THE WAFL is set for a Garlic Munchers Cup with added spice this weekend.
Now in its third year, the annual West Perth-South Fremantle commemorative battle, which honours the clubs’ rich European connections, carries extra incentive with second spot on the table up for grabs for the winner at Arena Joondalup on Saturday.
West Perth coach Bill Monaghan labelled victory “extremely important” to gain a one-game buffer with a match in hand on the Bulldogs.
He acknowledged the celebration of West Perth’s migrant supporter base.
“The main thing the Garlic Munchers bring is great passion to our footy club; we’re proud of that heritage,” he said.
In a further subplot, the match marks Bulldogs mentor Todd Curley’s return to his former home ground, where he became a dual premiership player and coached from 2006 to 2008.
Curley recognised the occasion but made it clear his main concern was defeating his old club, coming off a 22-point loss to Subiaco.
“It will obviously be familiar surroundings,” he said.
“Generally they have a lot of support (at home) so it will be a good chance for us to test ourselves.
“They’re above us on the ladder, we got beaten on the weekend and we want to bounce back.”
While Garlic Munchers was originally a derogatory reference to West Perth’s varied European links, the moniker now stands as a term of endearment.
Falcons life member Joe Scarfo, whose Italian migrant father supported West Perth after arriving in Australia in 1927, recalled a lively childhood of WAFL identities.
“The Marinkos were the stalwarts, the Grljusiches for South Fremantle; we’re all friends,” the Myaree butcher said.
This Saturday’s match is the most important in the cup’s short history.
Victory will provide the winner with a slight edge in a tight competition where just one win separates second from second last.
A Falcons loss could have the second-placed side drop as low as sixth, while a loss for the fourth-placed Bulldogs could relegate them to seventh, pending other results.
Previous cup clashes were of less significance, with the Bulldogs on the bottom of the ladder when they won the inaugural match by 39 points in 2013.
Last year, fifth-placed West Perth was two games clear of sixth-placed South Fremantle when the Falcons won by 62 points.