FOOTBALL Hall of Fame WA Legends Gary Marocchi and Sandra Brentnall were amongst those feted by the State Government at the official opening of the Sports Memorabilia section of Optus Stadium on March 15.
Marocchi and Brentnall were special guests as Sports Minister Mick Murray conducted the ceremony that unveiled one of the most impressive collections of West Australian sporting memorabilia along the walls of various corridors in the new stadium, which is considered to be one of the best in the Southern Hemisphere.
“It is a wonderful display and a great honour to be included amongst so many stars of so many different sports that have made a big impact in WA’s sporting history,” said Marocchi.
Apart from Marocchi and Brentnall, the other members of the exclusive Football Hall of Legends – Ron Adair, John McInroy, Robbie Dunne, Robbie Zabica and Alan Vest – are also alotted space on the Sports Memorabilia Wall.
Football (soccer), in fact, has a big presence and there are team photos of Perth Glory’s inaugural squad from the 1996 National Soccer League season – and also a superb photo of the line-up of the Perth Azzurri side that swept the boards in WA competition in 1953.
Azzurri secured the formidable triple titles of the League championship, the Charity Cup and the Challenge Cup. More impressive was that the league crown was achieved with an unbeaten run of 13 wins and five draws. They finished five points ahead of runners-up North Perth, getting revenge after being pipped by North Perth for the title the previous year.
In all, Azzurri played 26 games in all competitions in 1953, winning 21 and drawing five.
Their top scorer was Edmundo Faletti with 22 goals. Faletti was inducted into the Hall of Merit in 2012.
The seven Football Hall of Fame WA Legends aren’t the only World Game stars to be featured in the display.
There are also striking giant action images of WA’s current Matildas star Samantha Kerr, and Perth Glory’s iconic former striker Bobby Despotovski, who was inducted into the Hall of Champions in 2012.
The Optus Stadium display also includes tributes to West Australian greats from the sports of Aussie Rules, Cricket, Hockey, Athletics and many others.
The first major football (soccer) match to be held at Optus Stadium will be the visit of 2016-17 English Premier League champions Chelsea, who will take on Perth Glory in an exhibition match on Monday, July 23.
Former Chelsea and Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer flew in to Perth to make the announcement.
He said: “This venue is truly spectacular, I know the team will be hugely excited to be the first Premier League club to play here.
“There are thousands of passionate Chelsea supporters across Australia and south-east Asia. I’d encourage them to come and watch the team play at this world-class venue and take some extra time to enjoy the very best of Perth and Western Australia.”
It will be the first visit to Perth for Chelsea since 1974, when they beat the WA State side 1-0 in a game that drew a crowd of 15,000 to Perry Lakes Stadium.
Chelsea also played at the WACA Ground in 1965, when they overwhelmed the State side 6-1.
Optus Stadium was officially opened in January, 2018. Tours of the Stadium are available. The tour includes:
•Walk around the most state-of-the-art Stadium in the southern hemisphere
•Behind the scenes changeroom access
•Visit The Locker Room and Coaches’ Room
•Magnificent views of the city from the Sky View Lounge
•A broad array of WA sporting memorabilia
•Wheelchair and pram access throughout the tour
•Duration: Approx. 90 minutes
•Tour times: 10.00am, 11.00am, 1.00pm, 3.00pm
•Tours will not operate on event days or public holidays
PIC ONE: Mick Murray admires Bobby Despotovski in action. PIC TWO: Gary Marocchi’s Hall of Legends tribute. PIC THREE: Perth Glory’s 1996 NSL team. PIC FOUR: The 1953 Perth Azzurri team (centre top) with three trophies. PIC FIVE: Sam Kerr in familiar celebratory action. PIC SIX: Gary Marocchi and his wife Deborah proudly stand in front of the Legends display.
*Thanks to Deborah Marocchi and Richard Kreider for the pics.