- West Coast Eagles
Infobox australian football club
clubname = West Coast Eagles
fullname = West Coast Eagles Football Club
nicknames = The Eagles
season = 2008
position = 15th
founded = 1986
colours = Home: color box|Darkblue Navy Blue, color box|White White and color box|Gold Gold
Away: color box|blue Blue and color box|Gold Gold
Australian Football League
url = [http://www.westcoasteagles.com.au www.westcoasteagles.com.au]
West Coast Eagles Football Club is an
Australian rules footballclub competing in the Australian Football League. The club is based at Subiaco Ovalin Perth, Western Australiaand was formed in August 1986 when the then Victorian Football League (now known as the Australian Football League) expanded to include teams from Perth and Brisbanefor the 1987 season. The club played 54 [cite web
url = http://afl.allthestats.com/statistics/ladderteamgnd.php?t1=18&t2=&yrfm=1897&yrto=2007&gnd=32&ming=1
title = All Time VFL/AFL Ladder by Team/Ground] of its home games between 1987 and 2000 at the WACA due to an agreement that some games would be played there and also the fact that Subiaco Oval could not host night games due to a lack in lighting. Since entering the competition, the Eagles have been one of the most successful clubs in the AFL, winning the 1992, 1994 and 2006 premierships, being runners up in 1991 and 2005, and competing in finals in all but five seasons.
1980s: The Early Years
The new club managed to draw a creditable squad together, mostly out of the WAFL, but also with a few players returning from Victoria to play for the new Perth based side. In a lavish function at the then Merlin Hotel (now the
HyattPerth), in October 1986, the club released its new colours, its inaugural squad, and announced the club's name would be the "West Coast Eagles". [ [http://www.fullpointsfooty.net/west_coast_(2).htm West Coast (2) ] ]
The club's reception in West Australian football circles was mixed, with many diehard supporters of the WAFL opposed to the entry of the VFL into Perth. But with a good array of local talent on board, including the return from Melbourne of 1983
Brownlow Medallist Ross Glendinningas the club's inaugural captain, the Eagles caught the attention of a majority of the football supporters of Western Australia. West Coast's first official match of any sort was a pre-season game against Footscray (now Western Bulldogs) on March 3, 1987, which the Eagles won.
The club's first official home and away match at Subiaco Oval against Richmond on
March 29, 1987was played before a respectable crowd of 23,897. The fledgeling Eagles, down by 33 points at the final change, somehow managed to outscore the visiting and tiring Tigers nine goals to one in the final term to run out 14 point winners - a club record last quarter comeback that lasted until round 10 of 2006. [ [http://www.eaglesflyinghigh.com/game/game.php?id=43] ] By season's end, the club had split its games with eleven wins and eleven losses for a seventh place finish, but despite this quite respectable effort, inaugural coach Ron Alexanderwas sacked from the position and replaced with WA coaching legend John Todd.
The 1988 season saw the Eagles improve to become one of the strongest teams of the competition, finishing the home and away season in fourth, before narrowly losing the Elimination Final to Melbourne by two points. Despite this loss, the mood was upbeat at the club for the future, although it was the last game for inaugural captain Glendinning. [http://www.corkintheocean.com/wordpress/?p=162]
However, the 1989 season put the club under a lot of pressure. Injuries and poor form led to the club only winning two matches in the first fifteen rounds of the season, culminating in the "Windy Hill Massacre", where the Eagles lost by a club record 142 points to Essendon. In the nadir of this season, with major financial problems besetting the club and a bleak outlook, there was even talk of disbanding the club and reverting back to the WAFL as the senior competition in Western Australia. However, the Eagles rallied with five wins in the last seven weeks of the season. While it was enough to stave off the wolves, it was not enough to keep John Todd in the role of senior coach, nor allow first year captain
Murray Ranceto retain the role.
1990s: The Malthouse Years
As the VFL made way for the new AFL the Eagles entered the 1990s with a new coach,
Mick Malthouse, a Victorian recruited from Footscray, and a new captain in Steve Malaxoswho had won the club's first club champion award in 1987. The change in leadership, and the rise of a few younger players, led to a resurgence at the club winning sixteen games on the way to a third place finish at the end of the home and away season. This led to a berth in the Qualifying Final against Collingwood, which resulted in a famous draw, [ [http://www.eaglesflyinghigh.com/game/game.php?id=89] ] but the Eagles could not win the replay, and despite beating Melbourne in the First Semi Final, bowed out a fortnight later to Essendon in the Preliminary Final.
