STATE LEAGUE : CRACOVIA IN A PHOTO-FINISH
Not even that mastermind of suspense thrillers, Alfred Hitchcock, could have provided a better script for the 1966 State League premiership campaign - won in the dying minutes of the season by Cracovia. The drama that began on Saturday, April 2, was sustained right to the end on September 10 when Cracovia clinched the first premiership pennant of its 16-year history with a merited 1-0 victory over Azzurri. Finishing with 30 points from 18 games, Cracovia photo-finished Azzurri out of top place by a bare two points.
East Fremantle-Tricolore, bidding for its fourth State League pennant in a row, set the pace in the early part of the season but then the loss of star players Neil Morson and Rod Reid - both to Azzurri - began to tell. In the circumstances, Tricolore could feel well satisfied with its feat in finishing third. The Americans, noted for their inventiveness in coining words to meet certain situations, use the term "cliff-hanger" to describe any action in which the result js in doubt to the end.
The 1966 season in W.A. was a cliff-hanger in every sense of the word as first Tricolore and then Azzurri appeared to have the title at their mercy. But, in racing parlance, both these sides died on their run and it was left to the genuine stayer, Cracovia, fortified by the acquisition of four former Polish internationals, to cross the line first.
Saturday, September 10, 1966, will go down as a red-letter day in W .A. soccer history. Before the 3 pm kick-off Azzurri was in the box seat-needing only to draw to regain its place on the pedestal as W.A.'s glamour side after a drought that had not broken since 1962. A crowd of 5,000 fans, bright-eyed children dressed in Polish national costumes, flags, bunting and martial music blaring over the loudspeakers gave Perry Lakes Stadium a carnival atmosphere for this, the most vital game of the season, the one that would bring glory to the winning team and only heartaches to the runner-up.
Though one point was all that Azzurri needed, pundits in the crowd had a leaning to Cracovia, working on the theory that lack of hard match practice would tell against Azzurri, WhlCh for the previous two weekends had played only friendly games as a result of its early elimination from the D'Orsogna Cup. The pundits were right. Lacking their customary sharpness and zest and also confidence in themselves, the Azzurri players, with few exceptions, found themselves in a rut, struggling to find a method and the means of penetrating Cracovia's watertight defence based on the now familiar 4-2-4 system.
Cracovia was first to recover from nervousness that affected both teams in the early minutes and had enough chances in the first half to seal the issue there and then. But goals would not come the as the half-back lines of both sides monopolised the proceedings. As Cracovia's forwards frittered away chances and Azzurri's Milano Milanovich took his life in his hands to prevent certain goals by diving at the feet of onrushing forwards, the minutes ticked by and Azzurri supporters, though seeing their side outpointed, began to pray that time would be their ally and save them from the knock-out blow.
But it was not to be. Seventeen minutes into the second half, Azzurri conceded a free-kick just outside the penalty box. A wall of Azzurri players viewed the situation with some trepidation as hot-shot Henry Lukoszek, the State League's new champion goalscorer, calmly teed up the ball and prepared for the blast-off. More than 10,000 eyes focussed on the Azzurri goal as Lukoszek gave his customary shrug to loosen his shoulders and braced himself for the kick. Or so it seemed. But as Lukoszek moved forward, so did centre-forward Paul Sobek, his foot numb from the effects of a pain-killing injection administered at half-time. Instead of a Lukoszek cannonball, it was a delicately-placed Sobek chip shot that curled over the heads of the Azzurri defenders and past the groping fingers of Milanovich into the top right-hand corner of the net.
It was the only goal of the match and so Cracovia owes its premiership success to a masterpiece of deception, a shrewd piece of scheming which underlined the fact that of all football codes soccer stands supreme as a game that provides opportunities for thoughtful players to show their flair for inventiveness, skill and the unexpected.
