Trinca And Kelly

When unbeaten Azzurri scooped a big reward

THERE have been only seven occasions that a team has gone through a home-and-away league season unbeaten since semi-pro football was introduced into Western Australia in July, 1960.
And only two teams have managed it twice – Perth Azzurri (1967 and 1981) and Floreat Athena (1990 as home-and-away champs in the Super League when a Top-Four system then decided the grand final winners, and 2007).
The others to have boasted unbeaten records when claiming league crowns are: East Fremantle Tricolore (1964), Spearwood Dalmatinac (1982) and Bayswater City (2015).
The most famous unbeaten run is arguably that achieved by Azzurri in 1981, when a $10,000 bonus prize was offered by sponsors Red Rooster to any State League team that could go through the season without defeat. Having won the D’Orsogna Cup and Night Series in the same year, Azzuri amassed a handsome total of $22,000. (a nice sum 40 years ago).
Gordon Ferguson was their coach in a memorable season, which came close to being a record-breaker.
Azzurri were denied a chance of becoming the first club to clean sweep all four trophies when going down 2-1 to Forrestfield United in the Top Four Cup final, which instead turned into a celebration for the great Ray Ilott whose final game it was as a player.
Ilott brought down the curtain on a superb playing career, going out with a bang as the player-coach of Forrestfield. He continued in the game as a coach, tasting much success with other clubs. He died at the age of 68 in 2016.

The Azzurri league statistics in 1981 were: Played 18; Won 16; Drawn 2; Lost 0. Goals for 43; Goals against 9; Points 34.
They had an astonishing 13 point margin over second-placed Forrestfield United (21), who were followed by Kingsway Olympic (20), Tricolore (19) and Dalmatinac (19).
Their biggest win early in the season was against Gosnells on May 16, with Paul Tombides (who ended up as the league’s top scorer) getting a hat-trick and Tony Trinca scoring twice. But they kept the best to last by smashing six goals past Dalmatinac in what was the final contest of the league campaign on August 30.

Their two draws were a scoreless contest against Forrestfield on May 9 (Azzurri’s Willie Kelly was sent off after a tackle on United’s David Brookes and sections of the crowd invaded the pitch and attacked a linesman) and on August 8 with a 1-1 stalemate away to Gosnells.
The Azzurri squad in 1981 included two sets of brothers – Paul and Steve Tombides, and Aldo and Tony Trinca.
According to the ‘Azzurri 50 Golden Years’ book, the entire squad was: Saverio Madaschi, Willie McNally, Tony Falcone, Sauro Iozzelli, Aldo Trinca, Steve Tombides, Harry Long, Brent Atherton, Tony Trinca, Alan Pye, Eric Marocchi (capt), Willie Kelly, Paul Tombides, Ronnie Campbell, John Cain, Frank Malone, Bruno Tatasciore.
Eight members of that squad have since been inducted into the Football Hall of Fame WA – Madaschi, McNally, Iozzelli, Aldo Trinca, Steve Tombides, Kelly, Paul Tombides and Campbell.
Azzurri’s unbeaten feat in 1967 was made up of 15 wins and 3 draws from 18 games. They scored an impressive 78 goals and conceded 25. Doug Stewart was the coach.
FOOTNOTE: For the record, before the introduction of professional football in WA, there were over a dozen teams who achieved league titles with unbeaten runs in those far-off amateur days. The most memorable was Victoria Park in 1928. They scored a staggering 115 goals in 14 games. Star striker Jack Conduit got 10 against Perth City, seven against Armadale and four against Thistle. All up the prolific Conduit bagged 421 goals in his career with Vic Park.

PIC ONE: Harry Long, Ronnie Campbell, Steve Tombides, Willie Kelly, Paul Tombides show off the big cheque. PIC TWO: Saverio Madaschi. PIC THREE: Willie McNally. PIC FOUR: Aldo Trinca and Willie Kelly at the 2016 Hall of Fame induction.

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