English (United Kingdom)
Soccer's Debt to New Australians - 1954 Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 July 2008 22:08

SPORTING LIFE - JUNE 1954

Migration has given Australian Soccer its greatest boom in the history of the sport. No longer is this, the national game of most countries, a 'paddock pastime' in the land of rugby and Australian Rules.

It has progressed so much in the past seven years, with the influx of new Australians into the Commonwealth, that dyed-in-the-wool rules and Rugby administrators are becoming worried.

With the advent of enclosed grounds in most captials the drawing power of the sport has increased. As the crowds get bigger, finances of the clubs becomes healthier and the standard of the game improves.

Seven years ago, the standard of soccer in Australia, with the possible exception of New South Wales, was lamentably low. The industrial areas around Newcastle and the South Coast were always strong, again with a large active following of migrant, mostly British and Irish, population.

While NSW has also improved in the past few years - it recently won the Interstate Championship Trophy in Adelaide - it is in the other States that the improvement has been most marked. And it is the new settlers that have caused the improvement. It is not their own playing ability which has given the boost to the game so much but the tactics they have taught the older Australians.

The attendance figures at Soccer matches in NSW tell the story of increased interest in the sport in a nutshell. In 1952 the aggregate attendances for club matches was 132,306 according to the president of the association, Mr. G. L. Smith. In 1953 the attendance for club matches was 234,782 - an increase of 102,476 persons. And what is more the figures for 1954 already show that record will be substantially broken again.

The increase in the following in NSW is no different from that of other States. Infact, in some cases the calculated increase is higher.

In Victoria the national clubs such as Juventus, J.U.S.T., Hakoah, Polonia, George Cross and Maccabi have lifted the sport out of the doldrums.

The same clubs function in most other States as well.

Only two years ago, there were no enclosed grounds for Soccer in Victoria, with the exception of Olympic Park. But although Olympic Park has been lost temporarily for Olympic Games reconstruction, Soccer now boasts of five enclosed grounds with overworked turnstiles.

And they are not pokey grounds. The Italian team Juventus under the managership of ex-Italian Olympic cycling star and now successful Mel- bourne businessman, Nino Borsari, has its headquarters at the Melbourne Showground.

By next season, every first division club in Victoria will have an enclosed home ground.

Money is no object to the sport. Early this season the Prahran Club offered the local council £800 rental for Toorak Park, the headquarters of the Prahran Association Australian Rules team.

The council, pro Australian Rules in the majority, refused the offer to the anger of the local ratepayers' association. What upset the ratepayers was that the offer was just £775 more than the rental paid by the Australian Rules Club.

The Brighton City Council was not going to be placed in the same position with its ratepayers, when the Brighton Soccer Club made them an offer of £300 for the use of Elsternwick Park on alternate Saturdays to the Brighton Association Australian Rules team.

The council demanded £600, hoping to frighten off the club. The money was handed over on the spot and another stadium came into the grip of Soccer.

The migrant Soccer player is not necessarily a recruit for his own rational team. In fact, most of them are keen to play with other teams and there is not a club which has not got several European stars in its eleven.

Western Australia reports its best season ever, and attributes the im- provement in the standard of play to migrants from Soccer-playing countries and coaching. More people watched Soccer last season than ever before in the history of the W A Association. Premiers in Western Australia last season was the Italian Azzurri team, led by Guiseppe Scarparolna, with a record of 26 matches for 0 defeats.

In Western Australia, as in other States, the game is also catching on in the country. Wherever there is an influx of migrants into a particular district, it is not long before clubs and :fistrict associations spring up. There are seven teams playing in the Latrobe Valley Association in Victoria, and in a team of 11 at Sale there are 10 different nationalities. There are also three other country associations in Victoria.

The Latrobe Valley is the scene of huge new electrical undertaking schemes Government sponsored with migrant labor . The influence of the migrants on Australian Soccer can be seen in some of the State teams at the recent Australian carnival in Adelaide.

South Australia: C. Rittosa, L. Karsteds, S. Gennari, M. O'Malley, K. Lange L. Szuchanek, M. Busidoni, N. Scalamera, R. Lee, J. Freckleton, A. Kitas, A. Beattie, L. Toth, J. Keleman, Z. Kracmera, D. Pozza, G. Giglio, A. Godrik.

Western Australia: R. Oswald, J. Bevridge. C. Malec, C. Purser, M. Lucchesi R. Adair, W. Adair, V. Coccia. M. Casotti, F. Franchi, G. Nobbs. D. di-Loddo, D. McArdle. Z. Szymanski, J. Duggan, J. Masiero.

Victoria: S. Czauderna (pictured right), T. Jack, P. Clarke, B. Zablocki, S. Thomas, J. Lachmann, P. Schipper- heyn, J. Cottesman, R. Wemyss, L. Stott, R. Walker, A. Drennan, N. Garncarczylk, R. McKenzie. H. Sutherland, M. Vesovic, R. Strah ran.

The percentage of migrants in the NSW, Queensland and Tasmanian teams was not so great. Both States, with their older established clubs, have not been forced to draw on the new talent, but it will not be long before those new names will appear in carnival sides.

With the influx of new blood, Australian Soccer is reaching the standard, where it will be able to take its place in international competition without embarrassment. Several recent touring sides to visit Australia have noticed the marked improvement in standard of play and some Australians have been signed for leading football association clubs in England.

The secretary of the British Football Association, Mr. S. F. Rous, is talking in terms of regular matches between England and Australia. The fact that Australian Soccer bodies are not afraid to spend money to get new blood, especially coaches from overseas, will be a big factor in the future of Soccer in this country.

It was only last year that the Illawarra Leagues' Club cabled an offer of a £5000 sterling signing on fee. £500 a year for five years, plus a job at £20 a week to English Soccer idol, Stanley Matthews. Although Matthews declined the offer, it shows that there are businessmen in Australia willing to keep with the growing pace of Soccer in Australia. (It should also be noted that Victorian club Moreland, during the 1958 tour of Blackpool, reached a verbal agreement with Matthews to return to coach the team. Ed)

Victoria had better success. Early in May, Len Young, one of the seven qualified Football Association A grade coaches in England, arrived in Melbourne to coach for five years. The terms of his appointment were a house, fares to and from Australia for his wife and three children, plus a salary of £1250 a year.

With Australia's immigration policy still in full swing, new recruits are being added to Australian Soccer ranks and the game cannot help going ahead.

Whether it will be at the expense of other winter sports being played in Australia, yet remains to be seen. But there is one thing certain. If any sport is going to suffer it won't be Soccer.