In 1964 Cracovia failed to win a match in the State League and was relegated to the second division. Through the agency of Cracovia president Stan Karbowy and his club officials, the Polish community who generously donated the money and the Polish Olympic Committee who provided the players, Cracovia brought to W.A. four former Polish internatlonals - Lukoszek, Sobek, Wally Musial and Zygmunt Pieda - in an attempt to revive the club's flagging fortunes. In one short season the four veterans restored Cracovia's State League status.
Now poised for an assault of W.A.'s premier soccer prize, Cracovia then began recruiting wisely from local ranks and stiffened the side through the acquisition of veteran defender Roy Simpson from North Perth and talented youngsters in goalkeeper Peter Mitchell (Subiaco City), forwards George Cairns and Russell Whitson (North Perth) and Henry Gudden (Windmills). The combined talents of the four Polish stars and the new signings gave coach Pieda the right ingredients and it was left to him to mix them into a prizewinning recipe.
Backed by wise and enthusiastic administrators, Pieda, whether on the field as a "stopper" or on the sidelines when out of action with a nagging knee injury that necessitated a post-season operation, brought his 4-2-4 plan into operation with devasting results. Cracovia started sluggishly, losing its opening match to Olympic and later, on June 25, taking a 7-3 hammering from Tricolore at Wauhop Park. But these were Cracovia's only defeats during the league campaign. Towards the end of the season Cracovia was practically unbeatable, though at times the side's balance was upset through injuries to some of the Polish internationals.
For Azzurri it was a season of frustration. When, on July 30, Azzurri beat arch rivals Tricolore 5-4 at Wauhop Park to move to the top of the premiership table, the Italian side's supporters were cock-a-hoop at the prospect of ending the East Fremantle team's three-year reign of supremacy. But by a quirk of fate, Azzurri's failure to clinch the pennant was not so much due to the rivalry of the other State League clubs, as to the visit to Perth in July of A.S. Roma, a team held in adulation by the Italian fans during their week-long stay.
For Roma's match against the State side on July 3 meant that the Azzurri-Cracovia clash scheduled for July 2 had to be postponed because of both teams' heavy State commitments. Instead, the match was played on September lO - a month after Azzurri's previous league game - and the break from the hard grind of competitive fixtures proved to be a hurdle that Azzurri was unable to overcome. In fact, Azzurri paid the penalty for its early elimination from the D'Orsogna Cup, for if it had survived the second round it would have had other Cup games to keep the players at their peak - mentally as well as physically. When Azzurri lined up for the vital game against Cracovia, the players lacked faith in themselves to win on a preparation that had consisted of friendly matches in Collie and against the State under-16 side.
Azzurri also paid the penalty for some lacklustre displays in matches that it should have won but had to settle for a share of the points-notably against Athena and Swan Athletic. The signings of Neil Morson and Rod Reid from Tricolore gave Azzurri two of the State's finest ball-players and, on paper at least, the team looked a premiership combination. Though Morson played brilliantly in the latter part of the season, Reid, in several games, failed to rise to his usual heights. The New Zealand star cracked in 11 goals for Tricolore before joining Azzurri, but added only five others in league games for his new club.
Possibly Reid's inability to settle down in the Azzurri attack was due in part to the inconsistency of his co-inside-forward, coach Ivan Pikl, whose form in 1966 slumped. Pikl, weighed down by his coaching responsibilities, was seldom able to produce matchwinning performances as he haa done a year earlier .
In the circumstances - it lost ace goalgetter Johnny Mclnroy as well as Morson and Reid - East Fremantle-Tricolore's feat in finishing third on the league ladder was meritorious. Tricolore lacked nothing on the score of leadership under the guidance of new coach Graham Oughton but it did lacK consistency. In the home game against Cracovia and in a friendly match against Sing Tao (Hong Kong), Tricolore gave two of the finest displays seen on local grounds during 1966.
In the light of these performances it is difficult to explain some of Tricolore's defeats, tliough the team suffered a body blow when talented wing-half Henry Marchant was called up for National Service training at a vital period of the season.
