Fred Coulls moved around. He began life in Victoria, played football in Perth and at Norwood, served in the Boer War, picked up a wife in Adelaide and ended his days as a farmer at Yallingup, 166 miles south of Perth.
Fred was born in Ballarat in 1870 to Joseph Coulls, a man of Cornish heritage originally from Athelstone, South Australia, and his wife Emily (née Brandt). Fred had seven siblings, three born in Victoria and four in Queensland. He attended Prince Alfred College in 1884 and 1885
Fred first appeared as a footballer in Western Australia in 1892 when he played 10 WAFL games and kicked four goals for Perth Rovers, the defending premiers. Rovers finished third and the premiership went to Fremantle, where former Norwood secretary Arthur Diamond reigned. In Perth’s Eight Hours’ Day sports in August 1892, Fred won the 440 yards in capital style and a new arrival with Norwood connections, Olly Plunkett, bolted home in the hurdles.
Fred played with Norwood in 1893 as a forward pocket or half-forward flanker. In his first major match, against premier team South Adelaide on 20 May, he was being carried off "injured" when he jumped off the stretcher and leapt back into play. South won 7.10 to 3.11 and was on its way to another flag. Norwood had lost a number of good players but fought out the season well, defeating Port Adelaide in two close matches. Fred would have regretted two missed shots on goal towards the end of the drawn game with South on 22 July. He was named to play in the first match between old scholars of Prince Alfred and St Peter’s colleges on 17 August 1893 but was unavailable on the day.
The Adelaide Observer of 10 March 1900 named Trooper Arthur Frederick Coulls, 28, single, of Koonamore Station, Eyre Peninsula, as a member of the Bushmen's Contingent formed in SA to serve in the Boer War. Official records list Trooper Sergeant Coulls, Service No 2208, as a member of the 3rd New South Wales Bushmen, South Africa 1899-1902.
Fred married Florence, daughter of Henry and Anne Warland, of Wimborne, Burnside, at St David's Church, Burnside, on 23 July 1909. They were settled by 1910 at their Yallingup property, Glenlossie, and quickly became entrenched in the community through their many sporting and civic activities. Fred was secretary of the Quindalup Racing Club, organised a boxing tournament and at the age of 40 pulled on his football boots in Busselton but failed to show any of his former brilliancy.
Fred was shattered by Florence's passing at Busselton in 1935 and he remained a widower for more than 20 years before he died at Sussex, WA, on 22 August 1956. There were no children
P Robins Oct 2018
* We thank Fatima Eslamian and Toby Woolley of the State Library of SA for their help in identifying Fred Coulls and enhancing his image.