Tuesday, 18 April 2017

ARTICLE: The forgotten story of … Brunswick Juventus’ 1985 NSL championship, by Joe Gorman

The forgotten story of … Brunswick Juventus’ 1985 NSL championship

Joe Gorman

Strewn across Melbourne’s northern suburbs are the remnants of a once-great football club. Juventus, one of the most successful Victorian sides during the 1950s and 1960s, has gradually been whittled away to nothing. Thirty years ago to the day Juventus lifted their one and only National Soccer League trophy, yet within three seasons the club was relegated from the NSL, and by 1996 they were kicked out; this time for good.

A few years ago, a family tree of the Italian clubs in Victoria was published online. Trying to follow the maze of splinters, mergers and breakaways makes for head-spinning reading. Triestina, for example, became Essendon Royals by virtue of mergers with Fiorentina, Moonee Ponds, East Brunswick Reggina and a host of other clubs.

Formed out of the predecessor club Savoia in 1949, Juventus was supposed to be the great unifier. According to the official history book, Juve! Juve!, the name “Juventus” was chosen for its neutrality, and because black and white striped shirts were “always easy to find in Melbourne”.

Published in 1990, the club history book – half in English, half in Italian – is out of print, out of date and long forgotten. The little poem on the inside cover – “To the fans of yesteryear, those of today, and to the ones of the future” – is both beautiful and haunting in the current context. These days the trophies, pennants and memorabilia are housed at Whittlesea Ranges; Moreland Zebras have the photos, host the anniversary events and officially trade under the name Juventus International Soccer Club; while Brunswick Zebras play at Juventus’ junior ground at Sumner Park, Northcote. All the clubs claim a link to the original Juventus, based either on colours, history and shared memory.

Fabio Incantalupo, 51, was the favourite son of Juventus. His father Greg was the mayor of Brunswick, served on the club committee in the late seventies, and helped Juventus secure a training base. He took Fabio to see Juve play from a young age, and at 10 years old, Fabio started his career with the club. Although he had the chance to trial for Australian rules side Collingwood in his late-teens, he always loved football, and it was from this platform that he represented the national team at youth level, and in 1989 was named Italo-Australian Sports Personality of the Year.

“It got ripped apart,” he says of his childhood club. “They went from Juventus to being the Bulleen Inter Kings, then the Thomastown Zebras, then Whittlesea… everyone claimed a little bit of nostalgia of the club. The ones that play in the black and white are still a little bit connected, but it’s symbolic. It’s sad.”

The solitary success story of Brunswick Juventus in 1985 can only be understood within the context of football in the mid-eighties – the lost years of the NSL. The original, commercially oriented ideals of the competition, which began in 1977, had been forgotten or simply ignored. The league’s main sponsor, Philips Industries, withdrew in 1982, while Channel 10 stopped broadcasting games after just two seasons. No crowds, no money and no exposure forced the league to revert to a ridiculous conference system in order to survive. In 1984 the league expanded from 16 teams to 24, split into a so-called “Australian” or “Northern” Conference and the “National” or “Southern’ Conference”.

The conference system was a cost-cutter. The idea was that less interstate travel for clubs would save money and more local derbies would draw in the crowds. In reality it was total anarchy. Both conference had sub-sections relating to the city the teams came from, and there were occasional inter-conference challenge rounds. The Australian or Northern conference was basically the teams from NSW, the National or Southern conference was the rest, including Brisbane, who of course were geographically the furthest team in the north.

The much-vaunted “local derbies” between Blacktown City and Penrith City at Cook Park, for example, drew less than 1,000 people, while the first ACT derby between Canberra City and Inter Monaro in Queanbeyan was played in front of just 2,100 people. There was promotion and relegation, but it didn’t extend to Newcastle, Canberra or Wollongong, who were were granted development status by the NSL. In the latter half of the 1985 season, Fairy Meadow, a tiny club from the sleepy coastal town in the Illawarra, looked to be a real possibility for promotion to the national league.

The striker was one of the game’s first stars, a legendary goalscorer for club and country whose international career ended abruptly and in controversy

Looking back, even the names of the teams that entered in 1984 seem to forecast the impending downward spiral: there was the Croatias of Melbourne and Sydney, the most difficult of all the ethnic communities in Australian football; the Maltese teams Sunshine George Cross, Green Gully and Melita Eagles; Blacktown City and Penrith City from Sydney’s outer-western suburbs; and Inter Monaro, who were backed by the Italian Marco Polo Club. And, of course, Brunswick Juventus, the third-placed team from the 1983 Victorian State League season.

