Leederville whenever we went back to Perth to visit his mother. I took Dad, and my son, to the last game at Leederville and the first at Joondalup so in a way the cycle has continued. It would have been great if Dad had still been around when I was given Life Membership of the West Perth Football Club.
 
I became a member of the WPFC in the early 1990’s. I paid for my son’s membership at the time as well and he has been a member since he was seven or eight. We attended the 1995 Grand Final together and went back to Joondalup after to celebrate. He went and got the program signed by all players and gave it back to me framed thirty-two years later for my 60th. There are so many great memories associated with West Perth. I am more than lucky to have been hugely supported by my partner, Belinda Taylor, who has taken game day photos for fifteen years. Her photos have been used online, to produce books and premiership memorabilia and she has provided players, and the parents of players, with photos of their career, first games and last games.
 
My involvement at West Perth has been varied, to say the least. I was initially asked to be involved by Phil Hanna and Murray Leeder. This was in the early 2000’s as Secretary and then President of the Cardinals Club. This group contributed nearly $20,000 to the WPFC in its four-year existence. In the mid 2000’s I was asked by the then CEO, Ken Torrance, to do a match report for each game. I started in 2005 and wrote my 325th report for the 2022 Grand Final. I was the Board Secretary for several Boards, on and off, for a twelve-year period. Through Steve Trewhella I became heavily involved in the repairing of historical photos and memorabilia to highlight the history of the football club. I was also responsible for the framing of the photos over the Sandover Medalist Bar. The five frames showing all the players who played VFL/AFL football and West Perth were also done by me and Belinda Taylor. It wouldn’t have been possible without the research and support of the then Football Manager, Steve Trewhella. His interest in the history of the WPFC and the efforts of the Heritage Committee, led by Russell Ellen, is responsible for the great display in the member’s area.
 
During my time at West Perth, I have been fortunate to develop friendships with several people. This includes current and past players, Board members and supporters. One of the great things about game day is the number of people that you can say hello to and chat with. The WPFC is all about relationships and that is what makes it a great place to attend. The involvement of Belinda, my son and Father only add to what has been a great experience. There are too many people to mention anyone specifically. I have also been fortunate enough to attend the West Perth Coffee Club every second Monday. When you walk into a room and get to talk to the likes of Bill Dempsey and Mel Whinnen, to name a few, you can’t help but want to do what you can to support the Falcons. Terry Stokesbury does a great job of coordinating this group whose history is a key plank of West Perth.
 
I still attend most games in a season. The only time I will miss is if we are away somewhere. Even though I don’t have any direct involvement, now, I still work with Belinda sorting the thousands of weekly photos that are put into individual players files and online.
The people in West Perth are what the Club is all about. The occasional premiership isn’t bad either.