Today marks the 100th anniversary of Australia’s first game of international football. The venue was Carisbrook Park, Dunedin, and the opposition New Zealand on Saturday June 17, 1922, when the host nation claimed a 3-1 victory over their Trans-Tasman rivals.
Western Australia wasn’t represented in that first international outing, however, in the intervening years no fewer than 53 players from the west coast have been called for Australia. In commemorating 100 years of the Socceroos we pay tribute to those West Australian’s who have contributed to the rich heritage of our national team.
The honour of being the first West Australian players to don the green and gold is shared by Harold Boys and Walter Gardner. Claremont-born Boys and Englishman Gardner caught the train to Adelaide for the May 1925 friendly against the England F.A., the latter scoring Australia’s goal in a 4-1 loss.
Thistle defender Syd Hinton featured 14 times on a marathon 1928 tour of East Java and Singapore on which Australia faced local club and representative sides. It was a foggy night at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when Paddy Cranswick gained national team honours against South Africa in 1947.
Ron Adair made the first of his 13 appearances against New Zealand in 1954 and twelve months later captained the nation into battle with Rapid Vienna. Con Purser debuted against South Africa in 1955 and John Beveridge against Ferencvaros in 1957. The following year Don West and Doug Stewart took on a Blackpool side featuring Stanley Matthews.
Frank Franken, Noel Adair, Don McArdle, Tommy Clayton and Attilio Pasqualotto debuted in the 1959 friendly with Heart Of Midlothian at the WACA Ground. Six years later Roy Simpson captained an Australia XI that included Lou Ivanoff, Neil Morson, Mike Ireson, Rod Reid and Theo Paap in a 2-0 loss to Torpedo Moscow.
Australia’s squad for the 1975 Djakarta Anniversary Cup in Indonesia included Gary Marocchi, David Jones and Sauro Iozelli. Marocchi would go on to wear the green and gold on 18 occasions and in 1978 became Australia’s 23rd ‘A’ international captain when presented the armband for Greece’s visit to Melbourne.
It was on the familiar surrounds of Perry Lakes Stadium that Ray Ilott collected his first cap in the November 1975 series with the Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics. Defender Arno Bertogna appeared 13 times across 18-months while John Spanos‘ first international outing came during the late 1980 tour of Europe, against Dinamo Zagreb.
Tony Franken commenced his Socceroos career with a clean sheet against Glasgow Rangers in 1984 on his way to gaining 14 selections. Scotland-born Robbie Dunn has the 1986 World Cup qualifying campaign and the 1988 Olympic Games amongst the 36 appearances he crammed into a four-year period.
Goalkeeper Robert Zabica played 42 games, keeping 17 clean sheets, before a knee injury ended his Socceroos career. Alistair Edwards‘ played 22 times after starting out against Czechoslovakia in early 1991. Late the following year Shaun Murphy commenced a 20-game international career spread across 11-years.
Stan Lazaridis stepped onto the international stage for the first time in 1993 against Kuwait. The left-footed wizard overcame a broken leg to chalk up 72 appearances and feature prominently in three World Cup campaigns, including the successful bid to reach Germany 2006.
Goalkeepers Jason and Michael Petkovic are amongst a select group of siblings to represent Australia. Jason commemorated the start of his 16-game Socceroos career by shutting out New Zealand in 1995. Younger brother Michael followed suit four years later in a glamour friendly with Manchester United, albeit without the shut-out.
Scott Miller was called up for the first time to play Colombia in 2001. The following year Bobby Despotovski scored 5 goals in just 4 appearances at the Oceania Nations Cup. David Tarka and Adrian Madaschi both debuted during the 2004 World Cup qualifying campaign. Nik Mrdja came off the bench late in 2007’s friendly loss to Argentina in Melbourne.
Brad Jones featured for the first time against Uruguay in June 2007. Twelve months later Chris Coyne debuted in a World Cup qualifier against Iraq. Capped 17 times between 2008 and 2012, Richard Garcia became the first West Australian to play at a World Cup finals tournament when he started against Germany at South Africa 2010.
Nikita Rukavytsya has featured for Australia on 20 occasions since debuting in a 2009 friendly with Ireland. That game was also Rhys Williams‘ introduction to international football, the defender gaining 14 outings. Eli Babalj and Dino Djulbic were both called up in 2012, the former against South Korea in November and the latter a month later against Guam.
The first of Adam Taggart‘s 16 games also arrived in 2012, away to Hong Kong in an East Asian Cup 2013 qualifier. It was in the East Asian Cup play-off for third against China that Mark Birighitti became acquainted with the Socceroos. Chris Herd made his belated debut in a September 2014 friendly with Belgium.
Trent Sainsbury has played 58 times since his first outing in the same meeting with Belgium. The central defender was named in the Team of the Tournament following the 2015 AFC Asian Cup and three years later wore the captain’s armband against Czech Republic before starting all three of Australia’s games at the World Cup finals in Russia.
Bunbury-born Josh Risdon also featured at the 2018 World Cup finals on his way to tallying up 14 appearances since 2015. Aleksandar Susnjar was called up for the 2018 friendly with Norway. Brandon O’Neill started and Ryan Williams came off the bench when Australia went down 1-0 to South Korea in June 2019.