1926, through the merger of Strathfield and Ashfield Australian Football Clubs; disbanded 1929; reformed 1947
P.O. Box 98, Croydon Park 2133, New South Wales
Wagener Oval, Whitfield Avenue, Ashbury
NSWAFL 1926; NSWANFL 1927-9, 1948-73; NSWAFL 1974-80; SFL 1981-86; NSWAFL 1987-9; SFL 1990-98
Black and white
The original incarnation of the Western Suburbs participated in the top tier of organised football in Sydney between 1926 and 1929. This club reached the grand final in its debut year, losing to Eastern Suburbs. However, it was forced to disband at the end of the 1929 season when it was unable to meet its running costs.
The club was reformed in November 1947 and took its bows in the NSWANFL the following year, when it finished sixth in an eight team competition. It also provided the Phelan Medallist in the shape of its captain-coach Keith Champion, who had won the same award the previous year with North Shore.
During the 1960s and 1970s Western Suburbs was far and away the strongest club in Sydney. Between 1963 and 1969 it was an ever present in the NSWANFL grand final, winning four times and losing three. After dropping to third in 1970 the Magpies recovered to eke out a similar tale of supremacy in the 1970s, missing only one further grand final for the decade (that of 1976) whilst claiming another four flags. However, since the last of these, in 1977, the club’s fortunes have declined alarmingly, with an isolated premiership in 1996 the only significant cause for celebration.
Over the years Western Suburbs has fielded a large number of high quality players, with AFL ruckman Greg Stafford arguably the cream of its recent products. The side reached the finals in 2002, giving cause for tentative optimism about the immediate future, but then slipped back into the field the following year, finishing second from last, a result that was repeated in 2004.
The 2005 season brought a marked improvement as the Magpies lost only 1 of 16 minor round matches to secure the minor premiership. This was followed by a comfortable 43 point second semi final defeat of Pennant Hills, a result which earned the side warm favouritism going into its grand final clash with North Shore. Inexplicably, however, when the pressure intensified during the second half of the match, the Magpies found themselves unable to cope, and ended up slumping to a humiliating 41 point loss, thereby completely undoing almost an entire season’s good work.
The side again qualified for the finals in 2006, but hopes of a flag were dashed at the preliminary final stage by Pennant Hills, who won with disconcerting comfort by 86 points. The 2007 season was even more disappointing for the Magpies who managed just 6 wins and a draw from their 18 matches to finish seventh (of ten).
John Devaney - Full Points Publications