Thomas Craig WILSON

Year Inducted 2013
Date of Birth 3rd November 1872

Player 1896-1910

Games 214 (Fremantle 14, Imperials 12, East Fremantle 187, WAFL representative 1)

Goals 11 (Imperials 6, East Fremantle 5)

Honours: 8 times premiership player (Fremantle 1, East Fremantle 7), East Fremantle captain 9 years (1898-1900, 1904-1909 (5 premierships), WAFL captain (v Goldfields) 1900

Life Member East Fremantle 1900, WAFL 1923, East Fremantle Hall of Fame (Legend) 2012

In the first 40 years of WAFL football, no figure was more revered than Tom Wilson, a man admired and respected equally by team mates and opponents as a champion player, outstanding captain, and assiduous worker for the good of the game. At East Fremantle, the club he co-founded, Wilson has been bestowed the rare honour of club Legend and his active involvement as either player or administrator for 32 consecutive years attests to his passion and commitment.

Thomas Craig Wilson was born in North Melbourne in 1872 and by 1895 he had attained local celebrity as captain of the blue and whites in the strong VFA competition prior to the VFL breakaway. Coming west in March 1896 he was immediately secured by the powerful Fremantle club and appointed vice captain under “Poss” Watson. With its all-star ex Victorian cast including Thurgood, Watson, Duggan, Doran, Byers, Chadwick and others, this was perhaps the strongest of all WAFL teams relative to its opponents and Wilson was an important key defender in the premiership combination. The following season he crossed to Imperials, the other Fremantle based club. After this club folded due to poor administration, Wilson then founded, in March 1898, together with good friend Dolly Christy and business man Sam Thomson, the famous East Fremantle club and be became the inaugural captain. In 13 playing seasons with “Old Easts”, he led the team for 9 and played in 7 premierships (5 as captain).  Despite occupying a tough key defensive position, Wilson seldom missed a game and on June 26th 1909 against Midland Junction, although not recognized at the time, he became the first player to appear in 200 WAFL senior games. With seasons at the time generally consisting of no more than 15 games, this was a wonderful testament to his skill and durability.

As a player, Tom Wilson was a resolute centre half back with plenty of pace and rare determination. He was a good mark and kick but his greatest trademark was his fierce tackling which destroyed many a forward thrust. Possessed of a fine physique, he also was very adept with the hip and shoulder and although scrupulously fair, he only knew one way ahead. As a captain, Wilson was recognized as a master tactician and mentor to his players. He was a strict but kindly disciplinarian who knew how to get maximum effort from every player and East Fremantle established an extraordinary record of 8 premierships, 4 runners up and 1 fourth place in his 13 seasons as a player with the club.

Playing days over, Tom Wilson brought his gifts to almost every important position in the club. He held secretarial office for 5 years (1911-1915), was treasurer for 7 years (1916-1922) and a delegate to the league for 10 years (1919-1928). Wilson was also appointed a state selector for several years and was both selector and co-manager of the strong 1924 Hobart Carnival team. His outstanding service to football was rewarded with Life Membership of the League in 1924 - the first East Fremantle person to achieve the honour. He had earlier been made the first Life member of his club in 1900.

Even after ceasing official involvement at East Fremantle in 1929, Tom Wilson was a frequent and popular figure around the club. At his death in October 1952 aged 80 years, the debt owed to this fine personality and sportsman was widely recognized. He worthily joins the pioneering 1885-1915

group in the WA Football Hall of Fame and at the time of induction has a granddaughter and great grandson living overseas and a great nephew (grandson of his sister Mary Jane) residing in Fremantle.