Bloomin’ amazing

Planting a new Charlie’s Tree at Leederville Oval, 2005

The original Charlie’s Tree, lost to the redevelopment of Perth Oval.

A SOUTH AFRICAN Cape  Chestnut tree was used by the supporters of the East Perth Football Club as a vantage point at football games at Perth Oval.

The tree became a barometer in accurately predicting Grand Final wins for the club. 

Charlie’s Tree was named after CJ (Charlie) Chandler, a legendary supporter of the Royals in the post-war years. 

Mr Chandler was a member of the 2/16th Battalion in World War II.

Everyone would know he’d arrived at the game when they heard his loud war cry, “Fight on East Perth – Fight on Digger”. 

It was Mr Chandler who noted that the Cape Chestnut burst into blossom every time East Perth won one of its three grand finals in the 1950s. 

He claimed: “If it didn’t flower, the Royals would not win”.

In 1961, the Royals were red hot favourites to win the flag.  

The following verse appeared in the program for their annual ball: 

About Bloomin’ Time
‘Neath the spreading Premiers tree Charlie Chandler stands,
Plucking strange exotic blooms with strong and sinewy hands,
“Bloom on, digger, bloom again”, Charlie Chandler pleads,
And the faithful tree to such
earnest plea graciously concedes,
For Charlie’s tree is our tree too, it’s bloomed whene’er we’ve won,
In ‘56 and twice more since and now in ‘61.

Unfortunately, the flowery prose proved to be wishful thinking. The tree did not bloom and the Royals lost to Swan Districts. 

From the 1960s onwards, Charlie’s Tree faltered in its predictions.  

In 1996, the tree burst into magnificent bloom in October as the Royals had lost the Grand Final to Claremont three weeks earlier.

However, in 2000 when the Royals won their first premiership in 20 years, the tree failed to bloom. 

It also failed to blossom in 2001 and 2002 when the Royals clinched two more premierships.

In the early 2000s, Perth Oval was redeveloped as a rectangular ground for rugby and soccer.  

The Royals relocated to Leederville Oval in 2003, the former home of their traditional rivals the West Perth Cardinals who moved to Joondalup.  

Charlie’s Tree was lost in the redevelopment at Perth Oval, but the club planted a new tree at Leederville oval in 2005 as a symbolic replacement.  

Unfortunately, the Royals have not won a WAFL premiership since 2002. 

The Royals will be hoping the new tree will be in full bloom this year as they search for their 18th premiership.

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