Sunday, 27 November 2016

George Campbell Returns To Aberdeen

Since the beginning of the game in Melbourne, the Scots have been significant contributors to Victorian football. Many early games were drawn along Scotland v England lines, before Harry Dockerty would revive organised competitions in 1909. The importation of Scottish players throughout the 1950's and 1960's saw the standard of Australian football rise to a level which saw the Socceroos able to qualify for the 1974 World Cup Finals.

The signing of a young Scot by South Melbourne Hellas in 1978 created a stir in the football scene, as covered in Soccer Action at the time:

Soccer Action Vol.3 No.11 - Wednesday April 19, 1978

Soccer Action Vol.3 No.15 - Wednesday May 10, 1978

George Campbell had been the youngest ever player to play for Aberdeen. He came on a sixteen year old substitute against Morton in 1975 to make his First Division (current Premiership) debut. Hellas paid a record fee of $20,000 to secure the skillful, tricky youngster already dubbed "The White Pele". In five seasons at Middle Park he would score 17 goals from 104 appearances with the club reaching a best ever NSL placing to that point when Runner's-Up in 1981.

                                               George Campbell at Aberdeen

In 1983 Campbell made the move to NSL rivals Preston Makedonia where he played for three seasons before a transfer to Green Gully in 1986. During his time in the NSL the former Scottish Youth International would occasionally feature for the Victorian State Team. Some of these games included the 2-1 win over Dundee in 1978 and a thrilling 2-3 loss to a star-studded New York Cosmos in 1983.

His time in the NSL was followed by stints with Box Hill (1987-1989) and Fawkner (1989) in the VSL (current NPL). He then continued playing in the lower State League with Nunawading City, then Ringwood City, Knox City and Banyule City until 1998. After an early broken leg which scuppered plans for a return to Scottish League football he would enjoy a career spanning 20 years in Melbourne.

Since retiring as a player he has been coaching in club, academy and school capacities. As well as roles with the FFV and Xavier College he has been involved with the Youth teams at Essendon Royals, Northcote City and his current club Dandenong Thunder.

In October this year he returned to Scotland for a reunion lunch for the anniversary of Aberdeen's 1976 Scottish League Cup win. A special programme was made for the event:


It's fantastic to see a club that celebrates it's past in such a manner. Well done to George on his achievements and his continued involvement in the local game.

                                                      (Click on images to enlarge)

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Channel Nine Soccer 1976

Thanks to Mike Lynn (former star striker with Ringwood Wilhelmina, successful coach at Fawkner, Richmond and Moorabbin City amongst others) and George Cotsanis of My World Is Round, I've been able to convert an old VHS tape of Victorian football onto Youtube.

It had always been my hope that some footage may still exist, and in the following to segments we have about forty minutes worth of the game televised by GTV 9 of Ringwood City Wilhelmina hosting Sunshine City.

The game took place on Saturday June 27, 1976 at Jubilee Park. It was the eleventh round of the Victorian State League season, and the full match details are as follows:

Ringwood City Wilhelmina 2 (Lynn 21' 75') Sunshine City 1 (Kokoska 20')

Ringwood City Wilhelmina: Nick Van Egmond, Keith Adams, David Garthwaite, Richard Plumb, John Bray, John O'Callaghan, Aad Kos (Joe Cankovic 40), John Luyten, Phil Williamson, Mike Lynn, Chris Kent. Coach - Norm Hobson

Sunshine City: Billy Johnson, Peter Lewis, Steve Kokoska, Dave Anderson, Chris Petrov, Wilf Laing, Ian McCarthy, Hugh Howe, Tommy Cumming, Ray Pocock, Jim McRobert (Laurie Smith 63). Coach - Bobby McLachlan.

One standout is what a brilliant broadcaster Tony Charlton is. Inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame, he covers this game in a manner which gives no indication it is not his main sport. Professionally well prepared, he reels off stats and player info smoothly, and keeps comparisons to Australian Rules to a minimum. He is assisted by future VSF President Henry Siwka.

Being filmed from the grandstand, we don't get a glimpse of that sadly departed structure. The surrounds are leafy behind the goal to the left (East). During a break in play we get to see Footscray J.U.S.T. coach Cedo Circovic and some players watching from in front of the stand.

The kids near the microphone are vocal, and they even break out the classic "what a load of rubbish" chant at one point. Support for "Chalky" (Keith Adams) is also clearly audible.

Sadly the first two goals are missing, but Lynn's match winner isn't, as he launches himself between a defender and Billy Johnson to head home.

Channel Nine covered Saturday games for a number of years in the mid-1970's, hopefully more footage will emerge in the future. If not, at least we now have something so this era will not be forgotten.

Thursday, 3 November 2016


Searching Youtube for early Socceroos footage, I stumbled across a great channel which contains classic 1960's through to 1980's British football games, including full episodes of The Big Match and Match of the Day.

One episode is well worth a look for Aussie fans, and it's The Big Match from December 1974. The video is incorrectly labelled as December 12 1979.

I'm old enough to recall having seen a few episodes of The Big Match as a kid in the late 1970's, though the usual late Saturday night timeslot was way beyond my bedtime. The theme tune is a cracker, and in this year's opening you get a few glimpses of cheeky future Socceroos manager Terry Venables.

The featured game is Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United from White Hart Lane on December 29, 1973. Two of the Spurs players, Martin Peters and Martin Chivers, would later play a few games for Frankston City in the Victorian State League. Winger Ralph Coates had a spell with St George in the NSL after leaving Spurs and before joining Leyton Orient in 1979.

The episode is full of highlights. There's the grim Northern English backdrop as Oldham Athletic host Watford in the Third Division. There's Coventry City visiting The Dell to meet Southampton. There's Muhammad Ali telling us he's had enough of Brian Clough. There's Poland eliminating England from World Cup qualification in a game which surely has the record for most missed sitters. There's Sunderland manager Bob Stokoe running amok. There's Franz Beckenbauer and Uli Hoeness!

Then, at 47:20 is THE goal from Jimmy Mackay against South Korea in Hong Kong that put Australia through to the 1974 World Cup. It is in glorious colour and what a strike it was. I'm not sure why this colour version hasn't been shown on tv over the years nearly enough. Most times I've seen the goal it has been a black and white version that was so dark you wondered if the game was played under training ground lights.

What a goal! What a player!