Monday, September 20, 2021

Vale Kenneth 'Ken' Joseph Worden (2 February1943 - 20 September 2021)

Photo:  Ken Worden as coach of the Malaysian national team. 

The death has occurred in Townsville, Queensland, of footballer and coach Ken Worden, 78.

Worden was one of the finest players to play in Tasmania, and he also coached here.

Born in Preston in England in 1943, Worden was signed as a youngster by Burnley and later Preston North End.

He came to Australia in 1971 to join Northern New South Wales club Weston Bears and moved to Tasmania in 1974 to play and coach Hobart Juventus.

He was also player-coach with Hobart Olympia in 1978, White Eagles in 1980, and Launceston Juventus in 1981.

He was passionate as a player and coach and demanded total commitment from his players.

His assets included speed, a wonderful left foot and a ferocious shot.

His trademark trick was to pretend to push the ball forward with the outside of his left foot.  He would, instead, sweep his left foot over the ball, only to then hook the ball back and beat the defender on the inside.  Everyone knew the trick was coming up, but no-one could stop him.

I, and hundreds of other spectators, sitting high in the main stand at South Hobart, thoroughly enjoyed seeing him do this time and time again as he mesmerised defenders.

Worden had a short fuse on occasion and served a few suspensions following dismissals.

One of my favourite anecdotes relates to his time as player-coach of Launceston Juventus.

At one training session, he so infuriated a player that the player punched him and knocked him down onto the muddy turf.  Training stopped and all the players held their breath and wondered what would happen next.  Worden simply jumped to his feet and said that was the sort of commitment, attitude and fighting spirit he wanted from his players and continued the training session.

In 1982, Worden left Tasmania and joined Kern United in Townsville.

He then turned to coaching full time and went to Western Australia as coach of Floreat Athena.

His strength as a coach was soon evident and he coached Melbourne Croatia to an NSL runners-up spot in 1990 and also the following year.

Worden then turned his attention to Asia and was a much sought-after coach in South-East Asia.

He coached Selangor in Malaysia and was the national coach of Malaysia in 1992-93 and the national coach of Singapore in 1994.

He returned to Malaysia and coached Selangor from 1994-1996 before returning to Australia to coach Melbourne Knights again from 1997-98.

Asia lured him back and he had spells as coach of Sabah, Selangor and Terengganu in Malaysia.

He was coach of Southern Myanmar in Burma from 2010 until 2013,and spent a short time in Malaysia (2015) again before retiring and returning to Australia two years ago.

His time in Tasmania was memorable and those who saw him or knew him as a player and coach will always remember his enthusiasm for football and his total commitment to the game.



Good old days said...

A wonderful player and a terrific character. When my Dad was coaching, Worden was always the player in the opposition line-up that he put his most committed defender on and put the most tactical homework into stopping - ironically, as you mention Walter, the predominant tactic was to play on Ken's short fuse and get him sent off!
RIP to one of the all-time greats from those unbeatable good old days of Tasmanian football.

Paul said...

Great post, but just a quick correction Walter - Melbourne Croatia didn't win the NSL title in 1990, that was Sydney Olympic.

Good old days said...

He coached Melbourne Croatia in the 1991 NSL Final - losing to South Melbourne.

Good old days said...

... when, as an undiplomatic kid, I was once asked Ken how often he used to get sent off, he replied with a laugh: "My average is once a game!"

Ronnie Bolton said...

Unfortunately Ken suffered from dementia is later years and lived in aged care . Sadly a massive heart attack on Saturday night led to his death on Monday night. A true fighter until the end. I remember one occasion a few years back when I was a live game in Singapore on TV when there was a hush in the crowd and Ken jumped of his Coaches bench and a few expletives came out of his mouth in his Lancashire accent. I doubt the local crowd understood what he said,but I must admit it made me laugh. RIP Kenneth Joseph Worden.

Tommy Wright said...

A real character of the game here in Tassie...great guy off the park but when he crossed the white line look out. Enjoyed my time as his team-mate at Olympia and with the state team.
R.I.P. Ken.
Tommy Wright

George karas said...

A wonderful coach and friend, RIP Kenny

brianclr said...

Very sad to hear about Ken.He was a friend in his early years in Tasmania.My Bother -In -Law Frank and myself painted the house he built on the Eastern Shore.I remember sitting in his home listening to the comedians record after a days work.He had a lovely family.My thoughts and Prayers go out to them at this time.
R I P my friend