COME & SEE THE REAL THING - 2003 PREMIERSHIP HEROES

Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 1:33 AM

Years ending in a “3” have never been lucky for West Perth.

It started back in 1923 when the Cardinals missed out on a grand final by losing to East Perth in the semi-final by just nine points.

In 1933, they lost the preliminary final by four points. It cost the club the chance to win four in a row, given the premiership victories of 1932, 1934 and 1935.

Another sequence was broken in 1943. West Perth went back-to-back in 1941 and 1942, but lost the 1943 first semi-final by just three points.

In 1953, it was a grand final loss to South Fremantle and in 1973 a grand final loss to Subiaco. In both 1963 and 1983, West Perth promised the world, but only managed to deliver their fans an atlas.

And then there was 1993. The last season at Leederville and the top-placed Falcons went into the grand final against Claremont as sentimental favourites. They lost by five goals.

Against that backdrop, those members of the West Perth faithful who were superstitious couldn’t possibly have been confident going into season 2003.

West Perth had been thrashed by East Perth in the 2002 grand final and had lost Jeff Bruce, Dean Brunton, Damien Casson, Liam Casson, James Ferguson, Peter Julian, Brett Thompson, Ryan Webb and Andrew Williams during the off-season.

But the hoodoo of years ending in “3” was finally broken and the premiership cup came to Joondalup for the third time in ten years.

This week, the club will honour its 2003 heroes at the game against Subiaco – the same team they upset in the grand final ten seasons ago. Many of those who held the trophy aloft will be present.

Season 2003 started with a heavy recruiting program, which was aimed at plugging the holes left by the departing players.

Kim Rigoll returned to West Perth from Myrtleford, the blond-mopped Brad Murray joined from Victoria, as did life member Dustin Burns, Brent Rynehart and Kepler Bradley made their first appearances, and West Coast recruit Aaron Edwards was allocated to the Falcons.

Finishing the season in second position, the eight-point second semi-final loss to Subiaco was devastating. It gave the Lions a week off, while West Perth was forced to face-off in a preliminary final against their old foes, the Royals.

But a 56-point win finally erased the bitter memories of 2002 and set up a mouth-watering grand final against Subiaco.

From about midway through the second quarter it was clear the day would belong to West Perth.

Brent LeCras, who would go on to win the Simpson Medal, was impassable in defence, as was Simon Duckworth. Mark Seaby dominated in the ruck, while Troy Longmuir kicked five goals up forward.

The other members of that victorious side, coached by former Premiership star Darren Harris, were Rob Hunt, Callum Chambers, Rynehart, Murray, Regan Duckworth, Glenn Britten, Brendon Fewster, Quinten Lynch, Steven Koops, Brett Cousins, Kim Rigoll, Todd Curley, captain Steve Trewhella, Travis McLean, current captain Jason Salecic, Bradley and Brendon Logan.

Mark Seaby aside, they will all be hoping that their efforts to break the hoodoo of years ending in “3” will allow the current crop of Falcons stars to walk away with a premiership this September. 

BY SEAN COWAN