1921 was a watershed year for Wests. After struggling for the best part of its first decade in the premiership competition, by 1920 the Club had matured into a premiership force. However, the entry of the new St George Club into the competition in 1921 had a significant impact on the playing strength of Wests as much of the St George area was previously Wests territory, and over the years was a fertile source of up and coming First Grade players.

Furthermore, many of Wests players that now resided in the St George catchment were experienced First Graders that Wests had developed and moulded into a competitive combination. The loss of players such as Herb Gilbert, Lyall Wall, Clarrie Tye, Albert Johnston, Frank Gray, Tony Redmond, Peter Burns, Roy Bossi, and a number of lower grade players to the new Club was never going to be easy to replace in the short term.

Wests finished equal second last with St George on six competition points in 1921, with two wins and a bye as well as six losses. The Club did have the honour of defeating St George in the competition as well as the City Cup that year. Wests would go through a similar rebuilding when Canterbury entered the competition in 1935 and once more when Parramatta was given First Grade status in 1947.

While all of the focus could be placed on the adverse impact of St George’s entry into the competition, it was not all doom and gloom as the junior competition, particularly along the southern and western lines within Wests catchment was growing rapidly and developing some great football talent. President’s Cup teams within Wests territory included Western Suburbs, Southern Districts, Western Districts, and Canterbury Bankstown (1922), and all were strong combinations.

In 1921, Wests had to rely on a lot of this young talent to fill the gaps. Frank McMillan, Eric Doig, and Jack Ryan, straight out of the juniors, all made a mark in First Grade that year. Others were developing their game in the lower grades and would eventually give good service to the Club during the 1920’s and beyond. To further accentuate the point, Wests Third Grade team was primarily made up of players that turned out for the Auburn Club that played in the Western District junior competition the previous year.

Frank “Skinny” McMillan made his debut out of the Juniors in 1921

Unfortunately no Wests team photos exist for the 1921 season, so all information has had to be secured from past newspapers and available public records.

Western Suburbs President’s Cup Teams 1921

Western Districts:

Jeffery, C R McMillan, James, Goodman, Costain (All Parramatta North) – Incomplete List

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