Floreat Athena, whose history has been one of turbulance and controversy, won the First Division Marlboro League Shield in 1977, and in keeping with their record, they did it the hard way. The season for them was punctuated by moments of internal strife that would have impeded the progress of any lesser team. Their secretary, Con Diacos, resigned after a confrontation with the committee and Con Nicolaidis was appointed in his stead.
The other controversial incidents included a punch up between club officials and a player, their players at one stage virtually threatening 'strike' over financial disagreements, and it was no secret that although Bill Dumbell was leading his side to the club's best ever season, he and the club committee were not seeing eye to eye. This was confirmed when he was not retained for the 1978 season, and has since accepted a post with a club in Melbourne.
One of the great features of the First Division during the year was the great battle between Inglewood Kiev and Floreat Athena. These two great adversaries were neck and neck for week after week, with Kiev just holding the advantage until midway through the season. The turning point for them came when they were surprisingly beaten by Spearwood Dalmatinac by one goal to nil, the first match in July. Floreat Athelia went two points in front then, and didn't relinquish the lead for the rest of the season, with Athena just pipping Kiev by one point.
It was by no means just a two-horse race. Azzurri won their first three games of the season, but this success ground to a halt when they were thrashed by Kwinana United 5-1. Although Azzurri were without Gary Marocchi, who had gone east to play in the Philips League, they still had a strong side, with all their big guns out. They suffered another setback the following week, when Inglewood Kiev beat them 3-0, and the writing was well and truly on the wall when they were beaten in their next two successive games 4-1 to Morley Windmills, and 5-2 to Spearwood Dalmatinac. This put Azzurri in the final position of fourth, and surprisingly the unfavoured club Dalmatinac finished one above them in third place.
Dalmatinacs had started off well with a convincing win over Ascot of 5-1; this gave them a boost to their confidence, but even so, it wasn't until late July when they picked up seven points over four matches that any indication was given that they might finish high up on the ladder. Kingsway Olympic finished about midway up the table, a position they maintained throughout the season. Kwinana Utd had started off like a house on fire, and up until late in June were amongst the top contenders, only to fall off, and find themselves in sixth position.
At the other end of the Division, newly promoted Rockingham United had a disastrous season. Although acquiring a number of new players, and playing on one of the best pitches in the league, they suffered set back after set back. Their away record was far better than when they played in front of their own home crowd. Of their total of eleven points, they managed to win seven of them away, and only two home wins, one of them being the very last match of the season when they defeated Ascot by four goals to two. This effort was far too late. Morley Windmills was another club who looked in deep trouble at one stage, but a change in coaches three quarters through the season saw them manage to ease their way out of difficulties.
Without doubt, it was one of the closest seasons for a long time, with the issue still in doubt up to the last minute; but Floreat Athena deserved their long awaited club success, and it was a welcome trophy that they received to accompany the Ampol Cup which they had won earlier in the year. Olympic Kingsway, by finishing fifth in the Marlboro League in 1977, improved tremendously on the position they attained in 1976, when they came close to relegation. They have shown great gains especially in their Reserves team, who became First Division Reserve Champions by defeating East Fremantle Tricolore by one point. Tricolore were another team who managed to show their senior side the way home.
The D'Orsogna Cup had a new look about it for 1977. For the first time since 1970, country teams were playing, and an entry fee of $50 was charged to offset the cost of transport incurred by those clubs who should be drawn against country sides, or vice versa. Geraldton must have considered themselves extremely unlucky in the draw, for they had to make a round trip of over 1,300 kilometers to play in Bunbury against the South West. They must have wondered if their trip was really necessary when they suffered a five-nil loss! Three of the home team's goals were scored by Joe Vikor, better known as a First Division goalkeeper with Inglewood Kiev in yesteryear.
The nearest we came to having a giant killer was Albany, who reached the third round, and lost a closely fought contest with Gosnells City by 3 goals to 1. They had reached that stage by beating both Northlands and Ashfield Dynamo by six goals to nil. It seems evident that the gap between the First and Second Divisions has closed appreciatively over the past few years. Only three years ago a First Division team would have been expected to beat their lower division colleagues by a fairly comfortable margin, but no longer is this so. Morley Windmills just managed to win by 2 goals to nil against Sorrento; and Olympic Kingsway struggled to win against Third Division Kelmscott by the odd goal, whilst Ascot could just manage a 2 -0 victory against Lathlain Meazza.
The highest score in the competition was Azzurri's 8-3 win against Macedonia United, but this was after the game had reached a draw after 90 minutes, and the additional goals were scored in extra time. Gosnells City were the last non-First Division club left at the quarter finals, and they were vanquished at Wanneroo by Olympic Kingsway. In this round Azzurri just managed to win at Kwinana, and Inglewood Kiev eliminated Ascot by 4-2.
Azzurri, who had been winning quite well throughout the proceeding rounds, were favourites to win the semi final against Spearwood Dalmatinac, but goals from veteran Ernie Hannigan, and newcomer Frank Smerelli put the Dallies through to the final, while a consolation goal for Azzurri was scored by Tony Trinca. The other semi-final proved to be a much closer contest. As was anticipated, Inglewood Kiev, Top Four winners, managed to defeat Olympic Kingsway through a goal by Nick Macallum.
On the Grand Final weekend, theCup sponsors brought in a new innovation for the 17th D'Orsogna Cup - a Champagne Breakfast for players, officials and friends of the two finalists, plus the Federation Executive and the media. Federation Secretary Ted Gray acted as MC and provided the ham and corn to a superlative breakfast supplied by the D'Orsogna Bros and prepared and served by the staff of the Sundowner Centre. Both teams were supremely confident as the great day dawned, with Stephen Snell, captain of Spearwood Dalmatinac exuberant and bursting to get on to the field.