As 1991 started, out of favour captain Malaxos was replaced with youngster
John Worsfold. That didn't seem to affect the club as the season saw what was probably the most dominant Eagles side, winning the first twelve games of the season, a club-record nineteen games in the home and away series, and the Eagles' first minor premiership. [ [http://www.eaglesflyinghigh.com/game/index.php EaglesFlyingHigh • Game Statistics ] ] However, the young team struggled with the finals pressure exerted by such a dominant season, and while they made the Grand Final, it was lost to Hawthorn by 53 points in front of a crowd of 75,230. It was the only Grand Final ever to be played at Waverley Park, and the first in the AFL to feature a non-Victorian side.
In 1995, a local AFL rival the
Fremantle Football Clubwas introduced to the WA football market, heightening competition for the West Australian audience and forming a fierce rivalry to become the Western Derby, a twice yearly encounter between the two clubs. The derby was for much of the 90s a West Coast affair, with the Eagles winning the first nine encounters before the Dockers finally won the later derby of 1999.
Meanwhile the club's performances on the field slipped a little from the heights of the early 90s, but never so far as to not make the finals. After bowing out quietly in 1995, the Eagles won their opening final in 1996, resulting in what would normally have been a home semi final against Essendon. However, due to what Eagles fans saw as a poorly constructed contract between the league and the MCG, the game was scheduled to be played at the MCG instead of Subiaco. [ [http://westcoasteagles.com.au/default.asp?pg=history] ] In all the furore the Eagles were comprehensively thrashed. On a brighter note, young Eagle
Ben Cousinswon the club's first AFL Rising Staraward for the best rookie in the competition for 1996. [ [http://afl.com.au/default.asp?pg=risingstar] ]
The 1997 and 1998 seasons saw the Eagles mostly making up numbers in the finals, bowing out early both years, with the most notable incident being when captain John Worsfold was dropped for what would have been his final appearance in the 1998 Semi Final; [ [http://www.abc.net.au/stateline/wa/content/2005/s1463409.htm Stateline Western Australia ] ] oddly mirroring what happened to his predecessor in the role, Steve Malaxos, who was dropped for the 1990 Preliminary Final and never played for the club again. [ [http://www.fullpointsfooty.net/ma.htm#Steve%20Malaxos%20(Claremont,%20Hawthorn,%20West%20Coast,%20East%20Fremantle) Ma ] ] Worsfold was replaced in the captaincy by his vice captain,
In the second week of the 1999 season the Eagles again found themselves in the situation where they earned a home final (after beating the Western Bulldogs at the MCG in the first week), but once again the MCG contract denied the club the right to host the final, and the Eagles faced Carlton and lost on the road. [ [http://www.afana.com/drupal/node/216 Footy FAQ: History of the Finals Format | Australian Football Association of North America ] ] This rule later cost the
Adelaide Crowsthe right to host a Semi Final in 2002, and the Brisbane Lionsa Preliminary Final in 2004 before it was finally abolished.
The 1999 season is probably more remembered for the continual rumours that linked coach Mick Malthouse to the senior coaching role at Collingwood; the rumours ended up being proven correct when Malthouse was released from his contract to the club for the 2000 season, to be replaced with
Ken Judge. Also notable in 1999 was the first (and currently only) Eagle to top the AFL goalkicking, when Scott Cummingswon the Coleman Medal with 95 goals. [ [http://www.fullpointsfooty.net/v_afl_summary_chart.htm#1997%20to%202003 V/AFL Summary Chart ] ]
2000-2001: The Ken Judge Years
The Eagles might have started Judge's reign as coach impressively, thrashing reigning premiers North Melbourne in the opening game of 2000, and winning two games by over 100 points in three weeks against Adelaide and Fremantle, but it was to turn sour quite quickly in the latter part of the 2000 season. Sitting at six wins and five losses at the half way point of the season, injury struck, and West Coast slumped to win only one more match for the season, and missing the finals for the first time since 1989, and another change of captaincy, as McKenna retired to be replaced with Dean Kemp and Ben Cousins as co-captains. The Eagles also introduced a much maligned ochre colour to their home and away uniforms in these years, which have since been abandoned for the more traditional uniforms worn in previous years.
