Tired of being vastly outnumbered by Eagles supporters at Subiaco Oval in the 1980s, Perth Cats founding president Ron Reside decided it was time to build a local army of like-minded Geelong supporters. And so he did.
"As a Cats supporter all my life, when I relocated to Perth in the 1970s, I naturally continued to barrack for the them", he said. "With the advent of the Eagles in the 80s, I was able to go along to Subiaco and scream for my team. There was always a few blue and white jumpers in the crowd but we were always vastly outnumbered."
In mid 1991, he wrote to the marketing manager of the Geelong Football Club, Graham Johnson, offering to set up a Perth based support group.
"It was mainly for the purpose of collating a data base of Cats supporters in Western Australia and there was to be no cost to Geelong Footy Club," Ron said.
Graham jumped at the opportunity and Ron was given permission to trade as Perth Cats and representing Perth's Official Supporter Group of the Geelong Footy Club.
"We were the first AFL club to have a formal supporter group in Western Australia and we were extremely envied by many," Ron said. "Our main function was to access multiple tickets to Subiaco, attend as a group and to more effectively mount a screaming competition with the locals."
The database was used to organise functions throughout the year.
The very first function was held at Ron's vineyard in the Swan Valley.
"We hired a marquee and had all the fences erected in blue and white," he said. "Players who attended included John K Watts, Peter Featherby, Damien Bourke, Denis Marshall and John O'Connell. Polly was invited but didn't show!"
The next year, a function was held at Gloucester Park which was called 'An Evening With Malcolm Blight' and it was a huge success.
Other functions were held at Observation City and the Hyde Park Hotel.
"We even organised a function at a pub in Northam owned by an ardent Geelong supporter by the name of Bob Cramer - he had painted the whole pub blue and white!" Ron said.
Ron saw a chance to organise and sell supporter number plates. After having the idea approved by the Department of Transport, the plates were auctioned. Number 1 sold for a whopping $2000, Number 5 sold for a staggering $3500.
Every year, Ron and his loyal band of supporters managed to present Geelong Football Club with a cheque for more than $20,000, the proceeds of the year's fundraising activities.
Sitting on the original committee with Ron were Murray Stephens, Andre Hoskin, Rob Weber and Pam Stockwell.
By the late '90s, the Perth Cats boasted a membership of about 700 fans, many of whom were active in helping to organise events.
Ron recalls one such function at Hyde Park included a commitment for the club players to call in after a game, briefly to talk to guests, sign autographs and then proceed to the airport for the flight home.
More than 400 people came from around the state for that event but tragically, the Cats were beaten by the Dockers that day and the coach at the time, Gary Ayres, demanded the players went straight to the airport! The only GFC representative to show up was Frank Costa, the club's president.
"He joined me on stage in apologising to the crowd", Ron said. "I resigned soon after".
The Perth Cats Supporter Group is eternally grateful to Ron for his incredible work and we hope we continue to make him proud with our ongoing efforts to support our beloved club.