William Brian Dempsey MBE

On Wednesday 2 June we had the privilege of having Mr Bill Dempsey visit our school. Mr Dempsey spoke with Year 5/6 students, parents and community members about his life and provided some advice for setting up a positive future.

Students listened to the life story of this famous footballer, who was awarded the MBE for his contributions to sport.

They also gained from his advice about setting and maintaining goals and the importance of commitment in order to achieve them.

Please see below some interesting information about Mr Dempsey that you may not have known.


William Brian 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.

Bill has written a book, ‘The Boy from Birdum’ which follows his life from a young age as a member of the stolen generation to his time as a premiership football player. He wrote the book for his family to, “Basically to leave something for my children, and their children, and so that they can have a look at my life.”

He grew up to become a star footballer for the Darwin Buffalos and eventually moved to Perth to play for the West Perth Football Club. An uncompromising ruckman, he played a total of 343 games for the club, captaining them from 1973 to 1976, before retiring at the end of 1976. Dempsey came close to retiring from the game in 1968, but when Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer entered the competition he changed his mind. He won the Club Best and Fairest in 1966, the Simpson Medal in 1969 and was a member of premiership teams in 1969, 1971 and 1975.

Bill Dempsey represented Western Australia 14 times. Dempsey was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in June 1976, for services to sport, inducted into the Northern Territory Government Hall of Champions in 1997 and in 2000 he was named in a back pocket in West Perth's Team of the Century. An inaugural inductee of the West Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2004, Dempsey was named as a back pocket in the AFL Indigenous Team of the Century in 2005 and in 2010 he was inducted as a Legend into the AFL Northern Territory Hall of Fame.

One of the entrance gates at Paterson’s Stadium is named after Dempsey, and a stand at Arena Joondalup, West Perth's home ground since 1994, is named the Whinnen–Dempsey Stand in honour of his contribution to the club.