Former West Coast forward Ashton Hams has again stoked the WAFL war over the alignment system, saying the prospect of playing for East Perth this season was a major reason behind his decision to quit the AFL.
The 27-year-old, who called time on his 39-game career at the Eagles at the end of last season, said he "couldn't stomach" the idea of pulling on a Royals jumper every time he missed out on selection at the elite level.
Hams, a fringe player in his four seasons at West Coast, played 31 matches for South Fremantle while on the Eagles list from 2010-13 as he battled to hold a permanent spot.
He chose to return to Souths full time. He would have been forced to switch to East Perth if his AFL career had continued.
Eagles reserves line up for the Royals under the league's new alignment model that also links Fremantle with Peel.
"The thought of playing for East Perth this year was a big reason why I decided to retire from the AFL," Hams wrote in his regular column on Souths' website this week.
"I just love it at the South Fremantle Football Club too much.
"I had the best of both worlds when I was coming back to play for Souths when I wasn't at the Eagles, which I really enjoyed doing, but this year I would have had to go back to East Perth when I wasn't in the Eagles team and my heart would not have been in it. To be honest, I would not have wanted to be out there in an East Perth jumper and I know I would not have enjoyed it. I couldn't even stomach the thought of doing it.
"I have never liked East Perth. Even their supporters at times aren't the best going around, so it wasn't a hard decision in the end. Nothing would have made me playing for East Perth feel OK."
The honest, scathing assessment from Hams was posted on Tuesday - four days after East Perth thrashed the Bulldogs by 75 points at Fremantle Oval.
The 2009 Simpson medallist is one of few active WAFL footballers outside of the aligned clubs who has been prepared to weigh into the debate.
A group of the game's living legends, including Sandover medallists Bill Walker, Barry Cable and Stephen Michael, have called for the host-club arrangement to be scrapped next year.
East Perth chief executive Dean Turner said he did not want to comment on the reasoning behind Hams' comments, but he defended the club's fans. The Royals expect a crowd of 4000 to turn out for Saturday's grand final rematch against West Perth at Medibank Stadium.
"When it comes to attendances, at West Perth, East Perth and Swan Districts you get a strong following," Turner said. "Some of the other clubs struggle."