The clubs held sway over the federation, and after Melbourne and Sydney Croatia resolutely refused to change their nationalistic names, the labels Hellas, APIA, Juventus and Makedonia crept back. While Australian rules and rugby league were looking to expand beyond their traditional geographic boundaries, football was doing the reverse.

In a sense, this was reflective of the times – it was the European migrants and their children that gave Australian football its unique character. SBS, the multicultural television station, began screening the games, while in Melbourne, the premier football newspaper Soccer Action dedicated space every week for foreign-language columns. The author of Juve! Juve!, Egilberto Martin, wrote: “For the European migrant the code of soccer, besides its essentiality as a sport, represents also a piece of that gigantic mosaic which makes up his socio-cultural structure and has retained it in spite of the mockery, the popular derision, and the powerful hold of other football codes, and in Victoria, by Aussie Rules.”

Brunswick Juventus entered the 1985 season led by the well-connected Italian-Australian triumvirate of Tony Schiavello, Sam Manenti and Vince Verducci. The team manager was Joe Caruso, a colourful local identity who owned an espresso bar in Coburg and a travel agency in Sunshine. Rocco Di Zio, a journalist, administrator, volunteer and raconteur was, as usual, omnipresent in the club operations.

They were coached by the late, great John Margaritis. A former South Melbourne Hellas player, Margaritis had been sacked and re-hired several times by South Melbourne and West Adelaide Hellas in the early years of the NSL, and returned to Juventus in characteristically chaotic circumstances. He led Brunswick Juventus to the National League in 1983, stayed on in 1984, left at the end of the season, but when Tommy Traynor was fired after just three pre-season games, returned in time for the 1985 campaign.

It was an argument with Incantalupo that sealed Traynor’s fate. He told the team he was under pressure from the press to pick Incantalupo because he was Italian. “It wasn’t like I instigated it,” remembers Incantalupo, “I just think it was supporters who were upset because we weren’t winning. I was sitting on the bench, things started to get a bit heated. They said to me, ‘why aren’t you playing’, you know? I said go and ask him… he’s the coach. It just snowballed from there and he got the sack. The vibes weren’t good from the start.”

Aside from the dressing-room dramas, Caruso had signed well in the off-season. At the time, Lou Sticca,
the man responsible for bringing Alessandro Del Piero to the A-League in 2012, was a 25-year old fan. “Led by a good committee, [Caruso] was able to build a football structure and team and attracted the right players and coaches,” he remembers. Soccer Action’s Lawrie Schwab wrote that without Caruso, Margaritis “would be like a man with one arm”.

Signing a contact with Caruso was an experience in itself. Incantalupo remembers going to his cafe, hopping in his white, beat-up Mercedes and being taken to the races, the customary cigar always hanging out the side of Caruso’s mouth. “Friday night at Moonee Valley, just to negotiate my contract for the following year,” laughs Incantalupo.

The big name recruits of Peter Lewis, Paul Wade and Yakka Banovic, complemented the solid core of Brian Brown, Mike Petersen, Joe Sweeney and Eddie Campbell. The young starlets were Reno Minichello, Mehmet Durakovic, Andrew Zinni and Incantalupo. Sticca says the captain, Brown, was “the main reason Juventus had any success at all”, while Incantalupo was the “love child” and the “flagship” of the club. Yet at the beginning of the season, Margaritis told the press: “we are not saying we will win the championship this year”.

Juventus’ first win came over Green Gully at Olympic Park in March, and in April Incantalupo scored his first goal of the season in a 2-2 draw with South Melbourne. Elsewhere, a two-game stint by England international Kevin Keegan at Blacktown City drew large crowds and media attention, and a scintillating 3-1 Juventus victory over South Melbourne drew rave reviews as “the game of the season”.

But things took a turn for the worse in July. Incantalupo got into a heated argument with team-mate Richard Miranda during a match against Brisbane Lions, and was sent off. Things escalated quickly after the pair started arguing over whether to press high or drop off while defending a throw-in. “It was just one of those things in the heat of the moment,” says Incantalupo now, “I might be the first time a player has been sent off for swearing at his own player!”

A week later in Sydney, the infamous
Pratten Park riot saw the referee punched, kicked and spat on by unruly fans in a match between Sydney Olympic and Sydney City. “At long last, soccer has grabbed public attention,” lamented Andrew Dettre in Soccer Action. “True, it needed the prodding of an ugly riot, the mindless savagery of a few dozen or perhaps hundred lunatics – but we’ve made it.”

