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When Barry White walked into Fremantle Oval for pre season training in 1952 the club was reeling with the news that nine from their top twenty from the previous season wouldn’t  be there.  Clive Lewington, Doug Ingraham, “Corp” Reilly, Don Wares, Jim Matison, John Crook, Alby Western, and Laurie Green had all been State players and with Bill Stewart represented a huge percentage of the club’s playing strength.That the Bulldogs recovered to win a hat trick of flags in the following three seasons was testament to the depth of the club and the calibre of the recruits of 1952, which included White and Tony Parentich. Barry White’s pedigree certainly gave him the right to play league football.His grandfather Matt Fell, originally from Collingwood, represented South Fremantle in 1909-10 and his father George White was a State player who vice captained the Bulldogs. Coincidently, George was vice captain when Ron Edgar was captain coach of the side. Edgar’s daughter Glenda would many years later become Barry White’s wife.  George played a hundred and eighty two games for South, and Edgar a hundred and seventy two. The Edgars are closely related to the Richardson family, who have had a long and close relationship with South Fremantle, the most notable of whom were Wayne and Max, who went on to enjoy good careers at Collingwood. Barry’s brother, Merv, played thirteen games with South Fremantle, before embarking into  the physical education aspect of coaching, and served under Mal Brown at Perth, John Todd at Swan Districts, Ken Judge at East Fremantle, as well as assisting Percy Johnson and Mark Watson at Fremantle Oval.Barry White had a meteoric rise in football after being turned away from his local Temperance League club in 1950, with the advice to “grow a bit and come back next year”.  Which he did, and took out the 1951 competition fairest and best medal. North Fremantle Ex Scholars coach Steve Marsh promptly invited the rover to play the last home and away game of the season and stay for the finals, but White didn’t like the idea of taking the place of someone who’d trained all year in the playoffs. Assured that it had been agreed to by all players at the club, he agreed, and the club won the grand final, with Barry taking home the five pounds award for best on ground in the big game.Marsh had obviously spread the word about the talents of White, because a letter from South coach Clive Lewington was quick to arrive. Despite Barry’s doubts about his ability, he was talked into joining pre season work at Fremantle Oval, and was told before the first game of the season that he was very close to league selection. Playing in the initial game with the seconds, he was named as a reserve in the league side for round two as a possible replacement for rover Harry Carbon, who was scheduled to front the tribunal on the Friday night. Carbon was exonerated of the charge, and White got a ten minute stint in the last quarter of the game. He was never out of the league side after that, and became a regular member of a star studded combination. “It was all a semi blur,” he admits, as the South juggernaut rolled through three premierships. A highly skilled player good on either foot, he was a sharpshooter in the forward line, booting 281 goals in his 160 games. First achieving recognition from the State selectors in his second season, 1953,  for a State second side against North Melbourne, he went on to make sixteen State appearances, against some legends of the game, including three time All Australian Jack Clarke, Allen Aylett, Bill Goggin, and Charlie Sutton.   By the time he’d turned twenty White had played in three premiership sides(1952, 53, and 54) and had represented his State. He started off the 1955 season in sparkling form, booting nine goals one behinds against East Perth in the first game and totaling fifty for the season. His form in interstate games, both around the ground and in front of goal, impressed many critics, and he was named as one of only two West Australians in the Sporting  Life magazine’s 1955 All Australian side. The other was East Fremantle ruckman Jack Clarke.Barry’s form in interstate matches was not lost on Victorian clubs, and offers from North Melbourne and Essendon were received but refused. “It was at a time when there was a blanket ban from the WANFL on clearances, and I didn’t relish the thought of standing out of the game for a season or two,” he said  In 1956 White suffered several bouts of concussion as South Fremantle made it to the grand final, but an emerging power in East Perth were too good in the decider, prevailing by seven points. White bagged forty six goals in the season, as well as nine in three games for Western Australia, in each of which he was among the best players. Once again an outstanding player for his State in 1957 and 58, Barry White was forced into premature retirement in 1959 because of increasing concussion issues. In 1960 new coach Marty McDonnell pleaded with him to play again. Sent to a specialist, he was fitted out with the first helmet to be used in WA league football, but didn’t actually wear it in a game. Lining up in the first match of the season, he was once again hit in the head and went down, sidelining him for most of the season, but he did make a return in a losing first semi final.Barry played again in 1961, making fourteen appearances before calling it quits at the end of the season.  He later served as assistant coach at South Fremantle under Percy Johnson and Mal Brown.    A butcher by trade, White found the pressures of playing after working Saturday mornings too much, and drove trucks before moving into physical education, a vocation he loved. He spent many enjoyable years at Servite College in Tuart Hill, where he helped mould many a young aspiring footballer. Toughest opponent among many fine players he opposed goes to Claremont’s Kelvin Allsop, while John Todd was the best for sheer ability he was fortunate enough to play with.  “Whitey was number one in my book. Always there when you wanted him.”  Those were the words of South Fremantle and State fullback Ray Richards, who played with and against many of this State and Australia’s finest players. Runner up for the AW Walker Medal in 1955 and 57 and third in 1958, Barry White has been deservedly included in South Fremantle’s Hall Of Fame, taking his place among a group of champions. His efforts for both club and State stamp him as one of the alltime stars of Western Australian football. 

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