Family link in annual WAFL cup clash

Ron Skender at West Perth pre-season training in 2002.Ron Skender at pre-season training for West Perth in 2002.
Ron Skender at West Perth pre-season training in 2002.Ron Skender at pre-season training for West Perth in 2002.

THIS Saturday’s Garlic Munchers Cup will hold special interest for a former champion ruckman whose nephew is continuing the family’s eastern European lineage at West Perth.

Breckler medallist Ron Skender, whose parents are Croatian, is the uncle of talented 19-year-old Falcon Tyler Keitel. The 1999 premiership player is the brother of Keitel’s mother, Rhonda.

He recalled the young key position player running on to the ground to greet him as a child after Falcons games more than a decade ago.

Keitel will make his second league appearance when West Perth faces South Fremantle for the annual cup, which recognises the clubs’ European connections, at Arena Joondalup on Saturday.

Skender was excited to see a new generation of the family in West Perth colours.

“I’m really thrilled for him,” he said. “He always asks me questions if he needs help.

“He was one of my biggest supporters when I was playing.”

Skender grew up following West Perth with his father, who was a resident of Mt Hawthorn’s vibrant community of WAFL supporters.

He was originally a Swan Districts player but later became a 101-game contributor to the Falcons’ history of players with foreign heritage.

Skender was named on the interchange for West Perth’s Garlic Munchers Team of the Century in 2008 alongside such greats as Don Marinko Snr, Spike Pola and Peter Menaglio ,who was captain. Commentating legend and former coach Dennis Cometti was named at full forward.

“Mum and dad came along and they really enjoyed it because dad’s been a lifelong supporter,” he said. “I was quite shocked to have initially been in the squad then to get selected, I was really proud.”