The Superstars

We look at some instances when the real superstars of the world game, graced us with their presence on our pitches.

Bobby Moore For Inglewood Kiev 1

When the big names came to town

Western Australia was a magnet for some of the biggest names in world football during the 1980s – including Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, George Best, Alan Ball, Trevor Brooking and Mick Channon. These days, Charlton is Sir Bobby and Brooking is Sir Trevor.

Charlton Visits Perth

It was Bobby Charlton, who made over 600 appearances for Manchester United, that started the trend of the “Superstars Down Under” when he arrived in Perth in 1980 to play a series of games as a celebrity guest of Perth Azzurri. The England World Cup winner, then 41 years of age, played three games in the night series – and demonstrated he had lost none of his flair, or hunger, by scoring twice.

Off the field, Charlton worked tirelessly to promote the game. He spoke at seminars, attended social gatherings, visited schools and hospitals and even shared the Perth Concert Hall stage with Max Bygraves and Danny La Rue in order to spread the football gospel.

Charlton, who was knighted in 1994, was an inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002. Interestingly, this was set up six years after our very own trail-blazing Hall of Fame had been established.

Perth Azzuri
Bobby Moore and Ron Moss

England’s World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore – then aged 38 –  travelled to WA in 1981 to turn out in two games for Inglewood Kiev. Unfortunately, the West Ham United legend was unable to inspire Inglewood to victory with Azzurri (1-0) and Gosnells City (2-0) claiming the spoils. Moore then switched to Rockingham United for a one-off appearance. He also linked up with Cracovia in 1982 to play two games on a short tour of Malaysia.

Moore died of cancer at the age of 51 in 1993. England manager Alf Ramsey said of him: “My captain, my leader, my right-hand man. He was the spirit and the heartbeat of the team. A cool, calculating footballer I could trust with my life. He was the supreme professional, the best I ever worked with. Without him England would never have won the World Cup.”

Another England star, Mick Channon, donned Gosnells City colours against Kingsway Olympic in 1981. The Southampton and Manchester City player satisfied local fans by scoring one goal and celebrating with his famous “windmill” action. Prior to coming to Perth, Channon had played four times for national league side Newcastle KB on his Australian tour.

When he retired from football, Channon – who had always been a horse racing fanatic – turned his hand to training horses as a profession. He has been very successful and has looked after the horses of many famous owners, including football acquaintances Kevin Keegan, Alan Ball, Chris Cattlin and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Mick Channon

Alan Ball, another member of the England team that won the World Cup in 1966, made three stand-out appearances, scoring twice, for Floreat Athena in 1982.

The Blackpool, Everton, Arsenal and Southampton star showed he had lost none of the tigerish enthusiasm he displayed for England in the World Cup by driving Athena from midfield. David Andrews, who was the football writer for The West Australian at the time, later said that 37-year old Ball was the most impressive guest player to have graced WA football. Ball died of a heart attack in 2007 aged 61.

Alan Ball, Barry Harwood and Eric Marocchi

Striker Ted MacDougall, who played for the likes of Bournemouth, Manchester United, West Ham United, Norwich City and Southampton in a colourful career, was with Athena at the same time as Ball. The Scotland international was reserve team coach at Portsmouth when Ball was manager in the late 1990s and he later moved to the United States, where he became youth director of coaching with the Atlanta Silverbacks.

 

George Best, arguably the biggest name to tread a football pitch in WA, made a fleeting visit in 1983. The Manchester United wizard had played four games for Brisbane Lions and stopped off in Perth on his back to the UK to turn out as a guest for Osborne Park Galeb. Although in the twilight of his career at the age of 37, Best still showed some magical touches and scored one goal against Melville Alemannia. In 2019 the ABC ran a story on Best’s visit to Perth.

Osborne Park Galeb with George Best

Best, who suffered from alcoholism and had a liver transplant in 2002, died in 2005 aged 59. There is a statue of Best, Charlton and Denis Law – who played in WA when Manchester United toured in 1967 – outside Old Trafford. It commemorates the “United Trinity.”

The United team of 1967 was star-studded, to say the least. The starting line-up was: Alex Stepney, Shay Brennan, Tony Dunne, David Sadler, Bill Foulkes, Nobby Stiles, George Best, Denis Law, Bobby Charlton, Brian Kidd, John Aston. Reserves: Jimmy Rimmer, Jimmy Ryan, Noel Cantwell.

Nearly 21,000 turned out at the WACA Ground to watch the Red Devils blitz WA 7-0. They did most of the damage with 10 men after Law was sent off by local ref Roy Stedman after 33 minutes for swearing at the official. Law managed a goal before he saw red. United’s other goals came from Best (3), Kidd (2) and Charlton (1). A few months later, what was basically the same United team went on to beat Benfica 4-1 in the final of the European Cup.

Trevor Brooking and Bob Brown

Former West Ham United and England midfielder Trevor Brooking stayed longer than most when he joined Kelmscott in 1985, turning out in six games and helping to coach the club’s juniors. Having had made the last of his 647 games for the Hammers only 12 months prior to coming to Perth, the then 38-year old helped to promote the game whenever he could, posing for pics, signing autographs and opening football shops.

Brooking became Sir Trevor in 2004 and has since been involved in administration with the English FA as Director of Football Development.

In the following decade, fewer international stars showed off their footballing talents in WA, although England World Cup hero Geoff Hurst and Northern Ireland’s Norman Whiteside did some coaching here.

Former Wales international and Tottenham Hostpur defender Paul Price came to WA in 1990 and played several games for Bayswater Inter. He returned in 2005 as a coach, initially taking the reins with Western Knights and later Sorrento.

In 1993, former Liverpool great Jimmy Case was still effective at age 39 when he played four times for Wanneroo British, while Scotland international Ted McMinn played half a season with ECU Joondalup in 1996.

 

Jimmy Case

Other big names who came to Perth, but stayed on long-term to play or coach, include:
Ron Tindall (ex-Chelsea), Paul Sobek (ex-Polish international), Ernie Hannigan (ex-Coventry), Steve Stacey (ex-Bristol City), Reg Davies (ex-Newcastle United and Wales), Francis Burns (ex-Manchester United and Scotland), Colin Irwin (ex-Liverpool), Mick Lyons (ex-Everton), John Sydenham (ex-Southampton and England), Mickey Brennan (ex-Manchester City), John Coyne (ex-Tranmere Rovers and New York Cosmos), Graham Normanton (ex-Hartlepool), Tom Kilkelly (ex-Leicester City), Steve Neville (ex-Southampton), Trevor Morgan (ex-Bournemouth) and Noel Larkin (ex-Athlone Town and Ireland).

Next : The Great Teams