Nine in a row
David Hynes played his ninth game for the Eagles in round 10, 1991 and celebrated his ninth win as they beat Sydney by 34 points at Subiaco.
It came on an odd Sunday afternoon in which West Coast led by eight points at quarter-time, 22 at halftime and just two at three-quarter time before winning 15.16 (106) to 10.12 (72).
Dean Irving, with 19 possessions, a game-high 15 hit-outs and a goal, picked up three Brownlow votes in a year in which he would total 10 votes, while Peter Matera earned two votes for 21 possessions and a goal. Chris Mainwaring (30 possessions and a goal) and Brett Heady (20 possessions, three goals) were other standouts
Drafted from SANFL club Port Adelaide at #24 in the 1988 AFL Draft, Hynes elected not to move west until after he had added Port flags in 1989-90 to the one he’d won in 1988.
But he settled quickly and left an immediate mark on the club, with the utility big man’s 9-0 start a club record that would stand for 27 years.
It was threatened in 1992 when Matt Clape won his first eight games, again in 2005 when ex-Adelaide recruit Tyson Stenglein won his first seven, and over 2005-06 when Jaymie Graham won his first seven.
But the nine-win streak from debut was not bettered until 2018 when Willie Rioli won his first 10 games. Having missed selection for the season-opener against Sydney, which was a 29-point loss, Rioli went unbeaten until next the Eagles played Sydney again in round 13.
Taking care of the Crows
The Adelaide Crows made their second visit to Perth in round 10, 1992 after having copped a 65-point hiding 12 months earlier. And they didn’t fare too much better.
Down by 37 points at quarter-time, the Crows had to rely on a four-goal final quarter to cut the final deficit to 40 points as Peter Wilson kicked four goals for the home side. Dean Laidley collected an Eagles-best of 30 possessions in what turned out to be his fifth-last game in blue and gold before switching to North Melbourne in 1993.
Laidley picked up two Brownlow votes – his last for the Eagles - as Troy Ugle earned three votes. It was the second and last time Ugle featured in the medal count.
One who got away
Can you name the four players who, after playing for West Coast, went on to win a Best and Fairest awards at another club?
No prizes for getting Chris Judd, a three-time winner at Carlton, and given John Gastev was a 100-game dual best and fairest winner at Brisbane he didn’t exactly slide under the radar. But the other two are a bit harder.
The third is easy to forget because he played for more other clubs than he played games for West Coast.
Dale Kickett was a two-game Eagle in 1991 after a stint at Fitzroy and before time at St Kilda, Essendon and Fremantle, where he won the club’s third title in 1997.
The fourth was drafted at #29 in the 1991 AFL National Draft and player #80 on the all-time Eagles playing list. He wore jumper #42 and played his third and last game for West Coast in round 10, 1993.
If it helps, he was educated at Newman College in Perth which also counts among its alumni Australian cricket coach Justin Langer, Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo, former boxing great Danny Green and joint 2005 Nobel Prize winner Barry Marshall. Plus current Eagle Jake Waterman.
And he coached Great Britain to sixth place in the International Cup in Melbourne in 2005.
Matt Connell had found his path to AFL football blocked by a star-studded West Coast midfield. It wasn’t until his second season in 1993 that he broke into the side, collecting five possessions in each of rounds 1-2. And then, finally given another chance in round 10, he had eight possessions in a stirring two-point win over St Kilda at Waverley.
That was it. He didn’t play again at AFL level in 1993 or at all in 1994 before being traded to Adelaide for selection #44 in the 1994 National Draft.
In an outcome that proves it is impossible to get it right every time, the Eagles used selection #44 to draft the Geelong Falcons’ Jeremy Dyer, who did not play a game, and Connell won the Adelaide award in 1995 and was a member of their 1997-98 premiership teams.
At least Connell went out on a team high with the Eagles.
Down seven points at quarter-time and eight points at halftime of a dour struggle, they were inspired by a brilliant performance from third-year skipper John Worsfold. He had a team-high 25 possessions to pick up two Brownlow votes behind St Kilda’s Nathan Burke, who collected three votes for 21 possessions.
Brett Heady, who had 16 possessions and kicked 3.3, also have figured in the votes.
The game, which saw the defending premiers equal second on the 1993 ladder, was also the last Eagles game for Dean Irving. A regular in 1990-91, he played only one game in 1992 and only round 10 in 1993 before heading to Melbourne.
But there was no best and fairest for the big ruckman. He played 23 games for six wins in four years with the Demons, including the 1994 preliminary final against West Coast.
Another first for Lamb
Dwayne Lamb had been the first Eagle to play 50 games for the club in 1989, and the first Eagle to 100 games in 1991. And in round 10, 1994 he became the first Eagle to 150 games.
His milestone came as the Eagles rallied from a six-point deficit at half-time to beat the Swans 14.17 (101) to 10.15 (75) at the WACA Ground, with Peter Matera judged best afield for his 18 possessions and a goal. Guy McKenna earned two Brownlow votes for a team-high 29 possessions.
Lamb, such a great warrior for the club, had 14 possessions and kicked two behinds. He was omitted the following week and played only one more game in round 20 of that season.
Simply the best
Peter Matera was the best goal-kicking wingman in the AFL through the first half of the 1990s.
Three times he topped 30 goals in a season, kicking 32 in 26 games in 1991, 31 in 23 games in 1992 and 31 in 20 games in 1995. And he topped 20 goals in another three seasons.
He was a consistent match-winner for coach Mick Malthouse through his prime, and, in an era in which 20 possessions was the equivalent of something like 30 possessions these days, he averaged 20+ and better than a goal a game.
In 113 games from 1991-95 Matera topped 20 possessions 54 times (48%) and got himself on the goal sheet 79 times (70%). He was a multiple goal-kicker 38 times (34%).
While he never topped the Eagles for possessions or goals in a season, he was top three in possessions seven times and top four in goals five times.
Round 10, 1995 was just another example of the flying #30 at work. He had 18 possessions and kicked five goals, picking up three Brownlow Medal votes as the Eagles beat Brisbane by 45 points at Subiaco.
Guy McKenna earned two votes for 21 possessions off half back, but Glen Jakovich’s 30 possessions beside him failed to catch the umpires’ eye.
It was the game in which the AFL had its first look at a player who would go on to kick 171 goals in 63 games a 2.71 goals per game.
It’s a career average which, had it been with West Coast only, would have seen the player rank equal fourth on goals-per-game for the club behind Scott Cummings (3.45), Peter Sumich (3.43) and Ross Glendinning (2.78), and level with Josh Kennedy (2.71).
But he didn’t. Jason Heatley, originally from the Diamond Valley and zoned to Fitzroy, had kicked 111 goals for Subiaco in the WAFL in 1993 and was drafted by the Eagles at #43 in the 1993 National Draft.
He had to wait 35 games for a chance, but finally when Jason Ball was injured it came. He kicked two goals on debut from five disposals. Two straight. But when Ball returned the following week Heatley was left out and he didn’t play again in the AFL that season.
Fourteen months later, after a 46-point loss to Geelong in round 19, 1996 Heatley got another chance. He kicked three in a win over Carlton. Three goals three behinds from nine possessions. And in round 21 he kicked 3.2 from 10 possessions in a win over Melbourne.
Three games, eight goals and three wins. And he never played for the club again. He was traded to St Kilda where he kicked 163 goals in 60 games, including 73 goals in 1997 when he played in the grand final. He kicked 4-0-1-4 in four games against West Coast for four wins.