STATE LEAGUE : DASHING DALLIES DESERVEDLY TRIUMPH
Third in 1977, second in 1978, and at last, top in 1979. So Spearwood Dalmatinac, after a period of building and consolidation saw the fruits of their labours realised as they drew 2-2 with arch-rivals Kingsway Olympic in the last game of the season, and so win the championship by two clear points. There had been a dramatic confrontation between the same two clubs at the end of the 1978 season when Kingsway Olympic beat Dalmatinac by five goals to two, and so won the League Championship that year on goal average. So it was sweet revenge for the Spearwood side and a very jubilant team celebrated their success after the final match.
Kingsway Olympic was second in the league but it was Perth Azzurri who had set the pace throughout most of the season. They were unbeaten until they met Kiev on June 2, after eight games had been played. At this stage Azzurri had an enviable record. They had scored sixteen goals for just seven against, and were fighting to maintain their position. They regained the lead after thirteen games had been played, but relinquished it back to Spearwood the very next week when they went down to Kingsway Olympic by three goals to nil. A draw against Inglewood Kiev and an inexplicable loss to Gosnells City in the last match of the season sealed their fate and the best they could manage was third place.
Inglewood Kiev never took over the lead at any time and were always around about fourth place which is where they eventually finished. In fact the lead was only shared by three clubs throughout the season - Dallies, Azzurri, and, for a brief golden moment, Forrestfield, who won their first game against East Fremantle Tricolore. Gosnells City had a short spell of glory when they went five games undefeated, but after that the rot set in and a series of losses and draws saw them fighting for survival and glad to finish in sixth position. Tricolore had a fair season, but some internal coaching problems didn't help their talented side to maintain its potential and they finished in fifth place.
Stirling Cracovia suffered some heavy defeats throughout the season and their against goals were the highest in the league having fifty scored against them. This was rather misleading, because in Pietraszewski, Szczyglak, and Brysiak they had some of the most skilful and experienced players in the league, and they finished in seventh position, and probably happy to be one jump above the relegation zone. Floreat Athena, who only two short years ago were acclaimed league champions, had gone almost through the whole gambit. They struggled to avoid the dreaded drop, and just made it when they were six points above Morley Windmills, and four points ahead of Forrestfield, who finished ninth. Even the expertise of Reg Davies could not inject into Forrestfield Utd any confidence after Ascot's amalgamation with Kalamunda Utd. A disastrous season by Morley Windmills saw them eventually succumb to relegation to the Second Division.
But Spearwood Dalmatinac were worthy winners. Ivan Pikl their coach had welded a well disciplined side together, and when you know the extroverted natures of players like the Witschge brothers, McNally and Snell, you will realise it was no mean feat for the club officials to lead the team into victory. The club also provided the State League's leading goalscorer in David Fidoe, who netted thirteen times which gave him the prize of $500 from Red Rooster. So what a wonderful year for Spearwood Dalmatinac. First winners of the Night Soccer Series, and now League Champions, with a chance to go on to take all four major Western Australian Soccer Competitions.
ASSOCIATION CUP : TRICOLORE TRIUMPHS
The D'Orsogna Cup kicked off for the 19th time when the preliminary round was held on 31 March. Forty teams took part including four from country areas. There were no unexpected upsets during this round. Albany beat Bunbury City three-nil; Kensington Viola's five-two win over Balga was a surprise to everyone, especially Balga; and Second Division Bayswater Utd notched up seven goals to the South West Association's two. Cockburn Utd travelled to Merredin, and must have trained well, for they arrived on time, lined up their shots, and put eight past the goalkeeper who must have been almost stationary.
Now all the State League teams joined in, and a feature of this round was the closeness of the games between some of the lower divisions and big brother. First shock out of the bag was 4th Division Dianella JUST's win over Gosnells City, and this must have caused red faces at Thornlie Oval, as the jubilant Sunday side left the ground after their victory. Kensington Viola's win at Rockingham was another one for the history books, whilst Cracovia's win at Dorrien Gardens against Azzurri must have been an upset to the sky blues. Albany scored five with no reply from Wanneroo; and East Perth Vardar frightened Morley Windmills by holding them to a three-three draw, and just succumbing to the odd penalty. Caledonians worried Kingsway Olympic by losing with a narrow margin of the one goal.
Giant killers West Perth Macedonia from the Second Division downed State League Forrestfield Utd; Bayswater beat Morley Windmills one nil; and Cracovia were still going strong when they ousted Floreat Athena by a goal from Ted Migas. Albany travelled to Perth and beat gallant Kensington Viola by seven goals to two. Spearwood Dalmatinac and East Fremantle Tricolore both breezed through to the quarter finals by winning their games 3-0, against Inglewood Kiev and Perth City respectively.