Swan Valley surprised many critics and most of the other clubs by finishing in fourth place-an improvement of two places on its 1965 effort. Evergreen Peter Perich got the best out of the players and if youngsters such as Len Dundo and Sergio Alfieri mamtain their present rate of improvement Swan Valley can expect to enjoy more fruitful years provIded that club officials show a more professional approach in their administration.
ASSOCIATION CUP : OUGHTON HAT-TRICK SINKS CRACOVIA
Deprived of State League honours for the first time since 1963, East Fremantle-Tricolore had to look for fresh fields to conquer in the closing stages of the 1966 season and obtained some consolation from a convincing win over Cracovia in the D'Orsogna Cup final. It was Tricolore's third D'Orsogna Cup success, the club having previously carried off W.A's main knockout trophy in 1961 and 1962. Beaten 4-3 by Azzurri in the 1965 final, Cracovia came off second best once again. The result meant that the big soccer prizes of 1966 had been equally divided among the top three clubs - the State League pennant going to Cracovia, the D'Orsogna Cup to Tricolore and the Top Four Cup to Azzurri.
Hero in Tricolore's triumph was captain-coach and inside-right Graham Oughton, who notched a hat trick and was a unanimous choice as the winner of the D'Orsogna Medal for the best player in the final. Rising to the occasion after several disappointing displays, Tricolore quickly took control against Cracovia and went ahead in the tenth minute when Oughton crashed in a shot that deflected off the back of his centre-forward Bev Allan. Cracovia drew level after 28 minutes when Henry Lukoszek netted with a fine shot on the turn from 25 yards, but after that it was all Tricolore. Four minutes before half-time, Oughton mesmerised the Cracovia defence with a brilliant solo run that would have done credit to even the great Pele and put Tricolore ahead with a sizzling shot.
Oughton's magnificent effort prompted Cracovia centre-forward Paul Sobek to race over and shake the Tricolore captain's hand - a fine tribute from one artist to another . With Tricolore centre-half Gary Taylor virtually impassable in midfield, Cracovia's aces, Lukoszek and Sobek, were trumped and the whole team foundered. Three minutes after the interval, Tricolore's shrewd inside-left Ian Common put the finishing touch to a deft cross from winger Ray Magennis and from that moment Cracovia faded out of the picture. Oughton set the seal on an outstanding display when he headed home his third goal-and Tricolore's fourth - from an Allan free-kick in the 74th minute.
Biggest upset of the competition was Azzurri's elimination in the second round by Athena, which ended the season on a dismal note by being relegated from the State League. Azzurri, the cup-holder from the previous season, crashed 2-1 on its home ground at Dorrien Gardens - a reverse that prompted Azzurri officials to threaten coach Ivan Pikl with the sack unless the team improved henceforth. Two country teams - Wisla (Collie) and Wanderers (Albany) - made the trip to Perth for the first round of the Cup, but went away empty-handed. Here's wishing our country cousins better luck in 1967. We'd like to see a few more country teams competing against city opposition in the D'Orsogna Cup, which is open to any club in the State.
NIGHT SERIES : TRICOLORE PENALTY SINKS AZZURRI
There must be an Ampol Cup jinx on Azzurri! This is the only conclusion to be drawn from the 1966 final, in which East Fremantle-Tricolore recovered from 2-1 down at half-time to snatch a 3-2 victory over Azzurri. It was the fourth year in succession that Azzurri reached the final and each time they had to be content with second prizemoney. A crowd of about 5,000-one of the biggest to see an Ampol Cup final, saw Tricolore inside-right Rod Reid hit the winning goal from the penalty-spot 25 minutes into the second half.
Some fine constructive play by half-backs Peter Giorgi, Dick Hobson and Gerry Cullen enabled Azzurri to take charge of the first half after Tricolore had opened the scoring in the third minute. Tricolore left-winger Ray Magennis scored from a shot that should have been stopped by Azzurri goalkeeper Chris Wissink, who appeared to have difficulty in sighting the ball under the W.A.C.A. Ground floodlights. But despite the setback, Azzurri replied almost immediately when centre-forward Johnny van Oosten broke clear and scored with a well-taken shot on the run. Nine minutes later Van Oosten scored again to send the hopes of the Azzurri fans soaring. At last, it seemed, the Cup hoodoo was about to be broken. But Tricolore had other ideas.