Indeed the crowds just would not show. By 1985 the clubs barely attracted fans outside the various ethnic groups, and furthermore, they didn’t even have full support from their own communities. Consider the “game of the season” between South Melbourne and Juventus in June – held at the best football stadium, Middle Park, between two of the best Victorian sides who purported to represent the state’s largest and most vibrant ethnic communities. Only 5,000 people turned up.

Fernando Spano is illustrative of this dilemma. His father arrived from Calabria in 1956 and became a Juventus fan, his cousin played for the club, but Fernando’s first sporting memories are of watching Australian Rules side Collingwood. Spano followed his father to Australia in 1965, and although he followed Juventus through the Italian newspaper Il Globo, he was instantly attracted to the roar of Australian Rules football at Victoria Park. Without much English, he says Collingwood helped him fit in to a new society, and that the violence and hatred at the football put him off. “You couldn’t go and not be taunted,” he says. “It’s not in the spirit of the sport.”

Sticca also had an affection for both football and Australian rules. “I’d go and watch Carlton play in front of 30-35,000 people at Princes Park, and then I’d go and watch Juventus play in front of 2,000 at Olympic Park,” he says. “To me, I loved it. Same same.” Still, by the early nineties, Sticca also realised that football needed drastic reform. “There was only one way I could see soccer progressing in this country, and that was to break away from the little ethnic club model,” he says.

The only thing that remains of Juventus is memory, and the best memory is the 1985 grand final victory. After defeating South Melbourne in the major semi-final and Preston Makedonia in the conference grand final, Juventus faced Sydney City in the national grand final. Sydney City, known by most as Hakoah, were run by current FFA chairman Frank Lowy and were the best team in the NSL, having won four national titles in eight seasons. But Juventus had an extra incentive – Schiavello had promised an all-expenses-paid end of season trip to Italy to play Roma if they players brought the title home.

Brunswick Juventus won 2-0 on aggregate over the two legs, with one goal in Sydney and one in Melbourne. After just two minutes of play in the second leg at Olympic Park, Juventus player Robbie Cullen received a head-knock and was taken to hospital with concussion. In the reshuffle, Incantalupo was moved into the forward-line. When Cullen woke up, he immediately asked: “did we win?” and “who scored?”

The answer, of course, was Fabio Incantalupo. After missing the entire 1984 season after a knee reconstruction, an argument with the coach in pre-season, an on-field skirmish with his team-mate in round 18 and having scored just three goals all season, it was Incantalupo who scored the winner in both legs. The first, in Sydney, was a shot from outside the box; the second in Melbourne a tap-in from a corner. In the crowd, his father watched on proudly, and his girlfriend cheered for the man she would later marry. “They looked after me,” says Incantalupo, who had his knee operation paid for by the club. “Maybe because of that I had to repay them, and that was the best way I could do it.”

Later this month the 30-year anniversary dinner will be held at the Casa D’Abruzzo Club in Melbourne. The playing group will reminisce about the good old days, the colourful characters like Caruso, as well the hard-working volunteers like Di Zio and Joe Castelli who would fork out their own money to help players settle, or mortgage their family home in order for the club to have financial security. Sticca, who remains one of the most influential figures in the Australian game, still credits Di Zio as a central reason he got involved in the administration of the game. He learned a great deal watching the older guys, “their love of their sport, their community and their love of their club”.

But apart from the memories, there is little else to hold on to. Incantalupo believes the failure to set down firm roots with a social club and a home ground is the cause for the demise. Juventus’ plans for a $3 million sports complex at Clifton Park never eventuated, and the site is now home to a council-owned synthetic field. “If they had owned a club, a home ground, and a club room,” says Incantalupo, “I think Juventus would still be going.”

Others, however, believe that the Italians assimilated quicker than the other ethnic groups, and thus no longer needed their club as a social lubricant. In 1990, Victorian Soccer Federation president, John Dimtsis, wrote: “The story of Juventus in Victoria tells us a great deal not only about a successful soccer club; it tells us much about Italian life in Victoria. Juventus was for many years… one of the main foci of Melbourne and Victoria’s Italian community.”

Those days are long gone, for the Italians and increasingly also for the other European migrant groups and their once-mighty football clubs. With the
A-League and its non-denominational clubs now firmly entrenched, perhaps Juventus are the canary in the coal mine for the ethnic clubs. “Juventus,” says Sticca, “is a club that lost its community.”



