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Frank Pyke, who graduated from a successful football career with Perth to become one of the country's leading sports academics, has died after a brief battle against motor neurone disease. He was 69.

A schoolboy star in football and athletics who was one of Perth's best players in the 1966 premiership team, Pyke also had an immense impact off the field as a coach, educator and administrator.

He wrote 10 books, taught at universities in Australia and the US and was, for 16 years before he retired back to Perth, the head of the Victorian Institute of Sport.

It was his collaboration with fast bowler Dennis Lillee that brought Pyke one of his greatest successes.

Lillee was diagnosed with severe stress fractures in 1973 and following groundbreaking surgery from orthopaedic specialist Phil Hardcastle, he was prescribed a gruelling exercise regime by Pyke, who had been the bowler's former Phys Ed teacher at Belmont Senior High School and a teammate at Perth Cricket Club.

Lillee recovered and went on to become one of the greatest bowlers cricket has seen.

A ruck-rover who teamed brilliantly with Barry Cable in the first edition of his playing career, Pyke was good enough to finish third behind Haydn Bunton in the 1962 Sandover Medal count and runner-up to Ray Sorrell a year later.

But he did not play for more than five years after 1966, moving with wife Janet to the US to complete his PhD at Indiana University.

They returned to Perth in 1972, the family by then expanded to include sons James, who would play league football for Sturt and cricket for South Australia, and Don, a dual West Coast premiership player.

Pyke was a lecturer at the University of WA while playing two more seasons at Perth, where he finished with 130 matches.

He then filled teaching positions across the country before his crowning glory at the VIS.

Pyke had been a regular and often hilarious speaker at Perth Football Club functions in recent years.