Geraldton, Recreation Ground, Western Australia
Words by Derek Mott, photos as indicated
The Recreation Ground is the home of Railways who have been a force in regional football since 1904, with 20 Geraldton Football Association flags, as well as 12 premierships from 22 grand final appearances in 55 seasons of the Great Northern Football League.
Railways won the first GFA premiership in 1904 and won four before the recess for World War I. Between 1927 and 1933, they lost five grand finals before winning premierships in 1939 and 1940. In the mid and late 1930s, the club was called East Geraldton and they were premiers in 1936 and lost the 1935 and 1937 deciders during this time.
When the GFA came out of recess in 1946 after World War II, Railways played in all 15 grand finals, winning 11 in the process.
Following four successive flags between 1946 and 1949, they claimed five in a row between 1955 and 1959.
The Blues were the first GNFL club to win back-to-back premierships after seeing off Rovers by 37 points in 1964 and then narrowly defeating Northampton 12.15 (87) to 10.21 (81) 12 months later. They also took out a hat-trick of grand final wins between 1980 and 1982.
Railways had to endure four grand final losses between 1995 and 2009 before ending a 21-year drought in 2010 in commanding fashion with a 53-point win over Towns. Their most recent triumph came in 2011 after a 14.16 (100) to 12.12 (84) win over Towns.
Railways also holds the distinction of kicking the highest score in a GNFL match – 44.31 (295) against Mullewa in August 2011.
The club’s JJ Clune Medal winners are Ron O’Malley in 1962, Paul Forrestal in 1970, Barry Evans in 1984, Alex Boyle in 2000, John Reynolds in 2005, Matt Kennewell in 2007, Jeff Smith in 2011 (also a Hayward Medal winner in the South West Football League) and reigining medalist Nathan Tubby (2010 and 2015).
The former Railways players to have careers at AFL level are Liam Anthony (North Melbourne), Craig Burrows (Fremantle), Jaeger O’Meara played at Railways and Dongara before being selected by the Gold Coast Suns, Jayden Schofield (Western Bulldogs), Murray Wrensted (West Coast and Collingwood) and Shane Woewodin (Melbourne and Collingwood).
The Blues have a number of former players who are currently on East Fremantle’s senior list – Jesse Adamini, Aiden Anthony, Dion Anthony, Liam Anthony, Mitchell Boyle, Fraser Perry, Jayden Schofield (who also played seven games for the Western Bulldogs in the AFL), Andrew Stokes and Jordan Williamson.