FOOTBALL West has revealed its Gold Fields State Junior Boys Dream Team – and what a line-up it is, underlining the huge wealth of talent that has come through the WA football ranks at junior level over the past century.
It is Football West’s way of celebrating the Best of the Best youngsters from Junior State teams (the early WA State juniors go back to the 1920s). But those selected are more recent and every one of those chosen (with an input from the WA football public) has progressed from junior acclaim to make impacts in the international game, either at senior, under-23 or under-20 level with Australia. The selection also honours a father and son.
The Junior Boys Dream Team includes current Socceroos in Trent Sainsbury, Josh Risdon, Brandon O’Neill, Adam Taggart and Nikita Rukavytsya.
There is recognition, too, for Socceroos stars from the past – Tony Franken, Alistair Edwards, Chris Coyne and Richard Garcia.
And Young Socceroos Scott Galloway and Ryan Edwards, who have both played for Australia at under-23 and under-20 level, are also in the line-up. Both were in the squad that played in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup finals in Turkey in 2013, while Edwards has also skippered the under-20 team.
The Football West Junior Boys Dream Team is:
Josh Risdon, Chris Coyne, Trent Sainsbury, Scott Galloway;
Brandon O’Neill, Ryan Edwards, Richard Garcia;
Alistair Edwards, Adam Taggart, Nikita Rukavytsya.
Franken, Coyne and Edwards are all inductees into the Football Hall of Fame WA.
Alistair Edwards (the father of Ryan) was born in South Australia but brought up in Kwinana. He made his first big impact as a member of the WA team that won the Australian under-18 title in 1986. He enjoyed a varied career in England, Malaysia and Singapore before joining Perth Glory. He was inducted into the Hall of Champions in 2008.
WA-born Tony Franken was a talented junior with East Fremantle Tricolore before gaining a scholarship with the Australian Institute of Sport. He played in the NSL with various clubs over east before joining Perth Glory in 1997. He is currently goalkeeper coach with the Socceroos. He was inducted into the Hall of Champions in 2012.
Chris Coyne was born in Brisbane but raised in WA. He was an outstanding centre-back with Perth Italia at age 17 (he was capped at under-17 level for Australia) and was snapped up by West Ham in 1996. He enjoyed a lengthy career in England before joining Perth Glory in 2009. He is now a very successful coach with Bayswater and has also coached the State team. He was inducted into the Hall of Champions in 2016.
Richard Garcia and Nikita Rukavytsya are unique in the Dream Team as they can claim a slice of WA football history. They were the first two West Australians to compete in the finals of a senior FIFA World Cup – in South Africa in 2010.
Perth-born Garcia became the first West Australian to take the field in a World Cup finals campaign when he was in the starting line-up for Australia’s Group D match against European heavyweights Germany, who won 4-0.
Coach Pim Verbeek opted to start Garcia as a central attacker against Germany. The then Hull City man – who also made another bit of history when he became the first Tiger to play at a FIFA World Cup – worked tirelessly against the Euro superstars before being replaced midway through the second half by Rukavytsya.
So, former Perth Glory, Perth SC and Inglewood United striker Rukavytsya, who was born in Ukraine, became the second WA player to take part in a World Cup finals game. Rukavytsya was also used as a sub in Australia’s second group game – a 1-1 draw with Ghana – while Garcia came on as a late sub as the Socceroos finished their campaign in South Africa with a 2-1 win over Serbia.
Trent Sainsbury is probably the biggest talent from WA to have hit the international stage since Stan Lazaridis made the breakthrough in the 1990s. Sainsbury has made a dramatic impact, captaining Australia several times and being man of the match in the Asian Cup Final win over South Korea in 2015. He was an eye-catching junior initially with Armadale in the mid-2000s.
Bunbury-born Josh Risdon was plucked from South-West junior football to play for Perth Glory when still a teenager. He made over 140 appearances for the Glory and is now with Western United. He played for the Socceroos in the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.
Adam Taggart was an impressive junior with ECU Joondalup and the Football West NTC squad. He had two seasons with Perth Glory before going on win the A-League Golden Boot when with Newcastle Jets. He played for the Socceroos in the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
Brandon O’Neill is another product of ECU Joondalup. Perth Glory signed him as a teenager, but he really made his mark with Sydney FC from 2015 to 2020 as a key defensive midfielder. Made his Socceroos debut against South Korea in 2019.
Scott Galloway was a junior with Gosnells and gained a scholarship with the AIS. He joined Melbourne Victory as a teenager and has played nearly 30 games at under-age level for Australia.
Ryan Edwards was born in Singapore. He also joined the AIS as a youngster and, apart for a short spell with Perth Glory, has played mainly in England and Scotland. He has made nearly 40 appearances for young Australian teams.
Former Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe has been named coach of the Junior Boys State Dream Team.
England-born Lowe, who had a successful one-season stay as a player with Spearwood Dalmatinac in 1986, returned to WA in 2002 to take up various coaching duties with Perth SC. He joined Football West to take charge of the youth National Training Centre squad. He became Perth Glory’s coach in 2013, leading the team to the 2014 FFA Cup final, and then had a stint as one of Socceroo boss Graham Arnold’s assistants in 2018. He is currently coaching with ECU Joondalup.