THE WA State team has enjoyed much success since semi-pro football changed the face of the game in 1960…but two of the most memorable efforts against international opponents ended up in losses for the locals. And both, coincidentally, were against Italian visitors – AS Roma and AC Milan.
BRETT KLUCZNIK writes; AS ROMA, one of the giants of world football at the time, took on Western Australia in July, 1966, at Perry Lakes Stadium, which was staging an international football match for the first time and attracted a crowd of 15,000.
Goals from Rod Reid and Henry Lukoszek enabled WA to hold a 2-1 lead with only 20 minutes to go, but the Italians responded to the challenge and eventually ran out 4-2 winners.
It was tough on the local heroes, whose match fee of $20 was going to be boosted by an extra $10 if they managed a win or a draw.
The WA starting team was: Lou Ivanoff, Roy Simpson, Neil Morson, Henry Marchant, Peter Atkinson, Wally Musial, Mike Ireson, Rod Reid, Paul Sobek, Henry Lukoszek, Ray Magennis. Subs: Alister Norwood, George Cairns and Lou Andrioff. The coach was Ziggy Pieda.
AC MILAN ended their tour of Australia on a successful note by defeating the State team 3-2 in an entertaining game at the WACA Ground on 1 June, 1980. But the game almost slipped from their grasp when the hosts mounted a late onslaught to score twice in the closing minutes.
A disappointing crowd of around 3000 came to watch the skills of the Italian masters, and they were not let down. Although, in the true mould of continental football, Milan looked deceptively lethargic as they moved the ball from end to end and wing to wing. But full credit to the State team, who adopted a similar style and at times were equal to their opponents.
For long periods of the opening session WA played well and in the 15th minute striker Frank Smerilli went close to putting them ahead when his grass-cutter shaved the outside of the post. It came as a surprise when Guiseppe Galauzzo slid into a cross to score for the Italians five minutes later.
If there were any complaints that Milan were coasting in the first half they were quickly silenced after the break as the visitors moved into top gear. The game exploded in the 57th minute when referee Frank Green awarded Milan a free-kick which Gabrello Carrotti drilled brilliantly into the net.
Six minutes later Roberto Antonelli raced clear after beating the offside trap to place the ball past helpless goalkeeper Willie McNally. WA looked dead and buried – however, they worked their way back into the game with the aid of a few positional and tactical changes. Substitute Dave Fidoe gathered possession in midfield and drove forward, passing to Smerilli who blasted a 20-metre shot past Francesco Navazotti and inside the far post with 84 minutes played.
Three minutes later it was Fidoe’s turn to score in a frantic goalmouth scramble. And WA might well have snatched a late equaliser through Gordon McCulloch but the midfielder’s header was just a little too high.
WA (squad): Willie McNally, Keith Jones, Steve Tombides, Peter Baczynski, Paul McKenna, Lee Adam, Stephen Sceats, Gordon McCulloch, Tony Pragnall, Neil Garvey, Frank Smerilli, John Poleykett, Stephen Snell, Johnny Fiamengo, Dave Fidoe, John Alavakis
AC Milan (squad): Enrico Alberto, Antonio Rigamonti, Francesco Navazzotti, Sergio Battistini, Franco Baresi, Aldo Bet, Roberto Minoia, Aldo Maldera, Giorgi Morini, Fulvio Collovati, Walter De Vecchi, Gabrello Carrotti, Francesco Romano, Antonelli Roberto, Fabio Capello, Ruben Buriani, Alberto Bigon, Stefano Chiodo, Roberto Mandressi, Guiseppe Galuzzo, Walter Novellino