Gary Greer was a dyed in the wool South Fremantle man, one of many good players who played their junior football at Hilton Park. He fitted the mould of the port club, a third generation tally clerk on the wharves, with the mentoring of a seventeen year old John Todd and star centreman Tony Parentich providing the foundation for a league career, yet, after looking set to join the elite South Fremantle two hundred club, transferred to East Perth. “It was the arrival of Mal Atwell as coach in 1972 that was the catalyst for my leaving the Bulldogs,” Gary recalled. “Along with a few others, I didn’t fit in his plans, and wasn’t named in the league squad. Mal Brown, coach of reigning premiers East Perth, rang me early in the 1973 season, and my clearance was processed on the cut off day of June 30.” The twenty nine year old veteran of a hundred and seventy games, a premiership player in 1970, went on to play a further forty four games at the Royals, before stamping his class on the Sunday League with a Bowden Medal at the age of thirty two. Greer went to the Bulldogs after impressing as a centreman at Hilton Park, where future league players Trevor Bickle (later Commonwealth Games pole vault champ), Ross Bowe, and Brian Goodall were team mates. Gary was one of a group of debutants for South when he lined up on a wing in his debut game in 1963 against Subiaco star, Rod Newton, who we were later to lose in a tragic car accident. “I was told to pull my socks up, but they were already up,” he joked. Among others to debut for the Bulldogs that year were Kevin Miller, Ivan Glucina, Graeme Smith, and Graham Rothnie. After struggling to maintain a permanent spot in his first few seasons, with a back problem restricting him, the appointment of Todd as coach in 1966 saw Greer stationed at half back, and the move proved to be a masterstroke. Gary was not only able to shake off the injury, playing a hundred and twenty consecutive games, but developed into a close checking defender, who also became one of the first of the running and attacking half backs. A player of great determination, the five foot eleven Greer was a team player who always gave all, and had the commitment to play either a tagging role or as a mobile midfielder. He was in the centre on Mark O’Donoghue in the preliminary final of 1967, when East Perth were forty point victors. South Fremantle won a last to first premiership in 1970 under former Melbourne star, Hassa Mann. Considered too old at twenty eight by the Demons, Mann inspired the Bulldogs, representing Western Australia twice in 1970. Playing in a back pocket, Greer was one of the best for his side in a hard slogging grand final against Perth. Gary Greer’s falling out with Atwell was East Perth’s gain. From his first appearance in an East Perth jumper, playing in the centre on West Perth’s Mel Whinnen in 1973 to his retirement due to a knee injury in 1975 Greer was a serviceable player for the Royals, notching up forty four games. In hindsight he admits he may have been a bit premature with his decision to quit. Appointed captain coach of Armadale in the South Suburban League, he won the Bowden Medal as best and fairest in the competition as a centreman. He then took on the mentoring role at Willetton, winning the club fairest and best award at the age of thirty six. Stints at Southern Port and CBC Amateurs followed before Greer finally hung up the boots as a forty year old. He renewed acquaintances with Todd in 1988, assisting the West Coast coach as a training co ordinator, was club runner in 1989, and had roles over the years involving training and recruiting. He regarded Barry Cable of Perth and East Perth’s livewire Syd Jackson as hardest to beat, while, although going for the obvious in Todd and John Gerovich as best he’d played with, had a special mention for Hassa Mann. “A great runner.” Gary enjoys walking with wife Maureen and spending time with their three children. He said: “It’s nice to be a one club player, but I think it’s a good thing for players to try a change if things aren’t going the way they’d like. I am grateful to East Perth for that opportunity and thoroughly enjoyed my stay there.” Having said that, you can’t take the Bulldog out of a South Fremantle man, and while still following the Royals, he gets to as many South games as possible. He has many great memories of both clubs, but selected two Franz Tomka (South Fremantle) anecdotes to share with us. “One day Franz and myself were on the bench during a game when a kid walked past selling hot dogs. “I’ll have one of them,” Franz called out, and had no sooner taken a giant mouthful of the saveloy when Toddy yelled out: “You’re on, Franz.” The hotdog disappeared in two steps. Another time, it was a wet day, and the area in front of the grandstand where the coaches were sitting was just behind a big puddle. Not at all impressed with being called from the ground, Franz ran through the water, kicking up a spray that immersed Todd and Charlie Tyson.” Gary Greer found his niche at half back for South Fremantle and overcame a coach’s rejection to continue his career at East Perth. Determination and hundred per cent effort were his trademarks over a fine career of two hundred and fourteen games.
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