Australian Dictionary of Biography

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William John Truscott (1886–1966)

by Jack Lee

This article was published:

William John Truscott (1886-1966), footballer, was born on 9 October 1886 at Lithgow, New South Wales, third son of William John Truscott, a miner from Cornwall, and his native-born wife Susanna(h), née Strickland. In 1899 Mrs Truscott took the children to join their father at Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Young William left school at 14. Nicknamed 'Nipper' as a boy for his quickness in Rugby Union, at Kalgoorlie he played top-grade Australian Rules football with Mines Rovers (one hundred games from 1906) and worked as a postman.

On 22 May 1912 at the Wesleyan Church, Kalgoorlie, Truscott married Alice Stenlake Huxham; they moved to Perth that year where he became a postmaster. He was with East Fremantle Football Club from 1913 until 1927, enjoying success as player, captain and captain-coach, and making five carnival appearances (1908, 1911, 1914, 1921 and 1924). He was only 5 ft 9 ins (175 cm) tall and weighed 10 st. 5 lb. (66 kg), but made up for his slight physique by pace and cleverness. Truscott's anticipation ensured Western Australia's first carnival victory against Victoria in 1921: as the Victorian forward Dick Lee prepared a placekick at goal that would have put his side ahead, Truscott sensed his change of tactics, intercepted his attempted handpass and effected a clearance as the siren sounded. In 404 games for Mines Rovers, East Fremantle and Western Australia, 'Nipper' was renowned for his ability to read the play, for the accuracy of his passing, for his astute leadership and for his fairness; a top centreman who could play in most other positions, he won numerous medals and best-player awards. Vice-captain (1913-15) and captain (1916-22) of East Fremantle, he played in three premiership teams and in seven that were runners-up. Truscott was the first Australian Rules footballer to play in five Australian championships. He later acted as coach, club and State selector, club secretary and delegate.

He practised twice a week and played sport every Saturday, cricket in summer, football in winter. As a wicket-keeper and batsman, he was in the State side that met W. M. Woodfull's Australian XI on its way to England in 1930. Truscott was also a superb leg spinner, but preferred to be behind the stumps. In retirement he became a first-division lawn bowls player, a winner of several club championships and a member of premiership sides. Partnered by Harry Snook, he won an Australian pairs bowls title in 1955.

Truscott was, as well, captain of the East Fremantle Volunteer Fire Brigade and a member of the East Fremantle Town Council. He was a Freemason. Survived by five daughters and two sons, he died at Bayswater, Perth, on 20 June 1966 and was cremated. One of the first sportsmen nominated for the Western Australian Institute's Hall of Fame in August 1985, in the following December he was listed in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

Select Bibliography

  • D. Heinrichs, The Jubilee Book of the East Fremantle Football Club (Perth, 1948?)
  • J. Lee, Old Easts (Perth, 1976)
  • J. Lee and F. Harrison, The South Fremantle Story, 2 vols (Fremantle, 1976)
  • J. Lee et al, The Footballers (Perth, 1985).

Citation details

Jack Lee, 'Truscott, William John (1886–1966)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 22 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (Melbourne University Press), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


9 October, 1886
Lithgow, New South Wales, Australia


20 June, 1966 (aged 79)
Bayswater, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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