Swans great Cooper slams AFL alignment, calls for return to WAFL’s ‘good old days’

John Cooper, Swan Districts Football Club legend who played 122 games for the club, is unhappy with the current WAFL system. Picture: David Baylis
John Cooper, Swan Districts Football Club legend who played 122 games for the club, is unhappy with the current WAFL system. Picture: David Baylis
John Cooper, Swan Districts Football Club legend who played 122 games for the club, is unhappy with the current WAFL system. Picture: David Baylis John Cooper, Swan Districts Football Club legend who played 122 games for the club, is unhappy with the current WAFL system. Picture: David Baylis

SWAN Districts Football Club great John Cooper has slammed the WA Football Commission’s (WAFC) five-year AFL alignment, calling it an “experiment” and unfair to other clubs in the competition.

Labelling last year’s Peel versus Subiaco WAFL grand final a ‘fiasco’, the former player and club president said three years into the deal, he had seen minimal benefit to either AFL club or the seven WAFL clubs not involved in the alignment.

Cooper, who played eight seasons with the Swans, said it was disappointing to see the competition go the way it had, and believed it would not be long before it became an amateur league.

“Things aren’t looking at good at all in this partnership,” he said.

“I think it belittles the WAFL football standard and it’s making a joke of the competition.

“I don’t believe it is doing anything at all for the Eagles or Dockers.

“All it is, is the ease of management for them of their excess players, they only have to go to one game to watch them, instead of four.

“That plus for them, is damage to the competition and I don’t think it is anything worthwhile.”

The 87-year-old, who hand delivered a letter to the WAFC expressing his concern about the current competition, said he had so far not received a response but hoped changes, following discussions of an independent review into WA football, would come soon.

“I think it’s time the WAFC were rattled; they can’t go on like this, if they do it’s going to end up an amateur competition, which is where it’s nearly at now,” he said.

“I think a nine-team competition is hopeless, always has been and if it wasn’t for this partnership with Peel and the Dockers, Peel would have never got off the ground.

“One of the first things they could do is scrap the partnership arrangements and with that perhaps do an amalgamation, because you need eight (teams) or make a few amalgamations and bring the Dockers and Eagles in as self supporting teams, nothing to do with another club.

“Obviously, there has to be some restrictions on them but there are big changes needed.”

Those changes he hoped would bring the game back to the “good old days” of the competition where Cooper said players played for the love of the game and not the dollar.

“We played because we loved the game and money was not an issue at all,” he said.

“Nowadays players have a different outlook, they are looking for money.”

Swan Districts kicks off their 2017 WAFL season against the Perth Demons at Bassendean Oval on Saturday, March 18 at 2.15pm.

The WAFC has been contacted for comment.