This post eventuated because my very good friend Frank asked me what my memories were of soccer clubs located in Perth, Western Australia, during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
He had searched the internet and been unable to find anything substantial on this subject. To be honest, I struggled to recall any teams other than the major clubs of the time and those I had actually played for.
After a couple of days thought, and my own not-so-fruitful internet search, I began writing down the details I was able to remember, including the limited information I had gleaned from the internet. As is so often the case, the more I wrote, the more I remembered.
I emailed my recollections to Frank and he asked me to post them online. I had no real idea how to set up a website, and still don’t, but I agreed to have a go and “what you see is all you get”…..
The following is not a conclusive history of football/soccer in Perth during the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s but simply the musings of an old ex-player and long-time fan of the “beautiful game”…..
Back in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s when I played football seriously, most, if not all, football/soccer teams were extensions of ethnic social clubs.
First Division Football Clubs in the 1960s and ’70s:
(Morley) Windmills * [Dutch]
(Inglewood) Kiev * [Ukrainian]
(Perth) Azurri [Italian]
(East Fremantle) Tricolore [Italian]
(Balcatta) Etna [Italian]
Cracovia * (I can’t recall whether or not they had a suburb prefix — I think not?) Cracovia was a Polish team which moved to Noranda in the ’80s.
(Floreat) Athena [Greek]
(North Perth) Croatia [Croats]
(Stirling) Macedonia [Yugoslavs]
(Spearwood) Dalmatinac [Croats]
(Fremantle) Benfica [Portuguese]
Bayswater United * (I can’t recall their ethnic origins; they were the first club to have no ethnic indication within their name)
Olympic Kingsway [mixed ethnicity, but predominately Greek]
Ascot * [British]
In the late 1980s, Azurri, Tricolore and Etna combined under one banner to become Perth Italia – reasonably sure about this – but in the early to mid ’90s, they became known as the Perth Soccer Club (PSC). There is quite a detailed wikipedia page devoted to PSC.
Also during my internet search, I discovered that Tricolore is once again an entity in it’s own right and has reverted to its suburb-inclusive name of East Fremantle Tricolore.
I think the suburb prefixes arrived in the 1980s, when the soccer federation was attempting to make the game less ethnic-specific and thereby, hopefully, eliminate inter-club violence.
Also, incorporating a suburb’s name into the title, would make a club more inclusive, and more easily accessible to the average Australian.
In the very early 1990s, ethnic club names were banned by the national soccer federation.
I believe the inter-ethnic violence at many matches, British-based clubs included, was the deal-breaker regarding this “removal of identity” strategy.
In Perth, Western Australia, one of the most infamous so-called ‘violent’ incidents occurred between North Perth Croatia and Spearwood Dalmatinac in the early 1990s. Several flares were thrown onto the pitch, the Yugoslav flag was burned and, at the end of the match, a nearby ethnic nursing home was ‘defaced with paint’.
Most of the violence at matches seemed to occur between the Balkan teams – Croats, Serbs and Yugoslavs – however, this is a gross generalisation which may not be entirely fair, as there were/are good and bad elements in any club.
Anyway, following this incident, ethnic national flags were completely banned from being raised at club grounds.
As a junior – about 12 years of age, playing in the ‘under 14s’ – I recall being intimidated by a man with a knife, while playing in goal for Windmills against Macedonia. My goalkeeping coach came and stood alongside my goal in order to “protect” me although, to be fair, I doubt the adult antagonist had any intention of stabbing me. He was simply trying to frighten me and put me off my game as just moments before this incident, I had saved a penalty. It had been a somewhat scary day, but we did win the game. At the completion of said game, to the best of my knowledge, none of our team, or supporters, stayed for the usual post match socialising at this venue…..
Football/soccer has come a very long way since those early days although, every now and then, ethnic tensions still erupt at local matches, especially in Sydney, New South Wales.
Note: the asterix (*) above and below, denote the clubs I played for, including my junior years.
Most of my playing was with Kiev and Windmills — I had seasons here and there with the other clubs noted, but I always returned to either Kiev or Windmills, mostly Windmills.
I guess that this was because those clubs were where I spent my junior years and where I had learned the game and felt most at home — not to mention that there were no English-speaking clubs in my location. It was very unusual for a “Skippy” to play football/soccer at that time. I was boisterously informed by my peers, that “any Aussie worth his salt would play Australian Rules football”. “You’re a girl, mate!”, was a common slur on my character.
When I became a senior player, I found it quite difficult to remain at a club for longer than a season, apart from Windmills and Kiev, due to that language barrier and our many cultural differences. I was an outsider, and made to feel so, at many of the non-English speaking clubs. However, at that time of my life, my love of the game overcame any obstacles I may have encountered and those years playing football were some of the most joyous and best experiences anyone could hope for.
There were very many more 2nd, 3rd, 4th and amateur division clubs in Perth at the time. As is the norm with any league, different clubs were promoted, or relegated, as the playing seasons progressed.
However, the big clubs such as Azurri, Windmills, Kiev, Tricolore, Cracovia, Ascot and Olympic Kingsway were a constant presence in the 1st division for many years and probably still are, although with the advent of the national soccer league – “A League” – I have lost touch with grassroots, local football.
The clubs listed below were in the lower divisions during the ’60s, but by the mid ’70s and beyond, quite a few had become huge, dominant, 1st division clubs.
Perth City * [British]
Osborne Park Galeb [Yugoslavs]
(Dianella) Maccabee [Jewish]
West Perth Macedonia
Mundaring * [British] (amateurs)
Almost every major Perth suburb had a team and the ones I’ve remembered above are but a smattering of them…..
My memory is being stretched to breaking point trying to recount this information so I can’t categorically state that my time-frames are entirely accurate, but the events certainly took place.
Some of the clubs have had name changes, and some just don’t even exist any more…..
There is much more to be written regarding football/soccer in Perth during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and I might return to the subject. However, I would prefer that someone with a better memory and more knowledge than I possess would complete a history of the subject.