The OzSoccer Articles

Cat's in the Cradle

With the outbreak of the second world war Sydney became the home to many British servicemen from the Army, Navy and Air Force here to help defend the commonwealth. Many still had soccer on their minds and although their stay was often short some of the longer term soldiers started looking for games of soccer around the Sydney area. To accommodate the influx of soccer playing poms the New South Wales Soccer Football Association decided to incorporate a British Services team in the local competition. Based out at the navy depot at Wolloomooloo the HMS Golden Hind side were a big attraction in Sydney and provided the clubs with stiff opposition with a side boasting the considerable talents of Manchester United's Jack Ashton and Bolton Wanderers Johnny Ball. One of the other Golden Hind boys was a young teenager from Fulham named Len Quested who impressed many judges with his tireless work rate and impeccible ball skills. In his first game with HMS Golden Hind against North Shore Len proved just how good a footballer he was scoring five goals in his sides 6-3 romp over North Shore at Redfern Oval. The other goal was scored by Jack Ashton. He also achieved representative honours playing for an English Servicemans XI against the New South Wales team later that year. Following the wars end in 1945 the Golden Hind team disbanded and the players returned home to England.

Thirteen years later Len was back for good, this time with his family who had taken the big step of emigrating to Australia. Stepping off the Strathnaver at Wolloomooloo docks was Len, with his wife and his young family. The halfback hailing from Folkestone in Kent was set to become a big attraction and although into his twilight years Australia again got to see one of its best footballing imports at the height of his ball playing powers. Signed by the Auburn football club the day he arrived his talents were often overshadowed by the flamboyance of other talented European imports that followed but his record speaks for itself. Len's talents were complimented by an Auburn side boasting talents like Australian international goalkeeper Bill Henderson and his brother state representative halfback Andy, 1956 Olympian Bruce Morrow, Englishman Alick Jeffrey and Dutch international Franz Van Gaalen. Len conducted the show from deep in midfield and using his impeccable ball skills scored 104 goals in a career which ended in 1964 at first division on level after a stint with Hakoah and Awaba in the Northern NSW league.

Due to Australias suspension from FIFA in the early sixties Len only made the one Australian appearance against Hearts of Midlothian from Scotland in 1959. But his son Gary also carried on the tradition representing New South Wales at under sixteen level and playing two games for the Socceroos on their 1970 Asian tour. As a teenager his early career was overseen by the legendary Socceroo coach the late "Uncle" Joe Vlatsis. But unfortunately Gary's career was cut savagely short by knee injuries which eventually forced his retirement. Another product of the Auburn club Gary was also coached by Socceroo captain and coach Joe Marston. A talented soccer family I caught up with both Len and Gary and started off by asking Len a little about his representative career with New South Wales, Sydney and Australia.

LQ : "They didn't call it an international side in those days because most of the fellas were picked from the Sydney area. There were some boys in Melbourne and Victoria, where in the beginning they were never even given a chance in being picked. Everybody came from Sydney and they played the touring sides. A Scotch side came out and played about four games out here and that was considered international standard or a cap. I played against Desportiva Saprissa from Costa Rica (for NSW) one day and Heart of Midlothian (for Australia) and most blokes were all picked from Sydney and Newcastle, a couple from Newcastle".

GS : Do you remember much about those games?

LQ : "They were very good players, especially in Newcastle. They were mostly coalminers who were brought up on football. A very good side. We beat them (Desportiva Saprissa from Costa Rica) quite easy. They weren't as good as what we were. We played a few at the old Showground where they used to have motorbikes. It was a good side we put out."

GS : Did you play much football as a kid?

LQ : "Oh yeah, I was in the schools team and the county side Kent and then I didn't play (football) again. I played again in the army when I joined up I was stationed in London and a fella I knew, Will Farmery, recommended that I get in touch with someone from Fulham in London. As a matter of fact I joined the navy and I went on a course up in London for about 3 months and while I was up there I got in touch with Fulham. I had a couple of games with them. That was during the war. During war time they got anybody they could together to get a team up because in them days you weren't allowed to have a big crowd together because of the bombing."

GS : All while you were in London?