In the second half the East Fremantle side made every post a winner, in more ways than one. With Graham Oughton and Dave McEwen now working overtime in Tricolore's build-ups, Azzurri gradually started to fade. Thirteen minutes after the resumption right-half Henry Marchant fired in a long shot come centre that looked completely harmless. The crowd was stunned when the ball sailed through a wall of players, struck the far upright and rebounded into the net to make the scores 2-2. The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Azzurri. The defence became even more ruffled as the game progressed and it came as no surprise when an infringement in the 18-yard box gave hot-shot Reid a chance to clinch the $500 first prize, which he gleefully accepted.
It was a dour, hard game-lacking many of the thrills of the North Perth-Azzurri final of 1965 - but one that produced many fine passages of soccer. It was Tricolore's second Ampol Cup success - in 1963 they overwhelmed Azzurri 7-1. The win also meant that Tricolore's new playing-coach Graham Oughton, taking over from Tony Monks, had led his side to a first-up triumph. There was no doubt that Tricolore were the better side and thoroughly deserved to win. For Azzurri the lesson was that you can't win finals and grand finals without giving 100 per cent effort for the whole of the game. Maybe 1967 will bring the Sky Blues better luck.
Attendances during the Ampol series were highly satisfactory and the weather for the most part was kind. The Soccer Federation of W.A. again is grateful to Ampol Petroleum for donating $1,000 in prizemoney, providing fixture cards and generally assisting in the conduct of the night competition. Thanks in particular are due to Jim Richards, always helpful, always cheerful and always a familiar face in the crowd when it's the Ampol Cup for action. Jim sparked off a big round of cheers and applause when he handed the handsome trophy to skipper Oughton.
A word of thanks, too, to genial Arch Campbell, an Aussie Rules diehard in the winter months but who generously devotes his time to doing a first-rate job on the public-address system during the Ampol Cup series. The 1967 Ampol Cup tournament probably will be the last to be held at the W.A.C.A. Ground. In 1968 the scene probably will shift to Perry Lakes Stadium, where, at the time of writing, plans are afoot for the installation of a $75,000 floodlighting system that will provide the answer to one of local soccer's most urgent needs.
GOLD MEDAL : IRESON CHANGES VOTING TREND
W.A. soccer's premier individual award - the Carbonell Cup for the fairest and best State League player for 1966 - went to hard-working Olympic inside-right Mike Ireson, who started a new trend in the voting by becoming the first forward to win the award since its inception in 1961. Previous winners Peter Atkinson (twice). John Montagu and Theo Paap all won the Carbonell Cup while playing on the half-back line. Ireson, a 27-year-old Englishman who played with Bournemouth before coming to Australia in 1962 and joining North Perth, was a convincing winner-receiving 14 votes from the referees, four more than runner-up Roy Simpson, the Cracovia centre-half.
There could not have been a more popular winner than Ireson, whose approach to the game is one that could well be followed by any youngster wanting to reach the top in soccer. No player in W.A. trains harder or more regularly than Mike. This was particularly noticeable at State squad training sessions and it is a great pity that there aren't more like him. Ireson has been a regular in State teams for some years, either at inside-right or on the wing, but for some unaccountable reason, for his fitness and enthusiasm are beyond reproach, he has rarely shone in big games.
In club matches, however, Ireson is the ideal player-a thinker, a tactician, a skilful dribbler with a deceptive change of pace and a good marksman into the bargain. Just how Ireson stood out in the Olympic line-up is emphasised by the fact that his 14 votes were more than half of the tally for the whole team. Congratulations to Mike Ireson on a well-deserved honour. Let's hope that he continues to grace the game for many years as a player.
