WESTERN Australia has produced many fine – and influential – women players for both the State team and Australia from the early 1970s up to the present day.
And that has made choosing a Women’s State Dream Team all the harder, with so many presenting with outstanding claims to be considered for selection in Football West’s plea for the WA football public to put forward their ultimate dream picks.
The Committee of the Football Hall of Fame was requested by Football West to provide some food for thought by coming up with the outstanding contenders for a women’s team.
The main candidates are obvious – speedy striker Lisa DeVanna, who is the Matildas top scorer in international events, Hall of Fame Legend Sandra Brentnall, the scorer of Australia’s first official international goal, Collette Gardiner (nee McCallum), a visionary midfielder with 83 Australian caps, and Tracey Wheeler, at one time Australia’s most capped goalkeeper.
Unfortunately, WA’s highest-profile player, and Australian captain, Sam Kerr is not eligible to be considered for the senior State Dream Team by the rules laid down by Football West. A candidate must have played at senior State level to qualify for inclusion. Sam played at junior level for WA, but never turned out for the senior team.
WA-born Matildas keeper Lydia Williams, who never represented the State, is also ineligible. Here’s a guide to the leading contenders:
THE STARTING XI
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 in additional to four WNSL campaigns for South Australia Pirates. Wheeler’s 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. Senjuschenko’s 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 is De Ienno. 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 teams 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 Matlejan 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 Brentall 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.
Dimopoulos, along with Oscar Mate and Barbara Gibson, established the women’s game in Western Australia. 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. Dimopoulos was named President of the Women’s body Soccer Association the following year, a role he held through to the end of 1985.
ON THE BENCH
A brilliant goalkeeper, Sullivan enjoyed a successful if brief football team career. She played for Queens Park and Kiev Eagles, and was still in high school when called up for her State team debut in 1975. Amongst the highlights of her playing career were several national championships along with the State teams’ 1977 tour of Asia. Sullivan was only 20 when she hung up her gloves for the last time in 1980.
TERESA VARADI (nee KOZAC)
Varadi was one of seven Western Australian’s to represent Australia in the 1978 World Women’s Invitational Tournament in Taiwan. A solid defender, she gained over 40 outings for the State between 1974 and 1983 in addition to three caps for Australia. Varadi, who played for Cracovia, was part of the State teams’ 1975 and 1978 national championship wins as well as their successful 1977 tour of Asia.
JULIE CLAYTON (nee GORTON)
England-born Clayton was a wide midfield player who initially made her mark with Tricolore. During 12 seasons with Ascot she collected four league titles and between 1974 and 1980 was a State team regular. She represented Australia on five occasions including at the 1978 World Women’s Invitational Tournament. Clayton later played for Ferndale United, Gosnells City and Lynwood.
Matthews first came to prominence as a junior at Girrawheen and by the age of 17 had made her senior State debut. A skilful winger with an eye for goal, she won eight league titles through spells with Girrawheen, Inglewood Kiev, Ascot, Morley Windmills, Stirling Vasto and Subiaco. Matthews represented the State between 1982 and 1999, featuring at seven national championships and was named in the 1998 Australian All-Star squad.
PIC ONE: Lisa DeVanna. PIC TWO: Collette Gardiner. PIC THREE: Sandra Brentnall. PIC FOUR: Tracey Wheeler. PIC FIVE: Luciano De Ienno. PIC SIX: Anna Senjuschenko.
To submit your nominations for the Gold Fields WA State Dream Teams visit https://footballwest.com.au/pick-your-ultimate-wa-state-dream-teams/