Friday, 10 February 2017

OPINION: President's response to today's West Australian, 8 Feb 2017; by Peter Hodyl (SDFC)

OPINION: President's response to today's West Australian, 8 Feb 2017, by Peter Hodyl (President, Swan Districts Football Club)
For the second time Mr Duffield has printed an article criticizing football in WA in relation to moving the AFL games to the new Burswood Stadium. It is clear he has no understanding at all about football in WA which covers Auskick to AFL. His views clearly come from looking through his rose coloured AFL glasses only from one of the many Media corporate suites he enjoys around the country and unfortunately like many 'self proclaimed' media experts writes a good story rarely based on any facts whatsoever.
I for one have never seen Mark Duffield attend any WAFL games in my time as President of the Swan Districts Football Club so maybe Mark should take the time to understand the challenges football in WA faces and I am not talking about our two WA based AFL (VFL) teams, although the AFL is trying to skin them as well with 'equalisation' measures.
In Mark's article he has made comment on $100 million 'compensation offer' over ten years. Sorry Mark this is not for the upkeep of Domain Stadium, it is to ensure ALL football in WA continues to provide the opportunities it currently does which in turn provide the elite players he enjoys watching from his gifted viewing position. I am talking about Auskick, Amateurs, Country, WAFL, Female, Veteran's, 9's etc. Football in WA is not just AFL, Fremantle and West Coast Eagles.
Mark has also asked about what the AFL contribution is, well maybe Mark should do what a real investigative journalist does and 'ask the question' instead of waiting to be spoon fed from the AFL in a crafted press release. The AFL directly provides less than $3 million per annum (pittance) to football in WA whilst at the same time pumps 10's if not 100's of millions into 'non football' states NSW and QLD. Their argument that the AFL game contributes through WCE and Fremantle is completely flawed as this funding is specifically related to the profits of both WCE and Fremantle and the income from Stadium revenue.
Current funding to the WAFC is derived from operating Domain Stadium, Royalties from WCE and Fremantle and the AFL. WCE and Fremantle contribute the most in the form of licence agreements. Let's make this clear, licence agreements, not donationsnot out of the goodness of their hearts but the agreement between the WAFC and the AFL to compensate grassroots football for the loss of revenue to Football in WA due to the introduction of the AFL. Football in WA agreed, for the good of the national game's advancement, to allow a WA based team to join the then VFL; this has since morphed into the AFL. This funding will now be significantly reduced as the WAFC loses the income generated by the use of Domain Stadium and potential loss of profits of both Fremantle and WCE due to the AFL's proposed 'equalisation' measures. Where is the $11 million shortfall to run football in WA to come from? Again, not talking about WCE and Fremantle but WA football.
Then Mark refers to some $29 million in grants to WAFL clubs Swan Districts, West Perth and Claremont. Well I would like Mark to show me where on the Swan Districts balance sheets or P&L's one red cent we have received from the WA government?  Not one red cent has the Swan Districts Football Club received so I suggest Mark go back to journalism school to learn about clarifying facts before shooting his mouth off. Instead of criticizing the grass root WA football clubs maybe he should be congratulating them on what they can and have achieved with the meagre funding they receive through their commitment to a national competition. These achievements include many significant community programs across a vast array of non football areas and partnered by many significant organizations throughout WA to simply make our communities better. Female football has been growing steadily over a number of years which would not have been possible without the commitment of grass root clubs.
Currently Female Football is all the rage with the AFL and Media basking in the glory of its initial success the last week or so. The Swan Districts Football Club has had a Women's football team for 10 years and has embraced this as part of our football club. In its first year we entered both League and Reserves teams due to the great response to this initiative. A youth girls team was introduced in 2012 so the Swan Districts Football Club had already developed a female pathway to enable our great game to be enjoyed by all. This is evidenced with nine of our 2016 players recruited into the inaugural AFLW competition including three marquee players at Adelaide and Fremantle. What funding assistance has the Swan Districts Football Club received from the AFL or the WAFC over this period of developing the game? $0.00. Our club has provided facilities, access to our AFL experienced coaches and training staff, mentoring, and inclusiveness which has helped build the desire amongst women to play leading to the AFLW creation. Congratulations to all the girls playing football at club and AFL level and you would think the Swan Districts Football Club would at least get a letter, certificate, acknowledgement or even maybe a bag of footballs from the AFL in appreciation for the efforts in making the AFLW a reality. No, not even a magnetic board.....
Grassroots football is the lifeblood that puts bread on Mark's table. The AFL supplies the butter, and probably cream donuts in his corporate media box so if he really wants to solve this impasse he should focus his attention on the inequality of funding the AFL applies throughout Australia, put his media pressure where it is best suited to ensure football in WA can continue to nurture the game itself and not just the elite he enjoys watching so much. But it is clear Mark knows which side of his bread the butter is on.
Peter Hodyl
(President, Swan Districts Football Club)
This article was originally published at the following link: https://swandistrictsfc.site-ym.com/page/News [accessed 10 February 2017].
Original article by Mark Duffield:
Time to put brakes on footy gravy train, by Mark Duffield
Tuesday 7 February 2017
The next State government, Liberal or Labor, has to stop the football gravy train.
Football continues to turn its nose up at a move from Subiaco Oval to a new stadium with 50 per cent more seats, 50 per cent more corporate seats and three times as many toilets, despite a $100 million “compensation” offer.
We are not here because any government has treated football poorly. We are here because governments of both political persuasions at both State and Federal level have been too kind, for too long to a code that continues to reinforce its reputation as the spoilt brat of WA sport.
If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then both political parties should be warned ahead of this election: football is never satisfied. Gift them a stadium in 1989, then two significant upgrades to that stadium, more than $40 million in State and Federal funds to make league-leading training facilities possible, then pole position at what will be the best stadium in Australia. The more you give, the more football feels entitled to take.
Football continues to tell us that it must be “no worse off” at the new stadium. Let me put “no worse off” in real terms.
The three-tiered stand at Subiaco Oval, which holds 7500 seats, will be 50 years old in two years. The 10,000 seat two-tiered stand alongside it will be 40 years old in three years. Replacing those alone would conservatively cost between $150 million and $200 million and would not even budge the stadium’s capacity from its underwhelming 42,500.
If there had been no new stadium built just how was football expecting to replace those grandstands? Unfortunately we know the answer. They expected taxpayers to pay for them and then hand them back “their” stadium.
Just how much money has the AFL committed to make sure the WAFC is “no worse off” when the shift to the new stadium comes?
We are still waiting for that press release.
The new government must make taxpayers their priority, not a wealthy sporting code that that has been given too much and shows precious little gratitude for it.
A $1.3 billion stadium, $40 million in AFL/community training facility grants, $29 million in grants to WAFL clubs Swan Districts, West Perth and Claremont.
Now $10 million a year for 10 years is not enough to convince football it will be no worse off?
Time to stop the gravy train.
Time to stop the madness.
This article was originally published at the following link: https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/time-to-put-brakes-on-footy-gravy-train-ng-b88379161z [accessed 10 February 2017].
Swans' director Peter Snow, West Perth ex-president Brett Raponi (2008-2016), and Swans' president Peter Hodyl.
All Bassendean Oval pictures except the Peter Hodyl picture were taken by Kieran James (founder WAFL GOLDEN ERA) in July 2011.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Round 11, 1976: West Perth 14.17 (101) d Subiaco 4.6 (30) (includes Facebook comments)

