THREE sons of three famous fathers made history when turning out for the WA State team in a challenge game against A-League side Perth Glory, who won 5-2 on a wet and wild night at the Plasterboard Centre Stadium in Inglewood on August 1.
Scott Witschge, Cameron Edwards and Calum O’Connell were following in the footsteps of their fathers in gathering representative honours.
Right winger Scott and midfielder Cameron had played at senior State team level before, but it was the first appearance in a gold jersey for the versatile Calum, who can play in defence, midfield or up front.
It is believed to be the first time that three players whose fathers had achieved representative distinction had been selected by WA in the same team.
Scott is the son of Tony Witschge, one of WA’s goalkeeping greats who made 35 appearances for the State team including games against Manchester United Tottenham, Rangers and Sunderland in a seven-year spell of representative honours that started with victory in the Marah Halim tournament in 1975.
Calum’s dad, John O’Connell, jointly holds the record as the State’s most capped player, making 41 appearances for WA, seven of them as captain.
And Cameron is the son of Alistair Edwards, who was capped 22 times by the Socceroos and was a member of the WA State side that won the national under-18 championship in 1986. Edwards senior also played in England with Brighton and Millwall, had over 90 games for Perth Glory and also coached Glory for a spell.
All the senior figures have been inducted into the Football Hall of Fame WA.
Scott Witschge is taller than his father, but never had any ambitions to follow him between the posts.
“The nearest I got to being a goalkeeper was when I played as a centre half when I was a lot younger, but I now really enjoy playing on the wing,” said 24-year-old Scott who is studying Sports Medicine at university and plays in the NPL with Sorrento.
He was also picked for the national schoolboys side when he was at Forrestfield in 2011.
Scott’s uncle, Robin Witschge, also played several times for the State side in the 1970s.
Calum O’Connell has had a busy career with several WA league sides and had a spell in the A-League with Queensland club Brisbane Roar, ironically making his senior debut against Perth Glory in 2009. The 28-year-old now captains the Balcatta team in the NPL.
Cameron Edwards was at English club Reading as a youth team player and later joined A-League side Melbourne Heart and then Perth Glory. The 26-year-old turned out 13 times for the Glory before having a brief spell in Malaysia with Putrajaya SPA and then joining his current club Cockburn City in 2016.
His younger brother, Ryan Edwards, recently signed with Scottish club Hearts after a spell with another Scots outfit, Partick Thistle. He has played numerous times for the Australian Under-20 and Under-23 teams.
There are many other instances in WA of sons following in the footballing footsteps of their fathers to mirror their representative achievements.
Former East Fremantle Tricolore goalkeeper Tony Franken, who was picked at WA youth level before being offered a scholarship at the AIS in Canberra, played 16 times for the Socceroos and many times for Perth Glory. He is currently the Socceroos goalkeeping coach.
His father, Frank Franken, was also a goalkeeper with Tricolore and made his State team debut in 1956 against an Australian X1. He also played against Hearts a few years later.
An earlier example of father-sons gaining representative honours was when North Perth defender Harold Miller turned out for the State in 1929, and his son Allan Miller taking part in the 1948 Southern States Carnival, which WA won.
Another Miller clan (not related to the earlier family) has also made a big impact on the game in Western Australia.
Hugh Miller was one of the mainstays of the State team during the 1970s (including a thrilling 1-1 draw with Manchester City), winning 30 caps and captaining WA 12 times.
His son, Hugh junior, was also a centre half and looked set for a lengthy representative career following State team youth honours, but injury was to prove costly and curtailed his ambitions.
Hugh senior’s younger brother, Jimmy Miller, achieved State youth honours – and went on to have much success as a coach – but it was Jimmy’s son, Scott Miller, who was to prove the shining light in the family.
Scott, an eye-catching left flank flyer, played 11 times for the State, twice for the Socceroos and accumulated an impressive 258 games for Perth Glory. He has followed his father Jimmy into coaching, and is currently in charge at Cockburn City.
Chris Coyne, who has tasted much success recently as coach of Bayswater, represented the State at under-16 level and in the senior team as a teenager before joining English club West Ham. He went on to win seven caps with the Socceroos.
His total, however, fell short of that achieved by his father, John Coyne, who made nine appearances for Australia.
Other father-sons to have achieved representative honours include Eric Williams, who both played for and coached the State team, and his sons Rhys (14 caps with the Socceroos) and Ryan (capped for Australia at under-20 and under-23 level). Ryan’s twin brother Aryn played several times with the Glory before joining a club in India. Their mother, Audrey, is a former State team player.
Former Azzurri midfielder Gordon McCulloch was a tower of strength when WA won the Marah Halim crown in 1976 and went on to represent the State 14 times. His son Dale picked up several State honours in 2003 and is currently coach of ECU Joondalup.
For the record, here’s the State team that faced Glory on August 1:
Gold Fields WA State Team: GK: James MORGAN (RGK: Luke RADONICH 46), 2. Alex ISHIDA-LIVINGS (4. Chris SALDARIS 46), 3. John CHALMERS, 5. David STOKOE (14. Rocco PIZZATA 46), 6. Cameron EDWARDS (16. David PERICH 46), 7. Scott WITSCHGE (26. Gian ALBANO 26), 8. Daryl NICOL (11. Hasani SINCLAIR 46), 9. Alex SALMON (27. Benny KOUAKOU 46), 10. Calvin WHITNEY, 15. Tom SOUTHGATE (13. Calum O’CONNELL 46), 28. Paul ZIMARINO (12. Jonathan CORNESS 46)
Goalscorers: WA 2 (Saldaris 79min, Sinclair 90+1). Perth Glory 5 (Davidson 7, Castro 12, Brimmer 42, Mustafa 59, Harold 63)
PIC ONE: The State team that started against Glory. PIC TWO: Tony Witschge in action for WA. PIC THREE: John O’Connell meets Eric Cantona and Pele: PIC FOUR: Alistair Edwards in his Glory days. PIC FIVE: Tony and Frank Franken. PIC SIX: The two Hugh Millers. PIC SEVEN: Scott and Jimmy Miller.