The Perth-based Western Australian Football League would seem a natural progression for most Goldfields players seeking a higher challenge.
However, for various reasons, at least six Goldfields footballers decided to bypass the WAFL and head straight to Melbourne to play in the best competition in the land: the Victorian Football League.
Charlie Tyson became the “lamp lighter” for Goldfields football when he transferred from Kalgoorlie Railways in 1920 to eventually become captain of Collingwood from 1924-1926.
A versatile player, he was initially a half-back flanker, but in 1927 he topped North Melbourne’s goal-kicking award and became North’s captain-coach in 1928-1929.
Tyson led Collingwood to two VFL grand finals (in 1925 and 1926), but in the 1926 grand final he was accused of “playing dead”.
To this day it is unclear whether the allegations were true, but what was known is the Collingwood committee considered his relaxed and laid-back demeanour inappropriate for a club captain, and considered sacking him.
Disgruntled with the allegations, Tyson received a clearance to North Melbourne for the 1927 VFL season.
In 1924, Coolgardie-born Dave Ferguson, who played his early football for Kalgoorlie City, made an audacious tilt at the VFL, joining Geelong as a defender.
He arrived in Victoria at the right time, because in 1925 Ferguson became a key player in Geelong’s first-ever VFL premiership.
Ferguson was one of several Geelong defenders who kept Collingwood’s champion full-forward Gordon Coventry goalless in the 1925 VFL grand final.
In the final moments of the grand final, Ferguson beat three Collingwood forwards to take a crucial defensive mark, completing the capture flat on his back.
It was a Leo Barry-moment that evoked a major headline in a Melbourne newspaper, which read “One saving mark”.
Ferguson surprisingly returned to the Goldfields in 1926, but resumed his VFL career in 1927, firstlat Geelong, then at North Melbourne for the 1931 season.
Boulder-born Ted “Otto” Pool played in Kalgoorlie City’s losing grand final side to Boulder City in 1925 before setting his sights on the VFL.
He arranged for a transfer in his job with Nestle in Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie, to Melbourne and presented himself at the Hawthorn Football Club to see if he could train with them.
The skill of the diminutive five-foot, five-inch (165cm) rover soon became obvious, and he roved the next 10 years for Hawthorn.
In the process he became the first West Australian to play 200 VFL games, between 1926 and 1938.
He also kicked 230 goals and represented Victoria eight times.
In 1940, Neville Way, the son of prominent Boulder GP Inman Way, played for Boulder City in the club’s losing 1940 grand final against Mines Rovers.
The 17-year-old’s opponent that day was the 1935 Sandover medallist Lou Daily.
Apart from being an outstanding sportsman — he top-scored for the Goldfields in the A-section final of country week in 1939 — Way was also academically gifted, and soon found his way to Adelaide University, where he studied medicine.
In 1942, while on an officers’ course for the Royal Australian Navy, Way played eight games for St Kilda in the Victorian Football League.
Returning to Adelaide, Way became a star centre-half-forward for Norwood in the South Australian National Football League. In 1945, in his interstate debut, Way booted seven goals for South Australia against Victoria.
A moratorium on player clearances by the WAFL in the 1950s prevented two gun Goldfields footballers from playing in the Victorian Football League.
Mines Rovers and 1955 Goldfields fairest-and-best winner Alec Epis had to stand out of football for two years before he could realise his dream of playing in the VFL.
And when he eventually got his chance, Epis grabbed the opportunity with both hands, playing 180 games for Essendon and representing Victoria on four occasions.
He also played in Essendon’s 1959 and 1962 premiership teams.
In Epis’ wake came Dave Cuzens, who played with Kalgoorlie City over four seasons from 1952-1955. A premiership player for Kangas in 1953 and 1954, Cuzens stood out of football in 1956, eventually making his debut for Richmond in 1957.
Cuzens brought great honour to the Richmond No.4 guernsey, winning two fairest and best awards for the Tigers, in 1958 and 1959.
And he did it from probably the hardest position on the ground — full-back.
Other famous No.4s to follow Cuzens in the Tigers’ colours were brilliant Tasmanian Royce Hart, Geoff Raines, and Dustin Martin, who have won six Jack Dyer Medals between them.