Darrell Peter PANIZZA

Year Inducted 2009
Date of Birth 11th March 1959

Player: 1979-1986, 1990-1995

Games: 354 (Claremont 274, Woodville 74 Western Australia 6)

Goals: 165 (Claremont 114 Woodville 50 Western Australia 1)

Coach: 1995-1998 (Claremont), 1997 (WA), 1999-2008 (Albany Royals, GSFL), 1999-2004 (WA Country)

Premierships: Claremont Premiership player 1981, 1991,

1993 Premiership coach 1996

Honours: Club Fairest and Best 1986, 1991, 1992 (Claremont) 1987 (Woodville)

Claremont games played record holder

Six in a row premiership coach Albany Royals, GSFL 2001-2006

John Leonard Medal 2003, Ken Armstrong Medal 2004

The extraordinary overall contribution of Darrell Panizza to football in Western Australia over 30 years may not be fully understood by city devotees, but to football people in Albany and the Great Southern he is, quite simply, a legend. His league game tally record at Claremont, four senior club fairest and best awards, three WAFL premierships as a player and one as a coach are highly impressive statistics but they only tell part of the story.

Panizza joined Claremont in 1978 from Albany Royals as a strongly-built youngster with a rare turn of speed and already two country league premierships under his belt. He experienced immediate success as the best player in the Claremont Colts premiership side in 1978 before breaking into a strong league side in Round 5 the following season and establishing a permanent place on a wing. As probably the fastest player in the WAFL in the 1980’s he added a touch of brilliance to a team that went on to break a 17-year premiership drought in 1981 and play in three successive grand finals. First representing WA in 1982 against South Australia, Panizza performed superbly and subsequently played in five more State games including the powerful 1983 State of Origin side that sensationally defeated Victoria to win the Australian championship.

After capturing his first club fairest and best award in 1986, Panizza was disappointed to be overlooked for the inaugural West Coast Eagles squad and sought to further his prospects with Woodville, in the strong SANFL competition. He was an instant success winning that club’s fairest and best when, under the coaching of Malcolm Blight, they played in the SANFL finals for only the second time. After three excellent seasons and 74 games he returned to Claremont and remained a dynamic contributor on the wing using his pace to break into open space and springboard attacking moves. Four more grand final appearances in five seasons were capped with two more premierships and an additional two club fairest and best awards, as well as a number of media awards in a superb 1991 season.

Appointed coach in 1995, Panizza virtually retired as a player, filling in on several occasions and finished with a Claremont record 274 league games. He quickly showed potential as a coach and mentor with the club finishing fifth, but unearthing some excellent young talent. A thrilling two-point premiership victory over East Perth the following season was his coaching zenith in the city. Back in Albany as senior coach of the Royals Football Club from 1999 he established a Great Southern Football League record of six consecutive premierships (2001-2006) in 10 seasons. He has also enjoyed success at Association level, coaching the GSFL in the A Grade Country Championships and at State level, coaching the West Australian Country team at national championships from 1999 to 2004.

Panizza was a great promoter of country football as a vehicle to develop character and life skills and gained wide respect in the Albany and Great Southern for his community involvement and talent development expertise. For his outstanding overall playing and coaching record Panizza deserves to be honoured as one of the game’s greats.