On 28/2/1999 Australian soccer journalist Ray Gatt was present at the induction of Australian Soccers first Hall of Fame inductees. This hall, of course, lives only in name.....so far.
I have to say that today's HOF function was one of the best days I've ever been involved in with Australian soccer. I'm not afraid to admit I had tears in the eyes more than once during the various presentations.
There were so many highlights: I'll list them (not in any particular order)
Rale Rasic's wonderful and emotional acceptance speech on behalf of the '74 Socceroos. Rale stopping during his speech to get Ray Baartz on to the stage to join the rest of the team, even though he did not go to Germany. Baartz giving Rasic a huge hug when he got on stage. Rasic spoke three times during the day and each speech was a gem.
Baartz's emotional little speech when he received an award, I think it was a medal of excellence. He simply said how proud he was then in a quavering voice said, along these lines: "I implore every Australian kid not to turn your back on your country."
The presentation to Jim Osborne, who at 91 is the oldest surving Socceroo. He never got an Australian jumper, bnut was presented with a framed one today. He was also in tears.
The accpetance speech from Malcolm Mackay on behalf of his late dad...a truly wonderful moment.
Bob Bignell, our first Olyroo captain, breaking down in tears when he accepted his award. He couldn't even finish his speech he was so emotional....
again what a day. I'll remember it for a long time.
Ray Gatt, who is still wringing out his hankerchief.