Interviews With Formeroos Australian Online Football Museum Tue, 04 Aug 2015 19:49:45 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Ron Lord Greg Stock, a leading Australian Soccer Historian speaks with Ron Lord.

The way Ron Lord took up goalkeeping is a story in itself. At the tender age of seventeen Ron was playing left back for the now defunct Drummoyne club. In his first game against Woonona-Bulli at Bulli Sports Ground he suffered an ankle injury that kept him out of soccer for what he thought would be two months.

Unfortunately the injury took more than a couple of months to heal and he spent many weeks on the sidelines. It was while down watching his team mates play at Drummoyne Oval that he saw their second grade goalkeeper had not turned up. Asking officials if he could fill in that position he was given the number one shirt and so began an outstanding goalkeeping career that would eventually see Ron represent his state and his country and be considered by many to this day to be the greatest Australian goalkeeper.

Now retired from the game and living in the Illawarra I was privileged to have been asked down for lunch to his family home to meet the man who had kept so many of the great forwards of the 50's and 60's scoreless. On his family room wall hang photos of his days in the green and gold and his teammates at Prague and Auburn.

On the floor are spread the contents of a few suitcases filled with all manner of old photos, newspaper clippings, letters and memorabilia. Ron's career at the top lasted nearly twenty years and it should be pointed out in an age where goalkeepers received no protection from referees and wore no gloves. With his lovely wife Kath as the perfect hostess I quickly felt like a part of the family as Ron recounted his career with great affection. It was a truly fascinating experience to listen to a man who had clearly done it all for his club, state and country.

I started off asking Ron about his club career with the highly regarded Prague side of the late 50's and early 60's. The side contained a number of high profile European imports including the legendary Leo Baumgartner the man they called 'Sabrina'.
RL : "He scored a goal once, I forget who it was against. But he took one defender on and beat him took another defender on beat him and left them behind. The goalkeeper came out and he beat the keeper and he was still reasonably well out from the goal. Taking the ball up to the goal line and had time to get down on his hands and knees and just nod the ball over with his forehead. It was sheer arrogance but artistry the way he did it and of cause all the crowd chants "Sabrina Sabrina". He was sheer entertainmant and that's what you have got to do, entertain the crowd."

GS : The crowd would come back week in and week out to see what he would do next.
RL : "Exactly. Conversely you had (Karl) Jaros. A lot of people have the feeling that Jaros was a player who gave you one hundred percent and I have that feeling too. He was a player who just hated to lose. Even if Karl was playing a game of football on the beach, Karl would still want to win. He had that drive and determination whereas Leo would save himself for the big points in a match. He'd nearly always get them for you too. A good footballer and a good bloke. I always got on well with Leo."

GS : Andreas Saghi?
RL : "Saghi was a thorough gentleman and a good footballer. Wally Tamandl was also a good bloke and footballer and he scored a lot of good goals. I remember once in particular he got a cross from the right wing, he laid back took the ball on his chest cooled it down to his feet and just turned in one action. Then bang, it's a goal."

GS : The Ninaus brothers, Herbert and Erwin?
RL : "Herbert was very strong and at times he was like a raging bull. You felt him coming at you, very strong and robust with a terrific left foot. Erwin was a good centre-half though he was the type that would never trust his goalkeeper. Lets put it another way if Erwin was running back towards goal and you gave him a call for the ball he wouldn't pass it to you because I guess he felt it was beneath him to pass the ball back to the goalkeeper. He would want to get out of it his way. Even though it might mean turning and running towards the sideline and eventually losing the ball, but it was beneath his dignity to pass back to the 'keeper. I can't say that I particularly like playing behind Erwin. The best players to play behind were the defenders who did the simple obvious things. There was another guy who was similar to Erwin and that was (Mita) Stojanovic a centre-half. Both were good footballers but I thought this was a weakness in their game."

GS : Les Scheinflug was one on the left wing.
RL : "Yes very good on the left foot. Les could kick with his right but I think he used his right foot mainly to stand on (laughing). He could play anywhere on the left side, left fullback, wing half or wing. He played in those three positions with Prague and it just depended at the time who you had as coach and how he thought Les would help the team best. I think Les would have preferred the left half position because he was more involved in the game there.

GS : Your time at Prague,would that have been the most memorable of your club career?
RL : "At club level I would say so particularly when the Austrians initially came out in 1958 with Baumgartner and Jaros, etc. It was a more professional outlook and attitude. We had a guy there who was our gear steward and he used to assist me a lot. His name was Frank Didgy. He was a goalkeeper with Prague in their earlier years and he understood a lot about goalkeeping. At training we would go off to the side and he would throw and kick balls to me and work one on one and that helped me a great deal. They were some of the best years of my life at Prague. I thoroughly enjoyed the company both on and off the field. We had some great social nights and balls. For match talks we used to go down to Dunbar House at Watsons Bay and on many occasions particularly before the more important matches and we'd have a meal and a talk. It was a long way to go for me because I lived at Padstow at the time and it was like half a day's journey. But I enjoyed it and from there we'd go to Marks Field for the game."

GS : The coaches at Prague. Did they have a lot of influence over the side?
RL : "We had Harry Brophy. Harry was an Englishman who came from Queensland and had played for that state in the early fifties. (Uncle) Joe Vlasits was another and Chanbal was a Czechoslavakian who came out in the mid - 60's. Leo Baumgartner himself coached for year or two."

GS : How was Leo as a coach?
RL : "He was pretty good. There was not a lot of coaching from Leo; he just let the players know individually what was expected of them. At the time Leo was coach we had a very experienced team and that made a lot of difference. Wally Tamandl was also a coach. In the years '59 through '64 we had some great players and I guess the coach has to take some kudos for the results but it did make his job a little easier."

GS : You started your career with Drummoyne under the old Association?
RL : Yes. Drummoyne became defunct in 1950. Drummoyne were the perennial wooden -spooners and as a goalkeeper I was kept busy picking the ball out of the back of the net. During most games I was placed in many different and difficult situations and I had to learn how to deal with them. This helped to develop my game quickly and I developed a style of playing as a third back patrolling the penalty area. I believe my experience as a fullback also helped as I was not perturbed about leaving the goalmouth. Goalkeeping coaching in those days was unknown."

GS : You went to Auburn after Drummoyne.
RL : "Yes. Once Drummoyne became defunct all players were free agents and able to negotiate with any club that was interested in them. I went ahead and joined Auburn and played with them until late 1957, the year the breakaway Federation of Soccer Clubs was formed. Along with Joe Marston (and Alan Garside) I would have been one of the last senior players to join the Federation. I was disappointed to leave Auburn as I had made many friends during the 7 years I played with them. But the Federation was becoming the stronger of the two competitions so I decided to accept an offer to join Sydney Soccer Club Prague."

GS : Your representative career started in 1950 for New South Wales against Queensland. The other prominent goalkeeper in the 50's was Bill Henderson. Right through that period it was either Ron Lord or Bill Henderson as goalkeeper and to this day you both remain the very best of friends.
RL : "First of all I'd like to say that perhaps Billy and I did play the major number of rep games in this period. Other goalkeepers who represented through this period that come to mind are Norman Conquest (Metters Canterbury), Jim Jenkins (Woonona-Bulli), Bill Mahoney (Wallsend), Dave Bone (West Wallsend) and Rudy Roth (West Wallsend). Australia has it seems always produced good goalkeepers from the days of the great Jim McNabb in the 40's to the present Mark Bosnich. And yes Billy and I are the best of friends and from time to time enjoy a game of golf together."

GS : You made your representative debut in 1951 against the touring English F.A. side. Do you remember much about the game or of the experience of being picked for your country?
RL : "My first game against the Englishmen was the first of eight games I played against them while they were here. It was to be their first match in Sydney. I had been selected as goalkeeper in a N.S.W. team to play the Englishmen at the Sydney Showground on Saturday May 19 1951.

When I found I had been selected I knew I'd be in for a busy time. I had gone down to Wollongong the previous Wednesday to see them play against a combined South Coast side in the opening match of their tour. There was a record mid-week crowd (10,500) and South Coast lost (7-0). Australian soccer officials said after this match that the team was the best ever to come to this country.

Just as a matter of interest, A Newspaper reported - A new feature of the third-back game was probably the most interesting lesson of the match for the many local and Sydney coaches who attended. It was the swivel defence demonstrated by the fullbacks Frank Lock (left) and Harry Bamford (right). When play went down the left wing, Lock moved up near the halfway and immediately Bamford dropped back. This strengthened the attack without weakening the defence. As soon as play was switched across field, Lock would rush back and Bamford forward. Two Sydney coaches said they would introduce this phase into their clubs.

I played in a trial game that was played to select the N.S.W. team to play the Englishmen on Saturday May 20th at the Sydney Showground and I was fortunate enough to be selected. Prior to kick-off the England and N.S.W. teams lined up in centre field, and the Duke of Edinburgh presented each player with a Commonwealth Jubilee Medal.

A newspaper report said "The crowd was 42,000 and the English professionals played with speed and skill to overpower N.S.W. by 8 goals to 1. To use an old cliche - thy let the ball do the work. Their skill in control of the ball was a delight to watch. They were very positive in what they did and their passing was very accurate.
" Conversely we gave away too much possession away by too many long lofted 'seeking' balls. To put it simply they gave a tradesmanlike performance and we were the apprentices. To their credit they were out to show the Sydney public just what English football is all about and they did just that.

GS : You were at the 'infamous' match were Australia were beaten 17-0 with Norm Conquest in goals. Was the English side simply that good?
RL : "This game proved to be a real 'feast' for the English with them winning by the massive score of 17-0. I believe it's every sportsman's ambition to represent their country, but this is one time I was pleased to be sitting on the sideline as a reserve and not playing. The only reason for me making that comment is that had I been in goal and had 17 scored against me I think much could have been made about my youth and relative inexperience. I might have been banished to Siberia or some such place and not got another game against them while they were here. Some goalkeepers seeing the goals stack up against them might have faked an injury to get out of the firing line that day but that could never be said of Norman Conquest. This day he stayed there and took the brunt of the English attack, which seemingly could do no wrong. I haven't got any newspaper reports of the game but from memory I can recall that we had had recent rain and the centre square cricket pitch area was like a bog. While no excuses can account for the 17-0 drubbing our players, as I remember could not stay on their feet in this area. The Englishmen on the other hand with their experience of wet and muddy conditions had no problems. Simplistic as it might sound I think it a possibility that the Englishmen, finding out early in the game that our players were slow in running and turning in this area played the ball into the mud. With their superior speed and control they left our midfielders floundering and we would be caught thin in defence. Statistically England scored a goal every five minutes."

GS : Australia played against the Austrian side in 1955 as well as South Africa and struggled against both teams. Was the difference in playing standards between them and us that apparent?
RL : "I think you would have to rate the Austrians as a very clever football team. Their dribbling and positional play and general ball control 'wizardry' was something to see. They were deceptive in that they seemed at times to be playing at a leisurely pace but were very quick to goal when the occasion demanded. I always had the feeling that the goalkeeper had more time to position himself against continental teams compared to the English sides who were very fast and direct in their approach to goal. The South African team played I thought a similar style of game to us but proved superior while they were touring Australia. But something that must be kept in mind, I believe is that a team when touring has a distinct advantage in that they have a squad of perhaps 16 or 18 players. The squad is training together in daylight and developing a combination. Compare this to the Australian team which can have a number of changes made to its composition and is lucky if it gets together a day or two before the match."

GS : When the Federation-Association split happened your representative career was put on hold because you were considered a 'banned' player. How did that feel?
RL : Not too good actually but there was nothing we as players could do about it. The English club team Blackpool with Stanley Mathews in the side toured, as did Hearts of Midlothian. It would have been an experience to play against them but it was not to be.

GS : When the F.I.F.A. ban was finally lifted you were again first choice Australian goalkeeper for the 1964 series against Everton. Although into the later stage of your career that must have been a significant moment in your career.
RL : "It was significant and I did feel quietly proud that I had first represented in 1950 and here it was 13 years later and I was still making the grade. My wife Kath likes to think she had something to do with it, because of the special way she always polished my football boots!"

GS : What was the Socceroo coaching like in the 1950's?
RL : "What coaching? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. To be fair to those who did coach I would have to ask 'what chance would a coach have of success if he had his team together for a day or two only before a match'? I can remember playing in the mid 50's for Metropolis (Sydney) against South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground and I was introduced to a co-team member that I had never previously met before let alone played with. And to cap that one we didn't have a Coach, and the Team Manager's parting words to us just prior to running out on the field were "Go out there and do your best boys". I think it was a fairly significant that the one occasion when we were together for a week in camp we were successful as a team. That was in 1959 and the N.S.W. team had a week together training in Camden with Leo Baumgartner as player coach. We played 3 games against Costa Rica who were returning home after a tour of Europe and we beat them in each game. 4-2 on Saturday and 7-1 on the Wednesday night with both games at the Sydney Sports Ground and the next Sunday we won 4-2 in Newcastle.

GS : Do you remember your final representative match?
RL : "It should have been in the second and final test against Everton at the Sydney Showground but a few days before the math I suffered a pinched nerve in the neck and had to withdraw from the team, much to my dismay. Adauto Iglesias replaced me in goal. So my last representative match was against Everton in the first test in Melbourne where they beat us 8-2. The story goes that Roy Vernon said before the match 'We'll score 8 goals today and show that we can really play the game'. And he was true to his word. The reason he said this was that the Everton players made no secret of the fact that they were not happy with the lack of attention they received in the Australian Rules mad Melbourne. They were one of the best club sides in the world at that time and they were used to being the centre of attention. Although I picked 8 out of the back of the net I got some encouragement from one report that said ' Two of the Australian players to come out of the match with any real credit were goalkeeper Ron Lord and right fullback Trevor Edwards. Lord showed courage and agility to get his team out of trouble with some splendid saves'."

GS : In those big games what was it like to be the goalkeeper?
RL : "When you were playing against those visiting sides the goalkeeper was on a hiding to nothing. One of the things that made it more difficult was they (the visitors) were professionals and they trained during the day and they could kick a ball a yard faster than the local players that you were so used to playing against. If you had six weeks training against those players before you actually played in a match against them you'd have a much better chance of judging the speed of the ball. I found at times that this was a problem. When they made good contact with the ball it was so much faster through the air.

GS : When you represented your country in soccer, did you get any financial reimbursement?
RL : "It wasn't like it is today that's for sure. In 1950 when the Australian side went to South Africa they were paid three pounds and five shillings a week and that had to cover them for the whole tour. A lot of them came back dead stony broke no money or owing money. When I went to Melbourne for the (Olympic) games I didn't get paid from work and so I didn't have any income for those six weeks I was away. Any money people raised were from chook raffles."

GS : Back to your club career, your transfer from the Auburn association club to Prague was big news at the time. It also caused a little controversy due to your high profile. Can I ask you to explain how it all came about?
RL : "No that's fine. At that time there was only one Australian born player playing with Prague that was Geoff Geddes and I had trepidation's about going but I spoke to Karol Rodny who was club president at the time and he spoke of a number of factors which I had to take into account. So I decided that I would go ahead and join them but firstly I wanted to get in touch with the Auburn club and let them know what my position was because Prague wanted me to play with them on the Saturday and this was Friday night. Unfortunately I couldn't get in touch with Harry Greentree the Auburn Secretary and I finished up signing on the Saturday morning at Oscar Picks' delicatessen in the Haymarket. Anyway I played on the Saturday for Prague and we lost 2-1 to Auburn would you believe. It was a very strange feeling to have left Auburn whom I'd been with for seven years"

GS : What were the player payments like back then?
RL : "I can recall not long after joining Prague we played a double header. We played Auburn on the Saturday and it was Hakoah on the Sunday. I got five pound on the Saturday and six-pound on the Sunday. I thought eleven pounds this is unbelievable because when I played with Drummoyne one season we got two pound for the whole 1950 season. So getting eleven pounds it was fantastic. As we were coming out of the ground Kath (my wife) had Bryan our eldest son who would have been about eighteen months old in her arms and Stan Slavic who was our patron pulled out five pounds out of his pocket and he tucked it in between Bryans body and Kaths coat. He said here is a present for your son, so it was eleven pounds plus five pounds. In those times tradesmen got twelve pounds a week. But you never got paid for travelling time and training so if you take what you got from playing as against what it cost you to go training it more than cuts it out. But to be paid for playing football was fantastic.

(Ron pulls out his unsigned 1965 contract.)

GS : Its a twelve month contract saying you will receive five pounds for a loss ten pound a draw fifteen pounds a win. Ten pounds salary monthly payable for each competition game. Five pound for each cup game in first grade played and three pounds for each trial game, first or second grade. It's unsigned.
RL : I didn't sign it because I didn't take it up. I told them I didn't want to carry on."

GS : Did you get a slice of the transfer fee for signing with Prague?

(Ron pulls out his contract signed with Prague in 1957.)

"Mr R.Lord has signed as a contracted player to play with the above club (Prague) under the following conditions - a signing on fee of two hundred pounds will be paid by the treasurer to Mr Lord upon signing the registration card. A weekly retainer of six pounds will be paid by Prague to Mr Lord throughout the season. Mr Lord will receive the some premiums as any other player of Prague and is under insurance scheme providing a weekly compensation of fifteen pounds and medical expenses. A special bonus of one hundred pounds will be paid to Mr Lord by the Prague cub upon the concussion of the season 1957. For his part Mr Lord promising faithfully to do his best for the Prague club both on the field and off the field and will obey all lawful directions which might be given to him by the responsible Prague club officers. Both Mr Lord and the responsible offices of Prague will not divulge the contents of this contract to anyone - till me forty years later.
RL : "I don't think any of them will worry about you seeing that (laughing).

GS : So that is the original contract you signed back then?
RL : "Yes. When Karol Rodny (Pragues president) spoke to me at work about joining his club I mentioned my loyalty to Auburn and he said who would you be more loyal to. You've got a small son and a wife. Who should you be more loyal to, your wife and your son or Auburn soccer club? He hit the nail on the head because two hundred pound could do a lot for them."

GS : Towards the end of your career you were give a testimonial by the Prague club to acknowledge your service to the club and the game. It must have been a very satisfying point in your career.
RL : "I was honoured that the Prague committee would think enough of me to stage this testimonial tribute and I think it might have been the first for an active player. It was held at the Sydney Athletic Field Pragues home ground on a Sunday the 16th of February 1964. There was an early game between a Sydney's referee team and a mid 55's Prague team. My eldest son Brian (9 at the time) took part in a march past of junior players. Before the late game my Wife Kath, daughter Jennifer (6) and son John (2) and myself were driven around the ground in our president's open Chevrolet. We then walked onto the field through a guard of honour consisting of Ice Hockey players to be met by representatives of the Referees Association, N.S.W. Federation and Prague club committee members. A presentation was made to me and I responded with a speech that was very emotional for me. The late game was between the 1959 Prague championship winning team and the present Prague 1964 team. The 1959 side won 3-2 (Ron was in goals). I have many photo's and fond memories of that day I'm sure I'll never forget and my thanks go out once again to those who worked and participated to make it a success."

GS : Did you do much junior development or coaching as a senior player?
RL : "Yeah I used to hold goalkeeping clinics. A club would contact me and I'd do a clinic for them. You wouldn't get paid for them, sometimes a club would give you expenses but I never asked for money. Quite often I used to take one of the goalkeepers out that I was coaching at Western Suburbs or Bankstown. Gary Maier was one and so was Greg Woodhouse. I coached Greg from when he was fifteen years of age. He went onto represent Australia. Terry Eaton was at Western Suburbs and I believe Terry was one goalkeeper that should have played for Australia and didn't. He was an excellent goalkeeper and didn't get a rep game. There were a couple of good kids at Western Suburbs who played in the state juniors."

GS : This was after you finished as a player.
RL : "I was the manager of the Prague side in '66 but I gave that away. There was too much interference from the committee. I just made sure players attended training and organise things. The following season I was approached by Bankstown soccer club to see if I would specialise in their goalkeeping coaching. So I was there for a couple of seasons and I was approached by Western Suburbs soccer club to coach their goalkeepers so I went with them. Western Suburbs eventually amalgamated with A.P.I.A. so I stayed on with A.P.I.A. and I stayed coaching their keepers until 1978. I had a two-year break and then I came down to the Illawarra. Its much better coaching goalkeepers as you don't get interference from the committee as long as your goalkeepers are performing and I never had a problem getting them to perform well. Just put them through the basics and make sure they have regular training. Its all hands-on with me I'd say have three or four goalkeepers and I would rotate them through the various movements that I wanted so I was on the go all the time whereas they were rotating and getting a rest between drills. I was fit as a fiddle and felt like I could have been playing."

GS : As goalkeeper you faced all of the great forwards of the 50's. Do any stand out in your mind? Artie Quill for example.
RL : "Artie Quill was a very good player. He had all the skills"

GS : As good as Reg Date?
RL : "No Reg Date was the best without a shadow of a doubt. Tremendous kick and he could head a ball well too. The ball didn't have to be on the ground for him to score. He'd pull it down and knew exactly where the goals were. He was terrific with either foot. I remember playing against Reg Date and I was a fullback (before switching to goalkeeper) and we were playing up on Blick Oval at Canterbury. We two fullbacks were up on the halfway line and the opposition put through a long ball looking for the centre forward. I started running back and next minute I heard these footsteps behind me and he went past me like I was standing still. He was very quick in those days."