LQ : "I went to see Fulham and Peart was the manager. Then I went up to Scotland and was transferred around to three or four places till I went out to Australia at the end of the war. While I was out there I met an engineer in one of the banks in Martin Place. He followed the soccer here and he was also a friend of this Mr Peart. And unbeknowns to me at the time he used to send a report out about any players out here that were any good. So when I got discharged he told me to go to London and see this team at Fulham. So (when) I got discharged I went straight to Fulham and he said yeah I'll give you a go. They gave me a go in the reserves, then I got a couple of games in the first team. Gradually the better class of players were coming back into it getting discharged from the army but I did quite well and I made the first grade with him. I got signed on straight away so I didn't have to go back home or anywhere. I just went straight to London".

GS : Tell us a little about the HMS Golden Hind team in 1945.

LQ : "A very good side. Jack Ashton was one of the players. He went back and played for Manchester United and also England. He played in two positions and got caps as centre forward and as fullback. Very good player he was, very good. We played in the competition but we weren't "allowed" to win it if you know what I mean (laughing). In fact all we got was a thirty pound voucher to be spent at Holdens. So we were there to make up the numbers and give good competition. The officer in charge, Morrison his name was, he was a keen footballer, but he didn't play but he managed everything and we were on a good thing there all the time. We played out one season and then the war ended and we gradually split up and went home. Jack went back to Manchester United and Johnny Ball went back to Manchester United and then Bolton"

GS : What about after the war.

LQ : "I went back to Fulham for five years and then was transferred to Huddersfield Town. We won the second division and then went into first division. Half of my career was in first division. We were in for promotion, Fulham was last, Huddersfield were second last when we went there. Next year we and Huddersfield got promoted into the first division and we stayed there five years till I came home here (to Australia).

GS : You enjoyed your time playing in England

LQ : "Oh yeah it was a great life. Toured the world twice. We went to America and to Canada. I went there first with Fulham and then again with Huddersfield and went to Norway and Sweden toured over there, Germany just after the war when they had a good side."

GS : With club tours?

LQ : "That was club tours that one. The other representative one was South Africa"(with an English FA side).

GS : Any names in that English FA team?

LQ : "Vic McCarthy, Bill McGarry but most of them I played with or against. I got photographs hanging around here but I forget all their names."

GS : Tell us a little of your time at Huddersfield?

LQ : "We were taught, especially when we were with Huddersfield and I was a half back there, I was responsible for one of the opposition. It was my duty not to let him score any goals. All the defence was told that. The forwards were given a free hand to move all over the place not to come too far back, keep forward. The halfbacks had to stop the inside forwards from scoring, the fullbacks to stop the wingers from scoring. If you did that you were on a winning side. We got promoted on that score. We had the same defence the whole year round as nobody got hurt. You gotta' cut that bloke out of the game. It might be that he would cut you out of the game but you had to start asking for help then. But it was a very good idea and it worked quite well".

GS : And how was the training regime back then?

LQ : "We trained everyday and special days as well, we did tours in the summer to keep fit. Fitness was the main thing."

GS : What prompted you to leave a successful career in England and come over to Australia?

LQ : "Well I'd had ten years of (English) football out of it and I was thirty two then and I just decided my wife would like to go home. She was an Australian girl and with two children I could emigrate for ten dollars."

GS : So you arrived out here in the middle of the inaugural New South Wales Soccer Federation's 1957 season and you signed on with Auburn.

LQ : "We came on the Friday afternoon and we were playing on the Saturday. The ship landed at Woolloomooloo on a Friday afternoon and we played on the Saturday."

GS : Did you enjoy your time at Auburn?

LQ : "Yeah my oath, very much so. I've got some very good friends there too"

GS : The side revolved around your skill and direction in midfield running the show for Auburn.

LQ : "When I stepped off the boat and we played at Marks Field (now the Sydney Athletic Field) in Sydney and we got a penalty and nobody would take it. I stepped up and banged it in the net and they thought it was great. Little did they know I was to miss the next five."

GS : Did the split between the Association and the Federation bother you at all?

LQ : "No I just went with Auburn, they were a good side so I just went with them there. No it didn't worry me where I played".

GS : The great George Azzopardi was the coach at Auburn when you arrived. During the late 50's early 60's George was considered a master coach in the Sydney footballing scene. Was he a good coach to work with?

LQ : "He was a great fella George. I was very friendly with him. He was a Maltese Egyptian and a very keen coach."

GS : Would he have been the best coach you played under in Australia?

LQ : "Oh yeah he was the best. They went too much in for player managers (out here). That way they got a cheap manager and a player. And if you ever found yourself going to a side where they had a player manager and you played the same position as him, well you ain't got a chance."

