ALAN Vest, Western Australia’s most successful State team coach, was added to the Hall of Legends at the Football Hall of Fame WA’s 20th anniversary Gala Dinner/Induction Night at Crown Perth on Saturday, November 26.
It was a touching moment when the 77-year-old was cheered onto the stage by a record attendance of over 430 to receive his Legends trophy from the State Government’s Minister for the Environment, Albert Jacob MLA.
And making it all the more special was that all six of the previous inductees into the Hall of Legends – former Australian captains Gary Marocchi and Ron Adair, much-capped Socceroo Robbie Dunn, WA’s greatest goalkeeper Robbie Zabica, State League record goalscorer John McInroy and the world’s first female football Legend Sandra Brentnall – lined up on stage to applaud the latest addition to the elite category.
Vest, who was originally inducted into the Hall of Recognition as an outstanding coach in 1996, became the first person to be elevated to the Hall of Legends for coaching achievements rather than playing ability.
The ever modest Vest praised the fine teams he had to work with rather than his own coaching influence for his success.
“We had some terrific players in those days and they deserve all the credit,” he said.
Many of the players he guided to success in the State teams of the golden years of 1974 through to 1976 were among the crowd, including Gary Marocchi, Nick McCallum, Peter Johnston, Aldo Trinca, Hugh Miller, Bruno Marocchi, John O’Connell and former England star John Sydenham, who flew in from Melbourne to pay tribute to Vest. Sydenham, who was picked by Vest to face Chelsea in one of his first State team assignments in 1974, sat beside the coach at the Hall of Fame function.
Vest added that it was sad that two of the State players from that era – Dave Brooks and John Davies – had recently died. Davies, in fact, was posthumously inducted on the night into the Hall of Recognition and the award was accepted by his son Owen.
Vest, who was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, originally emigrated to New Zealand and went on represent the Kiwis 17 times as a player.
He came to Perth in 1974 to fill the dual role of WA Director of Coaching and State team coach. His influence was felt almost immediately with the State side winning their first silverware overseas, the 1975 Marah Halim Cup in Indonesia In fact, they were the first Australian team to win an event in Asia.
This was followed by a sensational 2-1 triumph over Scottish giants Rangers in June the same year. The team had also lost narrowly to Manchester United. “We were unlucky in that game not to get a draw, for we missed a penalty,” he said.
Alan led the State team to another Marah Halim crown in 1976, but then the club heavyweights of the National Soccer League came calling and he went on to coach Newcastle KB United and West Adelaide.
The much-travelled Alan returned to WA to again coach the State team, and he also led club sides Perth Italia and Floreat Athena to titles.
He had successful spells in Malaysia and was tempted back to WA for an assistant coaching role with Perth Glory (2001-05). He contributed to Glory winning NSL titles in 2002/03 and 2003/04 and was appointed interim boss in 2005/06.
He finished his coaching interests with short spells at Inglewood Kiev and ECU Joondalup.
“I still keep tabs on what’s going on locally, but these days I like most of all watching my grandson Christian playing juniors with Balcatta,” he said.
O’Connell, who was the MC for the 20th Anniversary event, said: “Vestie has always been a legend, so it’s great that he has now been officially recognised as such.”
PIC ONE: Alan Vest receives his Legends trophy from Albert Jacob MLA. PIC TWO: Alan making his acceptance speech. Pictures by Richard Kreider. PIC THREE: Alan Vest – the new Legend. Picture by Vince Caratozzolo.