GS : Any other names?
RL : "Frank Parsons. Frank was tall and he could head a ball and he had a very strong left foot. Another player who was difficult to play against, not that he had a great technique but Jackie Drinkwater from Cessnock would run through a brick wall to get to the ball. Because I place Reg Date on such a big pedestal I find it hard to recall other players to come up anywhere near him. A player who one of the best kickers of the deadball was Johnny Giacometti who played with Leichhardt-Annandale (and later A.P.I.A.). You could form a wall up against him and he had the ability to run onto a ball and kick it with a lot of top spin. So it would get above the wall and dip quickly and drop. I can remember out at the Marks Field (Sydney Athletic Field) one night a free kick was taken outside the penalty area level with one post. So I set my wall up and put it to cover the far post and I would cover the near post knowing how hard he kicks it. I thought if I force him to go for the inside of the far post there's every chance he'll put it outside the post. Well it was night and balls tend to move in the air a lot at night, but he hit that ball and cleared the wall and it just dropped straight under the cross bar. I just couldn't believe this shot and I'd seen him do that a couple of times since."


Rons outstanding career came to a close in 1966 as a player. After receiving numerous honours as a goalkeeper he became a specialist goalkeeping coach with clubs like Western Suburbs, Bankstown and A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt before finally retiring altogether. Ron these days is happy in his retirement where his sport of choice is golf. With wife Kath they still keep in close touch with some of the many friends that the great game has given them. As we carried away with the brilliance of todays goalkeepers we should think of the many who have gone before them and worn the green and gold number one shirt with pride - none better than our Olympic goalkeeper Ron Lord.]]> (Administrator) Interviews With Formeroos Tue, 29 Jul 2008 10:22:23 +0000
Ken Vairy Greg Stock speaks with Ken Vairy

In the late 1940's and 50's the Granville Soccer Club was considered the envy of other Sydney teams in the way they managed to produce so many talented junior players. Bill and Andy Henderson, Ray Marshall, Frank and Alan Garside, and Eric Hulme are all names synonymous with representative football in the 1950's and all came from the soccer powerhouse of Granville. Another name on that long list of talented footballers was their inside left Ken Vairy.

Ken was one of six children, three of whom wore the famous Black and White playing strip of the Granville first grade side. Ken developed through the junior feeder club Kewpies and by his late teens had emerged as a member of the talented Granville Alliance team that won every second grade premiership from the Second World War to 1951. It was a natural progression that he would play first grade and by the early 50's he was firmly entrenched as the first choice inside left forward. Alongside dynamic centre forward Alan Garside and left winger Ray Marshall, the Granville club were the form side of the 1950's.

Representative honours soon followed where Ken was chosen to represent Granville District on three occasions as well as South and New South Wales. Ken's finest hour was when he was selected for the fifth and final test against the touring South African side in Newcastle in 1955. Alongside four of his Granville teammates Ken scored the only Australian goal in that match against a Springbok side renowned for its tough defence. Studs Up caught up with Ken on the south coast of New South Wales where he has moved away from the bright lights of Sydney to the tranquillity of the country. Now in retirement, Ken recounted a little of his career and of that famous test match all those years ago.

GS : How was it that you started in soccer?

KV : "My dad came from Newcastle in England and . My dad used to play, nothing of any great standard, playing all age in South Shield in Newcastle. He worked at Clyde Engineering in Granville and it was full of Poms and Scots that had come out in those days. I was kicking the ball with them as soon as I could walk. "I had five brothers all older than me, two brothers who played first division and the others played local all age."

GS : Were you also playing soccer at school?

KV : "We played every lunchtime at school. I started at Kewpies in about 1943. I played against Billy Henderson most times and had one year with him at Kewpies. Billy came from over the east side of Granville and they had a team over there they called Granville Waratahs and Billy played most of his football there. In those days if you lived on one side of Granville you played with one squad (Waratahs) and if you lived over the other side of the railway line you played with the other (Kewpies) because there was no transport. Plenty of times I walked for miles to play a game and then walked all the way home again. Kewpies home ground was in Blaxcell Street and they had their reunion about four years ago for seventy five years."

GS : How did the transformation from junior level at Kewpies to senior level at Granville take place?

KV : "There was an old fella by the name of Henry Norford and he used to ride a pushbike around and watch us. He'd go back to Granville and say such and such looks like he has got a bit of ability, lets say we ask him down for a trial. There was no contracts or offers of any money. You did it more or less for the glory. They'd take you down for a few trials and then say you’ve made it or you haven't. They didn't give you much incentive. They'd say "Come down and try out." and let you hang around for a while but they didn't say "You’re going well would you like to stay with us." They would give you a few trial games and training runs and at one stage I thought I am not going to make it here so I didn't show up. Henry came up and said where have you been? I said they didn't give me any encouragement and I thought I wasn't wanted. He said your wanted alright I'll see back there next week. So that’s how I started with Granville."

GS : You started in second grade?

KV : "We only had the two grades, first and alliance grade. It was a progression but when I luckily went Billy Henderson went (too), and in an unusual time for the team they were mostly non drinkers and no smokers, which was very strange in those days. We played most of 1948 in reserve grade and won that competition so the next year came around and some of us were lucky enough to be promoted into first grade. There was myself, Billy and Bob Wall."

GS : You were never thought about joining any other first division club?

KV : "At that time Granville was the club and when I was a kid they played at Clyde Oval which is now Clyde Engineering. And as kids we would go down there across the cow paddock and climb the fence, get in for nothing and watch them play. I thought if I play I have got to play for Granville. We got a few rude shocks when we did play because it wasn't all glory and we used to work five or six days a week and then go and train two nights a week and if they had a successful season you got a few bob at the end of the season and if they didn't you got nothing. They supplied you with shirt, shorts and socks. We bought our own boots and if we travelled away, which we did a lot, they paid the fare away and gave us five bob for dinner. We'd have to buy on the way there. So there was actually nothing in it even though it was only two bob or twenty cents to get in the gate. Just looking at my scrapbooks there were crowds of 6,000 and people laugh at me when I say that, but there were big crowds back in those days."

GS : As a first grade player were you also holding down a full-time job and trying to have a social life?

KV : "Because you’re young and enthusiastic not only did we work five days a week but I played tennis a couple of nights a week and went dancing. I can remember we went to Newcastle and played soccer up there. I got back to Parramatta about nine o'clock and went up to the dance till eleven or half past. Later on it became hard when I got married. I had the opportunity where I worked then to work on Saturdays. All our soccer was played on a Saturday and it made it damn hard. I used to work on Saturday mornings just so I could get away and play soccer in the afternoon. It was hard because you need the money when you just got married and we were building a house. It was hard work because you were working 48 hours per week."

GS : What was it about the Granville team of that era that made it such a strong club?

KV : "My opinion is because we were all local lads and got encouraged by the local people. You'd go down to play your game and come out and all the local people were there. I grew up with the fellas I played with. I came out of the juniors with some of them and there was a good mateship between us from Granville, Guildford and Auburn. There was nobody getting any special money to play."

GS : So even your Socceroos like Eric Hulme, Alan Garside and Billy Henderson all got the same money as the regular team players?

KV : "Yes, and that’s what helped a lot. I never worried in those days about the internal workings of the club but as far as I know nobody got any more than anybody else and we pulled our weight then. We all got stuck into it and if you got hurt it was bad luck. I had my fair share of injuries."

GS : Any serious?

KV : "I finished up about three years getting a replacement knee put in. I didn't know it at the time but I had torn my cruciate ligament and I had gone all these years with it and since they put in a new knee it feels great. The knee was terrible but I've had a broken leg, collarbone, ribs and they reckon soccer was a sissy game (laughing).

GS : How did you find out about Socceroo selection?

KV : "One of the fellas with whom I used to work was on the committee of the association. I was just coming out of the factory and Alex Craig was waiting for me, put his hand up and shook my hand. I said what’s that all about and he said you’re in the Australian side next Saturday. So that's how I found out and when I got home there was a letter to say be there next Saturday at 2 o'clock in Newcastle."

GS : No pre-match training?

KV : "That’s right. There were one or two fellas from Queensland and you met them in the changerooms and you were then expected to get out there and perform against the top South African team with no run together. It was ridiculous . I played inside left with Ray Marshall on the left wing and Alan Garside at centre-forward. In the South African test that was what stood us in good stead. The three of us got picked and South Africa had been thrashing Australia 6 or 8 nil and they beat us 4-1 but that repour had a lot to do with it."

GS : What were the selectors thinking?

KV : "They tried out quite a few players in different tests and it didn't work out and I think they made the decision to put in a combination about four tests too late. They should have done it after the first test after they got thrashed. We all went up and came home together in Bills’ car. On the way up we struck a traffic jam. We were supposed to be there at 2 p.m. but we got there about twenty to three and we were supposed to kick off at three so there was a bit of panic. But even though we got beat on the way home we sang a few songs and told a few jokes and I can remember that test above everything else. There was only about three or four thousand which was a bit disappointing. When you got on the field the crowd disappears but they do tend to lift you with their voices and cheers when you’re down and making a comeback. Individually you wouldn't know who was in the crowd even though my mum and dad travelled all the way up there too."

GS : And that goal.

KV : "Oh yes because I scored the only Australian goal that day. The goalkeeper was six foot tall and I was lucky enough to get a bit of a break on the defence and I just dropped it in over his head."

GS : A cause for great celebration?

KV : "Yeah but we never went on like they do now days. They slide all round the ground, kiss and hug one another. We knew we were there to do a job and if you scored, well, good. But you never went on with all the bull they do now."

GS : You also played for Granville District against the visiting Chinese and FK Austria club side. What were they like?

KV : "I broke my leg against China. I took a shot and the bloke jammed down on my shin as I came through with the kick. It was a foul tackle and that meant many weeks out. At that time I was still single and I managed to get by but there was no compensation from the club, absolutely nothing. I was out for ten weeks and then back next year."

Ken Vairy continued his career until he retired from senior football in 1960. He stayed loyal to Granville during the federation-association split of 1957 but in 1959 he transferred to Auburn and then to Prague. It was his knee injury and his professional career that eventually led him to hang up his boots permanently. Kens’ considerable footballing experience has been channelled over the years into the many junior teams he has coached in the city and the country. Amongst the top echelon of footballers of his era, he is, justifiably still quite proud of his footballing career and that day where he so proudly wore the green and gold.]]> (Administrator) Interviews With Formeroos Tue, 29 Jul 2008 10:21:00 +0000

by Greg Stock

Andy and Billy Henderson are what you would simply term 'characters' - two brothers who could quite literally talk the leg off a chair if you left them there long enough. As they held court in Andy's lounge room on a warm Sydney night they had me spellbound with their many stories of their respective soccer careers and of the people and events that shaped soccer in Sydney in the 1950's. Andy (the elder of the two) was the fiercely determined halfback, Bill the goalkeeper with the trademark red locks and cap.

Between 1949 and 1960 they played all their club football together until Andy's career was savagely cut short by a broken leg requiring two full months in hospital. The football pairing was broken but definitely not their enthusiasm for the game or their indelible reputation as two unique personalities in Sydney soccer circles.

The sons of Andy Henderson senior a former Socceroo player and coach, they grew up in Sydney's western suburbs with footballs at their feet. As teenagers they made the transition from junior to first grade club football with the now defunct Granville club. They became first team regulars in a side boasting internationals like Eric Hulme, Ken Vairy, George Sanders, Ray Marshall and Alan Garside, and kick-started the Granville dynasty of the 1950's.

Socceroo striker Alan Garside is one personal fan who still refers to the heroics of the Henderson brothers as one of the lynchpins of the side - Billy as his favourite goalkeeper and Andy the ever-reliable halfback.

Both Bill and Andy went on to representative careers with New South Wales but it was Billy who was selected for Australia in the early 1950's and went onto to being the choice goalkeeper in the Australian side in the 1950's with his lifelong friend Ron Lord. His finest moment came in 1956 when he was selected to play in Australia's first Olympic side under the captaincy of Bob Bignell. In the turbulence of the split between the association and the federation in 1957 the brothers transferred to the newly formed Auburn federation side where under the coaching of Maltese international George Azzopardi they won the inaugural federation competition.

It was here that they formed a close association with players like Englishmen Len Quested and Alick Jeffrey, Olympian Bruce Morrow and Dutch international Franz Van Gaalen.

To take them back to where it all started as juniors I started by asking Andy where it was he first learnt the game.

AH : "I started off at Kewpies with Alan Garside (Granville and Australian striker) who was about twelve months or two years older than me. I started at under fourteens and played right through to under eighteens then I went straight to the Granville senior club."
BH : "Kewpies was the feeding club for Granville. They were always winning the competitions with Kewpies no matter what age group it was and it was just a natural progression from fourteens to sixteens to eighteens to reserve grade to first grade."
AH : My prefered position was right half. When I went to Granville I played initially at inside right. Alan Garside was centre forward, Kenny Vairy at inside left, Ray Marshall on one wing and myself at inside right. They tried me at left half a couple of times. When I went to Auburn I was a right half and when Archie (McAllister) was there they put me at left half. It worked out okay and I played a bit of right back. I always prefered to play in midfield."

GS : So where did you start your junior career?
BH : "I started with Granville Waratahs"

GS : Always as a goalkeeper?
BH : "Much to my father's dismay. He tried every way he could to encourage me to go and play out on the field. The only time I ever played on the field was when I played with Arthur Philip High School because they felt I was more value to them because I was a soccer player. They put somebody else in goal because goalkeepers weren't regarded as real players (laughing).
AH : "And they're not! (laughing)"
BH : "Dad used to say field players with their brains bashed in (laughing)."
AH : "You were better out on the field than you were in goals."
BH : "I used to prefer in goals and it was a natural progression as I went through the different age groups. I finished up playing with Granville Kewpies under eighteen team and from there to Granville second team and then to firsts. I only had one year at Kewpies in the under eighteens. Dad was always encouraging me to play out on the field as I was quick and I could hit a ball. He used to say there was more chance of me doing well out on the field."

GS : Your father was former Socceroo player and coach Andy Henderson Senior and your uncle was Granville legend Bill Adamson. What sort of influence did the family over your careers?
AH : "Our uncle actually finished playing (with Granville) the year that I started first grade - Bill Adamson."
BH : "At the time he was regarded as the best player never to play for Australia because the Australian left half was a fella called Jimmy Osborne from Metters and he was always the selectors choice for that position and Uncle Bill, even though most people considered that he was as good as Jimmy Osborne, never got picked."
AH : "Jimmy Osborne used to give the ball a good old reef while uncle Bill was a technical player."

GS : So the whole family was very soccer minded.
BH : "Yeah, Dad especially. Dad being a former Australian player, coached Australia against Hadjuk Split in 1947 and in the team I played in,1955. You can see how well qualified he was on soccer and when we were single blokes at home sitting around the table, everything would be soccer. You'd play a game and we'd go over it again and again and he'd be able to tell you things. Most people wouldn't have that opportunity of having someone of his qualifications over the table. So he was a tremendous influence on both of us."

GS : Was he coaching Granville at that time?
AH : "A little bit but Matty MacGilvery was the coach mainly."
BH : " Dad passed on to us and a few blokes in Granville some of the knowledge that he had gained over the years. He came to Australia as a young man at 23 and he said he learnt his soccer here rather than over in Scotland. He played for Springburn Rovers near Glasgow before he came out here."

GS : Did you both go to Granville at the same time?
AH : "Bill actually played before me. In 1946 the goalkeepers were injured and they plucked him out of the district juniors at sixteen and put him in goals for three games. And then I went to Granville in 1947"

GS : Do you remember anything about those three games?
BH : "No - geez it was 1946 (laughing). Andy and I played together in second grade and then firsts and we played right through to 1956 then we transfered to Auburn. We both played first grade right through at Auburn till Andy broke his leg. Andy got into coaching in 1961 and he also did the soccer section on Rex Mossop's 'World of Sport' for a couple of years."
AH : "I did one year with Rex calling the soccer. When they stopped Seven doing the (Rugby) league they did the soccer."

GS : How was Rex at calling the soccer?

AH : "Alright. He knew a bit about soccer. When he went to England he played with Leeds for a number of years and soccer is the go over there so he saw a lot of soccer games and knew a fair bit. He didn't know the technicalities of it but he knew offside, throw-ins and stuff, enough to get through."
BH : "When dad died he used to be a judge for the Sydney Morning Herald best and fairest competition. A couple of days before he died he called Andy and I over as he wasn't well enough to go to a game and we went down and did it for him and that was the last time his name appeared as a judge. So Andy was invited to become a judge and Norm Conquest (former Socceroo goalkeeper) passed away and they invited me, so we were doing the best and fairest competition together and we'd do a bit of writing for the Soccer World, the green paper, and they used to have a judge go to games and allocate points for each player. Andy and I did that for a few years."

GS : Andy - Do you remember your debut club match for Granville?
AH : It was down the south coast against Corrimal at Memorial Oval. All I remember was there was a free kick 30 yards out from goal and I had a shot and hit the cross bar. We won 3-1. I only played one game in that first year 1947 when my uncle (Bill Adamson) was injured.

GS : Do you remember your Socceroo debut?
BH : Do I ever. Against China in 1953 at what is now Fox Studios the old Sydney Showground. A 3-3 draw. We were leading 3-2 with not long to go. They got an indirect free kick just outside the penalty area and we put a wall up in front of them. This Chinese bloke hit the ball, missed the wall and made me dive. I dived and got my fingertips to it and it went in and because I had touched it with my fingertips it was a goal. If I missed it we would have won 3-2. So I thought that's the end of my international career but luckily for me I was picked in the next Test. How I remember it is my father played against China in 1923 almost to the day 30 years before I played against China. Dad was a centre-half and he marked the centre-forward, a bloke called Lee, who came out as the manager of the Chinese team in '53. His son was centre-forward against me and scored the winning goal against me in the last Test in Newcastle when we got beat 1-0. So history repeated itself.

GS : In your respective careers who was the best player you saw play?
AH : The best player I've seen would be Hanappi. He came out here with the Austrian Rapid team. Absolutely magical footballer who played at right half. Not only did he have good ball control but he could beat a man and swerve either way, tackle and shoot for goal.
BH : Back in those days England were always the top dog and every year England would play the rest of the world. They'd pick players from all around the world to play against England at Wembley and Hanappi would play in that world team against England, that's how good he was. He was the first bloke who I'd played against who could hit the ball with a bend.
I remember playing against him for New South Wales. I've got a photograph of it here where it says he was doing it all afternoon. I had seven belted past me and this Hanappi came with the ball on his knee, let it drop and half volleyed it. I dived and thought I've got this covered but the further I went the further away the ball went. They reckon I was one of the best players on the field that day and we got done 6-1."
AH : "They bend the ball a lot today but of course the equipment they have, with the footballs, the boots, you can do a lot more."
BH : I am amazed at how things have changed in the way football is now to what it was then. We got paid 50 pounds per year (at club level). You had to supply your own gear, they (the club) provided you with your socks and shirt. You had to provide your own shorts and boots, pay your own fare down the south coast to Corrimal, Woonona and Balgownie and up to Newcastle Wallsend, Cessnock, Adamstown, West Wallsend and Mayfield. And you got fifty quid for the year. When you look at today, that Confederations Cup in Saudi Arabia where the boys were going to go on strike for more money. Okay they're professional and you can understand from that point of view but $40,000 for a week's work they got. I played for Australia and got five pound to play in a Test match. Five quid and they paid your expenses, fly you down to wherever it was three hours from Sydney to Melbourne. The plane left at 6 p.m. and got you down at 9 p.m. but that's the way it was. Five pounds to play against South Africa in Melbourne at the old Showgrounds. They paid us before the game and somebody broke into the dressing room and pinched the lot and the thirty quid I had in my wallet too. (laughing).

Another example was the fifth Test against Austria, the only game where we beat them 3-2 or 2-1. You know how the last person to get the ball in a game gets to keep the ball. Well I got the ball and Ronny Lord was reserve and he grabbed one of the balls from the sideline and they were only old balls, not like the kids have got these Mitres and you beaut ones. So I grabbbed this ball and shoved it up my jumper and Ronny got one and we stuck it in the bag. So that was against Austria and we had to play against South China the following week and we had to go to training. Tommy Tennant was the manager and coach and he said, 'fellas there are two balls missing from last weeks game. We know whose got them and if they don't return them they'll never play for Australia again'.

Ronny and I had to go like little boys and give them back. That's how things were and you didn't get to keep your shirt, you had to give it back. The only Australian shirt I've got is the Olympic Games ones because they were given to you for the period of the Olympics. I haven't got a shirt with the Australian emblem on it at all. I did scunge one from a South Chinese bloke and the South African one when we swapped jerseys. That was the only way I could get one. The team officials said where's your jersey and I said you'll have to go and get it off the opposition. You had to hand everything back in after the game. Your sweaty socks you'd hand them back in and they'd wash them up."

GS : Did the same thing happen for New South Wales too?
BH : "Oh yeah and even with the Ampol Cup and all the pre-season games like that they'd play you in different club colours provided by the federation and you'd have to hand all those back in as well."

