THE CLOSEST thing to trial by hanging in football is to be a part of a committee assigned to select a ‘best-of’ team, particularly when emotion and personal opinion play a huge part in our great game.
As followers of the Football Hall of Fame WA website and Facebook page have seen in recent weeks, Hall of Fame committee members have picked what they consider the best of the best from the past 118 years of men’s senior State representative football, initially broken down into three era sections and covering almost 60 contenders.
This culminated in a combined discussion to eventually select the best eleven, together with seven substitutes. Not an easy task with so many fine players in contention.
A similar enterprise was taken on by the Hall of Fame committee regarding choosing the women’s State senior side, covering a period from the 1970s to 2020. In both men’s and women’s cases, only those players who had represented WA at senior level were considered for selection.
This exercise was in juxtaposition to a similar project by the game’s State ruling body Football West that called on the contributions from football fans nominating their best players and resulting in the Gold Fields State Dream Teams. (Football West will shortly reveal their Dream State Teams, covering men’s and women’s senior sides, and boys and girls junior sides).
Regarding the Football Hall of Fame WA men and women senior team selections, choices were made using typical criterion, that of State and national appearances, club service, personal honours as well as visual assessment where possible.
The State Dream Team Men’s starting X1, as selected by the Football Hall of Fame WA, is:
Scott Miller, Shaun Murphy, Robbie Dunn, Ron Adair;
Stan Lazaridis, Gareth Naven, Gary Marocchi, Con Purser;
Bobby Despotovski, John McInroy.
Bench: Peter Mitchell, Jack Conduit, Theo Paap, Norrie Sutton, John Davidson, Paul Strudwick, Len Dundo.
Coach: Alan Vest
Zabica is one of Australia’s all-time great goalkeepers with 42 Socceroo appearances. He started out with Spearwood Dalmatinac and Stirling Macedonia but it was during a seven-season stay with Adelaide City that his career took off, winning two NSL titles and the 1992 Goalkeeper of the Year. Stints with Perth Glory and English side Bradford City took his professional game tally to 205. He represented the State on six occasions and collected four State League Goalkeeper of the Year awards.
WA-born Miller is best remembered for his nine seasons operating down the left flank with Perth Glory. Time with Spearwood Dalmatinac and Perth Italia preceded a move into the Singapore League where he turned out for Sembawang and Perth Kangaroos. A return to Australia took him to Morwell Falcons and then Glory, with whom he won two NSL titles and made the last of his 274 NSL appearances. He earned two Socceroo caps and turned out for the State 11 times.
Sydney-born Murphy was classy central defender who made 377 professional appearances in England and Australia. He initially made his name with Perth Italia before embarking on an 11-year professional career in England where he played for Notts County, West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United. On returning to Australia he captained Perth Glory to the NSL title in 2003/04. Along the way Murphy gained 20 Socceroo caps, represented Australia at the 1992 Olympic Games and made eight outings for the State.
Scottish-born Dunn came to Perth aged eight, and a few years later was representing the State at junior level (and in 1989 at senior level). He went on to carve out a magnificent career as a quality defender with Kwinana, Rockingham and North Perth Croatia before joining NSL side West Adelaide in 1982 and later playing for Preston and Melbourne Croatia. He played 44 times for the Socceroos, including the 1988 Olympic Games when Australia made the quarter-finals. He is in the Hall of Legends.
Northern Ireland-born Adair arrived in Perth in 1949 and made his State debut just one year later, before going on to captain Australia in 1955 against Rapid Vienna and later against Hearts. He won First Division titles with North Perth (1952) and Swan Athletic (1957) and won the Ledger Medal for the ‘Fairest and Best’ player three successive years – 1953 (North Perth), 1954 (Maccabeans) and 1955 (Azzurri). He has the distinction of playing in every State match during his WA career, being selected on 23 occasions, 11 of those as captain. He represented Australia 13 times and is a member of WA’s exclusive Hall of Legends.
A versatile left-sided player, Lazaridis is currently WA’s most capped player with 72 outings for Australia. He shone locally with Kingsway Olympic, Stirling Macedonia and Floreat Athena before entering the NSL in 1992 at West Adelaide. Three years later he moved to England for 12 seasons at West Ham United and Birmingham City. His 390-game professional career ended at Perth Glory in 2008. Lazaridis, part of four Socceroos’ World Cup campaigns, represented the State on 10 occasions.
