In the 25th anniversary of West Coast's first premiership, the Eagle Eye recounts the Eagles historic 1992 season.
West Coast returned from their second bye of the season to continue their winning ways when they recorded a 44 point win over North Melbourne at the MCG.
The Eagles dominated from start to finish, but took well into the second half to get the game in their keeping due to poor kicking in front of goal.
West Coast booted 2.10 in the second quarter, en route to a club record 26 behinds but despite the inaccuracy, extended their lead at every change.
Peter Sumich led the way up forward with four goals and Dean Kemp found his early season form after a couple of quiet weeks with 28 disposals and two goals as West Coast had too many winners across the board.
Chris Waterman had 26 disposals playing on the wing in place of Peter Matera, Craig Turley produced his Brownlow runner-up form of 1991 to collect 25 and Peter Wilson backed up from his first game of the season with 24 touches and two goals across half forward.
Mitchell White was given the role at full back opposed to Kangaroos full-forward John Longmire, holding him to three goals while Glen Jakovich closed down Wayne Carey after half time.
Chris Lewis played game number 100, picking up 22 disposals and a goal, but almost didn’t make it onto the field after some late drama in the changerooms before the game. Lewis suffered a back muscle spasm but took his place, with West Coast ultimately making just one change to the side that defeated Adelaide two weeks earlier.
Michael Brennan returned in place of Peter Matera who strained a calf at training during the week. The Eagles opted to leave out Brett Heady despite the half-forward being declared available. Heady, who had suffered numerous hamstring injuries in 1992 was spared the trip to Melbourne for a game that was played in a mud heap and driving rain.
The Kangaroos made three changes, with Ian Fairley and Shaun Smith both injured in the 35 point loss to Adelaide the week before. Leigh Tudor was dropped with former Eagle Alex Ischenko brought in alongside Justin Staritski and Peter German who notched his 150th AFL game. Like West Coast, the Kangaroos had battled injuries for much of the year and were unable to call on key players Mark Roberts and Anthony Rock who were sidelined for the season.
North Melbourne had lost three games on the trot heading into the clash with West Coast, and sitting at 3-7, coach Wayne Schimmelbusch declared his sides’ finals chances on the line. The blunt declaration had no impact on his side though as West Coast controlled the contest from the opening bounce, despite the atrocious conditions beset upon the MCG.
The Eagles finished with 60 more disposals and 24 more scoring shots, but it wasn’t until goals from Dean Kemp and Chris Lewis late in the third term that put the Eagles 29 points up, when the game seemed to be in the visitors’ keeping.
As well as the missed opportunities by West Coast, North Melbourne stayed in the contest on the back of 50-gamer Wayne Carey who reeled in 11 marks and 18 disposals to be North Melbourne’s best player. Carey was too much for Ashley McIntosh and then Michael Brennan, with Mick Malthouse turning to Glen Jakovich in an effort to curtail his influence.
By games end, Carey had found himself on report for striking Jakovich, and would later be suspended for one week.
Jakovich had started in the ruck, but his move to defence pushed David Hynes into the ruck and the Eagles ascendancy in the middle paid dividends the longer the game went. The Eagles fourth win in a row lifted West Coast to third place on the ladder, and equal flag favouritism with Geelong – just five weeks earlier, the Eagles were languishing in 10th place, two games out of the six.
Peculiarly the Eagles had jumped into the top six the week earlier without playing a game. With West Coast on a bye, the Saints and Hawks both dropped out of the finals spots following losses to Geelong and Footscray. Having now played one less game, the Eagles rose with a superior match ratio.
After West Coast defeated the Kangaroos, more results over the weekend worked in the Eagles favour. The Saints rebounded from their narrow loss the week before to score a one point win over Collingwood, the Blues fell to Geelong and Fitzroy were no match for Footscray, allowing the Eagles to climb past all three.
For Malthouse the win underlined a defiant resolve that had built within his squad in recent weeks. “The most pleasing thing was that, we did play under adverse conditions and on a ground that hasn’t been overly kind to us on Friday nights.”
The win would also provide Malthouse a welcome relief from a week of controversy following the previous weeks state of origin clash between Victoria and Western Australia. Coaching WA, Malthouse was allegedly spat on by a Victorian supporter as he exited the coaches box, following WA’s 63 point loss.
Match Details Friday 5 June 1992
West Coast 3.4 5.14 10.22 14.26 (110)
North Melb 2.2 5.4 8.5 10.6 (66)
MCG Attendance: 10,165
Best: WCE D Kemp, C Waterman, P Wilson, D Lamb, P Sumich, G Jakovich, C Turley
NTH W Carey, M Larkin, J Romero, A Ishchenko
Goals: WCE P Sumich 4, D Kemp, D Lamb, P Wilson 2, D Hynes, C Lewis, T Evans, C Turley.
NTH J Longmire 3, M Larkin, J McCarthy 2, P German, A Dwyer, W Carey.
Brownlow: 3. D.Kemp (WCE)
2. D.Lamb (WCE)
1. A.Ishchenko (NTH)