GS : What about Granville or Auburn jumpers?
BH : "I never got one from Granville. With the goalkeeping one, the only one I have is one my mother knitted me. It was a white polo necked jumper. In those days it was a rarity to have something new and different (shows me a photo of it). My mother knitted it for me with a magpie in the middle."
AH : "There it is mate - the only shirt I ever got (Andy shows me an Auburn shirt). A for Auburn number 6. That was the first Auburn federation shirt in the first year with the club colours of green and gold. If you look at the quality its so much heavier especially when it got wet."

GS : Ron Lord and Bill Henderson always had a duel for the Socceroo goalkeeping spot at that time.
BH : "Yeah it was always either Ron Lord or myself. Sometimes if they went interstate they'd pick a goalkeeper from there because money was in short supply in those days. Ronny and I were always vying for the honours. (Bill digs out an old newspaper cutting from his scrapbook and quotes) This was after we played New Zealand - 'one of the first persons to congratulate Bill Henderson on his spectacular display last week was Australian goalkeeper Ron Lord. A grand pair of sportsmen this duo and it makes one sorry that you cannot play two keepers in a test match'. We're still good mates and play golf together and see one another regularly."
AH : "I had my leg broken when I played for Auburn and at that time our match fee was nine pounds per match. It was only the second game of the season and when I broke my leg I knew I was in for a long haul. with two months in hospital. Len Quested instigated it and what the boys did was put in a quid a week of their match fee and gave it to me to help me through. I was getting eleven quid a week and the others were getting nine pounds less one (for me)!"

GS : That was a nice offer
AH : "Thats the sort of blokes they were. Auburn people were terrific."
BH : "It was like a family Andy."
AH : "I enjoyed playing with Granville, we had a lot of fun, but I think I enjoyed more my five years at Auburn because of the atmosphere and camaraderie of the players. It was really good, and I'm not knocking Granville as we had some really good times. Whenever we won a big match we'd get into the sheds and sing Who were you with last night".
BH : "It was our unofficial team song."

GS : The coach at Auburn was George Azzopardi.
BH : "George was the greatest coach I experienced".
AH : " Tactically he was the best coach. One day we played APIA and Joe Marston was playing, Lenny Stedman and Ronny 'the hacksaw' Hawkshaw. George worked out a strategy how to beat them. He played two centre-forwards Bruce Morrow and Len Quested up the middle of the park. The two wingers came right back level with the half-backs and into our half so the fullbacks didn't know what they were doing. If the fullbacks advanced more into our half of the field (to pick up the wingers) that left a gap on the flanks. Everytime we got the ball we had to pass it to Bobby Hall. What that meant was the APIA fullbacks didn't know what to do at first so they started following the wingers down and it left Joe Marston with two centre forwards.
We'd just knock it into space on either flank behind the fullbacks and Quested or Brucey Morrow would run over to it and cross it back into the centre. We done 'em like a dinner and they were going to eat us for breakfast, APIA. George said he could hear the chants as he could speak Italian 'Look at these little mice we will eat them for breakfast'. It was a tactical victory for us."

GS : Crowd trouble was always a problem in the 1960's, especially involving teams like Pan Hellenic, APIA, Yugal and Croatia. As players for a district club like Auburn, did you strike much trouble from players or spectators?
AH : "I remember a night where Ron Iredale (referee) wouldn't come off Lidcombe Oval against Budapest. The crowd were waiting for him when we came off. We finished up surrounding him escorting him off and they were throwing punches trying to get the referee, kicking and spitting on the players."
BH : I remember the crowd invading the pitch at Lambert Park after referee David Buchan. He sent off one of the APIA blokes and he wouldn't go."
AH : He sent him off for a bad tackle and he just dropped him (the referee). Freddy, You, our fullback came over and got him in a headlock on the ground. It was Paul Turella and got off that. He was supposed to be suspended for life but he got off with a lighter sentence."

GS : The split between the federation and the association was a time of turmoil in New South Wales soccer. One of the reasons for the split was that the clubs controlled the players and had the final say in where they played. What were your experiences with the player transfer market?
BH : "Players in those days were loyal to their club. There was no such thing as transfer."
AH : "You signed for life."
BH : The clubs had what was called a retained list. If you were on that retained list you had to play for that club again. I am sure if Granville had have gone with the federation we would have stayed with the club and maybe things would have been different. The club was split up the middle the same as Auburn. Half the guys stayed with the Auburn association and the other half went to the federation so Auburn were in a worse position than Granville because they were split right up the middle. Ron Lord and Dougie Wendt stayed with Auburn (association) and that's why they got Andy and I to go over to Auburn."
AH : "They soon got Ronny Lord over to Prague."

GS : So the two Australian goalkeepers for a time were playing with the Auburn clubs?
BH : "One for the federation and one for the association. Bitter rivals (laughing). The irony of the whole thing is I played with Granville from 1948 to 1956 around 180 games, my last year of soccer was with Polonia in 1964 in second division and we beat Granville by a point for promotion. You can imagine they used to give it to me (after that) and it carried on for that long. It made bad friends amongst guys that had played together for years and years and been so successful as a club."

GS : Did the association and federation turmoil have an effect on you international career?
BH : "The biggest disappointment of my international career was I was picked to play against Hearts of Midlothian but because I was with the federation I was outlawed and Ronny Brown took my place.
Joe Marston was with the association and I withdrew. Ronny Brown took my place while I went into the New South squad to play against Costa Rica. Ron Lord played that game and I was only reserve, that's what upset me. I sat on the bench and I could have been playing against Heart of Midlothian and against Blackpool. I was also picked to play there but I couldn't because I was with the federation. I would have loved to have played against Sir Stanley Mathews. We had a bloke in our team at Granville named Kenny Hawkins. He was one of those blokes who was really only an average player but he made one of the New South Wales or Australian teams to play against Blackpool and he had to mark Stanley Mathews. They bought him on in the second half. He said to me once 'The only kick I got all day was up the ass'."

GS : Training - How many nights a week did the club sides train?
BH : "Twice a week. One ball and one floodlight."
AH : "Lenny Walker at Granville used to say Don't give them the ball tonight, they'll be hungry for it on Saturday (laughing). I mean, what do you think about that for an attitude? Never mind ball control, shooting for goal or saving it, just don't give them the ball."

GS : So was training mainly physical? Even the goalkeepers?
BH : "There were no goalkeeper coaches, you just ran around doing all the physical stuff, exercising and running, and then they'd just have shots at you."

GS : What sort of equipment did you use?

BH : "The ball was a big round leather thing and if it got wet it was like a hunk of concrete. No gloves and shin-pads, goalies never wore any shin-pads or arm guards."
AH : With all the stuff that's built into their jumpers these days its so lightweight and takes the shock of the ball."

GS : Did you get reserves on match days?
BH : "When we played there was no replacements. If they nominated reserves they didn't sit on the bench like they do today. They didn't even strip down. Once the team went on the field that was it. If someone was injured you were down to ten men or nine men."
AH : "They'd put you out on the wing"

GS : With no replacements did it mean there were guys playing a particularly physical type of game to effectively knock you out of a game?
AH : Not really to put you out of a game but they'd still kick the shit out of you."
BH : "Today once a goalkeeper has the ball you can't touch him but in those days you could bounce the ball and take five steps and then bounce the ball. That could go on all day and it was part of the fascination of the game that a forward could come in and shoulder charge you and you had to be skilful enough to get into a position to clear it."

GS : The legendary Reg Date - what were your thoughts on him as a player?
AH : "Absolutely terrific and a good bloke. He had a bit of trouble with his legs. He should have gone to England (to play)."
BH : "You don't become a household word in soccer unless you've got some ability and he was before his time in my opinion. When you saw the footage of his funeral and the numbers of prominent people that were there… It just shows you the esteem in which he was held, not only people from that era, but present day politicians and sporting greats and that's the type of person he was. If anyone said the word soccer back then it was always Reg Date. He was tall and solid, maybe even a bit too solid for his own good but he used to get around alright."
AH : "He didn't have much of a backlift on his leg when he hit the ball but geez it would go."
BH : "A great sport too with it. We (Granville) beat them in the grand final in 1952 and he was the first bloke to come and shake your hand. They beat us in 1951 and he was exactly the same win or lose and that's what I liked about Reg Date."

GS : Other best players you have played with or against?
AH : "Well Len Quested springs immediately to mind as the best I've played with. Those Prague players like Leo Baumgartner, Herbert Ninaus and Walter Tamandl. I shouldn't say it but it was a pleasure to be beaten by them if you know what I mean. If you were beaten by Prague well you didn't mind because they gave you a good game and they were a really skilful side. Another couple were Jock McMahon from Leichhardt-Annandale and Jackie Lennard from up in Newcastle. They were two good players. Goals were a bit easier to come by in those days because the half backs marked the wingers and the two fullbacks had to mark three blokes the two inside forwards and the centre forward so there was a biit more scope for scoring goals but it was the other way around when the third back game came in everyone was covered in defence the wingers were covered by the fullbacks and the inside forwards were covered by the wing halves and the centre half covered the centre forward so it cut down the oppurtunities for goals because there wasn't much space then."
BH : "Joe Marston. You could always rely on Joe to be there or there abouts. You were never wondering is he going to get this or head this or pass it back. Len Quested again. Some of the best players I played against were in the Olympic games against the Russians. Lev Yashin he was the goalkeeper. I saw him in a rest of the world game against England and Bobby Charlton hammered a ball and Yashin who had hands like dinner plates caught the ball and threw it back over half-way. When we were going onto the Melbourne Showgrounds to play in a trial game before the Olympics I was standing behind Bobby Bignell Yashin was there and he had the ball. The first time I had ever seen a bloke flick it with his feet to his knee shoulder head shoulder knee foot and this was how he was going and heres me I could hardly throw the ball up and catch it twice I was that nervous. I said to him you speak English and one bloke said I speak English. I said what do you fellas do for a living. Mr Yashin is a major in the army and this blokes a general and they were all professional people in the army. So where we were rank amateurs and we had to sign a statutory declaration to say we didn't earn any money from football while we were given five shillings a day while we were away, these blokes were all looked after by the army. People can't believe it when I tell them."

GS : So you had to sign a form before the Olympics, acknowledging you were an amateur?
BH : "And you had to get a stat dec you were an amateur and you also had to get a clearance from your doctor, a health clearance to say you were fit and weren't carrying any injuries before you were even selected in the side. They sent you a letter saying are you available for these dates and they were all the trial games touring Australia and if you are included in the olympic team are you available for these dates, four or five weeks in Melbourne. You had to say yes, yes and yes. I was lucky because I was working with Hoyts theatres at the time and they were a sporting minded organisation at the time. Theatres were going good in '56 television only came in during '56 and Hoyts theatres employed a guy named Tony Miller who was one of the most capped rugby union players Australia had ever produced and a fella called Dennis Donohugue who was a South Sydney rugby league international, so they had an international from the three football codes. I was lucky that I got paid for every minute I was off work from the time that I went around Australia for three weeks and five weeks down in Melbourne they paid me every week."

GS :In the leadup to the Olympics, what match preparation did you have?
BH : "We played Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria we whopped all those. Then back to our clubs, then up to Queensland back to New South Wales. We got done 4-3 that day. See most of the good players were in the New South Wales team and remember we had a few guys in our team from other states Tasmania, South Australia, etc. We played New South Wales again and they beat us 3-1 and then we played them in Newcastle and beat them 1-0. All that was to select the team and once that was done we played Russia at the Melbourne Showgrounds floodlit. I played the second half and we got beat 15-1. Ronny let seven in, we tossed a coin to see who would go on in the first half and Ronny won, so he let seven in. I was thinking poor Ron (smiling) and we got beat 15-1. You know I can still see this bloke, he broke away and I went out and dived at his feet got the ball and he put the boot into me and ball and screaming in his own language. He was obviously trying to impress his selectors that he was good enough to be in it and he nearly killed me. Then we played against Great Britian. I played in the second half there. We got beat 3-1 by them. At Campbell Reserve we beat India who beat us in the quarter final. These games were a couple of days apart. I even wrote down in that game that I saved a penalty that day. Another game against Yugoslavia at the Melbourne Showgrounds, we got beat 5-1. They made the final against Russia, and I played against Germany at the Village Green at the Olympic Village. Then there was an English boat in town H.M.S. Newcastle and we played them and beat them 7-1. When we got knocked out of it they decided that we needed retribution on India and we played them at the Sydney Sportsground and got beat 7-1. It should never have played that game. What happened the Olympics were over everyone goes home, back to work and their normal family life and then you assemble again a week after and we just didn't have our mind on the game. It was really a very bad choice I thought that."
AH : "It was just a one off game after the Olympics to give the Sydneysiders a little bit of the Olympic atmosphere for soccer".
BH : "So our warm-ups for the Olympic games was to play against all the state teams who with the exception of New South Wales weren't really competitive at all."

GS : So do you feel it was an adequate warm-up for, up until then, the most important tournament in Australian football history?
BH : "Well at the time you didn't know any different and we thought thats the way we do it. Look at the blokes today. They travel all around the world playing country after country and they'll have four nation tournaments. We were out and out rank amatuers. Train twice a week for an hour and a half and playing against the cream of the world."

GS : What was the training regime like on that tour?
BH : "Training twice a day. No free time. At the Olympic Village in Heidelburg we'd train in the morning and the afternoon then we'd have a shower and dinner in the dining room. Then we'd go up to the entertainment hall and they'd have shows on like Pick-a-box. There would be piano players and guys like Franky Lane, all world class enteratiners. We'd make our own way and play ping pong and snooker and stuff like that and as we'd walk up past the red square as we called it heres all the Russians juggling and playing with the ball. That was the difference between them and us. We'd done our training we'd thought and they had done theres but they were stilling working."

GS : The foreign born players who came to Australia in the 1950's and 60's, do you feel that the standard of soccer in Sydney benefited from them?
BH : "Oh yeah no doubt. Soccer was in a bit of a rut until the federation came along. You had all your local teams, your stronger and your weaker teams. We weren't improving internationally and weren't competitive and we weren't getting any bigger crowds and soon as this came in the atmosphere became electric not knowing which way a game would go. All the new players with better coaching skills all came and played and it had to help."
AH : "They bought a higher skill level to us than we had here. We had the endeavour but no the same skill level. Our skill levels since those days have just gone up and up and up. The kids of today are as good as anyone."
BH : "We also had to start thinking differently when these better players came here. When Lenny Quested came here first we couldn't understand his professionalism. If we'd do something wrong he'd really give you a blast and we weren't used to that. If Andy missed a ball or one went through my legs you'd get on with the game but with Quested he'd really get stuck into you."
AH : "Or you'd pass a ball to him and it wouldn't be in the right place and get intercepted and you'd say sorry Len. And he'd say don't say sorry just be more careful that was his attitude. He wasn't saying in a derogatory way it was just his professionalism."
BH : "He really fitted into our club. For a bloke of his ability being an English B international he was a great bloke. There was no heirs and graces with him."

GS : Did you ever get the oppurtunity to play together at representative level?
BH : "The only time we played in an international together was in 1955 for Metropolis against South Africa. The South Africans first game on tour was against a (Sydney) metropolitan side and Andy had a good game but when the New South Wales team was picked they prefered a guy from Gladesville. You've just got to be in the right place at the right time."

GS : Andy - your club career came to an end in 1960 when you suffered a compound fracture of the leg in a match. How did it happen?
AH : "It was at Drummoyne Oval and we had a Scotsman playing for Auburn named Gordon Clydesdale and he was running across the cricket pitch with the ball. I was running a couple of yards behind him to get into another position to take the ball. The ball hit a bump and went up and over his head and I bought it down and travelled a few yards with it and then this bloke came from behind. Just as I passed the ball I was standing on my left leg and I passed the ball with my right foot so all my weight was on the left leg and this bloke attempted a wild swipe from behind and wacked me right in the middle of shin and that was it. End of story. I looked down and could see it was bent at a thirty degree angle. It was only six minutes into the game too."

GS : That must have been extremely painful.
AH : "It was a bit but the shock takes over and gets you over the pain. They took me away in the ambulance but it was funny. Just as the ambulance arrived to take me away there had been a headclash with a couple of other blokes and this other Gladesville player had a cut over his eye. So he came with me and we rode up to Ryde Hospital together. Two for the price of one."

GS : Did it take a while to heal?
AH : "I had two months in hospital and nine months off work. I had my leg in plaster for eight months. It was a compound fracture where the bone sticks out through the skin. They could have put a plate in it or pinned it but this particular doctor I had didn't think it was warranted and let it heal naturally."

GS : So, with the leg injury effectively bringing about an early retirement, you went into soccer administration.
AH : "I went onto the (New South Wales Soccer) Federations management committee for two years and in the last year I was on it I was the delegate to the Australian Soccer Federation at the time when we were trying to reunify the code in Australia and get back into F.I.F.A. We were successful with all that and got back into F.I.F.A. After I finished on the management committee I was immediately put onto the referees appointments board. They used to have three representatives from the referees and two from the federation to make five but it eventually got down to two of us, one from each group. I was fifteen years on that. Then I went to the disciplinary committee of the federation and had fifteen years on that too. I have been three years away from that."

GS : While you were on the management committee of the New South Wales Soccer Federation in the early sixties during the time of the F.I.F.A. ban. Were there any instances of player transfer problems at that time?
AH : "Jim Bayutti was president of A.P.I.A. at the time and they bought this scotsman out Willie Stevenson from Glasgow Rangers to play. We weren't back into F.I.F.A. then but the whole wheels of industry were churning towards that and out came this Willie Stevenson. Frank Parsons and I were authorised by the NSWSF committee to go to an A.P.I.A. game and if Willie Stevenson was to take the field A.P.I.A. was to be immediately suspended by the federation. We did our job and told Jim but it was funny because Bayutti was instrumental in getting us back into F.I.F.A. He became the president of the New South Wales Soccer Federation and was part of the driving force to get us back into F.I.F.A."

GS : You were also doing some work as a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald.
AH : "Oh yeah as well as being on the disciplinary committee. I did it right up until 1982 with the green paper too."

I concluded our chat by asking Billy a little about what he thought of the game today. The N.S.L. and the state leagues are still dominated by the many ethnic clubs.

GS: Do you have any thoughts on the status of the ethnic clubs in 1998?
BH : "People who aren't associated with the game think soccer is a game for new Australians. The kids are born here and are second generation but thats the image that soccer has got. When Australias is qualifying for the world cup and you see all the names of the team the guys at the golf club say all your new Australian mates are in there and it doesn't worry me because I played with and against them all the time. But its the crowd behaviour that they won't accept the fact that soccer should be waht they are interested in not their own ethnic image in my opinion."

GS : Do you watch the local product?
BH : " I've got a gold pass and can go and watch any game. I watch the Ericcsion Cup on television. I go to the internationals at the (Sydney Football) Stadium. I intend to go to club games more often and I've got a grandson whose a goalkeeper aged fifteen and I want to take him out to show him what sort of level he's got to get to."

GS : What does the standard seem like to you?
BH : "I think its gone down a bit at club level because we've lost so many players overseas. From a spectators point of view I really think it lacks that little bit of class it had a few years ago. We've got a hundred or so overseas and thats a tremendous drain on the talent still here. You do see some good games but a lot are predictable and uninspiring."

Bill and Andy Henderson are now enjoying their retirement in the northern suburbs of Sydney. Both swing a golf club regularly though Bill still maintains involvement and passes down the many tricks he has learnt as a specialist goalkeeping coach with some amateur clubs in the local area. His grandson Tim is also following in his footsteps and is currently playing youth league with Marconi. Andy has given up the administration side of things altogether and for all his many late nights spent with the federation he has turned it over to someone younger. About time too. For its all they're unheralded contributions that they do deserve a very relaxing retirement to watch the game they love, swing a golf club and be remember as federation pioneers over forty one years ago.
]]> (Administrator) Interviews With Formeroos Tue, 29 Jul 2008 10:15:52 +0000
Frank Parsons In Jack Pollard's Soccer Records, Sid Grant the legendary soccer statistician and historian describes Frank Parsons as "One of the many Novocastrians who went to Sydney from northern NSW to win every honour the code could offer. Parsons was robust in his approach work in the tackle. In the air he was a real "killer". At times he showed that degree of impetuosity that one expects from an auburn-haired youth full of vigour".

In an era of great forwards Frank was one of the best. Playing centre-forward for the Leichhardt-Annandale club alongside such greats as Joe Marston, George Russell and Harry Robertson, Frank became a standout player in a great side. He set new goalscoring records for his club (69 goals in the 1947 season) in a career that saw him as a regular in the NSW and Australian sides. He toured South Africa and New Zealand with the Socceroos scoring a whopping 16 goals in international football.

In the end it was the politics of soccer that saw his premature retirement as a player but Frank threw himself into the administration of the newly formed NSW soccer federation with the same vigour and commitment with which he had worn the green and gold. Over a cup of tea and his old scrapbooks Frank took me right back to the beginning to where his long and distinguised soccer career first started.

