Born: 2 June 1926 Died: 17 June 2021
Came from: West Perth Went to Merbein
First game: 17 April 1955 Last game: 12 August 1956
Appearances: 33 Goals: 42
League Rep: 1
Walter John "Wally" Price (born 2 June 1926 in Margaret River) was a wonderful legend who played for the West Perth Football Club. He was married to Wynne for 66 years and had five wonderful children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He passed away at the ripe old age of 95 years.
One of his older brothers, Henry (Harry), also played for the club and at Claremont. Originally growing up in York he started playing in the Metropolitan Junior Football Association (MJFA), the bread-basket of many famous names to go on and play for the club.
In 1941 it had been a difficult year for the WAFL due to the World War, with many clubs losing many players to the war effort. The League introduced a rule that only players who turned 18 at October 1942 could play. This meant some great stars of the era – like Bill Rainoldi, Norm McDiarmid and Max Tetley had to retire.
But it provided an opportunity for others, as life so often does. Wally Price debuted for West Perth in the age-restricted war-time competition in 1942, at the age of 16, and played in a premiership in his first season. Fred Buttsworth also debuted at the age of 14 years.
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 coached by Joe Brooker (who was the father of Dolores and who later became the father-in-law of the late Ronnie Bewick and grandfather of all the sons Cory, Darren, Rich and Glen who all also played for WP), contained many future stars including Len Harman and Fred Buttsworth, and Wally occupied the left back pocket position in both the 1942 Second Semi and Grand Final victories.
The following year Ray (Homer) 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.
Wally made his interstate debut for Western Australia at the 1947 Australian National Football Carnival, held in Hobart and then also played in the 1953 Carnival, held in Adelaide.
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 (Mary) 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. Wally wryly reckons she should have won the Simpson.
In 1952 Wally Price won West Perth’s Fairest and Best award, the Breckler medal, ahead of a champion field but the club lost the Grand Final against the outstanding South Fremantle team.
Wally played in 8 Grand Finals (1942,1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1953) winning three premierships (1942, 1949, 1951).
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 time.
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 four years umpiring mainly country matches.
In the 1960’s Wally Price was instrumental in the formation of the prestigious WA 200 Club and 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.”
He was named the Club’s Ball Legend in 2005 and inducted into the West Australian Football Hall of Fame in March 2010.
Our league coach Geoff Valentine spoke to Wally about a month ago and he stayed very much in touch with the club and how it was going.
Price was West Perth's oldest living life member.
On behalf of the Board, the members, players and fans of our great club, Vale Wally Price. (Eulogy By Dr Neale Fong, West Perth F.C President. June 28, 2021).