HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Walter John PRICE
|Date of Birth||2nd June 1926|
Games 268 (West Perth 256, Western Australia 12)
Goals 4 (West Perth 4 WA 0)
Honours: West Perth Fairest and Best 1952
West Perth premierships 3 (1942, 1949, 1951) Grand Finals 1946, 1947, 1948, 1952, 1953
West Perth Team of the Century 2000
The unsung position of back pocket specialist is never likely to produce a Sandover Medallist but Wally Price was one of the best of many fine WA players to fill this vital defensive role. He was so effective at curbing the star rovers of his day that he captured a fairest and best award for his club, represented his state 12 times and was a vital player in three premiership teams.
Wally Price joined West Perth from the metropolitan juniors at the commencement of the war restricted age competition in 1942. He immediately assumed the back pocket position and although only small in stature, he had pace and a delightful long clearing dropkick. He was also a superb reader of the play and played his opposing resting rovers so closely that they seldom caused scoreboard damage whilst on him. Although tough and resolute his methods were very fair and he rarely gave away a free kick.
The 1942 West Perth side contained many future stars and Price occupied the left back pocket position in both the Second Semi and Grand Final victories. The following year Ray Schofield commenced with the club and he and Price developed a near perfect understanding in the last line of defence that was to last for over 10 seasons in both WAFL and state football. Price’s ground play and anticipation were a great foil for Schofield’s strong spoiling tactics and the pair went on to represent Western Australia on 12 occasions together between 1947 and 1953.
Price celebrated a second premiership success in 1949 but the 1951 Grand Final was perhaps his finest moment. West Perth took a 17 point lead into the final quarter but the defence had to withstand a barrage of attacks by South Fremantle kicking with the aid of a strong breeze. The difference was down to 3 points with 2 minutes remaining and the Sunday Times reported that “Price, who had defended stoutly all day, and Schofield were remarkably cool under fierce pressure and won the game for the Cardinals”. Although Don Porter won the Simpson Medal, the performance of Price and Schofield in the hectic final minutes of that game will long be remembered by West Perth faithful.
In 1952 Wally Price won West Perth’s Fairest and Best award ahead of a champion field but the club lost the Grand Final against the outstanding South Fremantle team. At the end of the 1954 season at the age of 28, Price retired from the WAFL to accept the position of captain coach of the Griffith Football Club in New South Wales. He held the West Perth club record of 256 games and but for this coaching opportunity he may well have become the first WAFL player to play 300 league games. He was later appointed coach of the West Perth reserves team ( 1958 and 1959) and in 1960 joined the WAFL umpiring panel serving for 4 years umpiring mainly Country matches.
In the 1960’s Wally Price was instrumental in the formation of the prestigious WA 200 Club and has remained a regular attendee at West Perth matches. He was unanimously selected in the back pocket in West Perth’s Team of the Century in the year 2000 and his effectiveness was recalled by Mick Cronin in the Daily News in 1967 “Wally Price tops the poll in my book as the greatest back pocket specialist. He had all the essential qualities of a good footballer. Most notable were his ability to read the play and his beautiful clearing kick which invariably turned defence into attack.”