Club History – West Footscray Football Club

A year after the Footscray District Football League’s inception, the precursor of today’s Western Region Football League, the West Footscray Roosters entered the competition in 1932.

It didn’t take them long for the club to taste premiership success either, finishing atop eleven other sides in 1934 and 1935, and winning a total of five premierships, the most recent in 2007.

In the 50s, the club moved to Kevin Shorten Reserve, where they are currently based at today. Fast forward 63 years, and the venue still features the 1930s-style coach’s shelters, with the tough metal structures reminiscent of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Over the years, the club has had a rich history shared with Braybrook, participating in the only FDFL/WRFL Senior Grand Final draw to date. The Brookers, entering the match as favourites, kicked a final minute goal in wet weather to tie the scores.

In more recent times, the Roosters played the 2012 ANZAC Day match, once again against Braybrook. Having met each other in five FDFL Grand Finals between 1942 and 1947, as World War II was coming to a close, it was a fitting Anzac clash, with the Roosters
running out 76-point victors.

Arguably one of the best products from West Footscray FC was the New Zealand-born Marty McDonnell. He was recruited to Footscray Football Club in 1939, after being a standout defender in the FDFL. He also pulled on the Big V eight times in his career, where he was once again exceptional.

In his war-interrupted eleven year career, McDonnell played 92 games of which he polled 19 Brownlow votes. Had it not been for World War II, which coincided during the peak of his career, he would have been a household name, and one of the greatest defenders at the highest level.

A more well-known West Footscray star, who made it to the highest level, was three-year Footscray captain Laurie Sandilands. Born in Seddon and living in Maidstone, he first played football at North Footscray Primary School.

He joined the Roosters’ Under 16 squad, and was skilled enough to play both U16s and U18s games. The Footscray Football Club invited him to train with the U19s where he represented the side in the thirds.

In 1966, he made his senior debut. A key forward, he topped the Bulldogs’ goal kicking from 1972 to 1975. In 1978, after playing 160 games and booting 228 goals, he moved to Collingwood to for one final season.

Today, the club currently have approximately 180 players, ranging from Auskick to senior level.

Whilst both the Division Two Seniors and Reserves are sitting 11th on the ladder with just the one win, the club’s U18 side is doing well this season, placed third on the ladder with three wins to their name.

The Roosters next Senior/Reserves match will be played against Albanvale at Robert Bruce Oval on Saturday at 2:15pm.

A thank you to West Footscray Football Club committee member Danny Backus, former South Fremantle Football Club historian Dr Steve Errington, and Secretary/Treasurer Darren Burnham, who have all provided information which has featured in this article.

This article can be found on page 49 in the hosted PDF below, and on page 47 in the printed version.

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About Lavan Ruban
I am a reporter for AFL Victoria, covering Peter Jackson VFL and TAC Cup matches. I also cover suburban Under 18 matches, as an Assistant Reporter for the Western Region Football League. I write for SgtSuperCoach, while publishing often on my blog, Footy Extra.

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