HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Alan John WATLING
|Date of Birth||23rd July 1948|
Games: 289 West Perth 284, Western Australia 5
Goals: 324 West Perth 323 Western Australia 1
Honours: Australian Carnival player and All Australian 1972
Dinny Heaney Nickel Cup 1975 (second semi-final)
West Perth Premiership player 1969, 1971, 1975
West Perth Team of the Century 2000
Sixteen consecutive games culminating in a premiership from senior debut and kicking five goals to be best-on-ground in his third game would generally signify a player of special talent and with a big future and so it proved with will o’ the wisp West Perth wingman/ruck rover Alan Watling.
A born and bred West Perth local, Watling joined the club from local junior club Cardinals and served an apprenticeship in the lower grades before forcing his way into a powerful team in Round 8 (May 24)1969. He was an immediate success on the wing with his excellent pace and tenacity, safe marking and good disposal skills and established a permanent place in a team that enjoyed four grand finals in his first seven seasons.
Watling was first selected to represent Western Australia in the 1972 Australian Football Championships in Perth. Playing on the left wing in the three games, he performed brilliantly against the best opposition in the land to gain selection in the All Australian team.
The appointment of Graham Campbell as West Perth coach for the 1975 season following a last place finish in 1974 saw the role of Watling change from wingman to free-running ruck-rover and it proved a masterstroke. Watling’s tremendous endurance enabled him to run all day and his extraordinary ability to read the play allowed him to direct the course of a game by creating opportunities and support for team mates. Watling’s genius in this role was never better illustrated than in his final three games of 1975. In the last qualifying game of the year West Perth played South Fremantle. At stake was the minor premiership and the double chance. West Perth won and Watling kicked five goals. Two weeks later in the second semi-final West Perth defeated Swan Districts with Watling having 45 possessions (29 kicks and 16 handballs), 13 marks, and kicking another five goals He was awarded the Dinny Heaney Nickel Cup, the trophy for best-on-ground in final round games other than a grand final and was a unanimous media choice as best-on-ground. In the grand final two weeks later West Perth thrashed South Fremantle with Watling having 34 possessions (25 kicks and nine handballs), nine marks and, for the third week in a row, kicking five goals. In the two finals Watling’s aggregate totals were 79 possessions (54 kicks and 25 handballs), 22 marks and 10 goals.
Watling was to define the role of elusive ruck-rover for a further eight seasons and 150 games. Besides his damaging field work, Watling was a substantial contributor on the scoreboard and finished with 323 goals in his 284 games of league football to be fifth on West Perth’s all-time goalkicking list (behind Ted Tyson, Ray Scott, Les Fong and Stephen Smeath) and equal third in games (behind Mel Whinnen, Bill Dempsey and equal with Fong). The qualities of excellence and longevity combined in Watling to yield an outstanding career record. Selection in West Perth’s Team of the Century in 2000 underlined his status as one of his club’s and the State’s greats.