Sunday, March 22, 2020

An influx of coaches and players marked the 1980 season in Tasmania

The 1980 season began with Rapid, whose player coach was Ken Morton, playing home-and-away games against Canberra City in late January.

The first game was at South Hobart and Rapid lost 5-2 to the team from the national capital.  Morton scored a penalty for Rapid, whose other goal came from Mick Southworth.

The return match in Canberra resulted in a 1-1 draw, with Ray Mohring netting for Rapid.

Morton was in his second year in Tasmania after playing in New Zealand and Western Australia.  He had arrived in Tasmania at the end of 1978 to coach Caledonians but spent only a month at the club before moving to Rapid.

Caledonians were furious, but Rapid won the State League title and were ecstatic.

There was a clearance wrangle involving Morton, however, and Rapid initially had to pay New Zealand club Block House Bay $850 for his clearance and then $800 to Western Australian club Azzurri, who also claimed Morton was their player.

1980 was a season of notable coaching appointments and player imports.

The 10 teams in the Radio Rentals State League were:  Brighton ICL Caledonians, Rapid Wrest Point, Burnie United, Croatia-Glenorchy, Devonport City, George Town, White Eagles, Juventus-Pioneer, Ulverstone and Launceston Juventus.

Croatia signed a top striker in 26-year-old Nado Spaleta from Canberra, while Caledonians (now know as Brighton ICL) were embarrassed again after the Morton situation in 1979 when their new English striker Ted Coleman (22) returned to the UK without playing a game.

Coleman had been accompanied by English import John Charlton, son of the famous Leeds United and England centre-half, Jackie Charlton.  John Charlton stayed and was immediately highly rated.

Morton, had his first coaching experience with South Hobart in February 1980 when he agreed to host a weekend training camp for the club at Carlton.  South Hobart were keen to win promotion to the State League and asked Morton to help with pre-season training and to show what their players could expect in the top flight.

It would not be the first time that season that Morton would be involved with another club while he was coaching Rapid.

Diane Howlin became the first female referee when she took charge of a Michael The Tailor Cup match in March.  That was the pre-season competition at the time and the winner received $1,000.  Howlin’s husband, John, was a goalkeeper for Metro and later Juventus before becoming a leading local referee.

Two young Launceston girls were also beginning their refereeing careers in 1980.  Cathy Dennis and Cherie Turner, who were both 15 and from St Leonards, were two of four girls refereeing in the north of the State up to reserve level games.  The other two, from the North-West Coast, were Elizabeth Tabrett (16) of Ulverstone, and Debbie Williams, also of Ulverstone.

Dennis and Turner were students at Queechy High School and also played for the school’s girls’ team.

One of the most prominent coaches to arrive in 1980 was Englishman Steve Darby, who joined Devonport on a one-year contract, with an option for a second year, after being assistant coach to the Bahrain national side.  Devonport’s first match was in late February in Launceston’s Minster Carpet Cup.

Another new coach was Olympia’s Peter Cagialis, a former Greek international, who took over from Barry Shacklady in late May.  Olympia were also in the second tier and were desperate to win promotion to the State League.

Juventus had won promotion to the State League in 1979 but retained only one of their brilliant three Fijian players for the 1980 season, winger Nabi-jan.  Johnny Monday and Vosuqa had left.

Olympia’s Lachie Vagianos, who had been sold to West Adelaide Hellas a few years previously, had been loaned back to Olympia for the 1979 campaign but he decided to go to the UK, West Germany and Italy in 1980 to obtain coaching qualifications.

A Tasmanian youth squad was selected for the national championships in Canberra from 9-19 May and the following youngsters were invited to attend trials by Tasmania’s coach, Barry Shacklady:

Chris Hey, Martin Burden and Perry Forster (Brighton ICL Caledonians), Nick Di Martino, Angelo Ambrosino, Robbie Kent, Wells (Juventus), Michael and John McIntyre, Stephen Brown, Paul Hallam (Metro), Michael Edwards, Greg Ashwood, Sergio Pace, Dodds, Roger Munro, Craig Nichols, Mathew Sly, Nick Padas (Olympia), Paul Edwards, Johnston (Eastern Suburbs), Newton (Kingborough), Sherman (White Eagles), Tony Djelalija, Gavin Lawler (Croatia).

Brighton ICL Caledonians signed striker Billy Kirkpatrick, who had starred for Croatia two seasons ago before heading overseas for a year.

Croatia regained the services of Brian Davidson, a New Zealand international, from Essendon Croatia.  Davidson had been captain-coach of the club and he played in a friendly between Croatia and Melbourne’s Essendon Croatia.

The Michael The Tailor Cup Final was between White Eagles and Brighton ICL Caledonians and Calies won 2-1 at South Hobart.

Juventus signed Jimmy O’Donnell from Green Gully Ajax in Melbourne.  O’Donnell, a 25-year-old right-fullback, had played for Cleveland Cobras in the North American League from 1973-78.

