22. Bill Berryman

Player Inductee

Waratah/Yeoman/Devonport/South Melbourne, Defender, 1919-35

47 games for South Melbourne, 1926-28
111 games, 9 goals for Devonport, 1924-25, 1930, 1932-35
Devonport captain-coach, 1930
Devonport NWFU/NWFA premierships, 1925, 1933, 1934
Cheel Medal for NWFU Best and Fairest, 1925
Royal Medal and Chas Turner Medal for NWFU Eastern Division Best and Fairest, 1930
Devonport Best and Fairest, 1925, 1930
Victorian National Carnival representative, 1927 (Melbourne)
NWFU representative, 1924, 1925, 1930

One of the very few ‘between-the-wars’ players from the north-west coast to play in the VFL, Bill Berryman, known by the nickname ‘Bull’, was an outstanding defender and a great of early coastal football. Born in 1899, Berryman did not play senior football until the age of 20 when he played for Waratah in the old Waratah Football Association. He was soon lured to the Yeoman Football Club during their early years in the NWFU before joining Devonport in 1924, where, despite his diminutive 173cm stature, he established himself as an outstanding key defender. Winning NWFU representative honours in his first season, Berryman dominated the competition the following year, taking out the Cheel Medal as association Best and Fairest as well as Devonport’s Best and Fairest award, and played a crucial role in defence in Devonport’s NWFU premiership team. Such was his reputation by this time that even the VFL had taken notice, and Berryman crossed Bass Strait to join South Melbourne ahead of the 1926 season.

In three seasons and 47 games with the ‘Bloods’, Berryman continued the magnificent form that he had displayed in Tasmania. He was chosen to represent Victoria at the 1927 National Carnival in Melbourne against his home state, while he was runner-up to Hec McKay in South’s Best and Fairest award the same year. In 1929 he left South Melbourne and spent one season coaching Rochester in the Goulburn Valley League in country Victoria, before a serious injury led to him returning to Tasmania and Devonport in 1930.

Appointed captain-coach by the Magpies for the 1930 season Berryman again dominated the NWFU, winning both the Royal and Chas Turner Medals as Best and Fairest in the Union’s Eastern Division, taking out his second Devonport club champion award and captaining the NWFU representative team. With the Great Depression affecting the entire north-west coastal economy, Devonport opted to play as a junior club in the NWFA from 1931-33. Berryman did not play in the Magpies’ first season in the NWFA, instead surprisingly turning his hand to field umpiring. This did not last long however, and he returned to playing in 1932, proving greatly influential in Devonport’s 1933 premiership victory over Wesley Vale as well as their triumph over Burnie the following year upon their return to the NWFU. Now aged 36, Berryman retired from playing after Devonport’s grand final loss to Ulverstone in 1935. Over a magnificent 17-year career Berryman accumulated an astonishing 35 individual trophies and awards, cementing himself as an all-time great of both the Devonport Football Club and of coastal football in general. He died aged just 53 in January 1953.