FP : "Adamstown Public School. I was seven not quite eight in third class I was a youngster. With 'Squida' Dunn and myself, we were picked in the under tens. From there I played with nobody but Adamstown right through to U-18 grade. In the last couple of years I had a few games with the senior team and when the war started I turned eighteen and went away in June '44 so I missed out the rest of that season and all of the following year. I was posted up to Williamtown so I could get back to Adamstown and I thought I could get a few games at the end of '45 but of course they had their team and they didn't want anybody else then. Coming back then they hadn't known me for a couple of years so I had a couple of games with Dudley.

They were playing against places like Lysaghts and those teams around Newcastle.

I played three games with them and we won that competition (laughing). In the next year I thought I'd better go back to Adamstown and play and I travelled up and down from Sydney. Trained on Bondi beach which was hopeless trying to train on your own and then travelling up on Friday night and back on Sunday night. So I played with them for the whole of '46 and at the end of '46 I said "This is no good, can I have a transfer?".

You were signed for life back in those days and there was no such thing as a transfer. Anyhow I pestered them for a while and they understood that if I didn't get a transfer I wasn't going to keep travelling up and down because it was too much. I used to get the paper trains, which took six or seven hours just to get to Newcastle and that was a good fast trip.

So yes, I could have a transfer to Metters. So I had everything signed up. We were down in Sydney to play a team, and I wasn't a drinker in those days but all our mob were terrible and they'd go to the pub and have a few beers. I remember Ernie Screen and a few others were in Radistocks Hotel over at Leichhardt and somebody said something about football and what we were going to do this year and I said I won't be playing next year, I'll be in Sydney. I said I've got a transfer and I've got to present it today. We were playing Metters in a Everson Cup game at Arlington Oval and he said 'You've got your transfer, give us a look at it'. So I dug it out and gave him a look at it with my chest out (laughing) and he showed evrybody 'Look what Frank's got'. Then he tore it up and threw it on the floor. So that was the end of Metters.

But a fortnight later Bill Orr came to see me where I was living (in Leichhardt) and he offered me ten pounds to play with Leichhardt. That was the big deal and ten pounds in those days was more than a months board. So it was good money and I said thanks very much I'll play with Leichhardt under these conditions. If you agree with the conditions that I play as a midfielder. He stuck to his conditions for ten minutes (laughing). Metters folded up many years later so I would have been with somebody else anyway.

GS : You enjoyed your time at Leichhardt-Annandale?

FP : "Leichhardt were a good mob. Old Jock Parkes you couldn't have had a better father figure in the team. He was a quiet man very good footballer, very solid, a gentleman and in his own quiet way made me feel at ease. If I was in strife you could always go and talk to him and he'd tell you how stupid you were (laughing). I played with them right through to the end of 1954."

GS : You made your Socceroo debut on the New Zealand tour of 1948

FP : "Yes thats right. We went to New Zealand by flying boat. We took off from Rose Bay and we headed out in the general direction of Auckland (laughing) and when we got pretty well established out over the waters and we were looking out over the port side and I said to Allan Johns who was sitting beside me. "Hey, that can't be right". I'd been in the air force and I'd seen planes crash and I said ' theres something wrong with that motor its leaking oil'. A little while later there were a few puffs of smoke, nothing bad and the hostess was coming through looking after us and I said 'come here and have a look at this that can't be right, theres oil coming out of that motor'. So she went up front and by that time it was flame as well as smoke and we were flying at about 10,000 feet. As soon as the pilot saw it he feathered that prop and came around as he was just beyond the point of no return, down to 1,000 feet and bought her down straight through the heads back to Rose Bay. So we thought that's a bit of luck what do we do now? So the old Association booked us into one of the hotels in town and took us out to the races at Rosehill and entertained us, took us back and gave us dinner and said your leaving at 11 o'clock. We left about midnight on the first of the Constellations that flew out from England to New Zealand and that was a luxury after the old flying boat, the Sunderland. So thats how we finally got to New Zealand. We left at midnight here and it was daylight when we finally got in so it was a five hour trip at least."

GS : On that tour you played about nine games and in one particular match you scored six goals. Do you remember much about that game?

FP : "That was in Wellington and I had an uncle who lived over there and I was most anxious to do something to please him (laughing). That was how I got some of the stuff thats in my scrapbook. Uncle Tom used to get the papers and send them home to mum and mum would cut out the bits and stick them up."

GS : You played for Australia against Hajduk Split from Croatia in 1949.

FP : "Yes I remember the first introduction I had to that team was at the (Sydney) Showground and they beat us 4-1. I came off the field with red and blue marks from the base of my neck to my tail. They were clever. The fellow who was their stopper, centre half, was named Katnik.

I'd have been a good six inches taller than him but he was nuggety and he had all the skills of a ballet dancer. If we went up in the air for a ball and no matter where I went he'd go straight up over my back with knees and elbows. Quite legitimate because he didn't use his hands to pull me back but I could feel him all through that game and when I came home I was blue and red.

But we were outplayed by them. They were a much more professional side than we were. The best chance we had to beat them was when they beat us scoring 6 goals in Brisbane, but we had them over a barrel. We'd had a penalty and scored and we got another one and then we were leading 2-0 and we got another penalty and they all walked off the field - goalkeeper and everybody! By that time I had the ball on the spot and I said 'Don't worry about it, we'll score, its an extra goal for us'. Anyhow there was a kerfuffle and the referee was calling them back.

He came over and he was quite ready for us to score the goal even if they were off the field. It would mean the end of the game. Anyway Cec Drummond walked up to the ball and kicked it straight over the side for a throw-in where they were towards the stand. They immediately picked up the ball and threw it in to one of them. We were all standing up near the penalty area and they just went through and scored a goal. From then on they just went through us and scored five or six goals."

GS : So what was their objection to the game?

FP : "They weren't happy with the penalty. We'd already had two penalties and this was another one. They were all legitimate penalties but they were so much more professional than us, we wouldn't have tried to get away with the things that they tried to get away with. With our referees they were pulled up if they did any kicking from behind or subtle little trips but they were a very good team. I went back and renewed acquaintances with some of them thirty years later in 1979. I went back to Split with Nancy (my wife) and met them. They knew we were coming and took us up to their new ground and then they organised a trip for us around Yugoslavia.

We had a lovely time there. I spent some time with Red Star where Vladimir Beara who had been their goalkeeper in '49 was the goalkeeping coach. So I'd go down every morning about eleven o'clock and spend a few hours with a few of them. About two o'clock they'd all turn up because they all worked and they'd have the full afternoon being coached which was an eye opener. I would have liked to spend more time with them because they had methods of coaching which we hadn't even thought of. I had never been coached in my life except by an ex-player who said I am the manager of the team and I'll look after you and see that you get to the right place on the right day."

GS : Most of the Australian teams of the 40's and 50's didn't even have one training session before their matches!

FP : "Never. Well the team that went to New Zealand (1948) we had players from Queensland, South Australia, a goalkeeper and one other and I hadn't seen them before in my life. One was a little fella who could play on the wing and the goalkeeper who I guess were selected to introduce someone from that part of the world to an Australian side."

GS : On tour did you train together and develop a combination?

FP : "You did everything together alright but there was no method about it because we didn't have a coach who could present us with a method. It was in your own sight and if you saw somebody there who was capable of doing something you kind of fitted in. But there was no method in teamwork you just fitted in as well as you could. The only time we planned anything as players was on the South African tour, but in New Zealand there was absolutely nothing.

Cec Drummond was our captain and with all due respects to Cec he was not really able to sit and talk to anybody about football because he didn't have a great capacity for conversation. Our managers over there were unhelpful. Neither of them were soccer players and neither of them would have known anything more than the fundamentals they had picked up from being spectators."

GS : So there was not even a coach appointed?

FP : "When we were playing we didn't ever have a coach. We'd pick up a rubber somewhere. While we were in South Africa we picked up one of their rubbers. We had two managers who couldn't have said anything about how to pick a team or deciding on a playing method against a team over there they might have seen, nobody knew anything. It was pathetic. We had Bobby Lawrie who had played football in England and he was very able as a player and a method came into the team through him. Then we had Tom Jack who was the first stopper centre half we had. Now we had never played the stopper centre half system in defence until we went across there and didn't have any idea until we went across (to South Africa). We would feel our way and Tom would tell us what his role was and what he felt were the other roles around him and we did the best we could under those circumstances. So they were more skilled than us in those games because many of their players were playing in the U.K. and they'd come back to be in the national side. They were being coached professionally in England so that meant it wasn't strange to them at all."

GS : On the South African tour you scored a whopping 16 goals yet you were in and out of the Australian team. Was there a reason behind that?

FP : "The first test I played in was the third test. I spoke to management about one game I wasn't involved in but I was given a negative answer like 'your turn might come'. In that third test we won and I scored both the goals and when I came off the field at the end of that game the senior manager who was known very well to my family in Newcastle congratulated everybody as they came off the field except me (laughing). I was ignored, not that it worried me very much because I had a few words to say to him."

GS : So even at that stage of Socceroo history politics was creeping into the team management and selection of the team.

FP : "Oh yes. But you see the manager from NSW was antagonistic, he had been before I went away. The other one was from Queensland. 'Bunny' Nunn was from Queensland, and we were the pair of strikers, but really only one of us was supposed to be in the team at a time. Even though in the last test we both played thank goodness, because 'Bunny' scored the goal that allowed us to win that game.

I did go over (to South Africa) under a cloud. I got out of hospital after being sent off at Leichhardt after having a bit of trouble against Bankstown and I finished up being carted away to hospital and waking up three days later. Then a lot of people thought I shouldn't have gone but when I got over there I wasn't too bad but I wasn't as fit as what I should've been. I played in the first couple of games and scored a goal in each of them but I wasn't playing in top gear. So you can put the first time I got dropped down to the fact that I wasn't playing as well as I should have. Maybe the other players looked better on the field than I did."

GS : There was also some selection trouble before the team even went away, with Australia's greatest ever striker Reg Date being excluded from the squad.

FP : "Reg Date didn't make either of those tours to New Zealand or South Africa and he should have made both of them. Reg was about two and a half years older than me and he should have been the first picked to go to New Zealand. Yet he didn't even play in the interstate game we played. We had a game at the old Cricket Ground number two to finalise the team to go to New Zealand between New South Wales and Queensland. Now I wasn't picked in that team and I went away courting Nancy (his wife) where she was teaching up in Orange. Somehow they contacted me up there and said you've got to be back to play football tomorrow. So I got the night train back went out to my digs and had breakfast. I didn't get any sleep and went out and played and we beat Queensland about 6-0 and I don't know where Reg was. He should have been in but he wasn't. He was the outstanding player of those years, no doubt about that."

GS : That makes it even more hard to understand his omission.

FP : "Well I can't either. I don't know if there was any antagonism between him and any of the selection panel on the board. I was a very quiet and mild sort of fella while Reg was outspoken. But you wouldn't think anything would come up between a player and an adminstrator that would exclude selection from an Australian squad."

GS : I would liken that non selection to say the current Australian cricket team leaving out Steve Waugh, the best current Australian batsman.

FP : "It would be at least as serious as that - at least. I can still remember times playing against the pair of them with Artie Quill and Reg (Date) together with Artie laying balls off to Reg and belting them in the back of the net. He'd do them from ten metres or thirty metres it didn't make any difference. As a foil for a centre forward to be playing to him left or right he could do the job of any inside forward. I just don't know what could have gone wrong with him and he couldn't either. Until he died I was in pretty close contact with Reg. We had a few nights together in Newcastle and enjoyed each others company. He just loved to talk about soccer. Reg was a character and that pub of his........"

GS : I'm told Reg's pub was a haven for the soccer community of Newcastle.

FP : "And fighters. I think he fought most of the Sands brothers who'd come and try to knuckle on with him. He'd take them out the back and give them a belting and send them on their way (laughing). He was an athlete but the problem with him was he had some kind of problem that made him a little bit different in his movements but it didn't stop his agility with a soccer ball. He was a tough hombre Reg, the right man for a hotel."

GS : In 1951 England toured Australia. You played against them both for New South Wales and for Australia. Were you at the 'infamous' 17-0 flogging of Australia.

FP : " I had a beer every second time they scored. I was in the members bar and it was a terrible day. Mud up to their ankles and our fellas couldn't handle it at all. Datey played that day and they told me I was dropped and Reg was in because I couldn't play in wet weather (laughing) and that was fair enough and I didn't miss that game at all. There was no replacements in those days you were either in or out. I finished up spending the afternoon with George Russell in the members stand."

GS : Were they are a far superior side or was it just they adapted better to the ground conditions.

FP : "The wet weather was a lot to blame because we'd played them in the dry and they beat us 4-1. I scored that goal and it was the only time my name has been up on the board at the Cricket Ground (laughing) and I hit the bar in the second half. But we had a few chances and they scored four good goals and that was the difference between the teams. 17-0 was not an indication that we were so far behind really. I can still remember them waltzing around Cec Drummond. Cec was only back most of the time with his sliding tackles and they'd just stop and let him go and he'd go two metres past them. They were so agile and they had wet weather football down to a fine art as they should coming from England. Though I'd like to be playing football today under the conditions our players have with their gear and their balls and the grounds. Its so totally different. You pick up a ball today and feel it and it makes you want to kick it. Its a different piece of equipment to the old leather ones we had. They'd not only get wet but they'd also expand and get bigger with the water going into them filling up the leather."

GS : What bought about your representative retirement? After the England match in 1951 you never wore the green and gold again.

FP : "I wouldn't have either. If there were any politics in the game in those days I would have been excluded by them (laughing). The last representative game I had was in 1952 against Victoria. Reg played in that game, in fact we played together and we really should have beaten Victoria in that game. They had the migrant groups coming in then, playing good football and I was in quite a bit of trouble on that particular day.

I found myself very close to goal, in the wet and I thought I might have had a chance to score a goal when I was hit in the face with a hand full of mud. I just lost everything. I couldn't see anything and I wiped my face and looked around and the first thing I saw was a Victorian face that far away from mine laughing at me. So unfortunately I hit it. That's the first time I've done that and the last time in a game. The first time I had actually hit anybody so of course that started a donnybrook. People came over the fence the mounted police came out and the only two people who came to give me a bit of assistance was number one Reg Date and number two the rubber who was from Australian Rules. So between the three of us we kind of staved off the opposition until the police came with their horses and got everyone away. But then of course I was sent off and that was fair enough too.

I did the wrong thing so I was sent off. Anyway, that evening we were coming back to Sydney and out at the airport was the referee with his two little girls of six or seven and he was wanting to be friendly. I just didn't want to talk to him very much and I said I don't mind you sending me off but why didn't you send the other fella off. He just looked at me and said 'You're going home tonight, I have to live here" (laughing). So that was the end. When we got home I was expecting to go before the committee and in fact I even wrote to them after a while and said I should be given the chance to appeal against anything that you may decide to do. But they didn't call me in and nothing happened at all."

GS : But after that you never got selected again.

FP : "I was on the outer and if there was a tour the next day I wouldn't have been in it."

GS : What bought about your club retirement even though you were still one of the leading goal scorers for your club Leichhardt-Annandale.

FP : "Controversy. The old Leichhardt team knew what happened. I was at the stage where I was a bit browned off at Leichhardt because I'd been given a pretty bad trot with finances.

It started when we went to South Africa we were promised the world and Leichhardt paid a bonus of 80 something pounds. Harry Robertson and I got just 6 pounds instead of the 80. When I complained they said we decided we'd give you a pound per game. The others had played so many extra games and been loyal but before they went away all the other players that went were looked after by their clubs and given a bit of a bonus except the promise that we would be looked after. So that didn't make things too good as did the next couple of years.

But in the last year I was pretty anxious. We had two kids in those days and I was pretty anxious to get a home and I started to work with a friend up at the hotel at Fairfield. I then hurt my shoulder against Bankstown and I had to have a couple of weeks off.

While I was off I still went up to the pub and earned my couple of quid up there and Jimmy Scullion one of the officials at the club came up to the hotel on a Satuday afternoon while I was working and said 'You're fit enough to pull beer'. I said ' Oh yes, I'm not too bad' and he said 'if your fit enough to pull beer you'd better come and play next Saturday'. I said 'Snowy Parkes (the club doctor) can have a look at my shoulder but I don't think I should be'.

Anyhow I went back and played and did what was needed. At the end of the season I was given an offer, by the old Bankstown group, of a house. They said there is a nice two bedroom cottage you can have rent free while you play for us. We were in a one bedroom flat at this stage with two kids. So I was very anxious to do that so I went back to Leichhardt and said this is the situation, Bankstown are prepared to have me transfer to them and give me a house where I can move in with Nancy and the two kids. Harry Miller was the secretary.

I got to know Harry before he was interested in soccer and in fact I introduced him to the Leichhardt club. I said to him this afternoon and there was a game on at Lambert Park and I wasn't playing and he was going around to a meeting. He said your application for transfer is going to be heard today, I said 'oh well give it a good hearing I need it'.

He came back an hour or so later and I said how did it go? He said the committee have decided if you want to play football there is always a game for you at Leichhardt. Under those conditions I said I have retired. I went back and worked at the pub, got enough money bought myself a house and that's it."

GS : You were obviously young enough to still keep playing.

FP : "At that stage I got interested in what was happening with the ethnic groups. I heard a bit about Hakoah and read a little about what they were doing. They a good side in those days playing in the metropolitan league and they had won it so many times they were getting sick of playing the same teams and winning so easily. Then of course soccer in NSW was controlled by a Scottish group that would not tolerate anybody trying to break in and I decided I'd do what I could to help the other mob. And that is how I got interested in the federation."

GS : This was 1957 when the first federation meeting was conducted in Walter Sternberg's living room.

FP : "We started working on it at the end of 1955. There were meetings going on before they started the competition. Coffee shop meetings mainly but the big meeting was at Walter Sternberg's. That was the one where all the cards were put on the table and we agreed, yes it was a goer."

GS : So what made you become interested in the game's adminstration. Was it a conscious decision to pursue a career in administration.

FP : "It was something I was determined to do. My whinge was always about players playing the game, they retired and drifted away and we never saw them again. Players that I looked up to as a young fella, when I started to play with Adamstown for example, blokes who were ten years older than I was that you'd expect to still see around had disappeared. Didn't go to football, didn't take any interest in football, wouldn't come and help. Nobody wanted to go and get them and bring them back. Not only administration, but they could have started coaching."

GS : So with the federation coming into existance in 1957 this was one of the reasons you wanted to…

FP : "Yes! I was glad I had the opportunity. I didn't realise that I'd finally be an administrator of the code, I just thought I'd act as a go-between, get in and pass a message. I worked with the (Sydney Morning) Herald for a while, the ABC and whatever I could do I did for soccer.

Eventually I was asked to go onto the NSW Federation committee when they had their first meetings at the old Sydney Hotel. That would have been the beginning of the second season, 1958. We went from there to down to Hellenic House, and it was there until I gave it away in the seventies."

GS : An enjoyable experience or a frustrating one?

FP : "Enjoyable, generally speaking, but there was a lot of frustration. Stuff you just wouldn't believe. You always think that you're right, I know, and I used to think that I had a few ideas that were possibly right but you couldn't get anything through that body if it meant the clubs didn't get the money. Any money that came into the federation the clubs had to get, because the clubs controlled it. It was their vote at the meetings that decided what happened about rules and money.

I used to get so fed up with the fact that I wanted to put money into bricks and dirt but as soon as you got a little bit of money in the kitty you'd have it read out at the AGM and somebody would move that so much be paid to each club and away it would go. We had some sizeable amounts, a pittance now. We'd get 20,000 pounds and think we were doing pretty well and 15,000 of it would be gone in five minutes at a meeting and you'd be left with just enough to keep it going until next year.

Then of course we had the ethnic trouble which was a bit frustrating. The last thing I did was to repremand the Croatia and Yugal sides who were well known for their donnybrooks. And I know that one side was more culpable than the other. There was always one that led the way but I just felt that the pair of them were a bit of a nuisance to the federation and until they were gotten rid of nothing would happen.

So I did get the others to agree that the names be changed and one would be Ryde and the other would be Liverpool. We'd been out and had a look at grounds around Liverpool and the mayor was quite happy about them coming out and establishing under a new name but I finished up leaving the federation over another donnybrook. Not with them but with the Greek side when they had a riot over at Drummoyne. As soon as I resigned they were given their names back and they played the first game of the new season out at E.S.Marks Field and a lady was stabbed and it was back to square one. I am pleased now that they have done what they have done.

While they haven't excluded anybody they have changed the names and even though everybody knows who belongs to who as far as the ethnic groups are concerned there is a chance that they'll settle down and broaden their base. If they can broaden their spectator base and get away from just one group everything will be alright in soccer. While they're just the one base things are pretty tough."

GS : What led to Frank Parsons becoming the Australian team manager in 1970? Was it related to your post on the NSW Federation Committee.

FP : "Yes it was. The first team I took away was the NSW team to New Caledonia. A year or so later I organised a student team to go over there because I was in pretty close contact with Guy Fawkes, who was (and still is) half the administration of soccer in New Caledonia. Then the NSW team went to New Zealand after playing on the islands and it was just a natural follow on to what I did. When Everton came out (in 1964) I managed that team and we had a good side. In fact we probably should have beaten them with guys like Jaros and Baumgartner. A good side except for a couple of unfortunate misses. So when 1970 came along I was there."

GS : It would have been a good trip to go away on with the playing talent that was assembled.

