HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Charles Walter James (Dick) SWEETMAN
|Date of Birth||21st February 1905|
Player: 1898 – 1911
Games: 215 (East Fremantle 211, WA 4)
Goals: 114 (East Fremantle 110, WA 4)
Honours: State representative 1904, 1908 (Inaugural Carnival); WAFL representative 1900 (v Goldfields), 1901(v Goldfields); East Fremantle Premiership Player 1900, 1902, 1903 (team member – no 10; East Fremantle Vice Captain 1907, 1908, 1910, 1911
As the most outstanding rover of his era, Dick Sweetman was one of the principal reasons for the domination of the premiership by East Fremantle, who won nine premierships during his 14-year career span. Noted for his spectacular aerial feats and a prodigious punt kick, Sweetman gained selection in every WAFL representative team between 1900 and 1908 and in one of the great tragedies of WA football history was ultimately to lose his life as a result of injury on the football field.
Born in Fremantle in 1879, Sweetman made his senior football debut in the first game played by the famous East Fremantle club at the WACA Ground in May 1898. From the outset he was a standout and he remained at his peak almost to the end of his football career in 1911.
Writing in 1924, Dolph Heinrichs noted that “Sweetman was a finished player as a junior and was a great success from the day he entered the goodly company. No gamer player ever stripped. He took and he gave and he never complained. He was the possessor of a beautiful running style, was a sweet bouncer of the ball and a splendid exponent of the place, drop and running punt kicks, the latter being his specialty and invariably covered 60 yards. What marked him right out of the beaten track as a rover was his extraordinary ability as a high mark. He could leap and hold with anybody and I have seen him get right over the heaviest of packs. ”
Stamina was another Sweetman forte and he often roved for an entire game without respite. When a hand injury cost him two games in May 1908, the West Australian noted that it was his first injury in 10 years and that he held the unique record of missing only three matches in 11 years. This durability enabled Sweetman to play 208 league games for East Fremantle when seasons were significantly shorter than they are today. He also played four state games for WA.
In 1911, after announcing that the season would be his last, Sweetman volunteered to fill a vacancy in a Carnival selection trial game. It was the last match he played, for during its course, his spine was injured by an opponent’s knee. Subsequently hospitalised and in great pain, Sweetman lingered for over a year but despite the best available medical skill he passed away in October 1912. Heinrichs, in 1947, considered Sweetman “one of the very best to ever wear the Blue and White of East Fremantle” and other tributes include this by Tommy Lewis in The Daily News in 1933 “Sweetman was the most gifted of the club’s many fine rovers” and this by his captain Tom Wilson in The Western Mail in 1941 “As a rover Dick Sweetman had no peer. He was pacy, tough and versatile”.