In the 25th anniversary of West Coast's first premiership, the Eagle Eye recounts the Eagles historic 1992 season.
West Coast made it three wins on the trot when they defeated the Crows by 40 points in the first home game at the WACA for the year.
As they had done a fortnight earlier at home to the Bulldogs, the Eagles killed the contest in the opening quarter with 8 goals to establish a 37 point lead, which proved unassailable in a game played in atrociously wet conditions.
The Eagles remained in eighth spot, but were just two points shy of Geelong, St.Kilda, Hawthorn and Carlton who occupied the bottom four spots of the final six. Fitzroy dropped out of the top six courtesy of the bye, but remained ahead of West Coast, despite having two less points, due to a superior match ratio.
For Adelaide, the loss effectively ruled out finals action in 1992, having won just three games from the opening 10 rounds. The loss also continued a recent bad run, which had seen thrashings by Geelong and St.Kilda in recent weeks to the tune of 123 and 74 points, respectively.
Despite the wet weather, the Eagles settled into the wide expanses of the WACA, where they had had great success in recent seasons. The win over Adelaide was their 11th in succession at the ground, stretching back to 1989, with the Eagle runners enjoying the vast amounts of space afforded through the middle.
Peter Wilson returned to the Eagles line-up for the first time in 1992 and didn’t miss a beat, finishing with 26 disposals and four goals. Wilson, who had suffered a dislocated shoulder at the start of the season playing for East Fremantle, returned at the expense of Brett Heady, who once again was sidelined with hamstring problems.
Wilson was given the nod ahead of Trent Nichols and Paul Peos, who had booted seven goals for East Perth the week before.
While Wilson was the shining light up forward, more pleasing for coach Mick Malthouse would have been the spread of goalkickers. 10 players hit the scoreboard, but full-forward Peter Sumich wasn’t one of them, as he was held goalless by Crows defender Nigel Smart.
Mark Bickley and Chris McDermott were proficient for Adelaide, while Ben Hart ran with Kemp keeping the Eagles centreman to just 16 possessions. Full-forward Tony Modra broke free from the close-checking of West Coast captain John Worsfold to boot four goals in the final term, finishing with a match haul of five in just his third game of AFL football.
The Eagles though were far slicker and showed greater skill in the wet conditions, led by Wilson and Chris Lewis who were instrumental in the Eagles fast start. Wilson and Lewis had 19 disposals and three goals between them in the opening term, and when Peter Matera skidded through the opening goal of the second term, West Coast’s lead had extended to 43 points and the game was done.
Matera was one of the best for West Coast, proving too much for Simon Tregenza, while Chris Mainwaring also won his battle on the wing opposed to former Eagle-listed player Steven Schwerdt. Troy Ugle was dynamic up forward, as was Tony Evans who booted two goals and created several others, while Dean Laidley continued his fine form across half-back in place of the injured Guy McKenna.
Adelaide coach Graham Cornes refused to accept that his side were at a disadvantage when they were denied the chance to train on the ground ahead of the game. The Crows arrived in Perth a day early, but were forced to train at Claremont in the lead up, with the Eagles preventing them from accessing the WACA.
West Coast had been unable to train at Football Park in the lead up to the two sides’ prior meeting late in 1991, and as such were unwilling to provide the Crows access. Cornes admitted his side were beaten by a side who handled the conditions far better on a ground he considered an ‘ice rink’ following the deluge of rain leading up to the game.
The Eagles extended their lead in both the second and third terms, heading for home with a 51 point advantage, before the Crows won the final term as West Coast tired.
West Coast coach Mick Malthouse refused to admit that his side had turned the corner in 1992, but was happy with the result.
“Our last quarter wasn’t flash, but our players worked hard in the first three quarters and sometimes you can’t sustain that.”
With five wins and a draw from nine games, the Eagles were set for their second bye of the season the following round, with WA playing Victoria in the state-of-origin. Malthouse admitted that the timing of the bye was inconvenient considering the momentum that had been built up by three consecutive wins, although many Eagles would partake in the mid-week match against Victoria.
Match Details Friday 22 May 1992
West Coast 8.2 11.7 15.11 17.16 (118)
Adelaide 2.1 4.3 7.8 11.12 (78)
W.A.C.A Attendance: 23,046
Best: WCE P Wilson, C Lewis, S Watters, T Ugle, D Laidley, P Matera, C Mainwaring
ADE C McDermott, T Modra, S Rehn, M Bickley, A Jarman
Goals: WCE P Wilson 4, T Evans, K Langdon, C Lewis, P Matera 2, D Hynes, D Lamb, A McIntosh, C Turley, S Watters.
ADE T Modra 5, R Jameson, M Murphy 2, D Hart, S Lee.
Brownlow: 3. T.Ugle (WCE)
2. D.Laidley (WCE)
1. S.Rehn (ADE)