FP : "Rale Rasic was the coach and Les Scheinflug his understudy. There were a few bugbears there but it was a good side. They were absolutely at their peak in Greece and hit top form. They'd played pretty well in the islands and across to Hong Kong and Iran and did well in Israel but they played their best football in Greece. They had the Greece A team running in circles. From my point of view that was the best that Australia had played up to that stage."

GS : The experience gained from that tour would have translated into the success of the 1974 world cup side.

FP : "That was the start of it. They'd missed out on getting to the World Cup in '70 and that was the start of the build-up for '74. It was the eleven that were kept and there were quite a few that dropped out before they got anywhere near '72 but the nucleus was there. Rale knew the ability of his players much better at the end of that tour than he did at the beginning and he knew which ones he could put together as a team. I don't think he added too many to the starting eleven he took away to Germany in '74.

We went to Germany and had a look at their games and we were beaten by the two German teams fairly comfortably but we weren't disgraced. We weren't quite as fast or hard and strong on the ball. You get fellas like Beckenbauer to know that when you were contesting a ball with him you were contesting one and a half players as he was good as one and a half players.

But the boys did very well. The sad thing about all that was Rale Rasic getting done when he came back. It was the end of his reign and it shouldn't have been. It should have been the start of the next four year period. But politics again. Rale was single-minded and knew what he wanted but unfortunately what he wanted wasn't what the president wanted."

GS : Do you still have contact with the current administration of the game.

FP : I never hear from anybody and have never been invited back to anything since I left Sydney. Never. History would show I am probably the only ex-president NSW that has not been made a life member (laughing). These were things that most of those who went before and after me would ask for and expect at a meeting and I never would. I remember Michael Cleary said to me once when they were opening the hall of fame, he said "You write down everything about your history and I'll put it forward". I said no, I won't, I don't do that.

GS : Do you know that Soccer Australia had started a hall of fame last year.

FP : "No. I know there is one in Newcastle as I have been asked to do a few things for that.

I don't see the value in things like that. I know they're important to some people but I don't think you should put yourself forward. Why would I want to write a story about myself and send it somebody to put my name on a certificate. I don't see it as my right and not an obligation, but that's my belief."

Frank has given up the hustle and bustle of city life for a property on the NSW north coast. With his feet up after many years loyal service to soccer, Frank still keeps in touch with some of the many friends he has made in his career.


]]> (Administrator) Interviews With Formeroos Tue, 29 Jul 2008 09:58:57 +0000
Frank Hearn The arrival of Frank Hearn in Sydney in March 1956 was big sports news in a rapidly developing sporting city. The 'larrikin' from Crystal Palace had decided to leave the colder climes of England in search of an adventure in the land down under. Like so many others who came before and after him Frank decided to emigrate and was signed by the equally ambitious Gladesville-Ryde soccer club in Sydney. Gladesville-Ryde in Sydney's north-west were a district club which needed an injection of experience and with a top line footballing pedigree from England he was the ideal choice.

Frank was born in Camden in England and by his late teens he was on the playing roster at Torquay United. A transfer to Northampton Town followed before he finally made his first team debut with Crystal Palace in 1954. The following season he was transfer listed and with the blessing of his club he decided to immigrate to Australia. Only three players in Sydney soccer at the time had any professional experience in England. There was Joe Marston at A.P.I.A.Leichhardt, Billy Walsh the former Sunderland and Darlington centre half at Hakoah and his teammate Billy Murphy an inside forward at Exeter City. When Frank arrived, it made four high-profile English players and Sydney soccer was set to benefit.

I caught up with Frank at his home in Sydney's eastern suburbs and started by asking him how it all started in coming to Australia.

FH : "I was on the transfer list and I thought I would come down here. There was only Billy Walsh and he came from Sunderland and Billy Murphy from Exeter City. I had an offer to go to Los Angeles and play football in America but I thought I'd give Australia a try and haven't looked back since. Johnny Thompson was the guy who bought me out here because Johnny was playing for Gladesville then. There were players at Gladesville like Rex Foster, Tommy Rowles, Bede Greenfield, and Maxy Walker. I was only there for six months before the federation started and I went to Hakoah."

GS : When you transferred there you were one of the highest priced players at that point in Australian soccer. What was it like?
FH : "When I signed with Hakoah I got a thousand pounds and a brand new car. The supporters were all mainly Jewish and they had a lot of clothing factories. You could always go down to their factories and pick up a couple of shirts or a coat and you still got your wages. The top teams then were always Hakoah, APIA and St. George Budapest. I never thought I'd see the day when there was no Hakoah club in this country."

GS : Where did you go from there?
FH : "After I left Hakoah and I went with the Australian side down to Melbourne and I decided to stay and play with Wilhelmina. I had six months there and had a good time playing at the Melbourne Showground. My wife wasn't real happy down there so we came back here and then I went to Pan Hellenic."

GS : What were the major differences with training in England and Australia?
FH : "Over there and I don't know why it was never bought in here. We'd go in (to the club) for injuries, Tuesday we'd have a practise match, Wednesday and Thursday were training and Friday a small for half an hour and then we'd have sprints. Sprints and nothing else where you would run on your toes not flat-footed and I've never seen that out here.

GS : And in Europe?
FH : "There was France and Belgium and when I went to Holland on tour they were more or less turning pro. There was no money there. America was just starting up their pro football in Los Angeles. I was 23 when I came out here. I went back with my wife and played a few games for non-league Romford. The skills were there but the pace is one step faster. When your playing full-time your one step faster. We used to train hard and we had some good coaches out here."

GS : Plenty of highly talented European players followed your footsteps into the early 1960's. Players like Alick Jeffrey.
FH : He broke his leg for England against France and his club said go out to Australia and get yourself fit. So he came out here and liked it. He went back and played with Doncaster and bought a pub and suffered a car accident. He had a stocky build. There was Danny Clapton and he played for England against Juventus. Gordon Nutt and he were in television out here for a while but he played for Coventry and Arsenal. Erwin Ninaus played for the Austrian B-side after being out here. Joe Galeczka went back and played for Poland. Phil Botallicco, Archie Blue, John Giacommetti, Willie Rutherford and his brother Harry and Danny Walsh, Keith Jones who played for Wales and Doug Holden played for Bolton. There were a lot of personalities in those days"

GS : And of course the high-profile Len Quested. What were your thoughts on him?
FH : Lenny was always a smart player. He played the old English way, getting the ball push it around and tackle hard. I always remembered what Lenny Quested said to me years ago - give me an Aussie defence and a pommy forward line and it always made a lot of sense in them days. You could always have a joke with Lenny. His nickname was Bugs as in Bugs Bunny. What I liked about him was he had ten Australian boys around him as he was the only overseas player in the side and he got them all working hard and they won through to the final. He was one player who other players in England said should have won a full cap. He got a B cap against Turkey but should have got a full cap. You could be drinking with him the night before but he would still give it to you, always very fair though."

GS : And you coached his son Gary at Auburn.
FH : "Its funny how son and father are different. Now Gary was a ball player very quick. Lenny was a ball player but he played the game simple. Get in, push it and run."

GS : You played for Australia against Hearts with Len in 1959.
FH : "Yeah I scored the only goal for Australia that day. We played Hearts and they had won the Scottish league by eight clear points. They had a few Scottish internationals playing for them Murray, Willie Bauld, and Hamilton. It was a good game and a good crowd."

Frank Hearn retired from playing in 1964 after stints with Gladesville-Ryde, Wilhelmina, Hakoah and Pan Hellenic. He went on to start a lengthy coaching career with Pan Hellenic, Auburn, Prague and Hakoah where his ability to relate to his players often saw him as a popular figure in the soccer scene of the 1960s.

These days Frank has settled in the eastern suburbs of Sydney where he has retired from all things soccer. That is apart from a regular kick around on a Sunday morning in the Rose Bay area. Formeroos like Roy Blitz and Archie Blue are regulars as are soccer identities Harry Michaels, Charlie Perkins and David Hill.

Frank in his own words 'captains both sides' but its more of a reflection of Franks love for the game that now into his 60s he still feels the need to don the boots and to have a run with some of the lads that made this game famous many moons ago.]]> (Administrator) Interviews With Formeroos Tue, 29 Jul 2008 09:57:49 +0000

Name : Eric Heath
Date of Birth : 22/09/1925
Place of Birth : Haverton Hill, Durham

Career :

South Bank - AFC Northern League
Middlesborough Reserves
Brighton (2 seasons)

Originally Eric Heath trained to become a member of an aircrew but due to the demise of the action in Europe, Eric had to relinquish his airforce uniform for one in the British navy. He was then shipped out to Ceylon during the height of the Allies war with Japan. His job, as a qualified blacksmith, was to repair damaged English naval vessels.

He fondly recalled his time there, playing for the NAVY against various XIs, mostly made up from visiting damged warships. It was there he met Australian service men for the first time.

"It was more of a holiday than a war posting. As far as we were concerned, the war was a millions miles away. Most of the time we would play football, go to the beach or go up to Colombo."

Eric returned to England after the war and fell back into civilian life, working for a Northern manufacturer. Soon after though, he read an article in an newspaper, extoling the qualities of the land down under. He remembered the warm nature of the Australian Servicemen he had met while stationed in Ceylon and felt, like most immigrants of that time, that it would be a better life for him and his wife.

Eric set out for Australia in 1949. He arrived in Melbourne on January 1950 with his wife Irene. He soon began working for Henderson Spring Works in North Melbourne as a 'blacksmith'. However he did not stay there long, as he had heard that another company, McLean Massey in Sunshine offered "piece work" (paid per unit produced) and he was soon on his way.

It was here he met Sam Horrobin, his foreman, who asked him if he played football. When Eric replied that he did and that he was on the books of Middlesborough, Horrobin's eyes lit up and another Australian soccer career was born.

"There was a foreman at Maclay Massey, whose name was Sam Horrobin. He came in one day and asked me if I played soccer. I told him that I did and that I was on the books of Middlesborough. He said, we go tonight to Moreland and I agreed. It was a Tuesday night, I trained and he (Sam) signed me up straight away. I played the following Saturday."

Eric was so good that he was made captain of the Moreland team halfway through his first season in 1950. With Reg Parkhouse and Tom Bennett sharing the keeping repsonsibilities, Heath and Pat Clarke in defence, former Scot Joe Kennedy at centre half, Alec Nolan at left-half and with Bertie "Bluey" Grix, Bob Greenslades and South African Reg Hardman up front, the first division side won their way to the Dockerty Cup final of that year.

However Eric didn't take his place in the victorious Cup Final side. He was selected to tour New Caledonian as a member of the Australian team along with the likes of fellow Victorian, Angus Drennan.

"I played every single game that year expect the Dockerty Cup final.That was played whilst I was in New Caledonia. But they still gave me a winners medal."

Eric had little warning about his forthcoming selection.

"Mine was a very late selection. Out of the blue I get this phone call from Moreland president Jimmy Stewart saying Eric you've been picked to play for Australia to go to Noumea. I said Noumea!! Where on earth is that?"

So Eric packed his bags and headed to Sydney where he joined the rest of the squad before flying out to Noumea.

"They looked after us well. It was a very small island but we had a hectic schedule. I think it was 3 games in four days."

The following year, he made his Victorian debut against South Australia in Adelaide on May 9th 1951. In early June of that year, Eric played in the Victorian side that competed against a touring English XI in a 2 game series in Melbourne. These games were played on the 6th and 9th of the month.

The Australians were scheduled to meet the English at the Richmond Football Ground on June 11th. And Eric was selected to once again face the might of the English. He donned the green and gold for the first time on Australian soil, and despite going down 6-1 to the professionals, Eric, in his right back position, had once again done himself proud.

The touring English side had a outside left by the name Bobby Langton, a Bolton forward. Heath lined up on the star and when his first chance came, Heath, pumped full of adrenalin, slid in and tackled Langton ferociously. Once Langton had made his way back to his feet, he turned and smiled at the young Heath and commented, "Son, I know you're trying to impress, but for God's sake son, take it easy, I have 10 more games to go."

In the same year Eric was selected to tour New Zealand as part of an invitation Victorian team put together by Bill Thomas. This team was known as the "Kangaroos" and spent three weeks touring New Zealand.

"That was a good tour. We did both islands, yes that was a good trip. They looked after us and treated us well. The trip was organised by Bill Thomas, who was an ex-New Zealander, so he knew where to go and who to see. We paid our own way there but we received some reimbursement from the Federation. "

"It was like we were on a holiday which would be interupted occasionally by the odd game of soccer. I remember two of the guys, doing highland flings for the cameras. A lot of the players were from the Brighton Soccer Club as was the orgasniser, Bill Thomas. The Brighton Club President also came over. So in a way it was like an end of season trip."

In June 1952 Eric represented Victoria in the Interstate Carnival held at Toorak Park in Melbourne. Crowds flocked to see all the games and the locals were able to prevail in the final winning 3-1.

One of the most infamous incidents happened the day when New South Welshmen, Frank Parsons was sent off for decking Victorian Serge Biassi, whom Frank claimed had thrown mud in his face.

"We beat them. I can recall Frank being sent off. The game was at Toorak Park."

I quizzed Eric if he could remember any arguing that took place before the mud was thrown, he looked a little sheepishily and I understood instantly that he didn't want to dob in an old soccer collegue.

"Not really. I mean Frank is a mate of mine."

In a jokingly fashion I replied that I didn't think that Mr Biassi would like to take Frank to court.

"I know he got sent off. He threw mud in the blokes face. Frank turned around and went job."

"Sergio, in my opinion, was the best player in this country. Out of all I played with or against, he was the best, Sergio Biassi. His positional play and his accuracy of passing. You see I played right-back and he played in midfield and he was always on his own. I never had to kick the ball more than 20 or 30 yards. He was always in position, always on his own. He made me look so good, cause I could always manage to pass it into the clear, which was to him."

"Biassi, a Juventus player, was a gentleman. He was so polite to you, you couldn't find a better man than Sergio Biassi."

"Angus Drennan was a good friend of mine and a good player. One of them players that really trained hard. He worked himself to death you know, he trained so hard. Everybody liked Angus Drennan, he was a very sociable and likeable person. He'd never say a wrong word about anyone. You know he's a dinky di Aussie, not a migrant like most of us."

During the 1950s and 60s, the face of Victorian soccer began to change. The ethnic clubs became stronger both on and off the pitch. They were able to offer players, for the first time, a wage. Presidents of the powerful ethnic clubs travelled around Melbourne buying up the best players.


The Moreland Soccer Club was a favourite target. During this period numerous players left to play with the cashed up clubs. In 1957, despite the decimation of the team, Moreland were able to win another Dockerty Cup, taking their tally to 4, with an upset win over the hot favourties, Slavia.

"You could understand why the players left. They had families to support. They (ethnic clubs) had huge attendances and were able to pay their players."

In 1962 Moreland had a written guarantee that the great Stanley Mathews would play 8 games with the club. However this deal fell through because of FIFA's ban on foreign players coming to Australia.

"The club had correspondance with Stanley. Yes. He really wanted to come. He remembered Frank Loughran, his old sparring partner, from the Blackpool tour in 1958. You see Tommy Trinder and Harry Hopman were both patrons of the Moreland Soccer club.

"Juventus and JUST had all the support. They were able to play their main games at Olympic Park. Double headers, big big crowds, not like today. I remember going to Middle Park and you always could judge the size of the crowd by how close or how far away from the gound you could park your car."

His playing career for the Morelanders finished in 1978 after 28 years of loyal service to the one club. In 1969 he was dutifully rewarded for his loyalty when he was made a life member of the Moreland Thistle Soccer Club, an honour which rates as high as any other achievement in his life.

He is a trustee, life member and patron of the Victorian Soccer Federation and oversaw the purchase of the first soccer house in 1960 for 13,000 pounds. In 1998, the VSF sold this property for $1.25 million.

Eric and Irene now reside in a quiet South-Eastern suburb of Melbourne. Still fit and healthy, his only complaint is a dodgy knee, he gets togetherwith a few of his mates every Tuesday for a drink, which he has done for many many years and occasionally he'll drive down to watch his beloved Moreland take on his "local favourite", Sandringham, in the Victorian State League 3rd Division.

]]> (Administrator) Interviews With Formeroos Tue, 29 Jul 2008 09:56:46 +0000
Bob Bignall Greg Stocks talks to Bob Bignall 

With the Olyroos bid for a gold medal in Sydney 2000 well underway we should spare a thought for our original Olyroo pioneers - the boys from the '56 Olympics. Forty two years ago a side composed of players from all states of Australia travelled to Melbourne to take part in what was then Australia's first real football test on the international stage. Australian soccer had come a long way in the post war years and 1956 was viewed as the year it would all hopefully come together.

The Olympic squad was initially selected from a series of matches between a preliminary Olympic squad and the various states. An initial squad under the captaincy of Bob Bignall travelled around Australia where they played the following games;

July 14 1956 - Australia 4 bt Western Australia 1 - Bayswater Oval, Perth

July 18 1956 - Australia 3 bt South Australia 2 - Norwood Oval, Adelaide

July 19 1956 - Australia 3 bt Victoria 0 - Melbourne Showgrounds

July 21 1956 - Australia 15 bt Tasmania 1 - South Hobart Ground

July 22 1956 - Australia 3 bt Victoria 0 - South Melbourne Cricket Ground

August 4 1956 - Australia 5 bt Queensland 2 - Heath Park, Brisbane

August 11 1956 - N.S.W. 4 bt Australia 3 - Sydney Sportsground

August 18 1956 - N.S.W. 3 bt Australia 1 - Sydney Sportsground

August 19 1956 - Australia 1 bt N.S.W. 0 - Crystal Palace Ground, Wallsend

From those games a squad of players under the captaincy of Bob Bignall was selected for the Olympic games. The squad consisted of:

Ron Lord (NSW), Bill Henderson (NSW), John Pettigrew (NSW), Bill Harburn (Vic), Edward Smith (Vic), Bob Wemyss (Vic), Al Warren (Qld), Cliff Sander (Qld), Col Purser (WA), George Arthur (Tas), Alex Rattray (Tas), Peter Stone (NSW), Bruce Morrow (NSW), Frank Loughran (Vic), Col Kitching (Qld), Alec Beattie (SA), Grahame McMillan (Qld), Jack Lennard (NSW), Brian Vogler (Qld).

Omitted from the original squad were Don Brown (NSW) and Spencer Kitching (Qld).

The captaincy for the inaugural 'Olyroos' was bestowed on South Coast veteran Bob Bignall who although well into 30's was playing the best football of his long and distinguished career.


Regarded by his peers as one of football's real gentlemen I had the pleasure of spending an evening at the home of Bob Bignall our first Olyroo captain. Now residing in Wollongong's southern suburbs I was entertained by Bob and his lovely wife Alice as they reminisced of his days in the green and gold and for his much loved Corrimal side. Bob played his entire career for the one club amassing over 424 first grade appearances in a first grade career that lasted twenty-four years. As a regular in the Australian and New South Wales teams his small stature was massed with lightning speed and a tenacious will to win.

On the soccer paddock he was one of a handful of top quality defenders playing regular football, but soccer was not the only sport Bob excelled at. For two years in the 1950's Bob turned out for the Corrimal Rugby League first grade side on Sundays when it didn't conflict with his soccer commitments. In summer it was tennis and cricket again at first grade level and when he retired he took up the noble art of training greyhounds. A number of city winners such as 'Ginger Ted' and ‘Julies Top' all came out of the kennel of Bob Bignall.

In 1956 it was no surprise to his fellow players that Bob was named our original 'Olyroo' captain by the Australian Soccer Association selectors. A pinnacle in his lengthy career,

I asked Bob how it came about.

BB : "I was always subdued when I was playing. The referee was always the boss and if anyone from my team sung out or was growling at the referee I would tell them to keep their trap shut. I was always a gentlemen and got thank-yous off the managers because they thought I was good at keeping the boys in line. I always thought if they were willing enough to pay my fare to play football I'd be good enough to be a gentleman. I think that’s the reason they picked me as skipper. I also had a lot of football experience behind me."

GS : What was the training of the side like?
BB : "We had an English guy who was trainer and he was very fit. He used to put us through a terrible lot of work, two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon and really solid. He had us sprinting forwards and backwards and ball work with really heavy balls. One day he said to me lets do a 100 yard sprint and we lined up and (we ran and) I killed the team and him. He ran second and I said to him geez your getting slow.
He said ‘Where did you learn to sprint like that?’ He didn't know I was a school sprint champion (laughing).

GS : The team stayed with all the other athletes in the Olympic Village at Heidelberg. What was that experiance like?
BB : "We were opposite the Japanese team and we used to watch them train. Every morning we were weighed before our training and it would be written in a book. I was always around the 11 stone 6 pounds mark and this happened daily in the eight weeks before the first game. I got to my playing weight, which was 12 stone 6 pounds, early and so they took me off the hard training a bit. The trainers were good. though. We'd get given our meals but we'd all wash our own clothes. We had good fun. One night some Americans were doing some rock n'roll dancing and we were fascinated as we'd never ever seen it before."

The side went onto play a number of trial games against the other Olympic nations in October and November of 1956. These matches have been forgotten in Australia’s statistical records and although some were considered training games, large crowds often greeted the Australians as they were put through some solid match practice.

