Mervyn Frederick McIntosh
25 November 1922
Place of birth
Subiaco, WA (6008)
3 May 2010 (aged 87)
Place of death
Salter Point, WA (6152)
Height and weight
Height: 197 cm
Weight: 105 kg
State of origin
Hall of fame
Australian Football Hall of Fame (1996); Western Australian Football Hall Of Fame (2004) Legend
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When Perth came from behind to defeat East Fremantle by two points in the 1955 WANFL Grand Final (reviewed here), it was a sentimental triumph acclaimed by virtually every Western Australian football supporter. Not only was it Perth’s first flag since 1907, it was also the last ever game of the ‘gentle giant’ of ruckmen, Merv McIntosh, who fittingly had ignited the touch paper which had seen the black and reds play all over Old Easts in a torrid last term. He was duly awarded the Simpson Medal, the third of a distinguished career, which he could happily hang alongside his 1953 Tassie Medal, his three Sandovers, and his seven club fairest and best awards. For this consummate team man, however, pride of place among his many achievements would undoubtedly go to his involvement in that 1955 premiership team.
Powerfully and athletically built, McIntosh combined strength and determination with a formidable football brain. However, he rarely made illegitimate use of his strength, regarding football as essentially a game rather than the all out war facsimile into which it was gradually evolving in Victoria. Indeed, it was alleged that he could “short pass as daintily and turn as nimbly as any footballer of more reasonable proportions”.¹ The fact that his impact and reputation transcended state boundaries was emphasised as early as 1947 when the ‘Sporting Globe’ nominated him as Australia’s leading footballer.
Perth was a powerful club, contesting the finals almost annually, throughout Merv McIntosh’s 217-game league career, but a flag proved elusive. To the delight of a large proportion of the 41,659 spectators who turned up at Subiaco Oval for the 1955 Grand Final, the breakthrough finally arrived in the nick of time.
Merv McIntosh’s top level career also saw him represent his state on 24 occasions, including games at the 1947, 1950 and 1953 carnivals.
Subsequent Western Australian rucking greats like Jack Clarke, ‘Polly’ Farmer and Graham Moss perhaps enjoy more noteworthy reputations, but ‘Big Merv’ was arguably the template on which all of them, to some extent, were based.
Author - John Devaney
1. The Pash Papers by Jeff Pash, page 257.