Saturday, April 8, 2023

Vale Ivan Stefanovic (11/01/1939 - 02/04/2023)

Photo:  Ivan Stefanovic, nicknamed Brico, at the Australia Croatia Club in 2007. [PlessPix] 

Ivan Stefanovic, who has passed away in Brisbane, Queensland, aged 84, was the type of supporter every football club needs.

After his playing days were over, he continued to support the club as a fund-raiser, sponsor, committeeman and committed fan.

Ivan came to Australia in 1960 and started playing for Croatia (later Croatia Glenorchy, and currently Glenorchy Knights), which was founded in 1957 by Croatian immigrants.

He played as a goalkeeper and later as a midfielder.

Photo:  Ivan Stefanovic, with (from L-R) Dallas Joiner, Nick Di Giovanni and George Mamacas. [PlessPix] 

In his working life, he was a barber and owned the highly successful Continental barber shop in Liverpool Street, Hobart.  The interior of the shop was decorated in red, white and blue, and there were numerous team photos on display.

Ivan was passionate as a player and wanted his teams to play good and entertaining football.

Jade Clay, who is now a veteran player for Knights, told the story on social media a few days ago of how, even if the team won, Ivan would criticise them for their style of play.

Photo:  Ivan Stefanovic (second from right in front row) in the Croatia senior team of 1964.

Photo:  Ivan Stefanovic (second from right, back row) in a Croatia reserved side at South Hobart in 1966. 

I played with Ivan for a couple of seasons in the mid-1960s and know what Jade meant about Ivan being critical.  I recall scoring a goal at KGV Park (or Grove Road as it was known in the 1960s) from 35 metres at the Glenorchy end of the ground. As my team-mates congratulated me, Ivan was unmoved.  He stood in the centre-circle, arms akimbo, and said:  “Don’t shoot from so far out again.  You’ll never score one like that again.”

After his playing career ended in the 1970s, Ivan coached various reserve teams for a decade and also a junior team.

He was ever-present at Glenorchy Knights senior games and was a real photo bomber  -  he appeared in just about every senior team photo take of the club.

In 1975, Ivan was made a Life Member of Croatia Glenorchy and in 2015 he was inducted into the Croatian Soccer Association Savez Hall of Fame.

Photo:  Ivan Stefanovic awarding a trophy at a Glenorchy Knights presentation night. [PlessPix] 

Ivan strongly supported women’s football and in 2004 sponsored a perpetual trophy for the Glenorchy Knights women’s programme.

Ivan married late in life and his wife predeceased him.

In 2014, he moved to Queensland due to ill health and to be with his late wife’s family.

My condolences are extended to Ivan’s family and friends.

Photo:  Ivan Stefanovic (right) with Knights president Michael Furjanic. [PlessPix]

Photo:  Ivan Stefanovic (left) at Clare Street with John Moriarty, Australia's first Indigenous international, and the later Sean Collins,w ho was Football Tasmania president at the time. [PlessPix]

Photo:  Ivan Stefanovic (right) with former Rothmans Gold Medal winner and Caledonians star Alistair Hales at North Chigwell. [PlessPix] 

Photo:  Ivan Stefanovic (front) in a Croatia team photo of the 1980s taken at KGV Park (Grove Road). [Photo by Ralph Dymond]


Anonymous said...

Rest in peace Brico great supporter of Croatia and Glenorchy Knights soccer club

Steve Darby said...

sad news....a passionate man.

Matthew Gasparin said...

A lovely fella, great supporter...