During the premiership drought years of the late-1970s and 1980s West Perth could beat anyone on sunny winter's days like this one at Leederville Oval with the passionate home crowd roaring their support. However, the club found it very hard to win at venues like Bassendean Oval and the two Fremantle grounds even in years such as 1976-78, 1982, and 1985 when it made the finals.
Memories of my first WAFL match? It was Round 11 1976 (Saturday 19 June). West Perth had won the 1975 premiership under the coaching of former Fitzroy rover Graham Campbell but to many people's surprise West Perth was won 3 and lost 7 after 10 rounds in 1976. However, the team's good percentage of 91.43% suggested it might have been unlucky. Final football was looking unlikely unless WP improved quickly and started winning games. I was 7-years-old and my father took me to Leederville Oval for Round 11, WP v Subiaco (of course that was a WP home game in those days). It was a terrible day with non-stop heavy rain. We were able to get a seat behind the fence in front of the tin shed in the north-west corner of the ground (see the second picture below). People helped us squeeze in there because I was just a young fellow. We ended up talking to the mother of the then WP back-pocket player Ian Kent (or at least a close female relative of Ian Kent). Due to the rain we left at half-time but I was hooked on WAFL football. Final score: West Perth 14.17 (101) d Subiaco 4.6 (30), attendance 5,175 (sourced from WAFL official website). This day was the start of a WP resurgence and the club made the final four at season's end. However, Perth won the 1976 premiership after comfortably beating WP in the first semi-final. I remember this day in Round 11 the colourful WP jumpers standing out in front of the grey and depressing background. Attendance of the round: 16,785 at Perth Oval to see East Perth easily beat Claremont [by Kieran James, 2 June 2016, first posted in "Say NO to any AFL Clubs in the WAFL" Facebook group.].