The games were:

U.S.S.R. 15 bt Australia 1 - Melbourne Showgrounds

Australia 1 bt Great Britain 3 - Campbell Reserve, Morelands

Australia 3 bt India 1 - Campbell Reserve, Morelands

Yugoslavia 5 bt Australia 1 - Melbourne Showground

Australia 3 drew Germany 3 - Village Green Heidelberg

Australia 7 bt H.M.S. Newcastle 1 - Campbell Reserve, Morelands

I asked Bob to chat about the Russia match and the large scoreline.
BB : "Talking about the Russians, their two managers and coach all came down, as the Russians were staying just around from where we used to eat and they said they wanted to play the Australian team. We had just arrived down there and had been idle as a team for six weeks. The (coaching staff) said to me what do you think Bob. I said I don't know. They said don't you want to play them. I said these fellas (the Australians) had been on the grog nearly every week and we've had limited training. We've had one day and you want to play the Russians on a Friday night.

They wouldn't take any notice of me and we played Russia. In their team were nine fellas from the Spartaks club in Russia and they were really well organised.

When we arrived you couldn't get a spot anywhere near the pitch. They said there was about 15,300 there at the old Melbourne Showgrounds. There were literally thousands and that's when this new system of (positional) interchange football was first seen in Australia. Cliffy Sander and a few others were saying "What do we do Bob, what do we do? How do we play?" I said just play your position and don't worry if the man changes.
I was just like them, picking the game up as we played. I was playing right fullback then.

I took the left winger out over the sideline a few times ball and all. But I had to stop them. Three minutes after that the player would go to right half or centre and they'd change.

The next guy came and he was quick but after a few minutes he then went to left back and somebody else went to the wing.
We let in seven goals in the first half and when we walked into the sheds at half-time I looked at Billy Henderson, who was sitting on the tables.

Bill said "What have you fellas been doing?"

Ronny (Lord) said "Wait till you get out there and you'll see then." In the second half they scored some bloody beautiful goals and just about tore the net out. We had two teams bar one player and I was the sucker to play both halves. All the boys were battling and they put eight through Hendo. I said to Bill afterwards, "What do you think now?"

He said "We ought to put all 22 on and give us a chance (laughing)".

We got beat 15-1 and I said to the manager "You asked me and we should have never played that game."

GS : The Russians sounded like they were that class above the Australians.
BB : "I think it was only the condition of our footballers because we weren't all fit. Apart from being beaten by the Russians 15-1 it wasn't a thumping because the boys had been off football for two months before we kicked a ball. You can't run racehorses against donkeys.

Two or three days after that game we played Great Britain and with the boys getting fitter we beat them 3-1, which was good because it meant the team was getting organised and we were finding players with passes and running as a team.

They were an English amateur team. I thought to myself we could beat them and we did too. We were professionals to them and we beat them 3-1 with our boys easing off a bit in the second half.

I asked one of the English players what they did for work. He said he worked in a foundry. You wouldn't get a good footballer in England who worked in a foundry. If he was any good he'd be signed up with a professional club.

It was truly an amateur team. I asked whether all the fellas work over there. He said these fellas have only been picked out of social teams and we are all workers, some even work in the pits.

GS : Did you feel the Australian team was the best team we could have fielded at the time.
BB : "I think so. There were a few others who may have gone from New South Wales."

GS : Joe Marston wasn't considered because he had just returned from a playing stint with a professional club in England and was ineligible.
BB : "I never heard anything about that. If Joe had been there I would have been very pleased, though he probably would have been skipper. A fella with his ability at stopper would have been a bonus."

Following these warm-up games the side went on to the first round of matches.

November 27 1956 - Australia 2 bt Japan 0 at Olympic Park

December 1 1956 - India 4 bt Australia 2 at Olympic Park

Unfortunately, the team was eliminated in what was considered rather controversial circumstances.
BB : "It was India and we must have played them about three times. We beat them three times running and the day we played them (in the actual Olympic round match) we scored three goals in the first half and they were all disallowed. It was an Indonesian referee and I went up and asked him why he was penalising the forwards and I literally couldn't understand him. It was a shame because I didn't have a clue what was going on, he couldn't communicate it.

I remember walking off at halftime very disgusted that they were leading 1-0 and I said to the linesman "what do you think of that, sir?". He said they should have been goals, two of them were good. I said "Why didn't you say something?", he said they were not allowed. The linesmen then used to run the whole line.

That's what beat Australia and if we'd won that game we would have been on the MCG playing in the semi-finals. We weren't because India beat us 4-2."

GS : It must have been terribly disappointing.
BB : "Very. We should have been on the Melbourne Cricket Ground in front of 115,000 people."

GS : But in the Olympic spirit you still competed and you did have all those happy memories, especially of the opening and closing ceremonies.
BB : "It was the best thrill I have had in my soccer career marching with those boys.
We were last, being the host nation, and the biggest team. I went around for the closing ceremony and we marched with the swimmers and athletes. I've even got photos of Johnny Debert and Dawn Fraser in the march."

The Olympic ideal is about competing and doing your very best and for that we can never doubt our first Olyroo side. Now well and truly retired from things football, Bob has traded his football boots for golf clubs and still enjoys a twice weekly game of bowls.

His football interests have again been stirred through the promise shown by his grandson Luke who is currently on the books of Wollongong City in the youth league.

Bob, as inaugural Olympic captain, still keeps in touch with many of his squad including goalkeepers Bill Henderson and Ron Lord, and Socceroo legend Joe Marston and can often be seen cheering on his beloved Wolves in the stand at Brandon Park. So when we think of our Olyroos going for gold in 2000, just spare a thought for the sacrifices made by our first Olyroos, the team led so proudly by one of the South Coast's favourite sons - Bob Bignall.

Bob Bignall - A distinguished career

424 appearances in NSW soccer

Debuted in 1939 - final match for South Coast United in 1961

11 appearances for South in North v South representative games

26 appearances for New South Wales

20 appearances for Australia between 1947 and 1956 (10 as captain)

]]> (Administrator) Interviews With Formeroos Tue, 29 Jul 2008 09:55:11 +0000

Angus Macpherson Drennen was born in the western Melbourne suburb of Sunshine in December 1924.

His father had immigrated to Australia from Scotland in 1922 and began piece work at HV Mackay, a large manufacturer based in Sunshine. His mother and eldest sister came out a year later in 1923.

Angus was brought up in a strong family, proud of their Scottish heritage - and through his father's influence, soccer was the foremost game. His father also played with Sunshine United.

He recalls first playing soccer as young 11 year old on a field in Sunshine called MacKays ground. This later became known as Chaplin Reserve, home to Sunshine George Cross.

"We ended up playing a practice game against someone from Footscray....Hyde St School I think it was. Anyway they gave us a belting and we never went on with it."

At Sunshine Primary school, Angus was able to fit in a game of aussie rules, in the schoolyard during lunchtime, while at weekends, he would partake in his true love, football. He was a member of the Albion School boys, an under 14 team of boys from around the area, playing on Saturday mornings, against the likes of University High school, who at 16, were bigger and stronger.

"When we first started, we played University High school. By comparison we were 12 years of age, they were 15 and 16. We played at Middle Park. They were much older than we were."

The team suffered a few hidings along the way, but after a few seasons together, the team had grown in size and stature, and were soon feared.

"In 1937, a fellow named Bill Bowman rounded us all up and got the Albion School boys started and we played up at Albion then. We used the summer sheds in the primary school to get changed and then we went go across to the ground. Bill was involved in Nobels, I think he was their secretary. He was supported by a chap named George Clayton. We used to go all over Melbourne in the schoolboys, with either Bill or George, we went by train as far as Preston. It was a regular thing to go into other suburbs. We were winning more trophies then, as we were getting older and bigger."

From Albion, Angus joined Nobels Juniors / Nettlefolds, while taking up a most sort after apprenticeship with the Victorian Railways at the age of 15, earning 17 shillings a week. Angus sporting talents soon came to the fore, when he, at 15, earned third place in the Aussie Rules competition best and fairest for the Railways against the likes of fellow goverment insitutions, such as the SEC. The next year, at 16, he had won a place in Nobels senior soccer team.

"I played in the Nobel senior team, thats because the competition was becoming weak because of the war. I played a game out at Moreland with the seniors. They were short and I was out there with the juniors. I scored a couple of goals and was kept in the senior team for the rest of the season. There was only 3 or 4 clubs running at that stage. It virtually stopped."

At 19, he was on Sunshine train station on his way to sign with Brighton. It was there he met Harry Taylor, who persuaded him to come down to Prahan instead.


"I was running down at Maribynong and there was another good runner called Don Bingham who played soccer with Brighton. He asked me to come down there and play, and seeing that there was no senior team in Sunshine, I thought I'd go out there. I met someone on the railway station, who said what are you going out to Brighton for??. I'm going to Prahan, come with me, it's only half the distance and i'm sure you'll get a game out there in the reserve team. Anyway, so I changed my ticket, and went to Prahan and I got a game in the seniors and the other chap, Harry Taylor was his name, got a game in the reserves!"

Angus enjoyed 3 great years at Prahan, culminating in the 1946 Dockerty Cup victory.

With the completion of the war, and the return of organised senior football, Angus was being hounded into returning to Sunshine to play with United. In the end, he felt an overwhelming obligation to return and in 1947 he did. Sunshine United were almost unstoppable in winning the Victorian title that year. The 1st division was divided into 2 sections, with the winner of each playing off in a Grand Final to decide the League Champion.

United started the season with an 11-0 away win over Heidelberg Rangers and followed that up with a 10-0 home win over Ringwood. In round 10, they beat Heidelberg in the return match, 21-0, with Angus netting 8 times. Sunshine United lost only one match that season, losing to rival Prahan 4-1. However they finished on top and took on Moreland in the final, which they won 6-2.

In the same year, Angus was made a reserve for the Victorian team.

The following year (1948), Angus was selected, along with fellow Victorians Alan Gravell and Eric Heath, to tour New Zealand as part of the Australian squad. It was a highly successful tour, with the Australians, featuring greats Joe Marston, Cec Drummond, Bob Lawrie and Frank Parsons easily defeating the New Zealanders in a 3 game series, 7-0, 4-0, 8-1. Australia played 15 games while on tour and Angus played in 14 of them. The players were paid a weekly wage of 3 pounds.

"We got a notice from the Association to say we've been selected to go up to Newcastle for trials. So we went to Newcastle, Alan Gravell, a goalkeeper from Box Hill and myself and there was a lad from Moreland, he was an Englishman, we were both aussies. I mean the Australian team, that was eventually selected, everyone was born in Australia. Anyhow he didn't make the team. I played well in the game and scored two goals."

"I got a letter from Joe Marstons's team, Leichardt Annandale, congratulating me on being selected. I think there may have been some adverse publicity in the papers up there, and they had asked me to go up there and play at one stage a couple of years earlier. They congratualted me and they were sure i would fit the bill, which was quite decent of them."

"I played in 14 of the 15 matches. It was well organised, both of the managers were Victorian, Harry Armstrong and Wiltshire. Wiltshire took no nonsense, I remember him checking us out of hotel because he wasnt happy with the accomodations. He was a businessman, I think he ran a nail manufacturing plant in Port Melbourne."

"We all had our own rooms. We got a blazer, some shorts and a couple of playing tops. Everyone got along with each other. There was only 2 Victorians, maybe if there had of been 4 or 5, things may have been different (laughing). There was one South Australian, two Victorians and the rest were from Queensland and New South Wales. I knew the Leichardt-Annandale players, because I had played against them for Prahan when we went up there. We played Leichardt on their home ground and went to the South Coast to take on Woonoona-Bulli."

"We had a wondefrul time over there. Everyone was wonderful, even the newspapers. We were treated well and even had a farewell gathering for when we were to leave."

Sunshine United were runners up in 1948 to Box Hill.

"In 1948 I went to New Zealand, and we were something like 14 points clear in the league and we got beat into second place!"

Angus won the Association best and fairest in 1949 and Sunshine United secured the title again in 1950. During this year, he was selected to take part in the Australian team's tour of New Caledonia, in a 4 match series.

In 1951, Angus was selected to play for Victoria against the visiting English team. The Victorians took on the English twice in 4 days, and despite their best efforts were no match for the professionals, losing 5-0 and 7-0 in games at the MCG. In the 2nd game, English forward Jack Sewell scored all of his teams 7 goals.

Sunshine United's glory period was slowly ending and they were relegated in 1952.

"It was looking like they were going to have a tough old trot and I probably wasn't going to be able to play. The way I looked at it, if I could get a half-days wage playing football instead of working on Saturday afternoon. I was happy. If I could have earned more money working, then I probably wouldn't have played at all."

"They gradually dropped down the league. They lost a couple of players to a team in Footscray, a works team I think. So they lost more than just me. We had always been an offshoot of ICI, and from memory the fellow that was the driving force behind the club, Bill Bowman, I think he went back to ICI."


Angus was an integral part of the Victorian team which won the 1952 Interstate Carnival held at Toorak Park. The Victorian team, a mix of locals and newly arrived immigrants, surprised the more fancied NSW team, defeating them 3-1 in a spiteful encounter. NSW forward Frank Parsons was sent off for an incident involving Sergio Bassi and it continued on the bus, after the game, when Victorian Joe Lachmann went on board to wish the New South Welshman well, he was involved in an altercation with Parsons.

Angus was approached by JUST officials, an emerging club for newly arrived Yugoslavian immigrants. He and his wife Frances were invited to attend a weekend in Healsville by the JUST President and a deal was worked out.

"In 1952 there were two or three JUST players in the Victorian team that played in Interstate Carnival and I got to know them. I was approached by their president and I met him when the Yugoslavs (Hajduk) came out here to play. I would have been approached by them because of the State Carnival. I had a good carnival.

JUST offered Angus 60 pounds signing on fee and a weekly wage of 4 pounds. This was his first ever wage in senior football. The signing on fee was well spent, a washing machine for his wife, Frances. He was made captain of this predominately Yugoslavian side.

"Yeah they made me the captain because i had been in the Victorian team in 1952. I always remember, there was a inside forward, who had played in the Yugoslav professional league and i told him to take the penalty kick. We had another guy, Steve Zakomorak, inside forward, tall, lanky bloke. He was incensed that i have given it to the other bloke because he always took the penalties. I didn't know, I mean it was the first day i had ever played with them. So he (Zakomorak) ran in and belted the ball over the corner flag. And that was my introduction."

Despite having a good season with JUST, he was not offered a contract for the next season.

"I stayed there only one year. In the summertime, I went off working in the country as a sub-contractor. And I suppose in this way I never got close to them. My work was always my main source of income. We, as a team, never trained, I trained on my own."

The next season he moved to Brighton, not far from his bayside home in Beaumaris.

"Brighton, incomparison to Sunshine, were a wealthy club. They had a lot to do with the Association. I think Don Bingham's father was involved."

In 1955 he moved again, this time to Moreland. Players, at the time, were only able to sign yearly contracts.

In 1956, he changed teams again, this time signing with the legendary Hakoah club.

"There was law that there had to be one Jew in the team. At the time I played, there was a whole mix of players from different backgrounds. I always remember the President wanting us to do well against Wilhelmina, because their chief was also a big businessman."

Also during this year, the Victoria Soccer Association asked Angus to be a representative in the Olympic Torch relay.

He stayed at Hakoah until 1957, where he took a player/coaching role with the Victorian Colts side, under the leadership of legendary English coach Len Young.

"All the clubs were invited to send their promising players down there, and because of the coach and the fact that he was an englishman, the majority of players were from such background. I don't remember JUST sending anyone down, but Juventus sent down a couple of players."

"By comparison to me ofcourse, they were kids. I played at the back. Because of our fitness and playing in the lower grades, it was quite amazing. They (the opposition) didn't know which way we went. In those lower grades, they didn't train at all. We had this tremendous advantage in fitness. I helped out with the coaching, I used to take the circuit training. Just exercises such as sit-ups and elbows-to-knees. The training was setup to give your cardio-vascular system a work out."

"We were in the second division. We always went close to winning it, but just fell short. We had some good victories though."

In 1959, he left the Victorian Colts set up and moved to Box Hill, where he won the Argus Medal, the equivalent of the Brownlow medal, as a playing coach.

"We were struggling all the time. No, it would be unfair to say anything else. We avoided relegation both times, but we were never front runners. They appointed Len Young as coach after his tenure with the Vic Colts finished. Len was a good coach, he knew the game much better than what I did."

After 2 seasons with the Hillmen, he moved to the University of Melbourne side, where he played for the next 16 seasons, retiring in 1978, 41 years after first pulling on the boots for the Albion School Boys.

"We used to train in the gym in the grounds of the University. I think they have demolished that building now. I did it because I had 2 or 3 good friends there. By the time I finished, we were in the 3rds. You had to be careful, because they get them 'crazies' down in those lower grades. I had one guy mark me all match, and I was in defence."

"One of the guys I played with ran for England in the Olympic Games. You could imagine, in the 4th Division, having a guy that ran for England, playing on the wing, whose best time was 10.2 for the 100 yards. Royce Sanstrom, he was a physical education lecturer at the Uni."

Angus played 20 games for Australia, from 1948 - 1953, and was a member of the Victorian State team on numerous occasions. He won the Association Best and Fairest in 1949, the Argus Medal in 1950, 2 Dockerty Cups and 2 State Championships.

"Whilst I was playing I never considered myself to be a good player. I was lucky enough to be playing with men (Nobels) as a young boy of 16. I think that makes a big difference. I never had any fancy ideas about myself. I think it's best to keep it low key."



]]> (Administrator) Interviews With Formeroos Tue, 29 Jul 2008 09:52:10 +0000

by Greg Stock

Asked the question what is Australia's oldest soccer club and most Australian soccer fans could peel off the answer in moments. 'Jack Pollard's Soccer Records' tells us that it was the Granville club located in Sydney's western suburbs. Formed in 1883 and founded in 1885 the club is no longer a part of the NSWSF competition having fallen victim to financial circumstances years ago. But if you were asked to name some of its greatest ever players the mind would strangely fall blank and who could blame you?

Arguably the best player to have ever been produced by the Granville club was centre-forward Alan Garside. During Granville's 'golden era' in the late 40's and 50's he was the focal point for the Granville attack. His father Frank was club president for eighteen years and Macarthur Park was later named in his honour, while younger brother Frank junior was the side's centre-half.

Alan's career began in 1943 as a tearaway teenager at Macarthur Park and ended with the demise of the NSW soccer football association in 1958. Along the way he scored 188 goals in a career which saw him play over 210 premiership matches and countless knockout and cup games. He represented the Granville district representative side and was a fixture in the NSW state team between 1949 and 1958.

He represented his country 5 times against South Africa, China and the Hungarian team, Ferencvaros, though his international career was severely restricted with a bad leg injury. His ability to score goals at club or representative level was remarkable. His scoring rate per number of games played was a lot better than some of the so called 'great forwards' of the game that followed him years later.

Still residing on the same block of land in the Granville district as he did when he was taking opposition defences to the cleaners in the 50's, Matthew Hall and I spent an evening with one of the great characters of the game. Over a cup of tea and a piece of cake with his old scrapbooks and photographs, Alan opened up and gave us a unique insight into his outstanding career and the ways of soccer 1950's style.

We started off by asking him about the English tour of 1951 and the match between Australia and England where we were beaten 17-0.

AG : I was there but I wasn't playing of course. Australia wasn't playing that bad. Australia had as much play as England but every time Australia got into England's half they attacked. As soon as the English goalkeeper got the ball he would kick it over the fullback's head to the wing. The winger would come right down bringing the fullback with him.

They were playing the third back game where the centre half would mark the centre-forward. The winger would push it to the centre forward who would have the centre half out there. He'd beat him and draw the other fullback and there was always one or two English players ready to kick it into the net. And that's what happened every time left or right.

I was standing there watching with a few blokes and I called over my father (Frank Garside - Granville president) and Matty McGilvray (Granville's coach) and said "You see what's happening here?". So we stood and watched. We were playing the next day on the Sunday, and after talking to Matty again about it the next day at the game he said "We're playing a new style of football today". And that is what we did that day. From there we fine- tuned it and that's how we won the State Cup and premiership.

MH : Using the same tactic??
AG : "Exactly the same tactic. I was the centre-forward and I could run. We had two international wingers in George Sanders and Ray Marshall. The wingers would go back exactly the same as the English were playing.

The problem with the third back game was the centre forward was in all sorts of trouble because the centre half would stand on him all day. I used to talk to Andy Henderson about it plenty of times. I said "You're just standing there - you've got to move away", but every time you moved away, everyone would be on your back saying "get back, you have got to get back to the centre". That was until this happened. Matty the coach decided to play this new way. Anyway we played at Cessnock after playing this style a couple of weeks. Bobby McKenzie was playing right wing that day. Bobby or Ray Marshall on the left got back. I ended up with the ball and beat the fullback drew the centre half and was looking around to push it back to the inside forwards but there was nobody there, just me holding the ball. Next Tuesday night at training Matty the coach said to the forwards "If you don't get there you won't be playing".

GS: Did teams try to counter the style?
AG : "Clubs tried all different sorts of tricks. Some of them even tried to take you out like 'Radioactive man' Radnoanovic but that's another story."

