Claremont 64 team mates John Parkinson, John McIntosh, John Rogers, Les Mumme and Wayne Harvey with the commemorative jumpers that will be worn on the weekend. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian.
Claremont '64 team mates John Parkinson, John McIntosh, John Rogers, Les Mumme and Wayne Harvey with the commemorative jumpers that will be worn on the weekend. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian.

It was the premiership victory that came from nowhere.

Down eight points with just over a minute to play in the 1964 grand final, Claremont forward Ian Brewer slammed on two remarkable goals in the dying moments to snatch the flag from East Fremantle.

The Tigers were the wooden-spoon recipients the previous year and were out of the four with a round to go in the home-and-away season, but stormed to glory with a series of nail-biting wins that ended a 24-year premiership drought.

"Keep going for the next 50 years and you'll never see a greater finish to a football season," football Hall of Fame reporter Ross Elliott wrote after the grand final.

That 50 years is now up and Claremont will recognise that golden feat today when the 18 surviving players reunite at the game against East Fremantle.

Claremont will take on the Sharks in 1964 replica jumpers that contain the names of the premiership players.

"Fifty years is a long time but the win remains crystal clear," back pocket John Rogers said.

"The team spirit that was so much a part of that side is evident with all 18 living players coming back this week."

Brewer and full-back Johnny Grieve will be the only players missing from the anniversary celebration after dying in recent years, but their notable grand final appearances will be among the most significant topics of discussion.

Brewer, who was prominent in Collingwood's 1958 premiership, had engaged in an absorbing duel with defender Norm Rogers, who won the Simpson Medal as best afield in a losing team.

But Rogers cramped badly in the final minutes and was unable to control his opponent.

Grieve was opposed to East Fremantle captain-coach Bob Johnson, who kicked eight goals but was unable to will his team over the line in the frenetic final stages.

It was a bitter pill for the former Melbourne big man who had just lost his third consecutive grand final at then Old Easts.

Extraordinary events abounded in Claremont's triumph, not least those of hard-luck stories in the game and just before it.

East Fremantle's Laurie Watson appeared to take a mark in the goal square late in the last term only for umpire Ray Montgomery to call play on.

Ian Aitken had played every Claremont match that season but was dropped for the grand final to make way for veteran rover Les Mumme.

And Lorne Cook, who avoided a suspension for knocking out West Perth's Ray Lucev in the final qualifying match because "it was so out of character", tore a calf on the eve of the grand final and could not play.

Rogers had no doubt that Claremont owed their success to first-year coach Jim Conway, whose quiet but incisive nature galvanised the talented but underperforming team.

"I never heard him raise his voice once," Rogers said.

"He also knew exactly what to say to each player and had them playing for him."

The West Australian

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