Barry Cable and Bill Walker were such outstanding rovers in the sixties and seventies that the efforts of the abundance of other fine little men produced in the WANFL during that period can be overlooked.While the aforementioned players were two outstanding exponents of the game there were many others at the time who possessed considerable talent. Parkinson, Doncon, Mitchell, Duperouzel, Melrose, Watt, Greenwood, Ciccotosto, Wiley, Fong, Mitsopolous, Buhagiar, the Krakouers, and Spencer were great players in their own right, and another was West Perth onballer, Bill Valli. A brilliant rover, Valli was one of the best little men in the game. Bill Valli represented Western Australia on six occasions between 1973 and 78, kicking seven goals in the process, and was usually in the best players list in the big games.Strong, competitive, and with immaculate disposal, Valli was a courageous ballgetter, possessing plenty of aggression in his game and was a star for West Perth after making his debut in 1969. After showing plenty of promise at Hale School under the mentoring of coach Colin Bulloch, he took the league scene by storm, booting five goals in the second semi final during his first season, adding three more on grand final day, and was one of the driving forces behind the club’s 1969 premiership win over East Perth. With Graham Farmer and Bill Dempsey, Valli formed an imposing on ball brigade.Valli quickly attracted Victorian attention, and moved to Collingwood before the start of the 1970 season, along with Subiaco’s Peter Eakins, but ran into trouble when the Cardinals refused to clear him. After sitting out of the game for two months he returned to Leederville. Suffering setbacks with injuries to a shoulder and groin over the next two years, Bill returned to form with a vengeance in 1973, partnering Cable and Melrose in an impressive State debut at Subiaco Oval, part of a Western Australian win by twenty two points over South Australia. Winner of West Perth’s fairest and best award in 1974, he became a regular on State duties, sharing the bench at Football Park with David Hollins, and was WA’s best in 1975 when they suffered an eighty one point drubbing from Victoria. Injury prevented Valli from being part of the 1975 premiership win over South Fremantle, but his return to full fitness resulted in two more fairest and best awards at West Perth in 1977 and 78. After playing in the inaugural State of Origin game in which Western Australia beat Victoria by ninety one points in 1977, Bill starred against South Australia the following season, contributing three goals in a seventy one point win at Football Park. In 1978 he was once again a solid contributor in a losing State of Origin match against Victoria. Valli had always fancied a try in Melbourne, and after a hundred and forty eight games with West Perth and almost a decade after his first frustrating attempt to move East, he returned to Collingwood in 1979 at the age of twenty nine. Playing seventeen games with the black and whites, injury worries began to haunt him, and the following season he transferred to Essendon, where he played one league game, but won the Essendon and VFL seconds fairest and best awards. There is no doubt that at his fittest and best Valli would have been an outstanding player in Victoria. Given the opportunity in 1970 things may well have turned out differently. He was the type of onballer that suited the style of play in the VFL competition. Bill returned to the West in 1981, but not with West Perth. Hampered by a groin injury, he received an opportunity to move into the coaching side of the game at Subiaco. Valli made thirty seven appearances with the Maroons in two seasons before deciding to call it quits after doing the 1983 pre season. Contacted by radio station 6PR after announcing his retirement, he became involved in the media as a football comments man. He is a better than average squash player, having played the game for twenty years, and enjoys social tennis and walking. Sport runs in Bill’s family, with Jeff a hockey player, Jonathon more than holding his own at tennis and golf, Drew was in the best half dozen under seventeen squash players in the land, while Gemma is carving a business career for herself.Barry Cable and Billy Walker were understandably his toughest opponents on the field, while Mel Whinnen and Bill Dempsey get his vote as best he played with.Bill Valli is still held in high regard at West Perth Football Club, and his ability as a top flight rover was reflected with selection in the club’s official “Team of the Century”, announced in 2000.
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