THE stars of yesteryear – many of them Football Hall of Fame WA inductees – were much in evidence at the Top Four Cup final between Perth SC and Inglewood United at Dorrien Gardens on September 10.
Among those spotted in a big crowd were former Manchester United player Francis Burns, ex-Socceroo Chris Coyne, former Perth Glory goalkeeper Tommy Maras, State team record caps holder John O’Connell, and a raft of former WA State team stars, including Aldo Trinca, Eric Marocchi, Tommy Carruthers, Ronnie Campbell, Willie Kelly, Graham Normanton, Alan Armstrong, Dave Evans, Paul Lincoln, Dean Nicolaou. And Hall of Fame Legend Gary Marocchi, now President of Perth SC who had much to celebrate after his side’s win.
It was a special day for former Perth Azzurri captain Sesto Riberi, who was celebrating his 75th birthday. He had also captained the State team in tours of Indonesia and Thailand in the early 1970s.
And it was extra special, too, for one of Azzurri’s most iconic figures – Johnny Van Oosten (the central figure in probably the most famous football photograph ever published in Western Australia), who was attending his first major game in several years.
“I’ve been a bit slack when it comes to turning up to the big games,” said the man who was the State League’s top goalscorer in 1968 and 1971 and who found the net over 200 times during his first class career.
He was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame WA in 2005 when he was elected into the Hall of Champions.
He plans to attend the 20th Anniversary Gala Dinner/Induction Night at Crown Perth on November 26. “I’ve already discussed it with one of my old teammates who is going to be inducted on the night and it would be nice to be there to support him,” he said.
Van Oosten still keeps a keen interest in the game through his son and grandsons. “They are real enthusiasts so I keep track of what’s going one,” he said.
His family have copies of the iconic picture, when he leaps like an AFL player taking a mark to head a goal against Swan Athletic which was published by The West Australian in the 1970s.
“I didn’t think much about it at the time,” he says. “I know I got up spectacularly high, but it was just another goalscoring effort that was laid on by my team-mates. I had a lot to thank them for during my career.”
Van Oosten was particularly pleased to catch up with Carruthers, a full-back who was also an essential part of the Azzurri team that won so many honours during the late 1960s and 1970s.
They swapped tales galore in their trip down memory lane.
PIC ONE: Johnny Van Oosten (left) and Tommy Carruthers at Dorrien Gardens. PIC TWO: Van Oosten leaps high in this famous photo, also at Dorrien Gardens.