East Perth lose premiership defender Ken Deards
Ken Deards, the tough back pocket who helped East Perth win the 1972 WAFL premiership, has died after a short battle with motor neurone disease. He was 71.
Deards played 81 matches for the Royals before he finished his career with a short stint in the SANFL.
His greatest moment came in the 1972 grand final when his performance alongside fellow defenders Gary Malarkey and Ken McAullay helped East Perth overcome Claremont to break a 13-year premiership drought.
Deards also had a prominent role in the club championship played in Adelaide at the end of that season when all the State premiership teams met to decide the best in the land.
While Mal Brown’s antics have entered football folklore after he took on Carlton almost single-handedly, it was Deards’ initial clash with Neil Chandler that ignited the conflict.
“The biffo was on early and we weren’t taking a backward step,” Deards recalled a decade ago. “Browny was the bloke who was most conspicuous, taking half the opposition on, but I reckon I started the ball rolling by cleaning Chandler up.”
Deards, a Highgate local, was a midfielder as he came through the ranks at East Perth but captain-coach Brown’s move to play him in defence proved a masterstroke.
A failed fitness test in 1971 prevented Deards making his State debut while a serious ankle injury ended his career in 1973.
East Perth will this year celebrate the 50th anniversary of their 1972 premiership and will recognise Deards’ contribution as well as that of ruckman Eddie Pitter who died last year.
IMAGE: East Perth Facebook Page