This post generated the following Facebook comments (all comments used with permission):

Adrian Gibson (Perth supporter): Such a good memory you have for someone who was so young at the time and the year 1976 was one of the best for me with Perth winning the flag but I was surprised how West Perth was going that year after the way they thrashed South Freo the year before [1975 Grand Final].

Kieran James: I did a bit of research and from 1975-89 WP performed well in their first year with a new coach and then performance declined in each case (Campbell in 1975-77, Percy Johnson in 1978-mid 1979, Cometti in 1982-84, Wynne in 1985-86, and Michalczyk in 1989-91).

Adrian Gibson: Wow you did do your research, I never thought of that but now I’m thinking about it looking at those names you are so right. With coaches at Perth we just start bad and go downhill after that.

Kieran James: I was talking about West Perth but Perth may have been the same. Another interesting fact is the trainload of players who travelled between P and WP in those years. I think P did best out of the trades in total but it was close.

Adrian Gibson: It was strange they did get rid of Campbell so soon after that flag. I remember a couple of games at Lathlain Park when we played West Perth. The first was 73: Barry Cable was on fire, we were in front 4.4 to 1.4, then he got injured and they just ran over the top of us. I also remember another game when a car went a bit fast in the car park and hit me on the leg. They took me to the West Perth change rooms to see if I was OK. I remember being a wide eyed kid of about 12 or 13 and I saw Polly Farmer, Mel Whinnen, and Bill Dempsey up so close it blew me away.

Tin shed and Tech School beyond, Leederville Oval, July 2011
Kieran James: Great memories you shared there. Campbell stayed until end of 77, I don’t know why he left; maybe his family missed Melbourne. I don’t think he was pushed out. WP made finals every year from 1975-77 under Campbell and then in 1978 under Percy Johnson. Johnson was fired mid-season 1979, and Campbell replaced him and stayed until the end of 1981. However, Campbell could only walk on water once and the club missed finals from 1979-81.

Adrian Gibson: I even think I may be wrong but I thought he coached Fitzroy in the VFL at one stage.

Kieran James: Yes he did and they won a night flag under him I think [yes, 1978]. He also coached Glenelg in 1963-84 and ex-West Perth player Ross Gibbs was part of that team.

Adrian Gibson: Yes Ross Gibbs, I remember him; he was such a great mark for someone his size. Now his son plays for Carlton and it makes me feel old lol. I know Leederville was a very hard place to win at. We used to leave there with a 10 goal hiding no matter how good a side we had.

Kieran James: Yes, WP could beat anyone on a sunny day at Leederville, with the crowd behind them, ladder placings didn’t matter, but away from home they were often shocking especially at Bassendean and both Fremantle grounds.

Adrian Gibson: Yes, it was hard for most teams at those grounds. My best mate was an East Perth supporter so we used to go to the footy in turns one week his team and then mine. I also used to do the scoreboard at Lathlain which was fun. Home ground advantage used to be a lot stronger in those days and the West Perth Cheer Squad used to be very loud.

View from Can Bar @ Lathlain Park, P v SD, 2/7/2011
Kieran James: Adrian, who was P’s greatest rival then and how was WP viewed? My memory is WP and P were on fairly friendly terms. … The drawn WP v P game in Round 1, 1986 was a big match. WP had high hopes of doing well in 1986 but Perth was emerging fast under Browny [Mal Brown] and you took over from us in the final four that year (we made it in 1985).

Adrian Gibson: I think East Perth was our greatest rival. I mean we beat them in four grand finals; they were the Collingwood of the WAFL. They lost 66, 67, and 68 to us; 69 and 71 to you; and then 76 to us and they only won in 72 and 78 (which still hurts also). I wasn’t very fond of South Freo either.

Kieran James: And the 78 win was due to Ian Miller and Barry Cable switching sides and Murray Couper and John Quartermaine being out of the Perth team. Those EP defeats were very enjoyable.

Adrian Gibson: Yes and when we kicked with the wind that day [1978 grand final versus EP], it poured down and when they kicked with it there was no rain at all. Miller wanted to come back to Perth but they were so up themselves and had just won the flag so they said they didn’t need him. That made me so angry, I thought it would bite them in the backside which it did. He played really well that day; Buzz [Peter Bosustow] nearly got us over the line but we really missed Couper and Quartermaine that day.

Discussion turned to the 1982 Final Round Series as West Perth supporter Andrew Henryon joined the chat.