The game itself was much better and closer than the scoreline indicated, but in Robert Earl and Nick Macallum, Kiev had two great opportunists who scored their team's complement of goals between them, Earl getting the hat trick and Macallum the other two. Ernie Hannigan again made the score look a little more respectable by getting Spearwood's single goal.
Kiev made it a double when their reserves took off the Reserve Cup. They beat Rockingham Utd by three goals to one, the goals being scored by players who had graced the football fields of Western Australia at the highest levels, Tony Crolla, Tommy Barber and Dave Brady, for Kiev, and Mick McCann for Rockingham. The Under-17 trophy was picked up by Floreat Athena's young squad, with Tony Cimino and Tim Kantor scoring the goals.
Ampol injected spirit into soccer in Western Australia when they inaugurated the Ampol Cup in 1961. This super cup competition raised the standard of the game from the crude uncompromising "belt it blokes at all costs" to a game of refined skills, where coaches and clubs were able to drill into their players their ideas on tactics which give us a fluid, free flowing game of soccer to watch. Clubs and coaches were given the opportunity to experiment and try new tactics, something which was denied them in the restricted limits of the Federation's small League structure.
Sponsorship in their first years was around 250 pounds and today the winning club will take away almost $3,000, plus their share of the gate and any individual awards their players may pick up. Since its inception, the most notable name engraved on the trophy's base is that of Azzurri. Not only have they won it on six occasions, but have been in the final a further six times. This is a remarkable feat which we will probably never see duplicated.
In 1977 a new name was affixed to the trophy. Floreat Athena, who had been struggling in the wilderness for so long, suddenly saw the wind of change and made it their year. Successful coach Bill Dumbell was signed, Bill had brought second division Spearwood Dalmatinac up into the first division, and even more praiseworthy, he kept them there, He must have wondered what the coming season had in store for him; would Dame Fortune smile on him again; would he show the Midas touch which had been so evident with his previous club.
Things didn't look so good on the first night, for who should be their opponents but none other than the erstwhile previous team of their coach. Bill put on a brave face as he left the field of play that night, after seeing his new club humbled by his old, when Athena lost by two goals to nil. However, they picked up the challenge, and improved with each passing game, until we saw them face the inevitable Azzurri in the Grand Final.
A close, exciting game was seen by a good crowd. Floreat Athena eventually ran out winners by three goals to two; their goals were scored by Gordon Ferguson, Paul Hallam, and Martin Pereira, whilst George McMillan and Gary Marocchi replied for their opponents. The Ampol Cup has provided some of the most exciting soccer seen in Western Australia. Played on the brightly lit Velodrome Arena, it is like watching the players on a stage, where every small dramatic gesture is seen and magnified by the environment to the benefit and enjoyment of the spectators.
GOLD MEDAL : MEDAL GOES TO TODD
Gordon Todd's first season in Western Australian soccer will surely be a memorable one for him. Besides his team winning the Top Four Cup and D'Orsogna Cup, and the League runners up trophy, Gordon took off the coveted Rothman's Gold Medal Award for the Fairest and Best player in the First Division. Hailing from near Sunderland in England, Gordon had soccer experience with Wolverhampton Wanderers, Chelsea, and Buxton Town in the North Premier League; he also played for Worksop Town alongside ex-director of coaching, Alan Vest.
Before coming to Australia, together with his wife and two children he spent two and a half years in New Zealand where he played for Caversham and Dunedin City. He also played at equivalent to our State team, and appeared against some of the touring sides. He came to Perth under his own volition, and Inglewood Kiev must consider themselves extremely lucky to have secured his services.
Scores for the Rothmans Gold Medal are published each week in the West Australian, and in the early weeks of the League Season it was Todd's club mate John Davidson who was making the running, and in fact John held on to the lead until midway through June. Gordon Todd polled consistently until it came to the last four weeks, when the votes polled were held in secrecy at the Federation Office.
It was a glittering night at Channel 9 studios when president John Venn and Bob Nichols counted the remaining votes. Amongst the other players with good chances were Chris Proctor, on 33 votes; Peter Johnston on 32; John Davidson on 29; and Mike Palmer, who had made an incredible late run to get into the reckoning as he had missed the first five games of the season. But Todd picked up 7 points from the last four weeks and jubilantly accepted the Medal from Alan Davidson, representing Rothmans.
Gordon Todd (Inglewood Kiev) 45
Chris Proctor (Kwinana United) 38
Alex Smith (East Fremantle Tricolore) 36
Peter Johnston (Morley Windmills) 36
Ray Ilott (Rockingham United) 36
John Davidson (Inglewood Kiev) 35
Mike Palmer (Ascot) 35
The Bill Langley Awards for Fairest and Best players in the other Leagues were pretty hotly contested. Ex-Kwinana United player Geoff Chadwick, now playing for Sorrento, polled twenty seven votes, followed by Peter Strawson of Macedonia United on 23. Gabriel D'Uva, goalkeeper for Northlands was adjudged the Fairest & Best in the Third Division, two votes in front of a player who had been a Rothmans Gold Medal winner in the past, namely Ken Hordell, now playing with Subiaco City. The Under-17's Fairest and Best was won by Scott Dennon, of Ascot, who won by just one vote over Drew Graham of Morley Windmills.
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This page was last updated on the 24th February 2006