WAFL: West Perth boasts band of brothers

West Perth siblings: back - Zac and Jake Turner, Jay and Mitch van Berlo, Aidan and Conal Lynch, Angus and Oscar Allen; front - Brayden and Mitch Antonio, Scott and Shane Nelson. Picture: Martin Kennealey
West Perth siblings: back - Zac and Jake Turner, Jay and Mitch van Berlo, Aidan and Conal Lynch, Angus and Oscar Allen; front - Brayden and Mitch Antonio, Scott and Shane Nelson. Picture: Martin Kennealey

BROTHERS are common in the WAFL, but six sets of them playing at one club in the same season – that’s a rarity.

This is the case at West Perth in 2017, with 12 siblings featuring across the colts, reserves and league sides.

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Among them are Falcons captain Jay van Berlo (28) and younger brother Mitch (23).

The older van Berlo, a former Fremantle player, has had ties with the Falcons for more than a decade and can’t remember a time when so many family members were playing in one season.

“There have always been brothers around but at the moment there are quite a few sets, so it’s good for the club and good for the families supporting,” he said.

“There’s a lot of banter all the time with the brothers and between the brothers themselves, so it’s good fun.”

He said there was a great sense of pride in sharing the field with his younger sibling, who had worked hard to bulk up during a year out of the game in 2016 because of work commitments.

The Van Berlos are joined in the league contingent by star midfielder Shane Nelson and younger brother Scott, who debuted this season.

A significant family moment was realised when the pair shared the field for the first time in round 2.

Given the more than four-year age gap between them, they had plenty of battles at home growing up but had never played on the same team.

“It was a dream of ours to play together and it came a bit earlier than expected,” Shane, who plays his 100th game tomorrow, said.

“There was always a lot of rivalry… we used to play on the front lawn and he used to end up crying, which was pretty funny.

“I was a lot bigger than him back then, but the tables have certainly turned now.”

He praised his younger brother’s work ethic over summer, which had him increase muscle mass in preparation for a serious tilt at selection in the league side’s back line.

In the reserves, Aidan (22) and Conal (19) Lynch suited up together for the first time in 2017, while Brayden (22) and Mitch (20) Antonio have been teammates since last season.

Reserves teammates Jacob Turner (20) and Angus Allen (19) have younger siblings – Zac Turner (18) and Oscar Allen (18) – in the colts squad.

Last year, the Allens featured in three colts games together.

There were hopes a third Van Berlo could join West Perth in 2017, with the retirement of former Adelaide captain Nathan van Berlo.

But the West Perth skipper said his older brother, who took up a development role with the Crows, was set in South Australia for now.

“We’ve always said we wanted to play together, I’ve only ever played against Nathan (for the Dockers), never with him,” he said.

“It would be great to pull on the boots together; I’m just not sure where that will be… it might have to be down the track in some local footy.”

And if six sets of brothers at West Perth wasn’t already enough of a quirk, there are two other cases of matching surnames, which could suggest there are eight pairs of siblings.

But champion veteran Matt Guadagnin is a cousin of reserves footballer Zac Guadagnin and senior midfielder Corey Chalmers is no relation to colts player Bailey Chalmers.

The Weekender hoped to find out where this year’s abundance of brothers stood in the history of West Perth single-season sibling numbers.

But Falcons historian Sean Cowan explained it would be a tough judgement to make because of a scarcity of colts and reserves records.