Percival George Trotter
1 September 1883
Place of birth
Fitzroy, VIC (3065)
27 August 1959 (aged 75)
Place of death
Willagee, WA (6156)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 245d
Last game: 23y 21d
State of origin
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
|East Fremantle||WAFL||1910-1912, 1914, 1916, 1919||59||72||1.22||—||—||—||—||—|
|Total||1901-1912, 1914, 1916, 1919||168||217||1.29||—||—||—||—||—|
"At a big circus show a performer is placed inside a canon, and at a given signal is actually shot out of it. When I see Trotter roving for Fitzroy, my thoughts turn to that fellow being shot out of the gun, for that's how Trotter comes out of the pack." - Jack Worrall
In the opinion of many of the Fitzroy supporters who saw both Percy Trotter and Haydn Bunton senior in action, there was little if anything to choose between the pair in terms of all round football ability. Both had superb balance, were extraordinarily quick, marked well, and could pass the ball with pinpoint accuracy. Trotter though could do something that Bunton notoriously could not, which was kick well with both feet. Moreover, in the opinion of former umpire Jack Elder, Trotter's kicks were more penetrating than Bunton's.¹
Wearing the red cap that was to become his trademark wherever he played, Trotter made his VFL debut with the Maroons as an 18-year-old in 1901, and within a couple of seasons he was universally acknowledged as one of the finest players in the game. He made his VFL interstate debut in 1903, and the same year was best afield in Fitzroy's losing Grand Final team against Collingwood. He had more than adequate consolation in 1904 and 1905, however, as the Maroons secured successive flags with Grand Final wins over Carlton and Collingwood respectively.
Fitzroy reached another premiership play-off in 1906, but lost to Carlton, and the following year, after 109 VFL games and 144 goals, Trotter jumped ship, without a clearance, "for private business reasons"² and joined ambitious VFA side Essendon Association, which simultaneously appointed former Essendon champion Jack 'Dookie' McKenzie as coach.
After three years which saw the Dreadnoughts slowly begin to emerge from the doldrums, Trotter accepted an offer to play for East Fremantle. Technically, however, because he had crossed to the VFA without a clearance, he remained bound to Fitzroy, and was ineligible for Old Easts until a proper clearance arrangement had been negotiated. Oblivious - or casting a blind eye - to this, East Fremantle chose to play him anyway, and it was not until several matches into the 1910 season that the authorities caught up with the matter, and Trotter was forced to stand down.
Percy Trotter's clearance to play for East Fremantle finally arrived early in the 1911 season, and, after a somewhat tentative start, he soon began to function on full throttle. In that year's Grand Final he was a key contributor with five goals as Old Easts demolished West Perth by 51 points.
Appointed captain of the club in 1912, Trotter retired at the end of the season, and, as was the wont of many of his contemporaries, turned to umpiring. However, when he served abroad during World War I he again donned the boots on occasion and was said to have lost little if any of his earlier prowess.
In 2002, Percy Trotter was chosen on the interchange bench in Fitzroy's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.
Author - John Devaney
1. See The Encyclopedia of League Footballers by Jim Main and Russell Holmesby, page 441.
2. Ibid, page 441.