HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Barry Matthew WHITE
|Date of Birth||22nd April 1934|
Games 176 (South Fremantle 160, Western Australia 16)
Goals 319 (South Fremantle 281, WA 38)
Honours: South Fremantle Premiership player 1952, 1953, 1954 (all before turning 21), Twice runner up South Fremantle Fairest and Best , South Fremantle Hall of Fame 2011, Life Member South Fremantle 1965
The collective brilliance of the South Fremantle golden era teams between 1947 and 1956, and the early termination of his career by a susceptibility to head injuries, may explain the slightly lower profile of brilliant rover Barry White when football discussions turn to the greatest players of the past. However 16 state games over 6 consecutive years and 3 WAFL premiership victories before turning 21 years old, amply demonstrate the impact of this great player on Western Australian football in the 1950’s.
Son of 1930’s South, St Kilda and WA player George White and grandson of Collingwood and South player Matthew Fell, Barry White had a meteoric rise in football. After being turned away from his local Temperance League club in 1950 because he was too small, he came back the following year and took out the competition fairest and best medal. He then played the last home and away game and the finals for the North Fremantle Ex-Scholars and won the award for best player on the ground in a victorious Grand Final.
An invitation from South Fremantle coach Clive Lewington in 1952 was accepted, despite doubts about his own ability, and Barry White made his league debut in Round 2, as a reserve rover to Steve Marsh and Harry Carbon. Although only receiving a 10 minute burst, he was never out of the league side thereafter, and his performances within a star studded combination were regularly eulogised. Less than a month past 18 on debut, he was still only 20 years and 5 months old when the South juggernaut rolled through to its third consecutive premiership in 1954.
A highly skilled player with a splendid foot-pass on either side, Barry White was also a sharpshooter in the forward line, booting 281 goals in his 160 games. He first achieved state selection in his second season (for a WA Second 18 against North Melbourne), and went on to make 16 state appearances over 6 years. After his second state appearance, the West Australian noted: “Western Australia again received valuable service from its young players and Barry White roving was the best player on the ground. White demonstrated that he has the temperament and skill for big matches, kicking 8 goals, the best being from a sharply angled screw kick in the last quarter.”
Enjoying sparkling form for both club and state in 1955, Barry White was named as one of only 2 West Australians in the Sporting Life magazine’s All Australian side. The other was East Fremantle ruckman Jack Clarke. North Melbourne and Essendon, impressed by his state form, made VFL offers but Barry refused on the basis that a WANFL blanket ban on clearances would require that he stand out of the game for a season.
In 1956 Barry White bagged 46 goals for the season, plus 9 in 3 games for Western Australia, in each of which he was among the best players. However he also suffered several bouts of concussion in a disconcerting sign for the future. Although again outstanding for his State in 1957 and 58, White was forced into premature retirement before the 1959 season because of increasing concussion issues. New South Fremantle coach Marty McDonnell pleaded with him to play again in 1960 but in the first match of the season, he once again went down after a knock to the head and was only able to return for a losing first semi final. Playing again in 1961, Barry made 14 appearances before finally conceding to his susceptibility at the end of the season. He later served as assistant coach at South Fremantle under Percy Johnson and Mal Brown and in his vocation in physical education, he helped mould many a young aspiring footballer.
South Fremantle’s AW Walker Medal was a difficult award to win during his career but Barry White was runner up in 1955 and 1956 and third in 1958. An inaugural inductee into the South Fremantle Football Club Hall Of Fame in 2011, his outstanding impact for his club and state now see Barry White officially recognised as one of the all time greats of Western Australian football.