HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Herbert Wyborn SCREAIGH
|Date of Birth||12th May 1911|
Games 214 (East Perth 206, Western Australia 8)
Goals 372 (East Perth 359, WA 13)
Honours: East Perth Premiership player 1936, East Perth Fairest and Best 1932, 1933, 1934 and 1937, Runner Up Sandover Medal 1933, EP Leading Goalkicker 1933, 1934 and 1935,
Life Member East Perth 1958, East Perth Team of the First Half Century 2006
In an era of great rovers, Herbie Screaigh established a reputation for skill, consistency and determination that far exceeded his own diminutive size. He was runner up for the Sandover Medal in his second season, four times club fairest and best and three times club leading goalkicker at East Perth, a premiership player, club captain and eight times a state representative. If not for the intervention of WW2, the small and wiry rover may well have established a game tally of 250+ games - practically unheard of to that time.
A member of a large York clan, Screaigh learnt the game in his home town and initially attracted the attention of East Fremantle who had previously obtained several valuable players from the area. However the club failed to follow up its initial contact and East Perth Secretary Fred Book, although concerned at his tiny size, invited Herb to train with his club in 1932. Screaigh was an instant success in league football, being named in the best players on debut against West Perth in Round 1 and, despite the onerous task of travelling to Perth and back every Saturday, won his clubs fairest and best award in his first season.
In his second season and free of travel concerns after accepting a job at the old East Perth powerhouse, Screaigh enjoyed perhaps his most brilliant season. He polled a single vote less than winner Sammy Clarke for the Sandover Medal, won his second club fairest and best award and travelled to Sydney as first rover in WA’s carnival team. Impressing on the national stage, Screaigh received overtures from a Melbourne club but declined because they could not guarantee him a job.
In style, Screaigh was said to resemble Johnny Leonard and was particularly renowned for his ball handling and evasive skills. He was also a dangerous sharp shooter around the goals. Two quotes from the contemporary press illustrate these points:
“Roving brilliantly for the Perth Oval side, Screaigh was the best man afield. He was wonderfully sure in his handling of the ball and his nice long drop kicks invariably found a team mate. He is a real go getter and the manner he extricated himself from tight corners brought the plaudits of the crowd. Opponents find him elusive and difficult to tackle without conceding a free kick”. WA Footballer 8 October 1932
“Short as he is, Herb Screaigh is able to stand up to the hardest of matches, and until one notices how well proportioned he is, it is difficult to understand how he keeps his speed and stamina after hard knocks. One of the most valuable features of his play is his straight ahead style. He does not waste time and ground by long sweeping turns or dodging backwards and forwards. If in trouble he turns like an eel, swiftly and sharply, and wastes no time in getting rid of the ball. On Saturday, Screaighs excellent ground play and goal sense played havoc with the Subiaco defence”. The West Australian 18 July 1933
Over the next 8 seasons Herb Screaigh maintained a high level of consistency, representing WA in 1934, 1938 and 1939 and winning two more club champion awards. He was a leading factor in the strength of his club, which played in the finals every season between 1932 and 1940 and captured the premiership in 1936 after thrilling 1 point wins in both the first semi and preliminary finals and an 11 point victory in the Grand Final against Claremont.
When WW2 intervened and the WAFL became an age restricted competition in 1942, Herb Screaigh served in the 2/11 Battalion in the New Guinea region for 3 years and captained their unbeatable services team. Again pulling on the boots for the Royals in 1946, he passed the 200 league game milestone at the age of 35 and finished with 206 league games and 359 goals. In the latter stages of his career when he lost some of his speed Herb spent some time in the back pocket where his cunning and skills enabled him to remain a menace to opposing forwards.
After his retirement, Herb Screaigh coached the Maylands amateurs but derived most pleasure in later life from the genteel game of croquet. Excelling at this game after joining his wife Jean as a member of the Bayswater Croquet Club, he even established a small green in the backyard of his Inglewood home. Also deriving great pleasure from his family of 2 daughters, 5 grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren, Herb Screaigh passed away 2 months after his 91st birthday in 2002. Remembered as a great of the East Perth Football Club where he was selected in the Team of the First Half Century in 2006 and inducted into the club Hall of Fame in 2011, Herbie Screaigh now gains recognition as one of the greats of Western Australian football.