Being the first Australian side to use this new style of football to perfection Granville took all before them in 1951. Other teams could not counter the English style quickly and they either adapted to it or were beaten. They won the State Cup with a 3-0 victory in the final against Mayfield United and the State Premiership double with a side boasting some of Australia's greatest players.

For the record that side was: Bill Henderson, Bob Lee, Bob McLelland, Andy Henderson, Frank Garside, Bob Wall, George Sanders, Barry Dawson, Alan Garside, Ken Vairy and Ray Marshall.

I continued by asking Alan a little about his club career at Granville and the way in which it operated in the 1950's.

AG : You got your jumper and socks supplied and you bought your boots and your shorts. What Granville did was whatever money they had left over at the end of the season was divided up between the players, depending on how many games you played. Everyone was treated equally so if you played the highest number of games in a season you got the most money and if you played one you got paid for that one on the same ratio. The most I ever got was one hundred pounds".

Mrs Garside : "You didn't get much at all".

GS : In the 1950's double-header games were common. Some sides would travel to play two games in two days. How did you ever back-up??
AG : "How would you have any problem backing up? One weekend I did the milk run on Saturday morning, played on Saturday afternoon away at Woonona, did the milk run again on Sunday morning and then went to Newcastle and played Sunday afternoon, came back Sunday night to do the milk run Monday morning. We often played two games a weekend as halfway through the year they would start the State Cup competition."

GS : Did you score??
AG : "I scored 2 goals in each game - 2 goals in the first half".

In 1957 Alan played for Granville against FK Austria which boasted players like Leopold Baumgartner and Karl Jaros. I asked him a little about this time in soccer and the turbulence of the FIFA ban....

AG : "FK Austria were too good, just too good. They came and thought what a wonderful country. They had endured the trouble in Europe during the war, living on nothing and all that sort of thing. They came out here and saw how great it was and couldn't get back quick enough. It would have been okay if they had have gone to a club like Granville, Canterbury or Gladesville or the like but they didn't. There was no transfer fee and that was the problem. It was a bit of a rough time."

GS : Some of the great forwards of your day included such names as Reg Date. Did you ever get the opportunity to play with him in the NSW or Australian sides?

AG : "I would have loved to have played centre-forward with Datey at inside right, but it never happened. I have never seen Reg Date do anything wrong, he was just that sort of player. He was only ever out there to play football. You see some of the Australian strikers of today on television missing the goal by yards. But he never did, he was just unbelievable. You could see him hit a ball on the volley two feet off the ground the whole way. He was something else. The last game Datey played for Australia was in 1953 in Brisbane against the Chinese and he played for Wallsend when they beat Granville 2-1 in the final and that was it for him"

GS: And Len Quested from Auburn?
AG : "Len played for HMS Golden Hind, an English servicemen's side which entered the competition in 1944-45. They also had a number of handy players and made life hard for you. Len went back to England at the end of the war and went to play for Huddersfield Town. He came back a few years later with Auburn and scored quite a few goals for them"

GS : What about Bruce Morrow and Jackie Lennard?
AG : "Bruce loved to score goals and when you were playing if you had the ball he wanted it, even if he had two blokes on him and someone else was unmarked. He was a true forward and just wanted to score. I played with Jack a few times for NSW and Australia. He was a great finisher and a great team player."

GS : One of the best centre-halves of the era was Joe Marston. You played a lot of rep football with him.
AG : "We were playing Queensland at Wallsend getting beat 4 to 2 at halftime. Kevin O'Neill was at fullback and Joe was at centre-half. Joe was captain and said to Kevin O'Neill that they only way we were going to win this is to play football from the back.

He said don't anyone kick the ball unless you give it to someone. It's gotta be football all the way. After that we ended up beating them 7 to 4. That's the kind of player Joe was.

He was a really hard opponent but most of all he was a great player without question"

GS : The stories of games between Granville and Joe's team Leichhardt-Annandale in the 50's are of legendary proportions. Joe Marston, who was captain, always used to personally mark you.
AG : "It didn't matter whether we were playing at Macarthur Park or at Lambert Park, they would always draw a crowd and be a hard and tough game. Joe never used to like playing man on man against me because I was quick and I could run. We used to play a lateral game and I used to try and drag Joe as wide as possible so he couldn't get into the game. He never used to know whether to stay with you when you ran or stay in the centre. We used to have some great clashes."

GS : Your partner in crime at Granville was Eric Hulme.
AG : "He could score with either foot. All you had to do was give him a bit of room and that was it. He went on to play in England but had trouble with his ankles. Give him open space and he could hit it but he had trouble with the third back game, so they played him at inside right with me at centre forward. We played down at Macarthur Park one day and he scored five goals without touching the ball in the movement till he put it in the back of the net."

GS : Another to play for Granville was Englishman Jack Aston.
AG : "Jack was based with the English army in Sydney when he approached one of the Granville committee in a shop in the main street for a game. He was bought down for a trial at Lambert Park and came on after half-time in reserve grade when we were playing Leichhardt. After seeing him in action for ten minutes the coach bought him straight off and kept him fresh for firsts.

He signed for us then and there. He went home to England and played for Manchester United and when he retired they even bought him a sports store. His son also played in an FA Cup final later on. When Jack left Granville he gave me his boots."

MH : Did you ever wear them?
AG: "No they were too heavy. I always used to wear the lightest boots I could find and these were too damn heavy. I kept them for many years."

GS : And the wingers?
AG : "We had two international wingers at Granville, George Sanders and Ray Marshall. Ray was one of the star juniors for Granville before Metters got him but he came back when they folded. He scored 178 goals in total and was very quick. Unfortunately he passed away in 1989. George played on the right wing and could cross the ball with pin-point accuracy all day with either foot"

GS: What about your younger brother Frank
AG : "Frank was a centre half. In his first 3 games he marked Reg Date, Frank Parsons and Jack Drinkwater from Cessnock. He called Datey "Mr Date" in his first game which didn't please Datey at all. Frank was a better player at 18 than at any other stage in his career. He was tipped to play for South that year but I thought it would be unlikely they would drop big Billy Wilson because he never played a bad game for NSW, the South or rep football at centre-half. They didn't drop him and unfortunately Frank missed out. Frank never let you down but he let it get to him a bit when he didn't play reps when they said he was going to."

Alan Garside's career ended with the demise of the association in 1958. After struggling with leg injuries in his later years which had curtailed regular selection for the Australian side, he retired and never played a match on principle for the newly formed federation.

He was made offers by other clubs including his beloved Granville but decided to stay retired and never looked back. Frank Garside the club president resigned his post and the club moved into the federation where it competed for a couple of seasons but was relegated at the end of the 1960 season. Younger brother Frank stayed with Granville but after a disagreement with selection policy he too retired in 1959 never to play another game.

I concluded by asking Alan a little about what he thought of the game today.

AG : "57 - 97 is forty years and they are still getting the same crowds they did back then.

In my day there was 45,000 at the S.C.G. in international matches. Where are they now?"

MH : With all the promotion in the media and on television.
AG : "It's unfortunate that even though the standard of play has improved, the club games don't draw any bigger crowds than they did back in the fifties."

Alan is now enjoying his retirement with his wife, Nita, only a few miles from his old home ground in F.S.Garside Park (formerly Macarthur Park). The Garside contribution to Australian football is immeasurable and his forward play - developed by watching English centre-forward Ike Clarke in 1951- was a turning point in Australian soccer.

Although he doesn't attend any games these days he still has a keen interest in the game watching it on television. When the Socceroos go out onto the M.C.G. on November 29th to make history there will be no more proud old Socceroo than Alan.

Although he never played a World Cup qualifier nor an international in 40 years the Socceroos will be carrying the hopes and dreams of former players like Alan Garside who gave their all for their country to carry the game to where it is today.

]]> (Administrator) Interviews With Formeroos Tue, 29 Jul 2008 09:51:22 +0000

With a total of 89 Australian appearances for 36 goals Attila Abonyi has done it all for his country. Credited as the only Australian to come close to scoring in the '74 World Cup finals by hitting the woodwork against East Germany, Atti gave his all for his country in a wonderful career spanning ten years. After three World Cup campaigns and three championship medals with St George, Atti's career has been one of outstanding achievement and one that few if any could ever hope to equal.

Atti has left the hustle and bustle of soccer life in the city of Sydney for the easygoing lifestyle of a beachside retreat on the north coast of New South Wales but he still hasn't lost his enthusiasm and love for the game of soccer.

In a recent interview Atti was generous enough to share his time and thoughts on his wonderful career with a sincere honesty that leaves no doubt that he is one of the true champions of Australian soccer.

GS : Members of the 1974 World Cup side made a lap of honour of the M.C.G. at the final World Cup qualifier against Iran. In front of 85,000 how did that feel?
AA : "It was an enormous buzz. I'd never imagined it to be so great. Just to come out and see 90,000 people acknowledging what we achieved. And of course that was the first time since '74 so 24 years had gone by without much notice and then all of a sudden this recognition was a tremendous buzz."

GS : Do you feel its a bit ordinary that every four years the Australian media all of a sudden get interested in the 1974 team and bring you together but between times they forget about you all a bit?
AA : "This was the first time in twenty four years that they've actually bought us together. Its an unfortunate thing I suppose but as far as I am concerned this was one of the best weekends of my life. To be able to see these guys again was tremendous on behalf of the Australian Soccer Federation. It was more than appreciated. But like you said I wish it was more often, but thats the way it goes."

GS : You were born in Hungary.
AA : "Thats right, yes"

GS : And you came to Australia as a ten year old.
AA : "Ten and a half in '56. We left Hungary after the revolution."

GS : Did you play much in Hungary as a kid?
AA : "No I couldn't because back in the 50's you couldn't play junior football competitively until the age of twelve. I started playing at the age of eleven for a little club called St Kilda in the under 12's. And from there I moved to a club called Melbourne Hungaria. I went there at the age of fourteen and played in the under sixteens. Next year I was fifteen and I started playing in the under eighteens and a month before my sixteenth birthday which was July of 1962, I made the senior side. That was in '62."

GS : You didn't make your Socceroo debut until 1967. Did you play many representative matches for Victoria leading up to that?
AA : "Oh yeah, '63 was the first one."

GS : You would have only been sixteen.
AA : "Nearly seventeen, put it that way. The first one I played was in Adelaide against South Australia. And in '64 (it) was my first time ever against an Italian club called Roma. That was in '64, Roma in Melbourne. And probably in the same year in '64, a Russian team by the name of Torpedo. They came out and I played in that too. And from then on it just went on."

GS : At the end of 1967 you went on the Asian tour in the Socceroos squad.
AA : "Yeah we went to Vietnam."

GS : How did you find that trip considering Vietnam was in the middle of civil war.
AA : "Well it was, you're right, it was smack bang in the middle of it. When you look back now we often talk about it, even now with Johnny Warren and guys like that. We just can't believe that it actually took place. We went in October of '67 and the tour was organised months and months before then but because of the war everybody thought it would be called off. I mean how crazy. We heard bombs go off in the background and things like that. I mean here we are in the middle of Saigon playing in a ten nation tournament. Just looking back on it its so strange."

GS : So it must have been extremely difficult to concentrate on the football.
AA : "Well again, you must remember that this particular team was a brand new team. I mean after the games against North Korea in the '66 qualifiers eighty percent of that particular team dropped out completely. Now this new team of '67, the average age was around 21. So basically it was a brand new team (with) guys like Billy Vojtek, Tommy McColl, Alan Westwater and myself, apart from Johnny Warren, Johnny Watkiss, Ray Baartz in fact nobody really played for Australia before then."

GS : You also went on the 1970 Asian tour which included Vietnam. Was that the same experiance with bombs going off, etc.
AA : "Oh no, it was nowhere as bad. But you know it was still Vietnam and somewhere that you didn't feel very comfortable in. I mean as I said we were there to play football and nothing else. I suppose you never thought about those kind of things but now looking back on it you say, Christ, how crazy."

GS : On those sorts of tours what was the training regime on tour like. Was it pretty casual or all very serious.
AA : "Well your now talking thirty years ago and the facilities were absolutely terrible. I mean we had training grounds in Vietnam for arguments sake that now you wouldn't even send a bunch of schoolkids onto train. It was just absolutely pathetic. But again, to play for Australia we would have trained anywhere regardless and we did. I mean we trained on top of a building for example in Vietnam. There was no training facility and we stayed at a place called the golden building which was the name of the hotel we stayed in. It was probably a twenty story building or whatever, ten story building whatever. A great big roof on top and that's where we trained a couple of times because they just could not provide us with a proper training ground."

GS : Who was the Australian coach at the time.
AA : "Uncle Joe Vlasits. He had the team from '67 right up to the end of '69 and Rale Rasic took over in 1970 up till the end of '74."

GS : At the end of 1969 you dropped out a bit from the Socceroos side due to business commitments.
AA : "Well it's a bit of a long story, but I moved to Sydney in '69 and my first child was born in May of '69 and I was just settling into Sydney, new job, etc. And they went away on this particular trip in 1970 and I think they went away for something like six weeks. At this stage I had already had so much time off from work and so forth. I mean back in those days everybody had a fulltime job and virtually part time soccer players, so you couldn't really have so much time off.

GS : But you were back shortly after.
AA : "Oh yeah it was never meant to be a retirement. I explained to Rale at the time that with my first child, the business, settling into Sydney because it was a hell of a move for me as you can appreciate I was still only young. I was only twenty two and I made a move from Melbourne, and geez it was like living in a different world. I was finding my feet, new job and so there were a lot of things I had to attend to, so that was it."

GS : So how did your move to St George Budapest come about?
AA : "It was straight forward. In '67 when I got into this final squad to go to Vietnam we assembled in Sydney and I happened to have Johnny Warren as my room mate. And he of course was captain of St George and one thing led to another and I just mentioned to him one day that I'd love to make a move to Sydney and try my luck at St George. As a kid I used to follow St George and it was such a great club. And the next minute I knew I was talking to the St George committee. But I was still contracted to Melbourne.

Actually I was going to go virtually straight after the '67 tour when we came back from Vietnam but the club in Melbourne wouldn't release me, they wouldn't give me a clearance because again we won the championship, we won the Australia Cup and they wanted to hold the team together. So they really put the brakes on it for a year.

Look, everyone’s ambition back in those days was to play in Sydney because the standard was much higher than what it was in Melbourne and I thought I'd try for two years and it turned out to be twenty years. It was such a great club it was just unbelievable."

GS : St George assembled one of the best club sides ever.
AA : "Actually we were talking about it down there in Melbourne. We had six or seven boys from St George at the reunion so there was always members who were Australian representatives. I mean people like Manfred Schaefer, Johnny Warren, Jimmy Fraser, Harry Williams, myself, Adrian Alston, Bobby Hogg, so we always had quite a few internationals."

GS : And I also hear that at some Australian games at the Sydney Sportsground the crowd would chant St George.
AA : "Yeah! One in particular I'll never forget we played against a team (that had) Yashin the goalkeeper, the great Lev Yashin that played for Russia for so many years and probably regarded as the best goalkeeper ever. Dynamo Moscow came out here I think it was in 1969, in fact my first year in Sydney and Frank Arok's first year in Sydney as well, and he had the New South Wales team and we had nine St George players playing that night. The two exceptions were Ray Baartz and John Watkiss and that was a case of come on St George (laughing) not New South Wales."

GS : How did you find Frank Arok as a coach?
AA : " Brilliant".

GS : People often say he was a few years before his time in that early period in Australia.
AA : "He was. And you must remember that he was only thirty six when he came out here in '69. He was full of aggression, a lot of ambition, he had a lot of European experience behind him even though he was only young and he brought a breath of fresh air to Australian soccer. And he was by far the best ever. Put it this way, I mean he has had his knocks and I know a lot of people don't like him, but players who have played under him and know him I'm sure they will have the same opinion. Frank was Frank. He was a total professional and he wanted the best. The time that he had St George we always won something."

GS : The 1973 World Cup campaign, how did you find that? You struggled a little bit to gain a regular starting spot....
AA : "Well, I did, but that's something I really can't answer.

GS : Was it your form?
AA : "No, I don't think so. You've got to respect that Rale was the coach and he picks the team and its entirely up to him. If he doesn't pick you, of course you don't like it but there's nothing you can do about it. Now whether he saw there was something wrong or he preferred somebody else I just had to accept it and get on with it."

GS : By the end of the '73 qualifying series you had managed to hold down a regular starting spot.
AA :"I came back fully for the game against Indonesia. I think it was six nil and I scored two goals and I had a fairly good game. The only way to answer Rale is to sort of prove him wrong. It was a brilliant team and it wasn't easy getting into the team as a permanent player. You weren't always guaranteed a place in the team. It was a very good squad."

GS : But you were in the team for the final three qualifiers against Korea that got us to the world cup.
AA : "Yes and two against Iran."

GS : Now where were you when Jimmy Mackay put the goal away that got us to the World Cup finals? I guess you remember it fairly well.
AA : "I'll never forget that goal. There it comes, boom thirty yards. He just whacked the ball and it ended in the top corner."

GS : The best goal in Australia's rich soccer history.
AA : "Its funny because I played with Jimmy for a number of years and as much as I admire him I never ever remember him scoring a goal, not even in training sessions. I don't even remember Jimmy or Manfred Schaefer ever scoring a goal during hundreds and hundreds of practise sessions (laughing)".

GS : Was it a dead ball situation?
AA : "No, actually I think it was a free kick that Jimmy Rooney played to him and he just hit it first time. He got a pass from Jim Rooney he virtually caught it on the half drop volley."

GS : I bet the celebration would have memorable that night.
AA : "Oh you've got no idea. You can't describe it. I mean to know that you actually made it to the World Cup and we went through hell as you can appreciate, again you got all the records. The number of games in the number of countries that we had to go through and to play the best in Asia. I mean we had to play THE best, not the fourth, or not the third, not the second but we had to play everybody. Japan, Korea, Iran we had to finish on top to qualify.

Now I'm not knocking the present team but they had to finish fourth to get into France. In comparison they virtually had to finish fourth to qualify. Whereas we had to finish first so again it was extremely hard and I often think I honestly don't know how we made it. Remember all these guys are now full-time professionals. There is not one player in the Australian team playing now who is a part timer. A lot of people don't even talk about or mention that we all had jobs. Manfred Schaefer was a milkman for arguments sake, Peter Wilson was working in a coalmine, I worked as a painter, everybody had a fulltime job and we just played soccer purely on a part time basis. So we were the first and only virtually part time team who ever made it to a World Cup finals where there was only sixteen teams not thirty two or twenty four".

GS : Going into '74. You were a part of the Uruguay series.
AA : "Yes two games. A 0-0 draw in Melbourne and a 2-0 win in Sydney.

GS : That was the first time the world really stood up and took notice that the Socceroos were a world class team.
AA : "Australia had a couple of decent results against visiting overseas teams but that was possibly one of the biggest (results) up to that point when we beat Uruguay in Sydney 2-0. If I remember rightly there was probably two other scores that stand out in my mind. Beating Greece in '69, that was the first time that we beat a European side, and then in '70 beating Greece in Greece 3-1. So there were two, but of course, there was Uruguay because they had won the world cup twice. That was something special."

GS : Do you remember the infamous Ray Baartz incident, when he was karate chopped by a Uruguayan player?
AA : "Oh yeah very much so. I was taking a corner kick at the time and that's when it happened. I went to take a corner from the right wing and Baartzy like everybody else was in the box waiting for the corner to be taken and the guy just karate chopped him from behind. I didn't end up taking the corner kick because everything just stopped. Baartzy went down and the game was held up for five, seven, eight minutes, I don't know. Oh geez, I remember like it was yesterday."

GS : Did the Australian players step in and start anything at that stage.
AA : "To be quite fair I really didn't see it because I had my back to it going out to take a corner kick, and next minute I heard the roar of the crowd and I thought, what the hell is going on? And as I turned around I believe Baartzy was hit and he was on the ground and of course a few players that were nearby saw the whole incident and they all rushed in and there was a bit of a scuffle, but it's up to the referee."

GS : It's hard to imagine something so blatant happening on a football field during an international friendly.
AA : "Yeah exactly! Baartzy went home and apparantly at two in the morning he was totally paralysed. He was rushed to hospital and everybody thought, well, actually, we were convinced and he was too, he'll be paralysed for life."

GS : That incident must have affected the Australian camp as Ray Baartz was one of the regular starters in the Socceroos side.
AA : "Well not only that he was one of the better players. He was one of the oldest players, not in terms of age, but he was with the team right from the word go, like most of us. It was a tremendous blow to the team."

GS : The side then left Australia for Germany via Switzerland.
AA : "Yes, three games in Switzerland. First of all we played, on the way, in places like Jakarta and Hong Kong. We ended up in Tel Aviv in Israel for ten days training camp.
We played against Israel, but it was mainly used as a training camp. Our preperation I think was only the one full international, and from there we went to Switzerland again for another ten days to two weeks as part of our buildup. We played three games in Switzerland all against first division clubs Young Boys, Neuchetal and a third team, three (Swiss first division) club sides. And from there we went on to Germany."

