IT IS 40 years since Spearwood Dalmatinac won their first State League championship – sparking a decade in which the club dominated the local scene.
Dalies had finished third in the league in 1977, second in 1978 (when pipped on goal difference by Kingsway Olympic) and then captured their first championship, drawing 2-2 in their final league game with Olympic to take the crown by two points.
They also won the Night Series in 1979 (beating Inglewood Kiev 4-2), and were runners-up in both the D’Orsogna Cup and the Top Four Cup.
Their top scorer in the league was Dave Fidoe with 13 goals, while others to shine for Dalies, who were coached by Ivan Pikl, were captain Neil Hardy, Stephen Snell and brothers Tony and Robin Witschge. Snell went on to win the Rothmans Gold Medal in 1981.
Over a nine year period, Dalies won the league title three times, were runners-up five times (several when being pipped on goal difference) and won the D’Orsogna Cup three times in a row (1983, 1984, 1985).
Their most comprehensive triumph in the league came in 1982 when they went through the season unbeaten, taking the title by a stunning 13 points from East Fremantle Tricolore. They also won the Top Four Cup that season. They were coached by John Davies.
Dalies dominant performance in 1982 coincided with the arrival at the club of Englishman Matt Pearson, an impressive midfielder who made his debut at home against chief rivals Kingsway. Dalies won 4-0, with all four goals coming from Frank Smerilli.
Dalmatinac, who amalgamated with Cockburn United in 1998 to become Cockburn City, boasted many other fine players in their golden period, including ace striker Keven Elliott (who topped the scoring charts with 25 goals in 1984), Dave Kamasz, Mark Gray (winner of the 1984 Rothmans Gold Medal), Geoff Cole, Mike Smith (the league’s joint top scorer in 1985), Mel Brown, Eric Williams and Dave Roxby.
Their 1986 league title triumph, by a thumping nine points from Stirling Macedonia, also brought personal triumphs for Elliott (top scorer with 23 goals) and another Englishman, newcomer Kenny Lowe, who streeted the opposition in the race for the Rothmans Gold Medal. Lowe, of course, went on the coach Perth Glory.
Dalmatinac supplied many great players to the WA State team during their golden spell – one of the highlights being when Dalies strikers Dave Fidoe and Frank Smerilli got both goals in the 3-2 loss to Italian giants AC Milan in 1980 – while, in more recent times, several of their former stars have gone on to play for the Socceroos, including Robbie Zabica (WA’s most capped goalkeeper), Scott Miller, brothers Jason and Michael Petkovic, and David Tarka.
PIC ONE: Dalies captain Neil Hardy and president Ivan Petkovic receive the 1979 State League shields from Red Rooster managing dfirector Peter Kailis. PIC TWO: Dalies after winning the 1982 Top Four Cup. PIC THREE: the 1984 Dalies line-up. PIC FOUR: Top scorer Keven Elliott with his prize. PIC FIVE: Kenny Lowe shows off his Gold Medal.