Yellow and black
When competition in the Western Australian Football Association got underway in 1885, Rovers was one of four inaugural members, along with Fremantle, Victorians and Perth High School. However, after just two games the High School team dropped out because it was having difficulty finding enough players. The remaining three sides then contested a very even six round competition.
Rovers thus had the honour of being the first ever West Australian premiership team, an honour the club achieved once more, in 1891, when it was undoubtedly helped by the decision of the then all powerful Fremantle team to forfeit its last three matches of the season because of an umpiring dispute.
During the 1890s, Rovers began to experience financial problems, and by the end of the decade these were so severe that the club was having difficulty meeting its weekly fixture commitments. The WAFA’s declared intention of implementing district football, along the lines of that being phased in in South Australia, presented another potential problem to Rovers, in that the club drew its players from all over the metropolitan area rather than one specific district. After 8 rounds of the 1899 season the club, which had just been forced to forfeit a game to East Fremantle, indicated that it was no longer able to continue, and the Association invited First Rate Junior competition side Perth to take its place. Many Rovers players promptly transferred to the newcomers, with no fewer than half of Perth’s inaugural WAFA team against Fremantle hailing from the now defunct club. Although there was never any formal connection between Rovers and Perth there is a sense in which the spirit of the former club lives on in the latter.
During the thirteen of its fourteen full seasons of WAFA competition from which records are extant Rovers won 51 and drew 78 of 147 matches played, for an overall success rate of 40.8%. This success rate goes down to 38.7% if the club’s 8 consecutive losses in 1899 are added to the equation, but overall the club made a worthy contribution to Western Australian football, and its achievement in winning the Association’s inaugural premiership should ensure that its name endures as long as the game is played.
1 The Western Australian Football Association awarded 2 points for a win and 1 point for a drawn game until 1897, when the Victorian system of 4 points for a win and 2 for a draw was adopted.