Being there: the day Bernie kicked 23 by Norman Ashton

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Headline in The West Australian Monday 10 August 1953.

As a 17 year-old, died-in-the-wool South Fremantle fan, I went to Fremantle Oval on the afternoon of Saturday 8 August 1953 to watch the all-conquering red-and-white-angels play Subiaco in the WANFL.

In was a fine, clear day and I was much looking forward to South handing out another thrashing to Subi – having already beaten them comfortably twice this year.

Not only that, but our outstanding full forward, Bernie Naylor, had kicked 18 goals against them earlier in the season. I was excited at the thought that he might get a ‘big bag’ again!

The game started according to my expectations, as at quarter time we were leading by nine goals to one – and my hero Bernie was doing well.

However, in the second quarter Naylor failed to kick a goal – and at half time the score was 12.8 to 5.4. Lowly Subiaco had outscored us in that term!

The second half was a walk-in-the-park, as Souths added 23 goals while holding Subi goalless. The final score was South Fremantle 35.18 (228) to Subiaco 5.6 (36).

Remarkably, Bernie Naylor kicked 12 goals in the third quarter and finished with 23 goals for the match – both being records!

I caught the bus home feeling well satisfied, and confident that South Fremantle Football Club would go premiers again in 1953.

(Norman Ashton, aged 80 and a continuing member of SFFC)

This is a great day for me. It is a day I have waited for eagerly. Without the assistance of my team mates I could not have broken the record. They had to get the ball and give it to me: all I had to do was kick it. Bernie Naylor, quoted in The West Australian, 10 August 1953, after he had been ‘persuaded’ to speak.)

Bernie Naylor was in inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame this week.

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