Hot off the printing presses, Be My Guest: Football Superstars in Australia pays tribute to the numerous overseas superstars to have graced the football fields of Australia. In an exclusive courtesy of Fair Play Publishing, the Football Hall of Fame WA presents the story of England international Trevor Brooking’s 8-game stint with Kelmscott SC.
In 1985 Perth’s English connections saw Kelmscott Soccer Club play host to England international midfielder Trevor Brooking. Established in 1969, the Kelmscott Soccer Club, known as the ‘Roos, is located 23 kilometres south east of the city – at the time, the end of suburbia – and was in the second division.
Only three years earlier, Brooking had been playing for England at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, and two years before that, heading home the winning goal in the 1980 FA Cup for West Ham United. How did it eventuate that a player who had played 647 games for West Ham and 47 games for England, was now playing for an Australian state league second division side?
First, it was his old mate Bobby Moore who told him what it would be like to head down under. The second was through his family book binding business, which had connections in Perth through members of Kelmscott Soccer Club. Brooking decided to make his trip to Perth a proper football holiday.
Through fundraising and sponsors, Kelmscott were able to generate enough funds to allow for Brooking not to earn crazy money, but to have an all expenses trip to Western Australia covered. Jim Butterfill was the Kelmscott club president at the time and recalls their efforts. “There was nobody more surprised than us when he agreed to come.”
“He came at a price of about $12,000 for six weeks. We got local sponsors to raise the money to get him out here. Toyota supplied him with a car – he just had to do an advert jumping up and down doing the ‘Oh what a feeling’. Our shirt sponsor ‘Film Show Video’ also got him to do an advert. The local hotel supplied him with accommodation. He did promotions for Kmart and coaching clinics with the kids. Everything seemed to fall into place.”
Such was Brooking’s status in the United Kingdom, his stint in Australia even made the newspapers with the headline ‘Brooking Down Under’. Outside of his games against suburban Perth clubs such as Rockingham United, Wanneroo and Balcatta Etna, Brooking had a full calendar, with dinners, promotional work and clinics.
Brian Wheatley was club trainer for the ‘Roos in 1985 and he remembers how Brooking adapted to the drop in playing standard and made the team better, even from just observing. “He wasn’t taking training sessions, he was just making finer points and adjustments to training sessions. He would collect the ball and pass it and everyone would go, ‘Oh now I see why you passed it there!'”
“His thinking was two or three chess moves ahead of his teammates, and they were pretty smart footballers. They came to an understanding where he would take his football thinking down a notch and they would lift their thinking up a notch. Little things like it’s the player who’s passing the ball who does the work on the ball, not the player who’s receiving the ball.”
That year with Brooking in the team, Kelmscott hosted premier local club Floreat Athena in the knockout D’Orsogna Cup, where 1,500 people turned up to the game – a far cry from the usual 100 or so made up of family and friends. Brooking ended up playing six league games, the D’Orsogna Cup tie and an exhibition game against a Western Australia select XI, scoring and setting up a few goals in the process.
Former Southampton winger John Sydenham remembers Brookings visit well. “After we played in that exhibition game, we took Trevor to Yanchep Sun City, for the day to play golf. A couple of us laid it all on for him. After golf we came back for a meal and when I was about to organise to pay for him, he wouldn’t hear of it. He absolutely insisted, got out his wallet and paid for the golf and the food. He is just an absolute gentleman. Just delightful.”
Brooking being a gentleman is a common theme from all of those who have crossed his path. He didn’t drink, he didn’t smoke, he liked reading and he liked playing golf. In his player profile published in the Kelmscott match day program, when asked what occupation he would be if he wasn’t a footballer he said ‘accountant’.
His impeccable skills and values for the game helped Kelmscott have a great season. The senior side finished second in 1985, four points adrift of leaders Gosnells City whilst their reserve team finished on top losing only twice for the year. They were rewarded with promotion to play in Perth’s semi-professional Premier League the next season.
They were relegated after one season in 1986 but they did manage to win their only D’Orsogna Cup against Kingsway Olympic in a great final winning 2-1 after trailing 1-0. “We went back down the next year,” says Butterfill, “but as Trevor said you don’t want to stray too much from being a local club. Once you go up you need more dollars.”
Following Brookings’ Kelmscott appearances, he managed West Ham in 2003, became the FA’s Director of Football Development from 2004 to 2014, was knighted in 2004, and in 2009 Upton Park named a grandstand after him. Such is his status in the UK, that Sir Trevor Brooking was even a guest at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Hopefully the catering at the royal wedding compared favourably with the fish and chips and mushy peas supper served at Kelmscott Soccer Club for their West Ham Reunion night.
It is an incredible piece of Australian football history that Brooking and fellow footballing legends Bobby Charlton, George Best, Alan Ball, Mick Channon, Ted MacDougal, Bobby Moore and Jimmy Case graced the pitches of Perth in the 1980s and 1990s.
Be My Guest: Football Superstars in Australia by Jason Goldsmith and Lucas Gillard is published by Fair Play Publishing, a publishing house that specialises in books about Australian football history and culture. It is available now from www.fairplaypublishing.com.au for $34.99; as well as good bookstores or Amazon in paperback or as an ebook from today.