Stan "Pops" Heal with his wife, Gladys, and their three sons, Laurie, left, Graham and Stephen
Stan "Pops" Heal with his wife, Gladys, and their three sons, Laurie, left, Graham and Stephen

Stan "Pops" Heal, the WA legend who holds one of football's most unique achievements, was last night given his greatest honour when he was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Heal, who turns 90 next month, was just 21 years and 51 days old when he played in Melbourne's 1941 VFL premiership. Just a week later, he won another flag in the WAFL with his beloved West Perth.

His son and fellow West Perth great, Laurie Heal, told _The West Australian _last night that the honour had been a timely boost in recent times of poor health. Laurie joked that his father had stuck tight to the news of his induction for several weeks.

"The funny thing was that he never told us for a few weeks because they told him he couldn't tell anyone," Laurie said of his father, who has eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

"It was only about three weeks after he'd been told that he came around one night and handed over a letter which said he'd been inducted. He was still telling us not to tell anyone because he'd been sworn to secrecy.

"I don't think Dad ever expected it, but it's a great honour at this time of his life. To be coming up to 90 and to be recognised, he's pretty humbled and pretty excited by it.

"He thought it might have passed him by so it's fantastic for him."

The glittering night also saw AFL Team of the Century member and nine-time Fitzroy best-and-fairest Kevin Murray made an official Legend of the game. There was also another WA flavour with 1973 Subiaco premiership star Ross Smith joining Heal in the hall of fame.

Murray also played 44 games for East Perth as coach in 1965 and 66 and six games for WA. He was judged the Royals best-and-fairest in 1965.

Heal played 180 games for West Perth between 1939 and 53, as well as 18 games for WA and he won the coveted Simpson Medal for his brilliant performance against SA in 1949. He played in three West Perth premierships (1941, 1949 and 1952) and was twice named in the All-Australian team (1948 and 1949).

He coached the then Cardinals from 1947 to 1952, which remains the club's longest term, and was named on a wing in both the WAFL and West Perth teams of the century. He is a Legend in the WAFL Hall of Fame.

Heal's three sons - Laurie, Graham and Stephen - all played in the WAFL and his late older brother Jack also played three games with Melbourne in 1942. Graham played in five losing games for North Melbourne in 1968.

Laurie said his father's two-State premiership feat in just one week had come about during his service with the Australian navy. Even when he joined Melbourne for the eight games, he could only play every second week because of his defence duties.

"It's just so unique," he said.

The West Australian

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