HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Francis Stanley HOPKINS
|Date of Birth||8th February 1909|
Games 210 (West Perth 128, Claremont 70, WA 12)
Goals 596 (West Perth 289, Claremont 268, WA 39)
Honours: Premiership player 1932 (West Perth), 1938 (Claremont), WAFL leading goalkicker 1930 (79 goals), Century goalkicker 1937 (119), West Perth leading goalkicker 1929-1930, Claremont leading goalkicker 1936-1937
WAFL football in the 1920’s and 30’s was graced with many spectacular aerialists but West Perth and later Claremont forward Frank Hopkins was regarded by many contemporaries as the best. But more than just a freakish mark, Hopkins established a brilliant record over 15 seasons as a forward with nearly 600 goals and premierships at 2 clubs and represented WA with distinction on 12 occasions.
Francis Stanley Hopkins was born near Beverley in 1909 and burst on to the WAFL scene as a 17 year old in the first round of the 1926 season as a tall rangy forward with brilliant marking ability and a superb long drop kick. He was a natural for the centre half forward position where he played every game of his debut season to finish with 21 goals and be his teams best in a semi final loss to Subiaco. The WA Footballer commented after the final: “This lad is a coming champion.”
In his second season, Hopkins was selected in WA’s second 18 to play two games against the visiting Collingwood team and first gained selection in the full state team for the eastern states tour in 1928. By this time Hopkins was an established star. The WA Footballer on 30 June observed:
“Hopkins was nothing short of sensational. Seldom has a display of such brilliancy been seen on our grounds and East Perths skipper, beaten to a frazzle, tried two other men against the ‘freak’ but to no avail”
After another great season in 1929 when he kicked 62 goals and was centre half forward in the centenary state games against SA and Victoria, Hopkins reached his peak in 1930. With regular displays of brilliance including 14 goals in the final game against Perth, he clinched the WAFL leading goalkicker award despite the presence of Ted Tyson as West Perths full forward. References to his ability were frequent but the “Call” newspaper (27.6.1930) was particularly descriptive of his style:
“There’s no doubt that Hopkins represents one of the most brilliant players in the league and when he gets his hands on the ball he grips it like a vice. He is a natural easy long distance drop kick who gets the ball over tremendous distances in the most effortless and artistic style.”
The presence of both Fleming and Tyson caused West Perth to use Hopkins at centre half back periodically after 1930 but he was at centre half forward and kicked 2 goals in the drought breaking premiership win in 1932. With injuries becoming more frequent, Hopkins played the last of his 128 games with West Perth in the 1933 preliminary final. After not playing at all in 1934 he was cleared to Claremont in 1935 and became a highly reliable forward with 83 goals in 1936 and 120 in 1937 to be one of a record 5 centurions for the season. The Football Budget on 12 Sept 1936 observed “Though his marking may not be quite as brilliant as formerly, he can still bring down some beauties from the clouds while the accuracy of his magnificent kicking is perhaps greater than previously.” As a reserve in Claremonts first premiership team in 1938 Hopkins joined an elite group but his appearances were thereafter spasmodic and he became a trainer at the club. Recalled out of retirement for a final appearance against West Perth on 6th September 1941, he raised a great cheer from the crowd who so appreciated the thrills he had provided over 16 seasons since 1926.
Frank Hopkins remained a Claremont resident until his untimely death aged only 50 in January 1960. The memory of his feats may have faded but Frank Hopkins was a rare talent responsible for some magnificent efforts and the brilliance of his play makes him a worthy inductee into the WA Football Hall of Fame.