Soccer Awards

A Salute to the Greats of the West…

FROM THE VAULTS…In this 60th year since the introduction of semi-pro football in WA, here’s a timely reminder of some of the greats who have graced the game in the West (and nationally and internationally) – and who have also been inducted into the Football Hall of Fame WA.
A total of 29 players were the first to be honoured in the inaugural Hall of Champions in 1996, while 17 coaches, referees, administrators and others were embraced by the Hall of Recognition at a glittering function which was the first Hall of Fame event to be held anywhere in Australia.
Those early inductees included former Australian captains Ron Adair and Gary Marocchi; goalscoring wizards John McInroy, Len Dundo and Alan Beale (600 goals in his senior career); State cap record holders John O’Connell and Peter Holt; star women players Sandra Brentnall and Sharon Mateljan; WA’s first Olympic Games footballer Con Purser; Socceroos David Jones and Ray Ilott; Under-23 international John Davidson; record five-time Gold Medal winner Theo Paap; coaching supremo Alan Vest; and top referees Roy Stedman and Barry Harwood.
*In later years, former Socceroos players Robbie Dunn (capped 44 times), Robbie Zabica (WA’s most capped goalie), Stan Lazaridis (WA’s most capped international), Arno Bertogna (13 senior caps, Under-23 captain 14 times), Alistair Edwards (22 and 5 goals), Tony Franken (16), Shaun Murphy (20 and 3 goals), Bobby Despotovski (4 and 5 goals), Scott Miller (2), Chris Coyne (7), John Spanos (3) and Jason (16) and Michael Petkovic (7) (the first brothers to fill goalkeeping roles for Australia) were inducted into the Hall of Champions.
*Others whose sterling playing efforts have been recognised include Steve Stacey and Denis Barstow (respectively the captains of WA’s Marah Halim Cup-winning sides in 1975 and 1976); ace goalscorer John Van Oosten; the magical Ernie Hannigan; star goalkeepers Tony Witschge, Peter Mitchell, Willie McNally, Steve Martin and Andy Petterson; super twins Gareth and Craig Naven; the dynamic Norrie Sutton; Matildas World Cup keeper Tracey Wheeler; FIFA history-maker Tony Carbone; the classy Allan Pottier; impressive Perth Glory trio Jamie Harnwell, Paul McVittie and Paul Strudwick; scorers supreme John Hunter, Willie Kelly, Paul Tombides and Keven Elliott; State team stand-outs David O’Callaghan (joint record holder for WA caps), Nick MacCallum, Hugh Miller, Rene de Koning, Ronnie Campbell, Steve Bourne, Alex Cummings and Alan Armstrong.

*In the Hall of Recognition there have been awards to top coaches Graham Normanton, Stuart Kamasz, Ron Tindall, Eric Williams, John Birighitti, Doug Stewart, John Davies and Mickey Brennan; and to administrators Roger Lefort, Ted Gray, Julius Re, Bob Brown, John Venn, Roger Males, David Schrandt and Peter Faulks; referees Andy Gorton, Dave Mortimer, Eddie Evans, Marilyn Learmont, Angelo Nardi, Steve Muldoon – and WA’s only World Cup finals referee Eddie Lennie.
*Australian football’s first Hall of Legends was established in 2005 with a dazzling quartet – Gary Marocchi, Robbie Dunn, Ron Adair and John McInroy. In later years Sandra Brentnall, Robbie Zabica and Alan Vest were added to the list of Legends.
*In all, there have been 186 inductions into the Football Hall of Fame WA – and 31 of them were saluted at a memorable Induction Night at Crown Casino in 2016 when Special Guests, former Perth Glory coach Bernd Stange and SBS football analyst Les Murray, handed out the plaques.
*Apart from the Induction Nights, there have been many other special functions held to pay tribute to those who have contributed so much to the game in WA. For instance, to celebrate 100 years of State team football, covering a period from 1902 to 2002, the Committee of the Hall of Fame embarked on the tough task of naming the Top 100 players of that period – a Century of Champions.
It was a mammoth undertaking and one which initially brought a ‘short list’ of nearly 200. Once whittled down, the Century of Champions included over 30 Australian internationals and Olympians plus several players with international experience with England, Scotland, Wales and Poland who had graced the local stage with their style, flair and elegance. The Top 100 were then saluted at a special event in 2004 at which Russell Goodrick was the Master of Ceremonies.

The champions included big Scotsman Roy Simpson, who captained the State team in the 1960s and also skippered an Australian Eleven in a challenge game against Moscow Torpedo. Simpson’s Cracovia club team-mate Paul Sobek, who added multiple appearances for WA to the honours he had picked up as a Polish international, was also included in the Top 100, as was another Poland and Cracovia star Henry Lukoszek, who turned on 13 memorable efforts for the State side in the 1960s.
Former England Under-23 international John Sydenham represented the State during a spell with Floreat Athena. Former Welsh international Reg Davies was also on the Champions list, as was one of WA’s brightest women stars Anna Senjushenko, who was named in a World Eleven after a tournament in Taiwan. Sadly, she was killed in a car crash while still a teenager.
The stand-out player from the early days of football in WA was Jack Conduit, who was a junior with Perth City in 1919 and later went on to score a remarkable 421 goals in 262 games with Victoria Park; Scotsman James Gordon, who came to Australia in 1910, was another prolific scorer, getting 78 in one season with Perth City; Alex Marr was considered the best goalkeeper in WA in the 1920s and 1930s, playing for Fremantle Rovers and Fremantle Caledonians.

*For the full list of the Top 100 see the Century of Champions Category on the Menu Bar. It includes profiles of all the greats.
*In 2006, special presentations were made to Stan Lazaridis, Tony Franken and Alistair Edwards to recognise their international achievements. At the same function, an FFA representative handed out long-overdue Australian caps to Con Purser, Ken Boden, Gary Marocchi, Scott Miller, Shaun Murphy, Ray Ilott, Alistair Edwards, Jimmy Pearson, Bobby Despotovski, Ron Adair and David Jones.
*In 2019, three record-setters were heralded at a Hall of Fame function at Dorrien Gardens – Eddie Lennie (WA’s only World Cup finals referee); Ron Adair (only player to win three successive Gold Medals with three different clubs); Theo Paap (record five-time Gold Medal winner).

PICTURED: The seven Hall of Fame Legends; Line-up of those who received Australian caps, 2006; Hall of Champions inductees in 2016; Former Man United star Francis Burns with WA players who faced Man United; Hall of Recognition inductees 2016; Special awards to Ron Adair, Theo Paap, Eddie Lennie; Jamie Harnwell and Bernd Stange; Tommy Carruthers, Les Murray and Hall of Fame Patron Julian Burt; Sandra Brentnall, Ron Adair, Alan Beale at the 1996 inductions; Politician Vince Cantania with Alistair Edwards, Tony Franken, Stan Lazaridis.

Share this post