But the 72-year-old, a regular at Falcons games at Arena Joondalup, will continue part-time in the mentoring role that has inspired generations of young people.
‘Believe it or not, footy wasn’t the be-all and end-all for me but it was important because it allowed me to do what I really wanted to do, which was to help Aboriginal people,’ he said.
Bill has worked with the Department of Housing for the past two decades and said his proudest times were with the management support program, training hundreds of tenants in building work and property maintenance.
‘There was a flow-on effect, too. After seeing someone do a good job fixing up their house, local builders would offer them positions on their projects,’ he said.
He went on to establish innovative housing management systems across the Kimberley.
Housing Minister Bill Marmion paid tribute to his dedication.
‘While he starred on the football field and has a place in the hearts of thousands of West Australians, especially West Perth fans, his subsequent career has helped improve the lives of thousands more.
He became more than the man who was awarded the Simpson medal and an MBE ” he kicked many goals for Aboriginal people,’ he said.
Northern Territory authorities took Bill Dempsey off his mother and placed him in a Darwin mission when his father, who had been an army sergeant, died from meningitis shortly after returning from the battlefields of World War II.
Even though he was young, Bill remembers clearly the discrimination suffered by his father, despite being a war veteran.
That’s why he is particularly pleased with the Department of Housing’s decision to salute Aboriginal veterans and support the Honouring Indigenous War Graves program during Naidoc Week.
<ssorry for yourself, get an education and sort yourself out',' he said.
‘I said, ‘who’s going to help me?’ and he said ‘you are. And when you’ve done that, start helping other Aboriginal people.’
‘He was a wise old fella.’
Bill Dempsey’s football skills took him from Darwin’s Buffaloes Football Club to the top of the WA Football League.
He was named in the 2005 Indigenous Team of the Century, but nowadays he says he shuns the spotlight.
‘But I can still hear my grandfather telling me it was my duty and destiny to stand up for Aboriginal people and that is still the most important thing to me,’ he said.
In between his mentoring duties, Bill plans to take time out of his retirement to travel to see his extended family in the NT and NSW.
– West Perth is hoping for a 6000-strong crowd at Arena Joondalup this Saturday for the Falcons’ International Round clash with Subiaco. Thousands of free tickets have gone out to school children in a celebration of the district’s multiculturalism.