JUNE 22 : A GREAT DAYS FOR WA SOCCER
WA 2 Glasgow Rangers 1 - That is the unbelievable scoreline that greeted the WA sporting public in "The West Australian" on Monday, June 23, 1975. This match was undoubtedly the highlight of a fantastic international season for WA. In fact, it must rank as the highlight of WA soccer history. It was a scoreline that left Rangers manager Jock Wallace in a pensive mood as he paid tribute to WA's fighting effort. When asked for a comment after the game, Wallace replied: "What is there to say, the score says it adequately enough for everyone."
It was a score that left nearly 9,000 spectators jumping for joy and hundreds running across the Perry Lakes Stadium. The fans were not seeking out the famous visitors, but competing to reach and touch the local heroes and carry them off in triumph. The match was the culmination of the greatest year in WA soccer history. It was planned by WA's new coach, the state director of coaching Alan Vest, and executed by a band of dedicated players, who were determined to push the state's international record to unexpected heights.
The year started badly in many ways for Vest and WA when they faced the Polish first division side Legia Warsaw at Perry Lakes Stadium. Regarded as one of the finest clubs in Europe, Legia ambushed an underprepared state team. WA started well enough and came close to scoring twice. But generally WA were outplayed, with the legendary Kazimiersz Deyna in complete control of the midfield, scoring two goals, one a superb curling free kick from 18 metres. While WA managed to equalise Legia's first goal through Johnny Davidson, Ray Ilott's goal four minutes from the end could only be called a consolation for the home side.
The turning point in WA's fortunes undoubtedly came with an unexpected tour to Indonesia for the Marah Halim Cup competition. It came at a bad time for WA, coinciding with the start of the Marlboro league season. But the clubs, mainly from the second and third divisions, insisted that the tour be accepted. It was fortunate that there were far-sighted members in the Federation because the Marah Halim provided WA with stunning success, winning the tournament in fine fashion.
They were only beaten once, by a district side called Ujung Pandang. WA had some close shaves, but in the end won the final by beating South Korea 2-0 in front of 40,000 spectators. Not only did WA win the tournament, but striker Nick MacCallum was the top goal scorer in the series with seven goals, and WA referee Barry Harwood was voted top referee. Just as Important for WA was the moulding together of a bunch of players and Vest Into one unit with the same ideas. In the four-week tour, WA produced a new combination that was to rock the illustrious visitors to WA in 1975.
Almost immediately on their return, the state players were faced with club matches, after Vest had released them despite the first international against the English first division side Middlesbrough the next day. But the extra run seemed to have a beneficial affect and WA were unlucky not to beat Middlesbrough, having to settle for a 1-1 draw under atrociously wet conditions. Once again it was Ray Ilott who scored WA's goal, and he was unfortunate not to have had a hat-trick, one of his goals, a tremendous 30 metre angle shot, being disallowed. Middlesbrough, fielding five internationals, were made to struggle, and their manager Jackie Charlton, the famous former England and Leeds United defender, found he was unable to take a risk by playing himself in the tight situation.
The name Manchester United has a magic that attracts crowds wherever they go, even when they languish in the second division. In 1967 they came to Australia with the likes of Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law pulling tens of thousands through the gates. In WA they created a record 21,000 spectators, still a record. They thrashed WA 7-0 and probably could have doubled the score had they tried. But in 1975 they struggled to beat WA 2-1, and should consider themselves lucky to have registered such a score-line.
Once again a big crowd turned up, and 14,000 saw WA come from a two goal deficit, with goals by Steve Coppell and Sammy Mcllroy, to almost snatch the game from United. Late in the first-half, WA wasted a penalty when George McMillan blasted his spot shot right at goalkeeper Alex Stepney. But he redeemed himself in the 55th minute when he took a superb 40 metre through ball from Ray Ilott, beat defender Martin Buchan and scored with a magnificent 10 metre drive. It was Stepney, the only member of the '67 side, who said that WA had come a long way in the skills and techniques of the game.
WA have threatened to score a major victory against an overseas side for some time. But no-one really thought WA would end a 37-year drought against one of the world's most famous teams, specially one that had just won a first division championship. The last time WA won at home was in 1938 when they beat India 3-1, and before that when they defeated China 4-1 in 1927. The drought ended against Glasgow Rangers who sported three current Scottish internationals in Stewart Kennedy, Colin Jackson and Derek Parlane, to say nothing of a clutch of former internationals.
