AFTER moving to Melbourne over two years ago, former Floreat Athena coach and England international John Sydenham is keen to re-establish his link with Western Australia.
“I still have a lot of friends in Perth and I like to keep in touch with them,” said John, who was recently in the West for a short break.
“It would be nice to see them more regulary, so I am looking at getting back here as often as I can. I am looking at my options at the moment.”
John and his wife Jean moved to Victoria to be close to their daughter Tracey.
They have settled on the Mornington Peninsula, about an hour from the Melbourne CBD. After a serious health scare, John is now feeling fit again and hits the beach most mornings and is back playing golf regularly.
A legend in his playing days with Southampton (he played over 400 games for the club), he was pleasantly surprised when he discovered that Melbourne has a thriving Saints supporters club.
“My daughter Tracey happened to go into a particular pub in Melbourne and saw a picture of Matthew Le Tissier (another Saints legend) on the wall,” said John.
“She mentioned that I used to play for Southampton and she discovered that the pub plays host to the supporters club, which has over 50 members. I’ve since been to functions there, so I’ve got over 50 new friends.”
John, now approaching his 77th birthday, retired from his insurance business when he was 73.
He still has links with Southampton and keeps a look-out for any Australian talent that might interest the club.
A champion left-sided winger he made 401 League and Cup appearances for the Saints as well as playing 58 times for Aldershot Town.
He played for England’s youth team five times, but his favourite memory is an England Under-23 International against Scotland, which ended 4-4. A young Denis Law netted all four goals for the Scots while Jimmy Greaves converted a hat-trick for the English.
John came to Perth in 1974, but stayed for just one year. In that time he represented the WA State side against Chelsea and won a Top-Four medal with Floreat Athena before jetting back to England.
He was lured back to WA in 1980 to take on a player-coaching role at Athena the following year, and succeeded in returning the side back into the State League as Second Division champions. He was also player-coach of Inglewood for a spell.
John was included in WA’s Century of Champions when the 100 best players to have represented the State team were honoured by the Football Hall of Fame WA in 2004.
He plans to return to Perth to take part in the Hall of Fame’s 20th Anniversary celebrations on November 26.
“It is a date that has a priority in my diary,” he said.
PICTURED: John and Jean Sydenham in celebratory mood