Macedonia had marksmen Paul Middleton and Skippy O'Callaghan to score the goals that put them through to the semi final when they beat Cracovia by two goals to one - Cracovia's being scored by big Gary Williams. Tricolore had little difficulty in dispensing with Kwinana Utd when they won three-nil through goals by Cole, Blackmore and Smith. Once again Dalmatinac and Olympic fought it out, but this time the Dallies had the edge and won three-one. Albany carried on their merry way when they added to their already considerable goal tally by beating Bayswater Utd five-one.
I think everyone was expecting Albany to get a real hiding from Dalmatinacs, their State League champion opponents, but Albany were not over-awed by the occasion, and everyone in the large crowd in the stadium were stunned into silence as the countrysiders took the lead with brilliant goals by Marshall and Thornby. But what was more astonishing, they were playing the Dallies with all the aplomb and skill of a championship side. However, eventually hard work and sheer professionalism brought the State League side through to level the score, and then to go on and win four-two. But nobody could take away from Albany their pride in coming so close to shaking the soccer world. The other semi final was without the emotional fervour that was evident in the one just described, and East Fremantle did a workmanlike job in defeating Macedonia by two goals to one.
Mr D'Orsogna must have felt quite at home as he was introduced to the two teams from the Fremantle area, and the large crowd was expecting some fireworks in a match which could almost be termed a local derby. But the Dallies had been under considerable pressure of late - they had just missed out on the Top Four Cup, and had had a hard and hectic, albeit successful, season. But they went out trying all they knew to at least win one more trophy. However, they had no answer to the Tricolore goals scored by Phil Cole, Alf Blackmore, and Andy Godfrey who netted twice. Steve Snell's one goal reply on behalf of Dallies was all but perfunctory, and it was the Fremantle club who carried the trophy back to their premises in triumph for the second year in succession.
NIGHT SERIES : SOLAHART BRIGHTENS NIGHT SOCCER SERIES
Spearwood Dalmatinac won the inaugural Solahart Night Soccer Series when they beat Inglewood Kiev by four goals to two in the Grand Final at the Velodrome on March 25th. In doing so they made a start to one of the most impressive and successful seasons ever had by any club in Western Australia. They managed to get into the final of every competition open for Federation teams, and at the same time took off the State League Championship. But more about that on other pages.
Solahart became sponsors at very short notice, the agreement only being entered into just two or three weeks before the kick off of the competition. It would seem that their sponsorship had laudible success, for the gates were up by ten percent over all on the previous season, and this must be attributed to the substantial and sustained advertising that was undertaken by Solahart throughout all the media.
As the competition commenced, the favourites were probably those four teams who eventually made the Top Four. Kingsway Olympic and Spearwood Dalmatinac had only a few months earlier fought out the League Championship. Perth Azzurri always a force to be reckoned with, and Inglewood Kiev, as usual promising much on paper. It would take time to see if their promise would eventuate into success.
As the first round finished it was East Fremantle Tricolore who looked as though they may cause an upset, as they trampled allover the luckless Forrestfield, and notched up the highest win of the first round when they won by five goals to one. The enigma of a team, Floreat Athena, caused consternation among the clubs. They lost to lowly Forrestfield by three-nil, and then went on to convincingly defeat Spearwood and Kiev by 4-1 and 3-0 respectively.
The rules concerning draws had been retained, as the shoot out certainly gave the goalkeepers more chances of saving, and caused some excitement and entertainment for the spectators. Six games went into shoot outs, including the final, when Kiev and Kingsway, after being locked in a three-three draw, resorted to shoot outs, and Kiev were the fastest on the draw and converted two of their chances, while their opponents could only manage one.
The total number of goals scored were up on the 1978 series, when from all preliminary matches 96 goals were scored, while the number netted during the 1979 series was 110. Inglewood Kiev scored the most. They hit the back of the net 21 times. Only a few players were involved in Kingsway's 19 goals, and sixteen were shared by Bill Murray and Nick McCallum, who were also fop individual scorers with eight apiece.
Highest win or loss (depending on the side you were on) was when Kingsway Olympic beat Gosnells City by eight goals to nil, and the terrible twins Murray and McCallum each had a hat trick. When the night of the final arrived, Dallies were probably the favourites, as Kiev had struggled to reach the Grand Final. They had lost to Spearwood Dalmatinac in the semis, and had only just managed to beat King sway on shoot outs in the final.
So it was a confident Spearwood Dalmatinac team who took the field, and also took the game to their opponents right from the first whistle, and a very exciting match ended in triumph for the favourites when they won four- two. Fidoe scored two, Smerilli and Snell one each. Ripley and Davidson replied for Kiev. It was a we'll deserved win for Dalmatinac, and the large crowd showed their appreciation as Stephen Snell, captain, collected the Cup from Fraser Moodie, manager of Solahart.
