Select grade below

Vale Bill Curtis

Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - 8:06 AM


Bill Curtis, who was one of the heroes of Perth’s great 1955 grand final victory, died on 25 September. He was just 10 days short of his 90th birthday.

Originally from Kalgoorlie where he started with Mines Rovers, Bill joined the Redlegs – as Perth was known at the time – at the WACA Ground in 1953. He was “guided” towards Perth by committeeman Ted Morris, a friend of his father.

Bill also had an established reputation as a professional sprinter, and his explosive pace off the mark was a great asset when he established himself on the half forward line alongside key forward Reg Zeuner.

The 1955 season was one to remember. Bill not only kicked a goal in the tight grand final in which the Redlegs beat East Fremantle by two points, breaking a 48-year premiership drought. He also gained selection in the WA second side – coached by Perth’s Ern Henfry – which played Essendon at Subiaco Oval.

Like many team mates in the 1955 grand final, Bill had a “quiet” first half, with the Redlegs trailing badly at half time. Then things changed, with Merv McIntosh dominating the ruck.

This is how Alan Ferguson described Bill’s game in the Football Budget: “Robust, tear through player with a powerful punt kick. Rarely sighted in first half of grand final, but right on the ball for a great game thereafter.”

Bill was popular among his team mates, and generous - sometimes too generous – in return. Future captain Bill Leuzzi tells the story how Bill eased up to enable him to catch up when they were competing in sprints during training  under coach Henfry.

“It was an expensive gesture by Bill,” Leuzzi recalled, “because it convinced the selectors I was alright and I was picked …… in Bill’s spot!”. The incident always produced laughs when they caught up over the years.

Bill played 91 league games before “retiring” for a season in the Sunday League with Hellenics. He nominated volatile East Fremantle defender Wilson Onions as his toughest opponent, and Perth skipper and All Australian wingman, Keith Harper, as his best team mate.

Everyone at the Perth Football Club extend their sincere sympathy to Bill’s wife Carmel, and the extended Curtis family, on their sad loss.


Peter Kennedy