The West Coast Eagles boasted a top line-up in the 1990s and several of their players have gone on to business success.
Premiership players Peter Wilson, Brett Heady, Michael Brennan, Andrew Donnelly and Don Pyke are among the notable success stories in the business world.
Mr Wilson has owned or part-owned four hotels over the past decade, starting with the London Tavern, a small hotel in Melbourne that he bought while playing for Richmond.
Since returning to Perth, he has invested in the Nedlands Park Hotel, the Wembley Hotel and Redheads in Northbridge.
His business partners have included publican Murray McHenry, former Eagles team mate Karl Langdon (the Wembley) and former Claremont football legend Dennis Marshall (Redheads).
Mr Wilson has completely exited the hotel industry over recent years, disposing of his final interest in January when he sold out of the Nedlands Park Hotel.
His continuing business interests include joint ownership of Armani Aluminium Windows.
But his main pursuit is Nu.West Property Systems, a project management company that works for property owners.
“We crystallise clients’ land holdings into developments,” said Mr Wilson, who became Nu.west chief executive early this year.
“It’s a new way of doing things, a totally different paradigm.
“It’s a unique business system that is aligned to property.”
Mr Heady is another former Eagle who has backed a new business idea.
He has invested more than $1 million in Thermosealed Batts, a new type of roofing insulation likened to small pillows that releases no fibres and is completely waterproof.
Mr Heady launched the product in October 1999, nearly two years after first looking at the concept.
“Lots of R&D was needed before the launch,” he said.
“The manufacturing process we needed to use had never been done before.”
Mr Heady said the business was travelling well presently, with about 30 staff, helped by government legislation making roof insulation a standard item in all new houses.
Mr Brennan’s move into the business world was impeccably timed.
An Eagles player from 1987 to 1995, he jointly established mortgage broking firm Mortgage Force in 1991, just in time for the booming popularity of mortgage brokers. Ironically, part of the credit has to go to his former employer, the Commonwealth Bank, which was unable to accommodate his football commitments.
“That forced me really to look at another kind of employment,” Mr Brennan said.
He and his business partner, Neil Pinner, had a very modest start.
“We shared a desk with a piece of masking tape down the middle, with his things on one side and mine on the other,” Mr Brennan said.
Mortgage Force now has 30 contractors and employees in Western Australia and assisted 2,800 clients last financial year.
It has also established partly owned operations in four other States.
Don Pyke has been a quiet achiever in the business world, just like his unassuming manner on the football field.
Mr Pyke spent five years with accounting firm Ernst & Young before jointly establishing seismic data company Seismic Australia in 1996, the year he retired from the Eagles.
Seismic Australia was acquired in 2000 by giant Dutch group Fugro, and since then Mr Pyke has been managing director of Perth-based Fugro Multi Client Services.
He will be leaving Fugro at the end of this month and says he has an open mind about future work opportunities.
Andrew Donnelly is a co-founder and current executive director of West Coast Group, which started life as an insurance broker and has since diversified its activities into commercial finance broking and corporate superannuation.
EAGLES AT WORK
- Brett Heady has invested more than $1 million in Thermosealed Batts.
- Michael Brennan jointly established mortgage broking firm Mortgage Force in 1991.
- Andrew Donnelly is a co-founder and current executive director of West Coast Group.
- Don Pyke jointly established seismic data company Seismic Australia in 1996, and will leave his role as managing director of Fugro Multi Client Services this month.
Peter Wilson has had interests in several hotels and now is joint owner of Armani Aluminium Windows as well as an interest in Nu.West Property Systems.