Great Northern Football League team Rovers keen to sign Greenough Regional Prison inmate Dale Wallam
A Greenough Regional Prison inmate is the top target of a football club desperate to end a near-two-decade premiership drought.
Rovers, the home of the late Chris Mainwaring and Geelong’s Harry Taylor when they were juniors and once coached by West Coast legend Craig Turley, haven’t touched silverware in the Great Northern League since 2000.
In a bold and adventurous tactic, the club has gone into prison, trying to snare one of the most temperamental but exciting players the league has seen. The Demons move on Dale Wallam will add spice to the standalone Rovers-Mullewa clash over Easter, 2019’s opening fixture.
Wallam, 26, who is not due for release until May, is a Mullewa player. He is said to be “very fit and very keen” to play.
He would probably remain with Mullewa but they lack one major lure: money. And the Saints, still stung by losing four key players in Josh and Ike Simpson, David Little and Dwight Schwarze to eventual premiers Brigades last year, don’t pay players.
Wallam, who has kicked nearly 200 goals for Mullewa, played three colts matches for Swan Districts in 2011 and two reserves matches for them in 2013.
Swans put out the “welcome back” mat to Wallam after he was best afield in Mullewa’s 2017 premiership, after the club finished last with just one win the previous season.
Wallam is a rare talent who seemed assured of a bright career in the WAFL, but has been dogged by numerous off-field indiscretions, which have seen him a regular attendee at Geraldton Court.
He was sentenced to eight months imprisonment in September after pleading guilty to multiple charges, including possessing drugs, driving with fake number plates and carrying a baseball bat with intent to cause fear.
In November, he appeared in court by video link on another driving charge.
“You are very lucky you are on video link and that my foot doesn’t reach that far,” Wallam was told by magistrate Donna Webb.
“Your life was going places,” Ms Webb said, referring to Wallam’s part in Mullewa’s 2017 flag win and the Swans offer.
“At your best, you’re actually a very impressive man: decent, polite, intelligent and funny. At your worst, you’re an idiot.”
Wallam’s late father, Dave, holds the record for the most goals kicked in a GNFL game. He booted 23 majors for Mullewa in a home match against Brigades in 1983.
Dale Wallam can also have “big days out” on the footy field, having four times kicked 10 goals in a game. His biggest tally of 11 — seven of which came in the opening quarter — was against Railways at The Rec in 2015.
Mullewa’s player drain is likely to stop, or at least slow, after the appointment of Vic Ware as coach. A nigh-on 150 gamer with Railways, Ware recently finished as a fly-in, fly-out worker at the mines.
He is a respected and popular figure at the Saints, where he was the right-hand man to Revis Ryder and Adrian Comeagain, who coached the clubs to premierships in 2013 and 2017 respectively.
Meanwhile, Wallam’s former Mullewa coach and teammate, Josh Simpson, will soon play his first match for Swan Districts and hasn’t given up on an AFL return.
Simpson, who turns 25 tomorrow, played two games with the Fremantle Dockers before being axed for disciplinary reasons. He was their top pick in the 2012 national draft.
Simpson has been on the footy merry-go-round since. He was only 20 when appointed coach of Mullewa in 2015 and has since played with East Fremantle, Railways, Mullewa (again) and Brigades, being a member of the premiership winning teams at the last two clubs in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
“I’m going good, real good,” Simpson said yesterday.
“I’m fit and firing man, running well and keen. And yes, I do want to play in the AFL again, it’s my big goal.
“There’s enough veterans and good coaches around here to help me get there. I am working, the kids are in school and I have been given a mentoring role with the young indigenous fellas at Swans.”
Swans coach Adam Pickering earlier said Simpson had “sorted some off-field stuff out which had been holding him back and matured”.
“He’s a real likeable fella so we’re happy to give him another go and hopefully it works out for both parties,” Pickering said.
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