Michael David (Dave) WOODS

Year Inducted 2009
Date of Birth 6th February 1904

Player: 1923-1935

Games: 210 (East Fremantle 197, WA 13)

Goals: 36 (East Fremantle 33, WA 3)

Honours: Australian Carnival player 1927, 1933 (selected in 1930 but unavailable to tour)

East Fremantle Premiership player 1925, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1933

East Fremantle Team of the Century 1997

Fremantle Team of Champions 2008

The modest and unassuming nature of great East Fremantle and State full-back Dave Woods may partly account for the relatively low profile attached to the man regarded by legendary Victorian full-forward Gordon Coventry as his toughest opponent. Woods was WA’s first-choice full-back from 1929 to 1934 after commencing his senior career with East Fremantle at half-forward in 1923. As a full-back he was distinguished for his long driving drop kicks, excellent judgement and sharp turn of speed but he was one of the few men of his era who could excel in almost any position.

Although born in northern Victoria, Woods learnt the game at Christian Brothers College Fremantle and was employed in Bruce Rock when “discovered” by WJ (Nipper) Truscott and induced to join East Fremantle in 1923. His all-round ability stamped him as an ideal forward and he spent his first six seasons alternating between half-forward and centre with his great pace and superb kicking a feature. His versatility was on display when he made an outstanding State debut against Victoria in 1926 at centre half-back even though he had been playing at half-forward in WAFL football.

When moved to full-back in 1929, Woods was an immediate success with his judgement and dash. East Fremantle historian, Dolph Heinrichs, noted in 1947 that Woods “was being acclaimed as the finest full-back to appear in the club’s colours within a few games” and he gave brilliant performances against Victoria in his first two State games in that position later in the season. He was thereafter permanently stationed in the last line of defence until his retirement in 1935 and was one of the most important cogs  in the superb East Fremantle machine of the late 1920’s and early 30’s, playing in 27 finals, nine grand finals and winning premiership honours six times. His 13 games for WA could have been several more given that he was selected for the 1930 carnival in Adelaide but was unavailable due to work commitments. 

There are many attestations available regarding Woods’ immaculate drop-kicking. In a game against Victoria, the press comment passed was that “Woods kicking of the wet ball bordered on the miraculous, and his dashes from the goal-mouth were greatly admired”. A match report in The West Australian on the 1928 grand final included the comment: “…a tremendous long distance punt by Woods from 75 yards out, found an undefended goal, and produced East Fremantle’s first goal…”

In 1953 a journalist for The Mirror newspaper wrote, “Historians of the game searching for the most consistent executor of the longest dropkick in the game will name two of WA’s great goalkeepers in Dave Woods and Fred Wimbridge. Woods had the perfect follow through. You could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he miss-kicked a football. From the kick in he often used the tap over the line (kick it to himself) and dash down the unoccupied pocket to put the ball into attack from the last line of defence. He was fast and as solid as a rock and it took a mighty well-aimed bump to deflect him from his course when he screamed away from his goals with the ball.

When his playing days were over, Dave Woods continued to support East Fremantle and was duly honoured with life membership in 1938 but he kept a low profile while working in the motor dealing trade. He was quoted in 1953 as saying that “he’d play his game of football and then forget it and could not remember any particular game he enjoyed more than another”. His name should now take a more prominent place in WA football’s parade of champions.