As always, WA started hestitantly and allowed Rangers to chalk up some near misses with state goalkeeper Tony Witschge demonstrating outstanding form as he had done against Manchester United. Midway through the half WA came to life and Rangers lived with luck for a while. But just when it seemed the first-half would end goalless, Derek Johnston received an overhead flick from Quinton Young to crack home a powerful five-metre goal. Almost immediately referee Barry Harwood awarded WA a penalty for a foul on Ray Ilott. But for the second time in little more than a week, a WA player missed a penalty when Frank Bibby's weak shot was easily saved by Kennedy.
The second-half belonged to WA as they fought tenaciously for possession and surprisingly looked fitter . In the 76th minute, the stadium erupted in wild cheering as Dave O'Callaghan won possession, crossed low to Ilott who steered the ball inside the far post. Then unbelievably Bibby made a brilliant overlap run, passed to Dave Brooks, whose low pass found George McMillan who quickly cracked home an historic ten-metre goal to give WA victory.
WA 2 (Davidson, Ilott) Legia Warsaw 4 (Deyna 2, Nowak, Pieszko)
WA 4 (O'Callaghan 2, MacCallum, Morton) Surabaya 1
WA 2 (MacCallum, O'Callaghan) Thailand 1
WA 1 (Morton) Ujung Padang 2
WA 4 (MacCallum 3, O'Callaghan) Japan 2
WA 2 (Brooks, Morton) Jakarta 1
WA 2 (Kirkpatrick, Morton) Japan O
WA 3 (Brooks, Hannigan, MacCallum) Thailand 1
WA 2 (Hannigan, MacCallum) South Korea O (Final)
WA 1 (Ilott) Middlesbrough 1 (Mills)
WA 1 (McMillan) Manchester United 2 (Coppell, Mcllroy)
WA 2 (McMillan, Ilott) Glasgow Rangers 1 (Johnstone)
WA Under-23 2 (Sceats, Jones) Western Suburbs (N.S.W.) 2 (Ainsiie 2)
TEAM verses Legia Warsaw: Steve Pateman, Colin Bowles, Sauro lozzelli, John Poleyket, Dave Brooks, Steve Stacey, Denis Barstow, Gary Mateljan, Alex Senjushenko, John Davidson, Alan Vest, Gary Marocchi, Stephen Sceats, Ernie Hannigan, Ray Ilott, Ken Morton
TEAM for the Marah Halim Cup: Steve Pateman, Tony Witschge, Sauro Iozzelli, Denis Barstow, Dave Jones, Steve Stacey, Bob Taylor, Gary Marocchi, Aldo Trinca, Stephen Sceats, Ernie Hannigan, Dave Brooks, Nick MacCallum, Ken Morton, Dave O'Callaghan, Bert Kirkpatrick
TEAM verus Middlesbrough: Tony Witschge, Steve Pateman, Sauro Iozzelli, Bob Taylor, Steve Stacey, Denis Barstow, Dave Jones, Dave Brooks, Gary Marocchi, Aldo Trinca, Stephen Sceats, Dave O'Callaghan, Nick MacCallum, Ken Morton, Bert Kirkpatrick, Ray Ilott, George McMillan
TEAM versus Manchester United: Saverio Madaschi, Tony Witschge, Steve Pateman, Frank Bibby, Denis Barstow, Steve Stacey, Bob Taylor, Dave Brooks, Stephen Sceats, John O'Connell, Dave O'Callaghan, Roy Ilott, George McMillan, Ken Morton, Aldo Trinca, Bert Kirkpatrick
TEAM versus Glasgow Rangers: Tony Witschge, Saverio Madaschi, Frank Bibby, Denis Barstow, Steve Stacey, Bob Taylor, Dave Jones, Sauro Iozzelli, Dave Brooks, Stephen Sceats, John O'Connell, Aldo Trinca, Gary Marocchi, Ray Ilott, George McMillan, Ken Morton, Dave O'Callaghan, John Davidson, Bert Kirkpatrick
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This page was last updated on the 24th February 2006