The Radio Rentals State League, worth $5,000 to the winners, kicked off on 2 April 1980 with a night game at Grove Road between Juventus-Pioneer and Rapid Wrest Point.  Those were the days when it was still 2 points for a win and 1 point for a draw.

Rapid won 3-1 despite having player-coach Ken Morton sent off by referee Basil Masters for using foul and abusive language towards the official.

Rapid led 2-0 after 19 minutes before Johnny Genovesi pulled a goal back for Juventus with a penalty.  Dale Blake’s goal made the game safe for Rapid.

Brighton ICL Caledonians parted company with coach Tony Dickenson, while their former striker, David Smith, who had been playing for Inter-Monaro in the ACT, returned to Tasmania to join Rapid.  Dickenson returned within weeks as a player for Calies.

Mike Leigh from Western Australia was the replacement coach for Calies, while winger Ian Parker was due to join the club from England shortly.

Sean Collins had joined Calies from Devonport, while Nicky Cook had returned from England and rejoined White Eagles.

Brighton ICL Caledonians signed 10 players in all as they sought their first title since 1960, when they were known as Caledonians.  They signed John Charlton and Ian Parker (from England), Terry Banagan, Ronnie Bolton, Jim Mackinnon, Brian McKay, Martin Burden, Billy Kirkpatrick, Bret Anderton, and Alan Burton (from Western Australia).

Tony Skaro was coach of Croatia and the club completed the transfer of Brian Davidson from Essendon Croatia.

Player-coach Steve Darby decided to play himself in goal for Devonport.

Photo:  Mike Denton, the former Socceroo, scored heaps of goals in Tasmania for Burnie United [PlessPix]

Former Socceroo and ace marksman Mike Denton decided to step down as coach of Burnie United in favour of his assistant John Berry, but Denton would play for the club, together with new Scottish signing, Ray Parke.

George Town lost Mick Joss and Ross Wesson, but they signed New Zealanders Peter Davidson and Stephen Morley.  Wesson became the new coach of Launceston Juventus.  Jock Glass took over as George Town coach.

Wolfgang Stuetzel, formerly with Rapid, was the new player-coach of Ulverstone.

White Eagles welcomed two new Poles via the United States of America.  Eugene Mycak, 36, arrived as coach and John Michniewski as goalkeeper.  Spectators were amazed by Michniewski’s pre-game warm-up routine, which certainly demonstrated his agility and reflexes.

Photo:  Croatia-Glenorchy goalkeeper John Michniewski saves from University's Michael Driessen [Photo by Ralph Dymond] 

Photo:  Some of the big names of 1980 (L-R) were Eamonn Kelly, Eugene Mycak (rear), Mick Southworth, Eric Young and Peter Brine [PlessPix]

On Anzac Day, Rapid Wrest Point hosted Preston Makedonia from Melbourne for a Philips Cup game at South Hobart.  Preston won 5-1.

At the end of April, John Grimsey took over as coach of Juventus-Pioneer after the early resignation of former Tasmanian soccer star, Fritz Umgeher.

Ian Parker had a brilliant debut for Brighton ICL Caledonians in the 3-1 away win at Ulverstone.

The Tasmanian Under-19 squad for the national championships in Canberra was finalised.  The squad was:

Bret Anderton, Chris Hey, Martin Burden, Robert Harrison and Perry Forster (Brighton ICL Caledonians);  Greg Ashwood, Michael Edwards, Marco Genaris, Roger Munro and Sergio Pace (Olympia);  John and Michael McIntyre, Stephen Brown (Metro), Angelo Ambrosino, Nick Di Martino and Robert Kent (Juventus-Pioneer), Murat Djakic (George Town);  and Andrew McKenzie (Launceston Matric).

Three of the squad had to withdraw.  Hey had work commitments, while Genaris was injured and Ambrosino had a family bereavement.  They were replaced by Peter Sherman (White Eagles), Paul Edwards (Eastern Suburbs) and Craig Nichols (Olympia).

In their first game, Tasmania beat Northern New South Wales 2-1 through goals by Djakic and Forster, but they lost 5-0 to Western Australia in their second game.

By mid-1980, the Northern Rothmans League A Grade standings were:  Rovers, Croatia, Matric, Juventus, Launceston United, Olympic, Polonia, Western Suburbs, George Town, Mowbray.

The Southern Rothmans League standings were:  South Hobart, Olympia, Metro, University, Taroona-St Mirren, Dnipro, Eastern Suburbs, Phoenix.

In continuing links with the Mainland, Rapid played Sydney City, the joint leaders in the Philips National Soccer League, on a Saturday night at Grove Road.  Sydney City, coached by Eddie Thomson, who was later to become the Socceroos coach, won 1-0.