Andrew Henryon (West Perth supporter): East Fremantle and Claremont have always been our nemesis. As [John] Dimmer used to say: “If we can win at Shark Park, we can win the GF!” We should’ve won the flag in 1982.

Can Bar crowd, Lathlain Park, P v SD, 2/7/2011
Adrian Gibson: Yes, I remember 82. I thought it would be Claremont and West Perth in the grand final but Swans came from nowhere to win it. [Dennis] Cometti had a good side that year.

Kieran James: And West Perth found Claremont hard to beat but did well against Swans from 1982-84 so it was unfortunate we met Claremont in the preliminary final. In fact in Swans’ premiership years [1982-84] we won 5 out of the 9 home-and-away games against them. [Note: Doubters can verify the accuracy of this statement by checking the old results year by year at the WAFL’s official website.] I remember the 82 preliminary final, watching it from the middle-tier of the three-tier stand and seeing Ray Holden being outclassed by Warren Ralph. I had high hopes in 1985 too; we were good against East Fremantle that year but we didn’t meet them in the finals.

Andrew Henryon: The David Palm suspension from the 1982 1st semi-final thrashing of East Perth did not help. Shame because 1982 was our year and it got away, like what happened to the Dockers in 2013.

We went on to a discussion of the 1985 final round series:

Kieran James: East Fremantle was our nemesis in every year except for 1985 when WP beat EF in two out of the three home-and-away games including the last minute Subiaco Oval win when the late Chris Mainwaring missed at the end. (In the video on YouTube I can be seen at 2:53-54 congratulating the West Perth players after the siren, I was a tall and skinny 16-year-old guy, black hair, light-blueish check flannel shirt, jeans, and WP jumper tied around the waist.)

Andrew Henryon: The Mainwaring miss. … We were never a chance in 85 under John Wynne, I’m not going there.

Can Bar Crowd, Lathlain Park, P v SD, 2/7/2011
Kieran James: As a young fan I remember having hope in 85 but of course was unaware of any goings on at the club. 1986 was a huge disappointment.

Then there was some mention of 1978, another year that got away for both Perth and West Perth.

Andrew Henryon: Have a look at the 1978 home-and-away. In Round 21 EP 5th to 2nd, WP 2nd to 4th after EP beat us in round 21 at Leedy in front of 24000! Real bizarre events and EP came from nowhere to win the flag. Unbelievable destiny!

Adrian Gibson: Yes, I remember that last game in 78. East Perth was on a winning streak of 7 or 9 games or something and had to win to make the four and the other results went their way and they ended up 2nd and played us in the 2nd semi-final but the crowd was so amazing at that game.

Kieran James: It was too bad that Perth came so close to repeating their hat-trick of flags exactly one decade later but failed (66-67-68 and nearly 76-77-78).

[A special thanks to Adrian Gibson and Andrew Henryon for their kind permission in allowing me to share their comments here. We should write down our memories of the WAFL Golden Era while there are still some of us left. Someone who was 6-years-old when the West Coast Eagles was formed will be 35-years-old today. People of this age and below have no personal memory of the pre-Eagles environment in Western Australia. If people don’t care about the WAFL Golden Era today there may come a time when they will care again.]

Saturday, 5 March 2016

TRIBUTE: Croatian All Stars South Fremantle Dream Team

South Fremantle Cheer Squad (formed 2002) @ Fremantle Oval northern end goals.  Patrick Mirosevich is second on the left (waving flag) while Wayne is first on the right (wearing sleeveless SFFC jersey and red cap). You can read my interview with Patrick Mirosevich on this website.
Croatian all-stars Bulldogs dream team (From full-back)

Backs: Jon Dorotich, Darren Gaspar, Travis Gaspar

HB: Damien Gaspar, Glen Jakovich, Danny Civich

Centres: Rod Grijusich, Tony Parentich, Otto Santich

HF: Eric Sarich, Tom Grijusich, Allen Jakovich

Forwards: Peter Sumich, John Gerovich, Scott Watters

Ruck: Jack Sumich, Mathew Pavlich, Jack Rocchi

INT: Ivan Glucina, George Grijusich, Tony Begovich, Dean Ercegovich

Emergencies: Don, Mark, Andy & Ross Grijusich; Ivan Bartul; Matt & Mark Sambrailo; Budi, Laurie & Joe Sumich: Murray Bogunovich; Branko & Craig Civich; Joe & Nick Silich; David & Terry Lucich; Kym Zubrinich; Frank Lendich; Bob Bucat; Gary Cukrov; Jason, Surjan & Dennis Novak; John Pavlovic; Gary Jakovich.