It was clear from early on that Naven was destined for big things in football. A strong-tackling midfielder, he represented Australia at the Under-16 World Championship before making his senior debut at Perth Italia, where he won four league titles plus the Gold Medal in 1992. Seasons with Adelaide City, Perth Kangaroos and Sarawak (Malaysia) followed. The natural choice to lead Perth Glory, he captained the club throughout their first six campaigns for a total of 154 NSL appearances. He represented the State 20 times.
Local boy Marocchi is one of WA’s most celebrated players, having shone in 12 seasons in the First Division (starting in 1971), all but one of them with Azzurri. He was with Adelaide City in the NSL for six years. He played 22 times for WA and 14 times for Australia, captaining the Socceroos for a friendly series against Greece. He is a member of the Hall of Legends, the national Hall of Fame and was the first footballer to be inducted into the West Australian Institute of Sport’s elite Hall of Champions.
Collie-born Purser was WA’s first football representative at the 1956 Olympics Games, having made his State debut two year earlier. He played 18 times for WA and was captain on nine occasions. Loyalty to club kept him at North Perth for his 13 season senior career, winning five major trophies that included three First Division championships (1952, 1955 and 1956), one Top Four Challenge Cup (1952) and association Cup (1954). He captained North Perth for five years and coached the club’s first team for several seasons.
Yugoslavia-raised Despotovski wore Perth Glory colours with great distinction across 10 seasons. He established himself as a goalscorer of the highest calibre at Floreat Athena before stepping into the NSL with Heidelberg United and Morwell Falcons. A member of Glory’s inaugural squad, he won two national league titles and in 2006 was named the competitions’ Player of the Year. Despotovski amassed 123 NSL goals in 264 appearances, returned five goals in four games for Australia and bagged eight in eight for the State.
Dundee-born McInroy, who came to Perth as a teenager, demonstrated he was a supreme marksman when he joined East Frematle Tricolore in the late 1950s – but he really came into his own in the 1960s with five golden years. He was the State’s top scorer in 1961 (27 goals), 1962 (32), 1963 (48), 1964 (41) and 1965 (35). He had also topped the charts in 1958 and 1959 before going east in 1960 and joining a Victorian club for a year. His haul of 48 goals in 1963 is still the highest by any player in the league in WA. He is a member of the Hall of Legends.
COACH: ALAN VEST – He is the obvious, and deserving, choice to lead this particular Dream Team. England-born Vest was in charge of WA when they beat Glasgow Rangers (1975) and twice won the Marah Halim Cup (1975 and 1976). He is the only non-playing member of WA’s Hall of Legends.
OUR SUPER STATE WOMEN’S TEAM
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 03: Lisa De Vanna of Australia in action during the International Womens Football match between Australia and China at Aussie Stadium December 3, 2005 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Anna Senjuschenko, Luciano De Ienno, Penny Tanner, Tanya Oxtoby;
Sharon Mateljan, Sandra Brentnall, Collette Gardiner, Tal Karp;
Lisa DeVanna, Lizzy Claydon.
Bench: Maxine Sullivan, Teresa Varadi, Julie Clayton, Michele Matthews,
Coach: Peter Dimopoulos.
Wheeler was Australia’s most capped goalkeeper when she hung up gloves in 2000. The Sydney-born shot-stopper played 11 seasons in the west with Morley Windmills, Forrestfield United, Fremantle United and Murdoch University. Her 24 State appearances includes at four national championships while she featured in two World Cups (1995, 1999) and one Olympic Games (2000) across 56 outings with Australia.
Senjuschenko had the football world at her feet when, aged 17, she was tragically killed in a car accident. A tall, elegant central defender, she played for Kiev Eagles and represented the State in two national championships. Her impact
was so great at the 1978 World Women’s Invitational Tournament, where she made four appearances, that she was selected in the World Eleven.
LUCIANO DE IENNO (nee COLANGELO)
One of the unsung heroes of the women’s game in WA. The Perth-born defender made over 50 appearances for the State across 16 years, seven of those as team captain. A natural leader, she won 11 league titles with Morley Windmills, Stirling Vasto Reds and Northern Redbacks. De Ienno was a key member of the Western Waves 2004 national league campaign after which she announcement her retirement at the age of 36.