Sixteen-year-old Luciano Fabrizio made his debut for Juventus Pioneer and scored in the 3-1 win over White Eagles in June.  Fabrizio would end up at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and become a Joey (Australia Under-17s) and a Young Socceroo (Australia Under-20s) as well as a regular in the National Soccer League.

Talk also began of having a Tasmanian team in the Philips National League.  Today, the reality of a Tasmanian team in a top-tier national competition is yet to come to fruition.

Johnny Genovesi, 29, was making a come-back with Juventus-Pioneer after knee ligament surgery in late June.  At that stage, he had played about 400 games for Juventus and scored something like 200 goals since his debut as a 17-year-old when Juventus won their first title in 1969.

There were some cancellations due to the weather half-way through the season, including the Grove Road grass pitch, which was sometimes unplayable.

Ulverstone began flying in three players from interstate for their games, which caused concern amongst other clubs.

The Australian Soccer Federation was also keen to ban ethnic names and this caused alarm at Juventus-Pioneer, Olympia and Croatia Glenorchy.

By July, with White Eagles in danger of relegation, the club made the unusual decision to appoint Rapid coach Ken Morton as a ‘consultative coach’ to advise their Polish coach Eugene Mycak.  Morton was, of course, coach of league-leaders Rapid.  Morton would take some training sessions and advise Mycak on team selection and tactics.  He did not take Eagles training the week before Eagles met Rapid in a league match.

White Eagles had Ken Worden in their ranks.  He also played for Juventus, Olympia and Launceston Juventus while in Tasmania and began his career with Preston North-End in the UK.  He took Melbourne Croatia to an NSL title before becoming national coach of Singapore and Malaysia.  He also coached several Asian clubs.

The Tasmanian women’s team participated for the first time at the Australian Women’s Soccer Championships in Adelaide.  The coach was Bill Clarkson and the team featured players such as Merilyn Devlin, Kim Eyre, Debra Cooley, Nina Genovesi, Lisa Rader and Emma Bridge.

There were financial rumblings within the State League about the cost of running the competition, while there was more talk of a Tasmanian team (Tasmanian Devils) in the Philips League.

Three brothers made their debut for White Eagles, which was a record for a State League club.  Chris (18), Mark (17) and Andrew (15) Leszczynski went on to become regulars in the team for over a decade.

South Hobart won the second-tier competition, the Rothmans League, when they beat Phoenix 4-1, while White Eagles were relegated from the State League after a 4-1 defeat to Brighton ICL Caledonians.

St Leonards Rovers won the Rothmans Northern Soccer League title with a 3-2 win over Launceston Matric.

Rapid won the State League after beating Juventus-Pioneer 1-0 through a Ken Morton goal to remain unbeaten in the league all season (15 wins and 3 draws).  They also took out the Ampol Cup and were runners-up in the $5,000 Cadbury Cup.

David Smith was the star for Rapid as they beat Brighton ICL Caledonians 2-1 in the Ampol Cup Final in a Saturday night game at Grove Road.

Brighton ICL Caledonians gained revenge when they beat Rapid on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the Cadbury Cup Final.

The final standings in the Radio Rentals State League were:  Rapid, Croatia, Brighton ICL, George Town, Juventus-Pioneer, Devonport, Launceston Juventus, Burnie, Ulverstone and White Eagles.

Ken Morton left Rapid in October after being appointed coach of new NSL club Wollongong.  He took three Tasmanian players with him:  Rapid sweeper Peter Willis, who began his career at Leeds United;  Rapid striker David Smith;  and Brighton ICL Caledonians goalkeeper Robert Harrison.

The curtain came down on the 1980 season with the news that there would be no Tasmanian team in the Philips League.  The dream died when only $50,000 of the required $100,000 could be raised.


Anonymous said...

Wow what an article. Watched so many of these players when I was a kid. Brilliant

Anonymous said...

Great read Walter, your site is one of the few positives among all the doom and gloom around at the moment. Looking forward to the next few articles to see your spin on it. Cheers

jerry kruijver said...

many a good laugh in the rapid club in Liverpool street walter

Dreamer said...

Hi Walter,
The photo of Michniewski was when he was playing for Glenorchy Knights.

Walter said...

Thanks, Dreamer. Much appreciated. All fixed. Cheers!

Brian Young said...

Great article, Walter. Any idea what happened to Mick Joss?
He was a mate for some years; I stayed with his parents for a month or so when I first went to Aberdeen in mid-1974.

Anonymous said...

I used to have Eugene Mycak as a P.E. teacher at Rosetta High.

Most lessons would start with the following:

"Today you have 2 choices: Indoor soccer or outdoor soccer"

Warm up was "One big laps". If you grumbled it turned into "Two big lap"

Unknown said...

Nice work Walter enjoyed the read. Thanks

Steve Darby said...

A great year, quality football and atmosphere.

Ray Carroll said...

I'm sure Skatchel & Swinscoe were also in the Calies 1980 team along with Parker & Charlton. Could be wrong though - it was a long time ago !.