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  • Writer's pictureJohn Townsend

Perth and West Coast won't change if nothing changes

One goal. 169 points.

Perth scraped the former. West Coast were smashed by the latter.

Both clubs can keep their heads in the sand for as long as they want but that is not going to change their fate. Nor their current performances.

Perth embrace mediocrity as their trademark.

They have not won a flag for 46 years, haven’t won a final for 26.

Both streaks are likely to extend for seasons to come, even with the go-getting president Adrian Barich and coach Peter German at the helm.

Unless they discard the blinkered thinking that will not allow one obvious answer to their plight, the Demons will continue to wither until their existence is no longer sustainable.

The fact that an interstate player keen to come to Perth this season knocked back $80,000 to join the Demons tells you where they sit in the national landscape.

The Eagles are non-competitive at WAFL level, their player development unviable and brand enhancement impossible.

They have won one of their past 24 WAFL matches, five of their past 39.

They were inept against West Perth on Saturday with WA Football Commission chairman Wayne Martin describing the team as “an embarrassment to the competition last year” and “starting to look a bit the same” this season.

Injuries at senior level have gutted their playing list but two consecutive wooden spoons, and a hat-trick beckoning, suggest a trend beyond the norm in that regard.

If West Coast are not going to swallow their pride by distributing their players across the rest of the WAFL – the model that brought them their first three premierships and five grand final appearances – there is only one option for them.

The Eagles know their reserves team doesn’t work.

It is too reliant on substandard top-up players, too dependent on the questionable availability of their own listed players.

It is unfit for purpose, which is why they tried to convince Perth two years ago to enter into the fourth version of a WAFL alignment.

Perth wouldn’t have a bar of that, preferring the prospect of continued failure on their own terms to the potential for compromised success with an AFL partner.

As a rusted-on Perth supporter told SportFM this week: “I would rather have 10 winless wooden spoons by ourselves than 10 undefeated premierships aligned to the Eagles.”

The madness is widespread, particularly as it would only take two or three winless wooden spoons to shut the gates permanently.

Perth have even introduced a constitutional hurdle to prevent a reactionary board or management from introducing an alignment.

But what other option is there for either club?

Neither is competitive in its own right; both are eroding the quality and impact of a league already overshadowed by the AFL juggernaut and mostly ignored by mainstream media.

It would be a marriage of convenience but one with more chances of success than what both will achieve this year.

Both clubs are based at Lathlain which should provide an immediate synergy.

One club needs more depth to underpin the development of its elite players; the other needs better talent to break through its ceiling of mediocrity.

It might be a marriage of convenience but it would be one in which both parties are made for each other.

Of course, there are logistical issues should they align.

Nine teams would mean a bye every round though each WAFL team already has three byes scheduled this season so it would not be a major change.

And the licence fee paid by West Coast to play in the league is a significant sweetener to keep all the WAFL clubs on side.

Still, the health, viability and future of the WAFL are more important than a payment that is barely three percent of each club’s turnover.

West Coast board member Justin Langer had a saying that he used numerous times during his successful cricket career: “If nothing changes, nothing changes”.

West Coast and Perth might want to consider the merits of that line.

IMAGE: Perth Demons


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