Players from the top two State League teams, Cracovia and Azzurri, received the lion's share of votes for 1966 - Azzurri polling a team total of 37 and Cracovia 35. They were the only clubs to top the 30 mark. Simpson, after having transferred from North Perth, fitted in admirably with the new-look Cracovia side, both as a full-back and at centre-half (or as stopper) when coach Zygmunt Pieda was unavailable through injury.
Third in the voting was Azzurri's brilliant Neil Morson with nine votes. In the latter half of the season Morson, in the opinion of the writer, stood out as the best player, pound for pound, in the State. That he did not receive more Carbonell Cup votes probably was due to his indifferent showings at the beginning of the season when he appeared to be hampered by an old Injury. If Morson remains in W.A. for another season or two - a Victorian club has been angling for his services - the talented Scot appeals as a Carbonell Cup winner of the future.
Don McArdle, coach and captain of Subiaco City, won the fairest and best award for the second division with 16 votes-two more than Cottesloe's Dennis Yeoman. Now in the veteran stage - McArdle made his debut for the State side back in 1954 - the shrewd Scotsman has transformed Sublaco City from a struggling third-division side to one which is certain to make a strong bid for promotion to the State League in 1967.
Final Carbonell Cup Vote Tallies
Cracovia: R. Simpson 10, H, Lukoszek 8, Z. Pieda 6, W. Musial 2, H. Gudden 2, P. Sobek 2, J. Gazorowski 2, R. Whitson 1, D. Norgan 1, R. Blythman 1 (35)
Azzurri: N. Morson 9, G. Gullen 8, N. Segon 5, R. Reid 4, I. Pikl 2, J. van Oosten 2, G. Nobbs 2, C. Wissink 2 (37)
Tricolore: G. Taylor 6, B. Harris 4, E. Evans 3, R. Mage1'.nis ". D. McEwan 2, H. Marchant 2, M. Bancroft 2, G. Ramm 1, G. Oughton 1 (24)
Swan Valley: D. Cumbor 5, P. Perich 5, A. Mann 4, L. Dundo 3, J. Rakatich 2, J. Smith 2, T. Mathews 2, G. Smith 2, S. Alfieri 2, Z. Kramer 1 (28)
Windmills: C. Scheepens 6, J. Montagu 5, J. Zuideveld 5, B. Robinson 3, T. Eikhoudt 2, T. Haywood 1, T. Paap 1 (23)
Swan Athletic: W. van Heumann 6, T. Gallagher 4, N. Massie 3, C. Bacich 3, R. Bozich 2, E. Sherrington 2, J. Kosovich 2, G. Sarich 1, (23)
Olympic: M. Ireson 14, L. Andrioff 4, J. Milentis 4, V. Spiro 3, G. Ducasse 1, A. Tawse 1 (27)
Cockburn United: G. Lambert 7, D. Pilsworth 4, J. Browning 3, C. Farmer 3, S. Hume 2, H. Harkes 2, M. Smith 1, Packham 1 (23)
Athena: C. Houlis 6, P. Pilkadaris 6, G. Milne 4, E. Small 4, P. Re 3, A. Rigby 2, A. Norwood 2, B. Leckle 1 (28)
North Perth: W. Chilton 4, R. Benson 3, F. Meek 3, A. Thompson 3, T. Tysack 2, T. Carruthers 1, R. Dale 1, T. Yearsley 1, T. Stevens 1 (19)
LEADING GOALSCORER : HOT-SHOT HENRY HEADS SCORERS
Ace East Fremantle-Tricolore marksman Johnny McInroy abdicated from his throne as king of the State League goalscorers in 1966 by returning to his native Scotland for a holiday and in his absence a new name has been added to the record lists. Coming with a late rush towards the end of the season, Cracovia's brilliant inside-Ieft Henry Lukoszek finished with a tally of 25 goals to clinch the Adidas trophy for the top goalscorer in the State League competition.
The 32-year-old Lukoszek, formerly of the Polish club Arkonia and a Polish international representative in matches against Germany , Hungary and Czechoslovakia, finished three goals clear of his nearest rival, Azzurri centre-forward Johnny van Oosten. Lukozek, one of a quartet of former Polish internationals, who lifted Cracovia from the second division to a State League premiership in two seasons, was a constant menace to opposing defenders with his lightning dashes and thunderbolt shots.
