The League’s loss to Peel Thunder in the 2016 Elimination Final drew a close to the great careers of Craig Wulff and Paul Johnson. Wulffy and Johnno join Garry Moss who has also announced his retirement after another season ending injury.
Wulff leaves the game as the all-time East Perth games record holder, representing East Perth in 286 matches. Craig also played in 2 state games captaining WA in 2013.
Craig came to East Perth from Thornlie Junior Football Club playing in the 2000 East Perth Colts Premiership. Affectionately known as ‘Wulffy’ he made his debut in 2002, playing 2 games in that Premiership year.
Over the next 14 seasons Craig was a measure of consistency, evolving and excelling with different game styles. Wulff has captained the Mighty Royals since 2013, won the leading goal kicking in 2015 and won the 2010 FD Book Medal. Astonishingly Craig has finished in the top 5 of the East Perth Fairest and Best in 7 of the past 9 years.
Craig epitomised the East Perth spirit and character. Often playing in bandages, stitches and even broken bones his ‘never say die’ attitude towards the game commanded respect from opponents and teammates alike. Wulff retires as not only one of the all-time greats of East Perth but also Western Australian footy
Paul Johnson already had a tremendous career before joining East Perth in 2012 having played 70 AFL matches with West Coast, Melbourne and Hawthorn while also playing in a premiership side in the VFL at Sandringham. He also won the J. J. Liston Trophy as the fairest and best player in the VFL in 2005.
In Paul’s five years at East Perth he has been the dominant big man of the WAFL, amassing 110 games with the Royals while also being a regular state representative and captaining WA to wins over Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Johnson also won a Simpson Medal in the 2012 State Game. Paul is a two-time FD Book Medallist and is expected to feature highly again in the 2016 count.
His final game was a trademark warrior-like performance. Opposed to Clarke, Hannath and Apeness Johnno finished with 16 disposals, seven tackles and 32 hit outs.
Garry is a local product who came through the East Perth Development program. He Captained the State 18’s and played in East Perth’s last Premiership side, the 2006 Colts. Later that year he was drafted by Hawthorn with the 56th pick of the AFL Draft. Moss played 14 games at Hawthorn over four years earning a NAB Rising Star nomination in 2009.
Returning to the Royals in 2011, Garry finished sixth in the Sandover Medal that year. He represented WA in 2012. A knee injury ruined his 2013 season and the start of 2014 before working his way through the Reserves to wrestle back a spot in the League side. A tendon injury in his finger caused him to miss the 2014 Grand Final. 2015 saw Garry play 23 games and finish runner up to Paul Johnson in the FD Book medal. Another knee injury in Round 2 ultimately ended Garry’s career finishing on 94 WAFL games.
These three players will be remembered for the talent, determination and excitement they bought to the ground every time they wore the black and blue. Cheers Wulffy, Johnno and Mossy