I am pleased to rise to speak about one of the finest football leagues in Australia: the South West Football League.
In 1953 the Bunbury-Collie League was formed with teams such as Bunbury Railways, Collie Railways, Pastimes, Mines Rovers, Collie Centrals, South Bunbury and Donnybrook signing on at the historic meeting in Collie in March of that year, with Eastern Districts which was Capel and Busselton, and Western Districts, which was Busselton, joining later.
In 1955 Eastern Districts and Western Districts merged to form one united Busselton team, before Harvey Brunswick joined the league in 1956.
In the same year Pastimes became Carey Park and Bunbury Railways became Bunbury.
They are names which will be familiar across the south-west.
Well-known Bunbury man Percy Payne was a driving force in revamping the league to the South West National Football League in 1957.
Seconds, as it was then called, as well as Boyanup-Capel, joined as part of the competition. Nineteen fifty-seven also marked the start of the south-west using the colours of green and gold for the country championships, which has continued 60 years on.
In 1961 Collie Railways and Collie Centrals merged to form the Collie Football Club and Augusta-Margaret River joined the league to make a 10-team competition in 1966.
League matches were umpired by WAFL umpires who travelled from Perth until the umpires association was formed in 1977.
Today the league appoints matches to all four levels: Colts, Reserves, Women and League.
Jason Crowe holds the overall record for the most games umpired: 711, including 14 league grand finals.
In 1991 the competition dropped the ‘National’ title in its name and became the South West Football League.
It is one of the strongest country leagues in the country, having won the landmark country championships 22 times since its inception in 1965.
The Colts have won eight out of 10 of their grand finals.
It includes an impressive run of taking out the title five times in a row between 2011 and 2015.
South Bunbury has won 44 league premierships in this time—15 since the South West Football League was formed.
Following a successful stint in the Peel Football League, the Harvey Bulls Football Club joined the South West Football League in 2009.
I was a proud president of that club for 10 years.
There may be more teams ahead in the future, but I want to congratulate the President of the South West Football League, Barry Tate, and General Manager John Vidos.
We all know that sporting clubs, particularly football clubs, are often the heart and soul of communities.
They offer not just sport but social interaction for people, particularly in small regional communities.
Congratulations to the South West Football League.