GS : It must have been a bit exciting for a team of part timers from downunder.
AA : "Yeah it was one of those teams that probably only comes along once in a blue moon that not only has good players, but our friendship was just tremendous. It was just like a family. And of course our confidence was growing too."

GS : Was Rale Rasic playing a reasonably attacking game or more a defensive game at that stage.
AA : "I think he was a bit cautious and I can understand that. In the next couple of weeks you'd be facing teams like East Germany, West Germany and Chile. I mean to ever think that Australia would play against West Germany, the best team in the world (with) Beckenbauers and Mullers. So he had to be cautious. In that particular tournament. Haiti I think made it in the '74 World Cup, Haiti and another team Zaire from the south of Africa they were copping eight and nine nils. It sounds silly but to lose only three nil against West Germany again would have to go down as one of the greatest results ever."

GS : And nil nil against Chile was a good result too.
AA : "Yeah thats right! We didn't score in three games but we got a point which I suppose is something, and we played against three extremely bloody good teams. When you think East Germany were the only team to beat West Germany in the tournament one nil so you actually played against the world champions and you played against the team who beat the world champions. Great results.

GS : What happened after the World Cup?
AA : "I called it quits. From '67 right up to '74 you're looking at nearly eight years non-stop and the family is starting to grow so I personally thought that maybe this is the ultimate. You've been to the World Cup, another four years who knows what? Brian Green came out from England (to be Socceroo coach) and saw me at a game at Wentworth Park between St George at Hakoah. I'll never forget that. I had a reasonably good game and he in fact approached me and said, "We've got two games coming up against New Zealand later that month, would you be available?". Anyway we sat down and talked about it, what my chances are, what my possibilities are, and why he wanted me back. He said he was keen and by this time I suppose I was getting itchy feet again and I really wanted to play. I didn't go to Auckland for the first game but I played the second game in Melbourne which we won 3-1."

GS : And you were included in the world tour.
AA : " No, then Brian Green got the bullet after that and Jimmy Shoulder came along. Shoulder was only a very, very young chap at the time. I think he was only twenty-nine (or) thirty. And by this time people like Jimmy Rooney, myself, Peter Wilson were two or three years older than Jimmy. Up to that point he had never had a club side. He was working at the AIS in Canberra. Eric Worthington (the director of coaching for the ASF) actually got Jimmy the job. That's either very late in '75 or early '76. That's when we went on the world tour in '76. We went to England with Jimmy Shoulder.

GS : What was that tour like to be on.
AA : "Well, every trip was brilliant, lets face it. Up to that point I'd never played in England before and we played two games in England. We went to Israel, we went to all the Asian countries so it was memorable."

GS : You'd never had a desire to try your luck in England up to that point?
AA : "Well, back in those days it was unheard of. I think Ray Baartz was the only one who went to Manchester United as a young boy, he had couple of years trial there. Johnny Warren went to a team called Stockport who were in the third division in England but it was just unheard of, not like nowadays. In fact nobody really played apart from Joe Marston who was before our days. Apparantly he went overseas and even played in the F.A. Cup. But he was the only one, it was just unheard of. Of course as much as you wanted to no other (overseas) club never even considered looking at an Australian player. We were a laughing stock, we have to be honest about this. These (current) guys have got the Joeys, the Young Socceroos, the Olympic team.

I had the opportunity back in '75 when Manchester United came out here. Tommy Dockerty invited to me to play for United as a guest player against Queensland. But I was already twenty-eight by that time and he said as much as I'd like to sign you and he wanted to but he said you're too old. You're twenty-eight we're not going to sign a twenty-eight year old guy.

GS : Do you regret that at all.
AA : "Of course you do. From the day I was born I was a Man U supporter and for him to invite me to play for United against Queensland in Brisbane was the only time an Australian player has appeared as a guest player for a team like Man United or any overseas team. So that was probably my greatest achievement on the personal side. We were talking about '74 but that was as a squad. On a personal level that (Man U) would be my greatest memory."

GS : And that was in........
AA : "In '75. They came out here to play. I think they played about six games, played three against Australia and they played the usual Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and so forth. I think they played four or five interstate games as well."

GS : Did you get to keep the jumper and the gear after the game.
AA : "Oh yeah. He gave me the whole kit which again was a tremendous gesture. Socks and shirts and badges and bags. They gave me everything and really treated me nicely. Great memory."

GS : You've kept a lot of stuff.
AA : "Well that's one thing I have kept over the years but by the same token I have given a lot away. I've got my very first shirt and I've got a couple of jerseys from the '74 World Cup. I've got the ones we swapped against Germany, I've still got a few of those shirts.

GS : You were a part of the infamous "mudbath" 1970 grand final against Yugal.
AA : "Yep 4-0."

GS : Leo Baumgartner coached Yugal. It was one of greatest coaching triumphs.
AA : "Yeah, and the week before we beat them 4-0 to knock Hakoah out of the grand final. We deliberately played Hakoah out of the grand final because we were winning 4-0 after twenty minutes and Frank Arok who was coaching St George at the time virtually told us not to score any more goals. Because had we scored one more it would have put Hakoah back into the grand final and Hakoah for some reason we could never beat. So by keeping it down to four which meant that we played Yugal into the grand final on goal difference and they bloody beat us 4-0 would you believe (laughing). Talk about rain! That game should never have been played."

GS : Tony Boskovic was the referee and everyone except him thought it should have been called off.
AA : "I've got pictures of it! I've still got black and white shots of that game and all you could see is water. You could not kick the ball five yards. You had to lift the ball."

GS : The St George supporters who went out that day say it was one of the worst days in their life to see the side get beaten under those circumstances.
AA : "One of the stories going around was apparantly Tony Boskovic was flying out the next day. He'd been invited to referee a few games in Asia, in some Asian tournament. So he thought if the game was called off on Sunday the game would have to be either replayed on a Wednesday or the following Sunday and he would have been in Asia and he wanted to referee the grand final. Whether it's true or not I don't know, but there you go."

GS : Do you remember your last game for the Socceroos.
AA : "Yes I certainly do. Do I ever. Against Iran in Teheran. In the '77 qualifiers. I knew that was it. By this time I am like thirty-one, I knew this was the end of the road for me (as a Socceroo)."

GS : You were still playing club football?
AA : "Oh yeah, I was playing for Sydney Croatia at the time. I left St George and went there in '77 '78 and '79 three years."

GS : It must have been hard leaving St George after all those years.
AA : "Very hard. It was just a personal thing. My contract was up in '76 and that was the last year of the original state league. The national league was starting up in '77. Manfred Schaefer was the coach at the time at St George and I went into see him about my contract. I couldn't come to an agreement. It was basically as simple as that after eight years, eight wonderful years. You know, that's the highlight of my soccer life, I had a brilliant eight years at St George. Unfortunately I was thirty one at the time and I had to think about myself for a change, my family was growing up plus national league was starting up. It was more demanding, more travelling, more this, more that, but as far as Manfred could see there was no more money for me. We couldn't come to terms and Croatia came along and offered me more money and so I went to Croatia."

GS : And how did you find your time at Croatia.
AA : "Brilliant. Unfortunately we were in state league, Croatia at that stage didn't go into the NSL but it was tremendous. Crowds, we used to average 8 to 10,000 people in 77' 78'. I was there for three years '77 78' and '79. In the three years that I was there we won the minor premiership, we won one grand final, we lost another one and we bombed out in the third one. So we had a very good three years and financially it was very good. Back in those days you were looking at $5,000 being good money. These guys are earning hundreds of thousands now, but who cares about money?

We never played for money always for the love of it. I can just imagine these guys coming back from England earning two hundred thousand or half a million. I wish I was born twenty years later."

GS : So you weren't paid a great deal for the Socceroos.
AA : "We got five (thousand) for the whole World Cup in '74. That's all the games, all the qualifiers, which in total was about thirteen games plus the World Cup included. Five thousand for the whole lot minus tax so we ended up getting about four."

GS : But they supplied all your gear for that.
AA : "Oh yeah, Adidas did. Adidas was like a Nike - by far the biggest sporting company, plus the fact that it was in Germany they sponsored nearly all the teams. Everything was provided by Adidas of course. Not by anybody else (and not by) the Australian federation or anybody. Adidas purely sponsored ninety percent of the teams in the '74 World Cup."

GS : So you got five grand and a lot of memories.
AA : "Yeah, well, more memories. Like Johnny Warren's Christmas card this year said a lot of memories but no money (laughing). Him and I keep in touch and we always have a good laugh about it and good old chats about times but those were his exact words. A lot of memories but no money (laughing)."

GS : From the '74 team, Johnny Warren has been the only player to have a long term career in the media. Guys like Ray Richards and Adrian Alston on television only occasionally and the others like yourself, we don't hear much about you.
AA : "Well I used to do quite a few on SBS, same thing with Les Murray. I moved here in '89, so for the '86 World Cup I did quite a bit there with Johnny Warren and Les Murray. A few guys occassionally, like now, call in for bits and pieces. But like Adrian Alston, you might see him around World Cup time or something as important as the Iran match, but now you won't see him on television for another three or four years. It's just the way it works. That's the pattern."

GS : It doesn't bother you too much.
AA : "Not anymore."

GS : I thought that being Australia's greatest ever soccer team that there would be more of a profile for all twenty two of you.
AA : I know what you're getting at but unfortunately it never worked that way. You're right, because even the ASF to my knowledge has never offered a particular position to a player. I mean, would you like to be involved in the New South Wales or Australian soccer federation as a representative or a secretary or a PR man?"

GS : Or even an ambassador.
AA : "Nope nothing what so ever."

GS : Its a tragedy because I personally feel that your talents as individuals and as a team haven't been utlilised.
AA : "And to be honest with you they have killed a lot of people that way. I now, having been in Coffs for nine years and you might not be able to tell, have lost a hell of a lot of interest for the game. It will always be with me, the memories and all, but soccer to me now is soccer. It's past, it's gone, it's not something that I live for like I used to.
I could talk to you for forty minutes on this topic, why there is so much politics in the game and what I've seen and what I've heard. I have just had enough. There is a lot of politics in the game unfortunately that spoils the game right from junior level up to senior level."

GS : Are you talking about the ethnic side of the game.
AA : "That might come into it too. And of course there's a lot of bickering and in my opinion the game never took the right direction. There was too much politics involved in the game. Back in '74 they said "Right, from now on soccer is going to kick on" and it just died. It just died for the next ten years until something else came along. We had a lot of interest shown and a lot of publicity for the first time, good coverage and certain people, I am not going to name names, but certain people let it all fade away again with politics and bickering. Somebody didn't like somebody or somebody else instead of thinking about the game itself. And there was always a lot of personal conflicts, a lot of personal interests that played in front of more important issues.

I found that at club levels too. If you're a wealthy guy and you didn't know anything about the game it didn't matter, you were the president. Only because you had the money, not because you were interested in the game or you had some knowledge of the game or you had passion for the game. It was because you were well off, and that to me is not the way. I can say that after twenty years.

My last years at St George, I went back as Frank's (Arok) assistant at St George in '88 and '89 so I have been through quite a few clubs and I have, unfortunately, seen the way it's run and you're right, with the ethnic problems too."

GS : You were player coach at Croatia and you finished there in....?
AA : "'79 as a player-coach."

GS : And then where did you go from there.
AA : "Melita. I gave away playing and by this time I was thirty-three. I thought I'd had enough and I just wanted to concentrate on coaching rather than playing-coaching."

GS : Did you have a lot of success as a coach.
AA : "Well, I was at Croatia for three years and player coach for the last two years '78 and '79. We won the minor premiership in both those years. Then I went to Melita in '80 which was my first year as just a coach, not a player. We won the minor premiership (but) we lost the grand final. So that was three out of three if you like. And from there I was offered a full time job at a little club called Riverwood you might remember in the state league. That was a case of a lot of things coming together at the time. I was working for a sports store in Liverpool with this guy Steven Smith (the cricketer) and that particular store folded. The company (All Round Sports) folded completely so I lost my job like he (Steve Smith) did and everybody else did.

And just at that time, honestly, I think it might have even been that same week at the end of the '80 season at Melita. I mean, brilliant. We won the league, we won the grand final, everything was going well, and a brilliant little club, absolutely brilliant club to work for. Nice people, good facilities and I had no intention of leaving. But Riverwood came along, they used to be called Arncliffe Scots but it was the year they changed to Riverwood, and they offered me a full time job.

I couldn't believe it. I was the only full time coach in the state league back in those days (laughing). How could you knock it back? So I took that on for two years as coach.

The first year we finished seventh I think and the second we finished runners up to Croatia. In fact I think that was their (Croatia) last year in state league before they went up into the NSL. So we finished second to them on goal difference. I left them and was offered a job in Canberra in '83 in the national league with Canberra City."

GS : Did you have much success down there.
AA : "I was only there for one year. They offered me a two year contract but I didn't take it because I still had a house and family in Sydney. I moved to Canberra by myself purely to take on this full time coaching job. But I couldn't move my family, my house and so forth. So I said I'll see what happens after one year. I think we ended up finishing seventh on the table and there was fourteen teams in the NSL. It was quite enjoyable, a fairly successful year. They offered me a two year contract. Then it was a case of what do I do? Do I sell up and move to Canberra or what? And that was the year that Croatia came back into the NSL, '84 was going to be their first year in the NSL. So they rang me up while I was still in Canberra and asked would I be interested in taking Croatia again?

So I thought, what an opportunity, I can come back to Sydney and continue full time coaching. I wouldn't have to sell or move. So a lot of things happened and I came back and took on Croatia in '84. And they sacked me (laughing). Typical! Halfway through the season we lost a few games on the trot and bang! Typical soccer. I said to them at the start of the season that here we are playing in the NSL. We're going to be playing against teams like St George, Hakoah and APIA who are really established and brilliant teams and they have already been in the NSL since 1976, eight years in the NSL. You step up from state league into it. (They said) Croatia must finish up the top. I said you're crazy or what?"

GS : Too high an expectation.
AA : "I said this will take three or four years to catch up to these clubs. I virtually took on that team with a pure state league squad with unknown players. Don't get me wrong, they were good players, but they were just like Barnsley in the premier league. First year, poor Barnsley, bottom of the table. Lucky if you survive. If you don't get relegated you're doing well. Next year you do a little bit better. So I said to them it will take time and they said we cannot wait this long, what about our supporters? And I said well, stuff you, let the supporters do the job if that's your attitude.
But that's soccer of course. Who's to go first? It' s always the coach isn't it? So I left and then I started to be a bit (pause), I don't know. It's not because I got the bullet, don't get me wrong, it's part of the game. But when you give up playing it's never the same.

Once you stop playing, believe me it's not the same. Your passion goes. Coaching is alright but its not like being a player. I started to be a bit sceptical about the game (and) the people running the clubs. Because when you are a player you don't give a stuff what the committee says or what they do or what they think (because) you're playing. But when you're involved as a coach you go to these meetings, committee meetings and some of the shit (pause)..

Anyway, I don't want to bore you. That's what happened and then I thought, that's it, I want a break from soccer for a full year completely. That's when I started working for AMP as a rep selling life insurance. Again, Mike Johnson got me the job there and I thought I'm not going to do anything for a full year. And then in '85 Rockdale Illinden rang me up and asked would I coach the team? So I ended up going there. Probably one of the silliest mistakes, but again I wanted to do it. By this time I had a year off and I was starting to....."

GS : Get itchy feet?
AA : "Yeah, itchy feet and I just wanted to be involved and I went along to their little practice ground out at Rockdale. So I was there and one thing led to another and Frank Arok got in touch with me and said "How would you like to come back to St George?" And magic, back to my love. So in '87 and '88 I was back at St George assisting Frank in the national league."

GS : And from there St George went out of the National League.
AA : Well, I left at the end of '88."

GS : And then you moved to Coffs Harbour.
AA : "That's right. I went to see Frank at the end of the year and I said we'd decided to move up north and I was leaving.

GS : And you're enjoying your soccer retirement up there?
AA : "I love it. The lifestyle is absolutely perfect. It's what we like and I'm now involved in things like golf. I'm been a bloody golf fanatic for the last four years. When you're working and playing soccer, training three or four nights per week plus every weekend you've got no time for anything else. So I thought once I come up here the lifestyle is entirely different. But the first year I was up here would you believe I ended up playing soccer for a little club called Sawtell up here."

GS : You actually played?
AA : "I actually played! It was nine years ago so I would have been forty-two. The reason for that is certain guys found out that I was moving up here. Leo Baumgartner was already here for a full year before I moved up."

GS : Is he still coaching up there"
AA : " No, but he was. He actually coached a club for two years, North Coffs, and then he was director of coaching up here for about three years and last year he just packed it up completely. Again, politics. Certain guys didn't want him in the job."

GS : I can't imagine that because he was arguably one of our best imported players, if not the best.
AA : "I'm glad you said that because it took me all this time to tell him. I've known him for donkeys (years) and we've become very good friends, and it took me that long to tell him. When I was a kid growing up he was my idol and he couldn't believe it. I told him he had no idea, when I was thirteen (or) fourteen, he played for New South Wales while I was still living in Melbourne being a little ballboy and when I heard that Leo Baumgartner was coming I couldn't sleep for two nights. Things like that and he's a mate of mine! Incredible! If you had to ask me who was the best player to play in this country, or import if you like, it's Leo. I have seen him play and he was unbelievable."

GS : They used to call him Sabrina because he was like a ballerina with the ball.
AA : "Yeah Sabrina, that's right. Unbelievable, the little professor. I've got his book too, called the Little Professor."

GS : Has he signed it for you?
AA : "Oh yeah, he did of course. He wouldn't be more than seven minutes in the car from my place to his place. So I see quite a bit of him and his wife. We've been there for a barbeque, they come to our place occassionally and we get on real well."

GS : So who would have been the best player you played with? You can pick a few.
AA : "To play with I'd have to mention Johnny Warren of course. For a lot of reasons. His leadership of course, his skills and ability, but more so his leadership and determination. An example to all of us as a player, I mean he was just a 110% player.

So it's a combination of a number of things. Another guy would be Doug Utjesenovic, the right fullback (for St George and Australia) because we had a brilliant understanding and he possessed so much skill. It's a pity that all his life he was a right fullback, which I thought was probably the wrong position for him. He just had so much skill that he would have been a better player, say, playing as a midfielder. Very creative, very skilful, read the game perfectly and we had a brilliant understanding, so I enjoyed playing with him more than anybody else. Those two would have to stand out in my mind, and Adrian Alston up front. Probably those three I would have to mention."

GS : What about the hardest defender.
AA : "Stan Ackerley without a doubt, the bastard (laughing). I'll never forget when I was playing in Melbourne as a young lad of sixteen or seventeen he played for a club called Slavia. I'll never forget the first game, I actually played against him. I didn't even know who the hell he was. He said to me even before the game kicked off when we were lining up, he just looked at me, he was left fullback and I was right wing and a skinny little boy at seventeen year old. He said these exact words - "I am gonna' break your leg before this day is out". Just then I sh*t myself but that was a put-off of course, but he was by far the hardest defender I've faced. But they are all hard, let's face it. As a forward you find every defender hard."

GS : Coaches - Frank Arok the best you have played under?
AA : "Yes, by far."

GS : Even better than Rale Rasic? I guess it's like comparing chalk and cheese...
AA : "I wouldn't say by a mile, but Frank and Rale, those two in particular. I've had quite a few over the years but yeah, those two would have to stand out more than anybody else."

GS : Do you have any regrets on your career at all.
AA : "Oh no, not at all. I am very, very grateful and very lucky at the same time.

You know how you hear players saying "Ever since I was a kid I dreamed of playing for Australia"? To me, that's such bullsh*t. Now again that might surprise you. When I started playing soccer I only thought about the next Saturday's game. If you get selected to play for your club side at first grade level or New South Wales or Victoria it's an extra added bonus. You're not going to think about it from the age of ten.
I never thought I'd play for Australia. That was never my ambition. My ambition was to be a good player, end of story. If you were good enough or lucky enough to get picked it was unbelievable, but I never thought at the age of ten one day I'd like to play for Australia. And I honestly don't think anybody could. It sounds silly and a lot of people sort of look at me and say that's not right. But people will always say that once they've made it. Have you noticed that? It's always when a guy makes the Australian team in any sport he says, "Oh, I had a dream that one day I might like to play for Australia". But you never hear a guy who never made it say, "Geez, one day I want to play for Australia. That's what fascinates me. I just think it's not possible. I think if you love the game and you're good enough and you work hard enough you'll get the benefits out of it. You'll play for Australia, but you can't actually dream about it. I just don't believe it's possible.

Even Bobby Charlton said the same thing! He said, "I was dead lucky to have been picked for England". All he wanted to do was play for Man United and he said, "All of a sudden I got picked for England, I don't know whether I deserved it or not". Now fancy him saying that! And he's the only guy I've ever heard that said exactly what I always thought."

Not frightened to call a spade a shovel, the talented right sided forward who once thrilled crowds on the pitches of Australia now drives golf balls on the north coast of New South Wales. Now firmly retired from the game, Atti adamantly maintains that's the way he plans to stay. An outstanding person both on and off the field, the countless memories he gave all Autralian soccer supporters will be fondly remembered for many years to come.

By Greg Stock


]]> (Administrator) Interviews With Formeroos Tue, 29 Jul 2008 09:50:26 +0000