Coach: Mal Brown, and I'm sure he won't apologize for not being Croatian.

George Grljusich - a legendary radio commentator of Croatian heritage famous for his Saturday morning sports programme on 6PR during the 1990s. To the amazement of many he later reinvented himself as a competent commentator of Perth Glory home games. A real character who is sorely missed by those who knew him and by those who didn't but who loved his programme. You can read my tribute to George on this website.

Thursday, 21 May 2015


Glebe Town Hall. This photograph is copyright Max Solling (used with permission).
Max Solling

An Interview with historian and author Max Solling conducted by Rex Walsh

Max Solling is one of Australia’s leading urban and sports historians.

Born in Sydney, Max Solling has been a resident of Glebe since 1960. He was educated at Newington College (1955-1959) and the University of Sydney where he was awarded a University Sporting Blue in boxing and was Australian Universities boxing champion. In 1972 he completed his MA on the development of nineteenth-century Glebe and he was a founding editor of the Leichhardt Historical Journal. He is a qualified and practicing solicitor.

  • Town and Country A Historical of the Manning Valley Halstead Press ISBN 9781920831561
  • Grandeur and Grit: A History of Glebe (2007), Halstead Press, ISBN 1-920831-38-X
  • The Boatshed on Blackwattle Bay (1993), Glebe Rowing Club, ISBN 0-646-14811-7
  • Leichhardt: On the Margins of the City (1997) with Peter Reynolds, Allen & Unwin. (A social history of Leichhardt and the former municipalities of Annandale, Balmain and Glebe.)
  • Contributor, Oxford Companion to Australian Sport
  • Contributor, Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket
  • Australian Sports Medal as a local sporting historian (2000) [3]
  • Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community, particularly through researching, recording and publishing the history of Glebe.

Max Solling is working on his latest book with a focus on: Working Class Culture and Mechanical Hare Racing in Sydney.  I spoke with Max regarding this latest project.

Rex Walsh: Max, what drew you to do a project on Mechanical Hare Racing?

Max Solling: It is closely connected to my passionate area of working class culture and this is why I decided to write my next book [on this topic]. Writing a history of mechanical hare racing is very much a cultural, social, economic and political enterprise. And it is closely connected with the circumstances and values of ordinary people during the inter-war years. The racing tracks were in inner city Sydney and offered a chance to win a wage from gambling and a night out for ordinary working class residents. These areas were occupied by residents, transients, boarding and lodging house populations. These years represented a time of militant trade union and working class mobilisation.

Working class men who breed greyhounds for racing were able to adopt an affordable hobby and way to earn a little more money.  Times were tough!

At the heart of the worker militancy and class consciousness lay a striving for order and predictability within a world that offered the working class very little. These activities helped to sustain close-knit communities amid the alienation of modern industrial society.

Mechanical Hare Racing represented an exciting and dramatic cheap form of entertainment that could easily be reached in the evening after work. “Going to the dogs” was distinctly working class. The high levels of unemployment (30 per cent in 1932) and a general fall in working hours only added to the popularity. The low and irregular wages of manual workers would ensure that people remained in their position in society.

The local rag, The Referee told readers that mechanical hare racing provides remarkable opportunities for small owners to achieve both fame and fortune on the track (4 March, 1931, p. 10). Greyhounds provided an opportunity for working class people to participate in a way that was not possible with other forms of racing such as horse racing. They could be breeders, owners, trainers and punters expressing their individuality and collective solidarity. Greyhounds became symbols of their owners' skill and ability and made those who raced and owned them sporting heroes.

[By Rex Walsh].

Rex Walsh
Rex Walsh Bio: 

Rex Walsh has qualifications in Business, Law and Education. He has been fortunate to work across many universities and has also taught in most units within his disciplines of Business and Law. He finds that this assists him greatly in his teaching of all units and in his ability to provide additional support to his students.

His particular areas of research interest involve ethics and contemporary issues in accounting particularly social and environmental reporting. He also works in industry and he is currently working for a community legal service and undertaking professional consultancy work.

As a very passionate teacher Rex Walsh has been fortunate enough to have his lecturing honored with several awards. He has been the recipient of the Curtin Excellence Award, CPA award, received several Commendations from Curtin for teaching excellence, and received commendations from Notre Dame University and nominations for excellence with CQU.

This photograph is copyrighted Max Solling (used with permission)

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

NEW INTERVIEW: My interview with Mark Whiting (East Fremantle supporter), 13/5/2015, by Kieran James