Though Lukoszek has made his mark quickly in W.A. soccer ranks wearing No.10 on his back, his favourite position and one in which he starred in Poland, is left-half. This was reflected many times during the season when Lukoszek moved far back into defence to gather the ball and turn defence into attack with a deft flick to a colleague and then running into the open space for the return pass.
One of Lukoszek's greatest attributes is his ability to break into a scoring position through his shrewd use of acceleration. At times he appears to be a loafer, but this is just one of his tricks of the trade-to move from low gear to top in a couple of strides, frequently changing direction in the process, and picking his spot for his lethal shot.
Top State League scorers
H. Lukoszek (Cracovia) 25
J. van Oosten (Azzurri) 22
L. Dundo (Swan Valley) 16
R. Reid (Azzurri) 16
B. Allan (Tricolore) 15
N. Segon (Azzurri) 15
S. Alfieri (Swan Valley) 14
R. Bozich (Swan Athletic) 12
M. Smith (Cockburn Utd.) 12
I. Common (Tricolore) 11
P. Blythman (Cracovia) 10
G. Cairns (Cracovia) 10
I. Pikl (Azzurri) 10
A TIME FOR ACTION (by David Andrews)
The council of the Soccer Federation of W.A. must surely be one of the most abused sporting bodies in the State, judging by the amount of criticism that is levelled at it by players and club administrators. Regardless of what the council does - and it is always acting in the best interests of soccer - there is someone ready to complain. The council has its most difficult times when it has to mediate between clubs, especially when different nationalities which rarely see eye to eye are involved.
Naturally, these clubs are entitled to look after their own interests, but how much better it would be for all and soccer in general if they tried to co-operate occasionally. For instance, many clubs are unable to be contacted because of the lack of telephone at the home or place of business of their officials? In other cases phone numbers listed are useless because the person concerned is no longer connected with the club or has resigned from a particular post.
Soccer seems to have a high mortality rate in club presidents and secretaries. These are key administrative positions and anyone accepting one of these posts should be prepared to carry on for at least one year, unless sickness or business commitments make this impracticable. The trouble is that many officials resign from these jobs because they cannot be bothered to hold a position that takes up part of their leisure time.
All clubs should strive to see that their main office-bearers are on the phone at home or business-preferably both. Liaison between clubs, players, central administration and the various news media is vitally importaant to a growing sport. Most people who follow soccer in W.A. have come from Europe where the game is the No.1 sport. In their home country they didn't have to look to hard to find news about soccer on the sports pages. In Australia, however soccer has to play second fiddle to either Australian Rules or rugby league.
Here in W.A., because of spectator interest, Aussie Rules gets the bulk of the publicity. So the average soccer follower resents the lack of space given to his favourite sport in our local papers. But how many people try to do anything to improve the situation. How many clubs are geared to meet the challenge of providing publicity. NOT ONE! Here again we are faced with the lack of co-operation. Most people are content only to complain about the situation and do nothing to correct it. Only on odd occasions will someone volunteer information to the press.
Because of soccer's limited resources, all avenues cannot be covered by the few engaged in publicising the sport. There is no guarantee that a news item provided by a club or federation official will be published. There may be insufficient space, or it may not be as newsworthy as he thinks - but it is always worth a try.
There is a general lack of purpose, drive and initiative in W.A. soccer. Many critics point to the council and blame them. If you are convinced that this is where the trouble lies, then why not do something about it at election time? Last year the vice-president, the secretary and two board members were up for election. There were only four nominations. They were from the sitting members who were re-elected unanimously.
Surely this is an expression of satisfaction with the work of these officials during the last few years! So this year, let's not hear any complaints about the administration. If you want soccer to become a bigger part of the W.A. sporting scene, why not try to do something about it? Don't just sit around waiting for someone else to do it.
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This page was last updated on the 24th February 2006