Bill Dempsey

William Brian "Bill" Dempsey MBE (born 17 March 1942) is a former Australian rules footballer who played for the Darwin Football Club in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) and the West Perth Football Club in the Western Australian National Football League (WANFL). Dempsey is an inductee of both the AFL Northern Territory and the West Australian Football Halls of Fame. Dempsey's 343 games for West Perth is second only to Mel Whinnen's 371 games as a club record.

Bill Dempsey
Personal information
Full name William Brian Dempsey
Date of birth (1942-03-17) 17 March 1942
Place of birth Birdum, Northern Territory
Position(s) Ruckman, back pocket
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1960–76 West Perth 343 (89)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
1963–73 Western Australia 14 (0)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1976.
Career highlights


An indigenous Australian born in Birdum, a railway settlement in the Northern Territory of Australia,[1] Dempsey began his career with the Buffaloes Football Club[b] in the Northern Territory Football League. He played in premiership sides with the club in 1958–59 and 1959–60[a] before being recruited by West Perth in the WANFL.[2][3] Dempsey made his WANFL debut in 1960. Playing either as a ruckman or resting in defence – late in 1967 Bob Spargo used him successfully as a substitute for Brian France at centre half-back after the latter suffered a career-ending knee injury[4] – Dempsey became a regular in the West Perth side, winning the Breckler Medal as the club's best and fairest in 1966 and playing in premierships in 1969 and 1971.[5] During most summers, Dempsey returned to play in the NTFL, where he captained Darwin during the 1964–65 season and was a member of the unbeaten premiership side during the 1967–68 season.[3] Dempsey made his debut for Western Australia in an interstate match against Tasmania at Subiaco Oval in June 1963, and went on to play 14 matches for the state, including two matches at the 1972 Australian Championships.[6] Overall, Dempsey played 343 games for West Perth before retiring at the end of the 1976 season.[3]

Dempsey was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in June 1976, for "services to sport", along with teammate Mel Whinnen.[7] In October 2000, he was named in a back pocket in West Perth's Team of the Century.[8] He was an inaugural inductee of the West Australian Football Hall of Fame in March 2004,[9] and in 2010, Dempsey was named as a "Legend" in the inaugural induction into the AFL Northern Territory Hall of Fame.[10] Dempsey was named as a back pocket in the Indigenous Team of the Century in 2005.[11] One of the entrance gates at Patersons Stadium is named after Dempsey,[12] and a stand at Arena Joondalup, West Perth's home ground since 1994, is named the Whinnen–Dempsey Stand in honour of the two players' contribution to the club.[13]


1 The Northern Territory Football League season is played during the wet season in the Northern Territory, which usually occurs between December and March. Hence, NTFL seasons are usually written to encompass two years e.g. the 1959–60 season refers to the season played between December 1959 and March 1960.
2 Buffaloes changed its name to the Darwin Football Club for the 1962–63 season, having previously been known as Warriors (1917–18) and Vesteys (1918–26).


  1. West Australian Football Hall of Fame members – West Australian Football Commission. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  2. Bill Dempsey LEGEND – (1958-1976) – AFLNT. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  3. Bill Dempsey (Darwin & West Perth) Archived 4 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine – FullPointsFooty. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  4. Kennedy, Tom; ‘West Impressive in a Form Recovery’; The Sunday Times, 13 August 1967, p. 80
  5. West Perth Football Club Medallists – West Perth Football Club (Inc). Retrieved from, 3 February 2012.
  6. State games 1951–2010 – Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  7. Supplement to the London Gazette, 12 June 1976London Gazette. Published 12 June 1976. Retrieved from an online source, 3 February 2012.
  8. West Perth Official 'Team of the Century' Archived 11 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine – FullPointsFooty. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  9. Hall of Fame Inductees – Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  10. AFLNT Legends – Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  11. Team for the Ages: Indigenous Team of the Century – sportingpulse. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  12. Patersons Stadium history Archived 13 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine – Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  13. MEMBERS RESERVED SEATING Archived 21 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine – West Perth Football Club. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
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