TOP FOUR PLAY-OFFS : KINGSWAY COP THE LOT
Would Dalmatinac win the third leg of the Grand Slam? That was the burning question uppermost in everyone's mind as the semi finals started for the Red Rooster Top Four Cup, 1979. In the first semi, Perth Azzurri met Inglewood Kiev at Perry Lakes, and in a real humdinger of a game, the Sky Blues were victorious by five goals to three. Pye 2, Gangemi 2, with the other one by Captain Eric Marocchi for the win, and Lee Adam, Pat Deller, and Derek Henderson found the net for Inglewood Kiev.
Spearwood Dalmatinac, it was rumoured, were still suffering from their celebrations of their mighty League victory, and they certainly played as if it was true. They were no match for a confident Kingsway Olympic in the second semi final, and the 'Green Machine' won the game through a goal by diminutive Len Dundo.
So the league champions were forced to play again in the preliminary final. By that time they had recovered their composure, and had little trouble in defeating a disjointed Azzurri team. Frank Smerilli scored twice, and dashing Dave Fidoe sealed the fate of Azzurri, who were unable to reply. So we were back to the situation where you could be forgiven for thinking you had seen it all before.
Once again Dalmatinac and Olympic would be facing each other to decide a critical competition. The Grand Final was a hard bruising game, played before a fairly large crowd at Perry Lakes. Kingsway Olympic settled down much more quickly, and played the more constructive soccer. It was no surprise when David, in the form of Lenny Dundo, escaped the attention of Goliath Robin Witschge, and slotted the ball past the groping hands of Tony Witschge into the Dallies goal.
Late in the second half that great trier, Stephen Snell, scored one of his long range efforts, and the game now went into extra time. Bill Murray, who had spent most of the game on the substitute bench put Kingsway back into the lead again in the first half of extra time, and then, as the game was drawing to a close there was an alleged hand ball by Stephen Sceats totally unseen by any of the match officials, but it was sufficient to make a section of the crowd erupt and invade the restricted areas of the ground and adopt threatening attitudes so that the safety of the referees was endangered. But as the game came to a rather chaotic close, Kingsway Olympic received the first Red Rooster Top Four Cup from Peter Kailis, managing director of sponsor Red Rooster.
Popular Vinnie Alcock won the Rothmans Gold Medal for 1979 when he polled 54 votes and just pipped Azzurri's midfield dynamo Alan Pye by two. The first games in the 1979 season on 31st March gave no indication of the ultimate result. Alcock didn't gain a vote in his club's nil-nil draw with Kingsway Olympic, and Pye only picked up one from the coach when Azzurri played Spearwood Dalmatinac and won by the only goal scored in that match. The only two players throughout the league to get maximum points were John Davidson and Jim McNeilly, full back of Spearwood Dalmatinac.
However, it is then interesting to note the consistency of the top players. Vince Alcock polled in every match except the 1st, 6th and 16th, although the sixth game played on May 19th saw him out with an injury. Alan Pye didn't miss a match during the season, and his black day to register no votes was the first week of the secret counting. He was just four points behind at this stage, and coincidentally Azzurri were opposed to Athena, so the two top contenders were about to clash, and that game could be all important to either one of them, or both. Although Azzurri won an exciting game by four goals to three at Dorrien Gardens, it was Alcock who picked up two votes to take him six points ahead.
It mustn't be thought that it was just a two horse race, as John Davidson was polling well, and at the end of public counting was on 33. Kingsway Olympic's captain Stephen Sceats was also on 33, while young Steve McCreanor was even in front of Alan Pye at this stage, but unexpectedly didn't play another League game in 1979 and consequently didn't improve his position. Richard Brysiak, the impeccable Polish player, had polled 30, and could improve his position for he was playing well.
So now we came to the big night, August 31. Channel 9 Studios was packed with stars and dignitaries of the local soccer world, our sponsors, and the guest of honour was the deputy premier, Mr Des O'Neil. An expectant hush fell over the gathering as Bob Nicholls, of the Commonwealth Electoral Office prepared to open the sealed envelopes and supervise the counting of the last four weeks of voting. In the first two weeks checked Vince Alcock received just two votes, while in the same period Pye picked up a maximum which brought him level on 43.
The tension in the studio became quite dramatic as the third week's figures were brought to light. John Poleykett went to 30, John Davidson to 37, Pye got four votes and lead with a total of 47. Vince Alcock got five and went one ahead, and now it depended on the last week. Pye could still do it. Perth Azzurri played Gosnells, and lost one-nil. Floreat Athena played at home to Forrestfield Utd, and managed a three-three draw. Pye's performance netted him five votes, and he was then on 52, but Alcock's performance won him the maximum, and enabled him to be the ninth recipient of the much coveted Rothmans Gold Medal Award for soccer's Fairest and Best, in our Sesqui-Centenary Year, 1979.
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