Tanner is one of the State team’s longest-serving players, having donned the black and gold between 1987 and 2003. Comfortable playing anywhere in across the back – including goalkeeper – she represented WA over 50 times, playing at 11 national championships with five of those as State captain. On the local scene Tanner has won numerous awards while playing for the likes of Melville Alemannia, Curtin University, Perth SC, Queens Park and Melville City.
Born in the Pilbara town of Wickham, Oxtoby started her senior career with Fremantle and Northern Redbacks. She captained the State team at the age of 20 and shortly after entered the national league joining Northern New South Wales Pride. Captain of the short-lived Western Waves, she also led Perth Glory throughout their first four seasons. Oxtoby ended her playing days with English club Doncaster Rovers Belles in 2012 and is currently coaching Bristol Rovers.
SHARON MATELJAN (nee LOVELESS)
Mateljan was a creative, attacking midfielder who played a leading role in the Matildas foundation years. Born in England, she wore club colours of Azzurri, Ascot, Galeb, Kiev and Steelwood United across 16 seasons from 1972. During that time she won seven league titles, represented the State at 13 national championships and donned the green and gold of Australia on 23 occasions, several of those as vice-captain.
Brentall has the honour of scoring the Matildas first goal in ‘A’ international football. Born in England, she joined Kiev on arriving in Perth and by the age of 15 had made her State debut. National team honours followed soon after with the quick and evasive attacker playing for Australia 19 times and scoring 10 goals between 1978 and 1983. At club level she also played for Girrawheen, Kingsway Olympic, Ashfield, Gosnells City, Beeliar and Leeming Strikers, winning the top flight’s best player award six times.
COLLETTE GARDINER (nee MCCALLUM)
Gardiner overcame two knee constructions as a teenager to become one of Australia’s premier play-makers. Born in Scotland, she enjoyed national league football with New South Wales Sapphires, Adelaide Sensation, Western Waves and Perth Glory and played abroad with Pali Blues, New Jersey Blue Sky (United States) and Lincoln (England). Gardiner’s 83 appearances for Australia includes the two World Cups (2007, 2011) and three Asian Cups (2006, 2008, 2010).
Perth-born Karp experienced international football as a teenager with the Australian Schoolgirls. She played locally for Maccabi, Inglewood Kiev and Perth Italia before enjoying eight seasons in the WNSL with Canberra Eclipse, Adelaide Sensation and Western Waves. At senior level she represented the Matildas 32 times with outings at the 2003 World Cup and 2004 Olympic Games. Karp closed out her senior career in 2009 at Melbourne Victory.
With a Matildas career spanning 15 years, DeVanna is one of Australia’s all-time greats. Born in Perth, as a teenager she represented the State and made her national team debut. Having started out with Spearwood United, she has gone on to play professionally in Australia, England, Sweden, the United States and Italy, where she is currently contracted to Fiorentina. To date DeVanna, 35, has played 150 games for the Matildas for a national team record of 47 goals.
Perth-raised Claydon made a name for herself as a speedy attacking midfield/striker. She turned out for Ascot and Ferndale United, gaining State and national youth representative honours along the way. A switch to Morley Windmills coincided with the first of 26 senior appearances for Australia, a tally that includes the 1995 World Cup. Two seasons at Stirling Vasto preceded Claydon joining Victoria for the inaugural Women’s National Soccer League season.
COACH: PETER DIMOPOULOS – Along with Oscar Mate and Barbara Gibson, Peter established the women’s game in WA. Born in Greece, he played and coached juniors and men’s teams before accepting the position of Women’s State team coach in 1975, guiding the side to that years’ national title. He was named President of the Women’s body Soccer Association the following year, a role he held through to the end of 1985.
PIC ONE: Gary Marocchi, Ron Adair, John McInroy, Robbie Zabica. PIC TWO: Robbie Dunn. PIC THREE: Stan Lazaridis. PIC FOUR: Bobby Despotovski. PIC FIVE: Lisa DeVanna. PIC SIX: Collette Gardiner (nee McCallum) celebrating her last game with Matildas team-mates. PIC SEVEN: Sandra Brentnall.