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One of the Robins’ best

Saturday, 2nd May, 2020

Tim Ferguson with his Lionel Johnston Medal in 2007. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt Tim Ferguson with his Lionel Johnston Medal in 2007. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt

By Emily Ferguson

I thought I would begin with a local sporting legend close to my heart - the first and only West Football Club player to have won the Lionel Johnston Medal, Tim Ferguson. 

From his first game in red and black at the age of 9, Tim has been loyal to the West Football Club, a lover of AFL and a hard nut of the local league. Known for putting his head over the ball and always being at the bottom of the pack, although a premiership eluded him he is high up with the best of the league. 

Ferguson captained his club from a young age, winning a junior premiership in Under 15s in 1988, where the side went through undefeated. He played soccer as a youngster before starting AFL to play with his friends.

“I think growing up, when I got into primary school football seemed to be the place to go and I seemed to be pretty good at it so I figured I’d stay with it.”

His football talents were recognised beyond the local city limits when he represented NSW in the 1990 Teal Cup Carnival, played against people who went on to become big names in AFL such as Anthony Koutoufides (Carlton), Glen Jakovich (West Coast) and David Neitz (Melbourne).

After this carnival Tim was approached to further his football career with the Sydney Swans.

“Returning from the Teal Cup Carnival, I was offered a chance to go and train with the Sydney Swans, which my Dad and I discussed and I said ‘Until I can prove I’m the best in the local league I’ll stay in Broken Hill’,” he said.

“Albeit in 2007, at 35 years of age, I won the Lionel Johnston Medal and I turned to my Dad and said ‘looks like I’m going to the AFL, Dad’, and we both burst out laughing.”

In 1990, Tim also debuted for West at league level at just sixteen, the year that West went on to win the premiership, although Tim didn’t get that honour after breaking his leg in a game three weeks before. 

Despite not being able to add a premiership to his list of accolades, Ferguson is held in high regard at the WFC and considers his 20 years playing senior football a feat in itself.

He was named Best and Fairest player on three occasions, in 1993, 2005 and 2007 and runner up numerous times. Tim has also held the title of club captain for many years and played close to 280 games in the red and black.

“The Westies are passionate, dedicated and very proud and it’s just a great place to be,” he said.

“I always wanted to be a one club player and what better place than with the Westies, I never looked anywhere else.”

In 2007, Tim became the first West player to win a Lionel Johnston Medal.

“It’s always a big feat to be the first at something.

“I’m very privileged to be among the elite on the West Football Club wall who have in the past have won the Middleton Medal.

“But to be the first, and to this date the only, Lionel Johnston Medallist is a pretty proud achievement of mine.

“But I would like to see a couple of fellow Westies up there with me with a Lionel Johnston Medal as well,” he said. 

Three years after winning this prestigious medal, Tim officially retired as a player.

“After retirement there were a couple of young lads around the club who I promised that I would play their first game with them and so I kind of got coaxed back into playing a few more games,” he said. 

“Cohen Pettitt was one of them so I was glad to be able to play his first game of league football with him, and they were short here and there, so I joined in when and where I could.

“But the overall rigours of the harsh football that we play was too much on my body - that’s why I finally retired.”

In retirement, Ferguson still remained a club man helping out off the field in other aspects of the club. He shouldered the role of assistant coach under a few different head coaches, the most recent being David Ruddock and Chris Jones for who he assists as a coach and as a runner. 

These roles are a way for Tim to remain involved in the club.

“I can give back in a way of helping as an assistant coach, I never really wanted to be a main coach, I never really had a passion for coaching but to help out is always good with a bit of skill work and expertise,” he said.

“To be the runner is like the nineteenth man on the field, you can be on the field and not get a touch of the ball but you can move someone to where I would go and then they go out there and get the ball.”

Ferguson believes the West Football Club is on the right track to gain the success at league level they have been hungry for throughout his career and beyond.

“We’ve achieved success in the other grades but have missed out on A Grade premierships and we’re headed in the right direction,” he said. “It’s been a long time between drinks, I’ve chased a premiership for 30 years and now there’s some great talent and a dedicated team coming through, I’m sure it won’t be far away.” 

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