GS : You played with some terrific players at Auburn. Socceroo Bruce Morrow was the centre forward there in 1960. He scored 37 goals that year.

LQ : "Yeah, he was very, very fast. He wasn't a great ball player but very, very fast and so you could give him a through ball and he could shoot from anywhere. Fantastic shot. He should have gone to England. I asked him once but he said no. He couldn't fiddle with the ball too much or see a movement anywhere but he could be part of a movement usually finishing it. He had a fantastic way of scoring goals from anywhere, any angle. He was unique in that. He went back to Newcastle eventually after being with us."

GS : You drew some big crowds at Mona Park (Auburns home ground) back then.

LQ : "We had 11,000 down at Mona Park one year. They went over onto the cricket field and everywhere. We played Prague that day."

GS : Against Baumgartner, Jaros, Lord and co.

LQ : "Yep and (Andreas) Saghi and Les Scheinflug".

GS : What did you think of Les as a player?

LQ : "He had a great left foot"

GS : And Socceroo goalkeeper Ron Lord.

LQ : "I convinced him he should go to England but he wouldn't go. He would have made the grade over there quite easily".

GS : And what about the Auburn goalkeeper, Socceroo Billy Henderson?

LQ : "They were both (Ron and Billy) of the same age and very, very good."

GS : And they didn't wear gloves.

LQ : "No so they would come out and dive at your feet which Ronny was good at. He was only a stocky fella, when you say stocky he must have been five foot eleven. But he was real rough with it. One day I took him on. Kind of heading it with us both jumping together and he knocked me arse over tit. (laughing). So I thought I won't go near him again."

GS : You switched clubs midway through the 1963 season to Hakoah.

LQ : "Frankie Hearn was a player and an in between man and he used to keep bothering me saying why don't you come to Hakoah, why don't you come to Hakoah and in the end I did but I was never very happy there. They had too many good players. They were the kind of club that saw a good player and buy him and then find out he was a dud instead of letting the coach or the manager select them. One of their big fellas would say there's the money to buy him and then they'd buy him and he wouldn't live up to his reputation. They did lose a lot of money that way."

GS : You finished playing in Sydney at the end of 1963 after a leg injury where did you go from there?

LQ : "I went to Newcastle for a season (with the Awaba club). I was travelling up every week and again it wasn't suitable. And then I started coaching the kids."

GS : After you finished your playing career you spent a bit of time coaching at Auburn. You didn't want to pursue it for a full-time career.

LQ : "No I was never very interested in doing that. I found it hard work, they didn't do as I said. They were typical Australian players (laughing) to use the expression. They play a very physical game, but gradually they've got into line and play a bit better."

GS : Do you still keep in touch with any of your former teammates?

LQ : "Oh there has been several blokes who have come out here. Vic McCarthy was a winger for Huddersfield, he's been here. John Ball who played for Bolton in a (FA) cup final, but unfortunately he's in a hospital in Sydney. He has had his larynx out and he is in a home down there. I get down and see him when I can. I'm a life member there in the club (Auburn Soccer Club). Gary and myself have got our photographs up in the club there if you ever go in If you ever go in mention my name. You'll have to pay for your own beer there then (laughing). Yeah I get all the news on the grapevine. It gets around, who's who and where's whatsisname or somebody's died."

GS : Do you keep up to date with the football happenings in England and Australia?

LQ : "I don't take that much interest in it. I see a few games and I am not impressed with them. When you're looking at the game, they play the ball too much in the air. Sometimes the ball is punted in the air five times without touching the ground and they haven't got the individuals they had back then. (Sir Stanley) Mathews and those people. They try and boost it up on the tv but I can't get into it as much. I like to see a lot of goals. I go for teams that get a lot of goals. Individul classy stuff you don't very often see."

Although a totally different player to his dad Gary followed his fathers footsteps by representing his adopted country at international level. In that the Quested's have joined a very exclusive group of Socceroos where the father and the son have worn the green and gold. Gary was a right winger blessed with speed and he impressed then Australian coach Joe Vlasits with his talents. If it wasn't for injury problems at key stages of his career the story may have turned out a little differently for Gary. I asked Gary about his father and if he had a major influence in his career.

