Henderson Park, Wembley, Western Australia
by Les Everett
For someone with no history at the Wembley Athletic Club I have quite a bit of history at Henderson Park, home of the Wembley football, cricket, baseball and basketball clubs.
The Wembley club has been around since 1926 and its history is well documented in A Club for All Seasons by Andy Collins and Ken Spillman, published in 1997. It’s worth noting that George Young played cricket there, Neil Balme began his footy career at Wembley and so did Bill Faull who went on to play for Subiaco and then played for and coached South Melbourne. In 1984 Wembley won the A-grade premiership under captain-coach Russel Ellen who came to the Magpies via Essendon and West Perth.
A quote from 1984 vice-captain Simon Proud in A Club for All Seasons reveals that Ellen brought a level of discipline to the amateur club…
Russel started having Friday night team meetings at his place. These were only short (30 minutes total), but I really believe that this was one of the main factors in our success. The team meetings did two things. It kept the three or four recalcitrants off the piss on Friday nights and it got everyone thinking about the game.
My link with Henderson Park began in 1974 when I kicked four goals for Graylands Teachers College against the Magpies in a D-grade amateur game. A casual viewer might have noted that the left-footer was a pretty good player – he or she would have been wrong.
In the 1980s my bands, that finally morphed into the Country & Elvis outfit The Everett Brothers,played a number of gigs at Henderson Park in support of the European Travellers Soccer Club. At the first of these we played 24 original songs later we played more covers and I recall singing Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town with my leg in full plaster after a soccer incident in one brave performance.
The third prong in my Henderson experience was a cricket game that convinced me summers spent in whites were for others. My team Shenton Park bowled first on a very hot day. I toiled away. Four catches were dropped from my bowling and while fielding I looked longingly at cars travelling along Salvado Road and Jersey Street and wished I was in them – heading somewhere else. Wembley made over 300. At training that week we steeled ourselves for the challenge. We were going to do it. Game day came and our resolve was strong as our openers strode to the crease. Our best opener Boydy, our leading run scorer in the previous season, was bowled first ball. As the afternoon dragged on we drifted far from even mathematical dreams of victory. We batted stubbornly in the hope that we could at least have the satisfaction of not being bowled out. It was my job, as number 11 batsman, to see out the last over. And then the last ball. I pushed my foot down the wicket, somehow my defensive bat got caught up in the pad and the ball crashed into the stumps. All out.
Wembley’s top team these days is in B-grade in the WA Amateur Football League. I was surprised to see a scoreboard and an elaborate portable coaches box when I dropped by recently.