Former Claremont indigenous players Michael Mitchell, left, and Dale Kickett cast a watchful eye over Alroy Gilligan
Former Claremont indigenous players Michael Mitchell, left, and Dale Kickett cast a watchful eye over Alroy Gilligan

Claremont and South Fremantle have a long history of nurturing top-class indigenous talent and will honour past Aboriginal greats during Sunday's crunch clash at Claremont Oval.

The Tigers and Bulldogs have produced more indigenous VFL/AFL players than any of their WAFL rivals and will again compete for the Jimmy Melbourne Cup, paying tribute to the first indigenous player to play senior football in Australia.

Melbourne represented West Perth in 1900-01, South Fremantle (1902) and Subiaco (1903-04).

Claremont will entertain the likes of Chris Lewis, Dale Kickett and Michael Mitchell at their president's luncheon before the game, while South Fremantle will be represented by Brad and Cliff Collard.

The game will double as a celebration of the 30-year anniversary of Claremont's 1981 grand final defeat of South Fremantle.

Brownlow medallist Graham Moss and East Fremantle coach Steve Malaxos, both members of that premiership team, will feature in a pre-game parade with many of their former teammates.

Kickett, perhaps best remembered for his role in the "Demolition Derby" between Fremantle and West Coast in 2000, played in three premierships with Claremont and looked back on his days at Tigerland fondly yesterday.

The 43-year-old has played a mentoring role with indigenous youth since retiring from the game in 2002, working with the Wirrpanda Foundation and coaching high school teams. He said the NAIDOC Week celebrations gave the Claremont-South Fremantle clash extra significance.

"It's great that all the indigenous boys that have played here are recognised and it's a big thing for a lot of the young blokes coming through and playing now," Kickett said.

"It makes them feel a whole lot better about being around the place when blokes like myself, Mitch (Mitchell) and a lot of the other boys that have come through before us have been successful here."

Mitchell, who shared the 1984 Sandover Medal with Malaxos and East Perth's Peter Spencer, said NAIDOC Week played a key role in recognising the Aboriginal and Islander culture.

"NAIDOC is very important in getting everyone to understand that we are a little bit different," Mitchell said.

"We are a different group of people but we are a part of the mainstream, but we've just got some different views and values."

South Fremantle and Claremont have each won three of their past four matches, but the Bulldogs go into the game in better form, having belted East Perth last week.

The Tigers suffered a shock home defeat to Perth despite leading by 29 points midway through the third quarter.

South Fremantle are likely to name an unchanged line-up for the first time this season.

Cory Dell'Olio has rekindled the form he produced in 2009 to again become one of the Bulldogs' most important players and will celebrate his 50th WAFL game.

West Coast's Beau Waters will play for Claremont in his first game since injuring an elbow against Port Adelaide in April.

In staying with Claremont's NAIDOC Game tradition, Neville Collard and Richard Walley will lead a pre-game ceremony from 2.05pm.

The West Australian

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