GQ : "We'd have a kick in the backyard and try a couple of things and ask his advice. If he went to a game he might just make a comment or two after the game, not every game necessarily as he didn't go to every game as he was either working or playing. As a junior he probably never saw a lot of me play as I played Saturday morning. He was never pushy with his advice and if I played any other sport it probably wouldn't have bothered him. As it happens I played soccer because he did as well. He was just in the background and more of a quiet influence on me. When Auburn were training I'd go down and kick the balls about there and picked up things from that. The boys used to go back to a milkbar after training and I'd go with them and have a milkshake and go home. When we lived in England and I was a 3 or 4 year old I used to go down to the training ground with dad and kick a ball around with the other kids. It was I guess a subtle influence."

GS : And did you see much of your dad in action on match days.

GQ : "Oh yeah. I used to go down and collect bottles at the ground (Mona Park) when I was about ten or eleven (laughing). I was not interested in watching games so much at that age because we were down there for a day at the football either watching it, collecting bottles or going into the dressing room and seeing what happens."

GS : You were mixing with the players too.

GQ : "Oh yeah I mixed with players since I was three years old and thats probably where I get some of my habits (laughing). I always weaved my way into the dressing room and I've been told to get out a few times when things weren't going so well. People used to know me because of dad and I basically grew up with them all. So I've always been around football and wanting to play you see things to try and some of it rubs off and some of it doesn't".

And rub off it did. As a teenager Gary was selected to represent New South Wales in the under 16 national championships and from there his career blossomed. The coach for the New South Wales juniors in that year was the very talented "Uncle" Joe Vlatsis.

GQ : "Yeah and at that time he was coaching Melita too. That year Auburn got relegated to the second division and so he took eight or so of us over to Melita from the state 16's. I had a year with Melita playing with the first team at the age of seventeen. The following year I went back to Auburn as they were promoted again. So then I played with them the rest of my career. At nineteen I got picked in the Australian squad to go to Saigon in Vietnam for a short tour there."

GS : Do you remember much of the 1970 tour to Vietnam?

GQ : We played two games. We played against Kowloon Bus Company and the Vietnamese Army. We beat them quite easily on a ten day tour. I played right wing. It was also the first tour of Peter Wilson, Adrian Alston Jimmy Mackay and Gary Manuel who were just coming into the Socceroos. Johnny Warren was there, Jack Reilly was (goal) keeper with Ron Corry so it was quite a useful side."

GS : A lot of those players went onto long and outstanding Socceroo careers.

GQ : "Yeah. At the end of that year (1970) they had a world tour. They picked a side that travelled around the world and I would think if I had have stayed fit and played the way I was playing I would have gone on that. As it was I did my knee and couldn't be considered. The bulk of that side that toured made up the world cup side of '74. Harry Williams, Abonyi, David Keddie, Alston and Wilson went so it was a full strength side. The tour we had to Vietnam was where first timers like myself and Gary Manuel started coming into the international side. We stopped over in Western Australia on the way back and beat them 6-1. So it was a good experiance in terms of what it's all about, training full-time."

GS : You also had a stint overseas with clubs in England.

GQ : "Yes. When I went to England it was a good insight to see how the games played and how they train over there. Its a good life if you can get into it. Dad played with the manager of Wolves for a time a guy named Bill McGarry at Huddersfield Town who also played for England about four times. He was the manager there and he wrote me a letter and said come and have a trial at Wolves. So I went over for a month and knocked about with them over there. Fulham were only a third division side at the time and Wolves were in the first division so it was good insight to see how the operation at first division works."

GS : Did you get a run at Wolves at all.

GQ : "No I didn't get a run anyway really. I was a bit disappointed with that. At my trial at Fulham I just trained and I didn't get a game as such. And after the four weeks thats when they said we don't need you (laughing). At Wolves they gave me a run in their youth side. I had a game and played centre forward, a bit out of position but it was very enjoyable. There was a guy at the time playing youth league who went on to play for Arsenal and scored a goal in an FA Cup, Alan Sunderland his name was."

Gary and Len have both retired and traded their old soccer boots in for golf clubs. Len has moved to the warmer climes of Queensland while Gary and his family still live in Sydney where he runs a construction fasteners business with his three partners. Both have been awarded life membership of the Auburn soccer club for their contributions to the club. The Quested influence on soccer in the Auburn district has been a lengthy one but sadly the club itself has gone defunct with the licensed club now concentrating its fund raising efforts on junior soccer. Who knows maybe one of the juniors running around the parks of the Auburn area will turn into another Socceroo and again put Auburn back on the Australian soccer landscape.