GEORGE JAMES PRINCE
(1918 - 2002)
“Born to be a footballer”- George ‘Rosa’ James Prince was a noted Australian Rules Football player with the East Fremantle Football Club, the Western Australian National Football League (WANFL) between 1939 and 1952; and a Signalman in the Royal Australian Navy Reserves during World War ll.
George was born in East Fremantle on the 21st of May, 1918, to John Thomas Prince (1876 - 1963) and Alice Jane Lane (1883 - 1966). Formerly from Boulder, George’s father moved to Fremantle to form a new company- Elder-Prince Marine Services, which began by ferrying cargo and machinery between the mainland and Rottnest.
George began his football career with a local team, the Palmyra Juniors. He went on to join the East Fremantle Football Club, “the Old Easts”, near the end of the 1939 season. Prince stood 178 cm (5 foot 10), a little taller than the average footballer of his age, and was versatile enough to play in virtually every position on the ground.
From 1939 until 1945 he was a member of the Royal Australian Navy Reserves, with the rank of Ordinary Signalman (communications corps). He was stationed in Leeuwin, Albany and Fremantle naval facilities. Although he went to sea it is unlikely that he experienced combat, and he was able to continue pursuing football throughout periods of his enlistment. He was formally demobilised from service on the 7th of December, 1945.
George missed three football seasons (1942 - 1944) during World War ll but in his first season back (1945) contributed to a premiership win for East Fremantle. He acquired a second premiership medal (making his state level debut in the game, against Victoria) the following year, delivering five goals in the final, even though he’d broken three ribs in the game before. He scored nearly ninety goals throughout 19 games in 1949, becoming the state’s leading goalkicker, claiming that title from George Doig (of East Fremantle).
“In his day he was the fastest big man or near big man in the game. George had the knack of being able to take the ball out of the hands of the opposing rucks at the bounce due to his pace off the mark’’ (reference) E.F.F.C. website
Prince married twice. His second wife was Evelyn Ruth Ritchie (1922 - 2015). Sadly their first child did not live:
1942 Birth PRINCE (nee Ritchie).- On May 14, to Evelyn and George-a daughter (Lynnett Joan). Lived two hours. Mother Well. (reference)
During the war years the couple lived at number 25 Adrian Street, Palmyra. George and Evelyn had four more children: Janice, Ivan, Lyndall and George Jnr.
1947 - 16 WIVES NOT KICKING OVER BEING LEFT BEHIND- MORE MARRIED MEN IN W.A. TEAM THAN ANY BEFORE (By The Mirror Football Reporter) Sixteen wives and a number of kiddies will be temporarily 'deserted' Monday night when one of the largest contingents of married footballers ever to leave the State will fly to Hobart as WA representatives in the football carnival. Fathers who will be farewelled by families are Clive Lewington, George Prince, 'Pops' Heal, Dave Ingraham, Bill O'Neill, Jack Reilly, Ray Starr, 'Nobby' Wendt, Vic French and Norm Lamb.(reference)
George retired from football in September of 1952, with a life-long membership to East Fremantle Football Club, and the promise of many more years of involvement. He was posthumously inducted into the West Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2011
After his sporting retirement George became a director of his family’s multi-million dollar marine company, Elder-Prince Marine Services, previously controlled by George’s father John, and older brother Edwin (1905 - 1984).
During George’s directorship of Elder-Prince Marine Services, with the modernization of the industry, the company underwent massive expansion, servicing both local and state business: from Albany and Bunbury to Port Hedland, and eventually to Darwin. The company provided a variety of technical and logistical services for the marine industry, including; transportation of goods and machinery, ocean surveying and renting vessels to various maritime companies.
In a vivid display of patriotism and club loyalty, the entire Elder-Prince Marine fleet was painted in the East Fremantle Football Club colours of blue and white, and were each vessel was named after Australian native flora.
Over time, Elder-Prince Marine Services was acquired by and merged into various other companies, currently “Svitzer”, a subsidiary of Maersk. After retiring and selling the company George Prince donated a vessel to the Bunbury Sea Scouts.
George ‘Rosa’ Prince passed away from a heart attack, 3rd September 2002 at the age of 84 in Ravenswood.
This article has been researched by Sam Burke for the Streets of East Freo
Photo and some information from Jack Lee- Old Easts 1948-1975- a history of the East Fremantle Football Club WANFL, 1976
Elder-Prince Marine Services Catalogue - courtesy of Western Australian Museum