It took three years for George Christie to make the tough decision. A star baseballer with Melville Braves, Christie was a catcher in the State team, and a Claxton Shield regular. After making his league football debut with East Fremantle in 1981 he became a permanent member of the side the following season, but by 1983 had found the pressures of playing at the top level in two sports hard to handle, and concentrated on baseball that season.It was an ultimatum from new coach Ron Alexander that forced Christie to commit to East Fremantle, and the decision was one that he never regretted, with a premiership in 1985, State selection in 1986, and captain of the Sharks from 1988 to his initial retirement from the game in1990. The ultimate team player, George Christie made the transition from midfielder to back pocket specialist, in the process developing outstanding defensive skills. He became a renowned stopper, with attention to detail a feature of his play. There were some outstanding back pocket players around at that time, including Brad Hardie, and he had been knocking on the door of State selection for a couple of years when he finally gained selection in 1986 for the game against South Australia in Adelaide, where the Sandgropers had a thirty nine point win. With East Fremantle team mate Colin Waterson at full back, Christie was more than a match for Tony Hall, and was selected as vice captain of the State side the following season, but a dislocated shoulder on the Saturday before the big game ruled him out. An outstanding junior with Mt Pleasant, where he was coached by George Pearson and Merv Andrews, George had no great ambitions in football. He followed his mates to Moss Street, where he spent 1980 in the colts and reserves. Christie played his first league match the following season against East Perth, partnering Mark Norsworthy as rovers, and came up against Stephen Curtis. “It was a tough initiation,” he commented.East Fremantle were going through a rare period of struggle, and the nineteen year old Christie was identified as a player of the future. He played the last eight games of 1981, and was a regular in 1982, before baseball took over in 1983. Christie’s exclusive concentration on football in 1984 was the catalyst for his emergence as a top line player in the WAFL, and coincided with the re-emergence of East Fremantle as a power.From a heavy first semi final loss to Swan Districts in 1983, the Sharks made a grand final appearance the following season, once again beaten by Swan Districts, but in 1985 were triumphant over Subiaco in a nailbiting five point premiership win. “We had a terrific side in those years,” George recalled. “We probably should have won more than the one flag, but the competition was pretty hot, too.” Christie played finals football each year for the remainder of his career, but that was to be his only premiership, another grand final appearance in 1986 bringing revenge for the Lions.Moved to an onball role with success in 1987, George became club captain, a position he would hold for three seasons.Two shoulder operations forced his retirement in 1990 at the age of twenty eight, having played a hundred and thirty seven games, but on the insistence of coach Ken Judge, Christie made a return to the action in 1992, playing three league games before a broken collarbone finally put paid to his career. It was a cruel blow, with East Fremantle going on to take the premiership over arch rivals South Fremantle. George was at the helm of Wesley-Curtin Amateurs in 1993, where he played in some games, before taking charge of East Fremantle’s reserve side in 1995-96. A physical education teacher, he coached Applecross Senior High School’s football side for many years.Steve Curtis heads Christie’s list of hardest opponents, along with West Perth’s Les Fong, South Fremantle tough man Basil Campbell, “fast for a big man and you were always aware of him,” Swans Leon Baker and Ed Blackaby, as well as Subiaco trio Peter Featherby and Neil and Brian Taylor. Murray Wrensted, Brian Peake, Gerard Neesham, Darren Bennett, Clinton Browning, and Chris Mainwaring were the best he played with. The 1985 East Fremantle premiership side was chockful of talent, with many outstanding players at their disposal, and George Christie was an integral ingredient. A star in two sports, he served East Fremantle well, in defence and the midfield, a reliable defender in the lean years and inspirational leader in the good ones, and was a member of one of the club’s great sides.
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