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ROVERS DEAD-HEAT SANDOVER MEDAL WINNERS TALENTED PLAYERS
It is a coincidence that the players who, by their selection in the inter state matches against Victoria and South Australia this season were ac knowledged to be the State's leading rovers, should top the poll in the ballot to decide the winner of the Sandover medal for 1929. Johnny
Leonard (Subiaco) and Billy Thomas (East Perth) have been warmly con- , gratulated on their success. Leonard and Thomas each secured five votes, the nearest to them being Jack Rocchi, South Fremantle's clever rover, and 'Bub' Jarvis the spectacular East Fremantle half-back, who were ac corded four each. Leonard, for years past the State's leading fringer, also won the medal in 1926, and thus becomes the first player to secure the covoted trophy on more than one occasion. Thomas fs newer to the game than Leonard, but from the time he joined East Perth a few years ago he has forged to the front, and his ability was suit ably recognised this year when he was chosen as second rover in the big inter state fixtures. Both' players have all the qualifications required' to justify their selections as 'fairest and best of 1929.' Both are little men, whose football is of the brainy, effective type, and both are sportsmen to their finger tips. All agree that the honor could not have been more appropriately conferred.
LEONARD'S CAREER Johnny Leonard is one of the idols of football followers who can claim a host of genuine admirers among the support ers of every team. His interesting ca reer was outlined at length in these col umns when he won the Sandover medal In 1926. He is 26 years old, and was born in England, coming to Australia when he was only six. Naturally soccer was his favorite ,and he applied himself to that game as a pupil of Sublaco State School. Afterwards at the Junior Tech nical School he adopted the Australian game as well, but soccer still held pride of place, and he played with Perth City second grade team. Football was not his only sport, for he was interested in cricket, and after skip pering St. Andrew's eleven he became captain of its football eighteen. A broken wrist sustained at basket-ball kept him out of action for a year. Following this Inactivity his thoughts again turned to . football. Tom Outridge, the present cap tain of Subiaco, and Joe Naughton, for year§ a hard worker on Sublaco's com mittee, were largely instrumental in link ing Leonard up with the maroons. Jack Leckle, present coach of Perth,' then had charge of the team, and from the time they convinced him that he could play the game Johnny never looked back. He first donned the State colors in 1924, when the carnival was played at Hobart. His great feats in club and in terstate matches ever since are well known to enthusiasts. Billy Thomas, one of the few mem bers of the East Perth club who has re mained loyal while his club has fallen on evil times, has also enjoyed a meteoric football career. He learned the game in the schools at. Geraldton where he spent most of his boyhood years. He was born at North Fremantle, but his prowess as a player quickly assarted ? itself . at Ger aldton, and he became skipper of school teams at the age of 16 years. Leaving the school grade he Joined and eventually became captain of the Junior Railway team. There followed seasons of football at Mullewa and Moora before he returned to Geraldton to become cap tain of the Senior Railway team. Billy had linked up with the postal services, with which he has been associated since school days (he is now a telegrapist at the head office in Perth), and a trans fer to Kalgoorlie followed. He played two seasons at the goldfields centre, 1924-25, with brief spells at Leonora and Gwalia. In 1925 he came to of the late Arthur Yews, well known In football circles and a former Victorian League player, that he would try himself out with East Perth. He was too late to get a clearance in 1925, but in 1926 he overcame his trepidation and decided to' 'have a look' at East Perth. EARLY DAYS WITH EAST PERTH . Not dreaming that he was fitted to en ter into such select company, /Thomas had a run. Modest as to his own quali fications he did not expect for a mo ment that he would ever survive In coast league company, but there came a day when injuries had depleted East Perth and substitutes were required for a game with South Fremantle at Fre mantle. Thomas was asked to don the guern sey, and from that day early in 1926 hs never looked back. This year he played In the State color? for the first time, and proved a fitting successor to Larry Duffy. It will not be- his last by any means. Billy Thomas is modest, a trait inci dentally shared by Johnny Leonard, co winner of the medal. 'I pla' for the love, of the game and try to pick up all
that I can,' he said when asked to what his success could be attributed. He thought this was good advice. Players should train strictly and learn all' they could, and if they did that they must improve. The late Phil Matson, he said, had been a wonderful coach. He remem bered ais first exoerhnce of that peer less mentor's instruction1;. It Md left him open-mcrthed. Matson was a re markable coach, but at the same time he had a very high opinion of Val. Spar row, who is now coaching East Pt:rth. - METHOD OF SELECTION ' iWthoiif'any desire to cavil at the re sult of theh ballot for this spason, foot ball enthusiasts generally are agreed that It would be far better if the Sandover medal was awarded on a different basis. The South Australian scheme under which the Magarey medal is allocated could well be emulated. In Western Australia the field umpire at each match selects the player he con siders to have given the fairest and best performance. The votes are kept in sealed envelopes, and at the end of the season the player who has secured the most votes is adjudged the winner. A preferential system, frequently ad vocated in these columns, is in force In South Australia, in that State all um pires confer and allocate three votes, 1, 2 and 3, in order of merit to the players deemed to have shown to the greatest ad vantage. The value of this method is that* it supplies a better and fairer working basis. Under the local system a player who has, in the course of a season, been selected on three occasions as best man on the ground, might be awarded th° tro phy even though in ever other match he has failed, whereas another player who might have been the most brilliant, and fairest of the 36 twice, and In every other game has played excellent football consistently might be overlooked. Obviously the lat ter Is most deserving of the honor, but that is not to say that he will be the re cipient of the medal. No one finds any fault with this year's award, because the two players successful have well earned the distinction, but un der the present rule there is nothing to safeguard against any number of play .ers, four, five, six or even more finishing in a line, which would be extremely un satisfactory. The South Australian scheme is by far the better, and the con trolling body should lose no further time in following it. It Is interesting to note how the num ber of votes in the Sandover medal com petition wa3 distributed am.ong the play ers of the various clubs. There were 63 votes in all, and of these Subiaco re ceived 13, South Fremantle 11, East Fremantle 10, East Perth 9, West Perth 8, Perth 6, Claremont-Cottesloe 6.