However bad 2000 might have been, the 2001 season was the club's all time nadir. In a shocking season, crueled by injury, older players falling away, and general mutterings of dissatisfaction, the club won only five matches for the entire year, all against other bottom four sides; the fourteenth place finish by far the lowest in the club's history.fact|date=October 2007 Against rumours of player dissatisfaction, and even revolt, Ken Judge was sacked from the coaching role, to be replaced in turn by former premiership captain John Worsfold.fact|date=October 2007
2002 - current: The John Worsfold Years
It appeared to be a poisoned chalice that was handed to Worsfold in his first senior coaching role; a team that was widely tipped to slump further to the bottom of the ladder. Most fans would have been satisfied with just an improvement in performance, but Worsfold and his mostly young charges surprised many, being almost unbeatable at home, and sneaking a couple of crucial away wins to make an unexpected finals appearance on the back of an eleven win - eleven loss home and away season in 2002. The Eagles lost first up and were eliminated, but it was a sign of improvement to come.
The 2003 and 2004 seasons were opposites of each other. In 2003, the Eagles ran riot early, sitting in the high reaches of the ladder mid-season before injury took out the second part of the season and the club slumped to finish just inside the finals, and were bundled straight out; in 2004, the season was looking down the barrel early, but a dramatic late season recovery saw the Eagles steal a spot in the finals in the last week of the home and away season, only to be thrashed in a thunderstorm by the
Sydney Swansfirst up.
2004 however saw the first ever Eagle to win Australian Football's highest individual award, when
Chris Juddwon the Brownlow Medal in a canter. Previous best West Coast performances had been runner up efforts from Craig Turleyin 1991 and Peter Matera in 1996.
Season 2005 saw the Eagles start on fire, easily accounting for all opponents in the opening eight weeks before inexplicably losing to then-bottom-placed Collingwood. The Eagles however recovered to be as much as five games clear, before a poor run home saw the club lose the final week and surrender the minor premiership to the
Adelaide Crows. Despite this, the Eagles turned it around in the finals to make the Grand Final against the Sydney Swans. However, in reverse of the result in the 2005 Qualifying Final which the Eagles won by 4 points, the Swans managed to hold out the Eagles to win the low scoring encounter by four points. There was some consolation for Eagles fans with Chris Judd being awarded the Norm Smith medal which, with captain Ben Cousins having already won the Brownlow Medal, highlighted the quality of the West Coast midfield.
Note: The Chris Mainwaring Best Clubman Award was created in 2007, after his death.
Ashley Hansenwon the inaugural award.
AFL Hall of Fame Members
Brownlow Medal winners
(Awarded to the player rated best in the competition during the home and away series by the umpires)
Ben Cousins(2005)Runner up Brownlow Medal
Peter Matera(1994), (1997)
Daniel Kerr(2005), (2007)
Leigh Matthews Trophy winners
(Awarded to the player rated best in the competition during the home and away series by the players association)
andover Medal winners
"(Awarded to the player rated best in the WAFL competition)"
Phil Narkle(1982) (Swan Districts)
Murray Wrensted(1985) (East Fremantle)
Ian Dargie(1991) (Subiaco)
Robbie West(1992) (West Perth)
Ryan Turnbull(2001) (East Perth)
Matthew Priddis(2006) (Subiaco)
Norm Smith Medal winners
"(Awarded to the player rated best on ground in the AFL Grand Final)"
Coleman Medal winners
"(Awarded to the player who kicks the most goals in the AFL competition during the home and away series)"
Scott Cummings(1999) - 88 goals - (95 after the Eagles two finals)
AFL Rising Star winners
"(Awarded to the best rookie player in the competition)"
Ben Cousins(1996)See the AFL Rising Star awardpage for the full criteria
Goal of the Year winners
Mark of the Year winners
All Australian selection
"We're flying high" is the official anthem of the West Coast Eagles. It was written in the 1980s.
In 2006 the West Coast Eagles were celebrating their 20th anniversary, and a best team of the club's history was chosen. Consideration was based on 100 games played for the West Coast Eagles, career longevity, finishes in the Club Champion Award, impact and other individual accolades.:
September 6, 2008:"Note: The No.3 jumper has been retired until the end of 2010 in memory of Chris Mainwaring.
List of West Coast Eagles Football Club coaches
Australian rules football in Western Australia
* [http://westcoasteagles.com.au/ Official Website of the West Coast Eagles Football Club]
* [http://www.bigfooty.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=17 West Coast Eagles Discussion Board] on BigFooty.
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