Football Federation Australia has named its Teams of the Decade to celebrate 50 years of FIFA Membership. Here is the Men's Team from 1963-1970.
This was the era when Australian football progressed from strictly defensive long kicks and chase to structured tactics with a centre back, overlapping backs and new striking formations. It was a time for a more controlled game, higher skills and better use of the ball - a system which gradually took Australia out of the “Third World” category. Australia added to this change with the importation and guest appearances of international professionals and overseas coaches whose mix produced a style which enabled local players to add to their skills and retain the national standard of courage and attack.
Joe Vlasits (Coach) Born: 1921,Budapest, Hungary Clubs coached: Canterbury, St George Known as “Uncle Joe” to his players, Vlasits played as a wing half with Budapest First Division club NSC until injury forced him into coaching. The Hungarian Federation saw his potential and appointed him as a travelling coach, particularly for junior teams. He migrated to Australia in 1947 where he quickly became involved with Sydney clubs. He helped mould a group of promising young players, including future Socceroos John Warren and John Watkiss, into what became known as the Canterbury Babes who went on to win the NSW first division competition. Vlasits showed his skill in winning two NSW titles in 1958 and 1960 and an Ampol Cup. He was appointed national coach in 1967 for the World Cup qualifiers and in his first big tournament, the Vietnam National Day Tournament, coached Australia to victory with a clean sheet of five wins from five matches. In his term as national coach, he was in charge for 23 A internationals for 13 wins, seven draws and three losses. Vlasits was a pioneer who revolutionized coaching in Australia and initiated the development of the code at Youth level. In later years, he was appointed NSW and national Director of Coaching.
John Warren (captain) Position: Forward Born: 17 May 1943, Sydney Clubs: Canterbury, St George Tough, well-built, good ball skills and unrelenting on the field. Warren was an inspiring captain whose commitment often lifted his players and spurred them to success. His refusal to accept defeat and his belief in and promotion of Australian football earned him the nickname of “Captain Socceroo” and he made use of this on overseas visits, particularly to South America. A natural speaker who could make his point quickly and convincingly, Warren was awarded the MBE and honoured by the National League in 1990 who announced the Warren Medal as its Player of the Year Award. He was also given a special award by FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Warren came from a footballing family and began his career at the age of five, won his first representative cap at 10 when selected for the NSW State Churches team, and made his senior debut with Canterbury before joining St George in 1963. He won his first national cap in 1965 against Cambodia and was Australian captain from 1967 to 1971. He played in the 1970 and 1974 World Cup campaigns, scored 142 goals between 1959 and 1973 and retired after taking part in 62 internationals for Australia. He was an inaugural selection into the Australian Football Hall of Fame and also inducted into the Bicentennial Sporting Hall of Fame.
Ron Corry Position: Goalkeeper Born: 21 July 1941, Sydney Clubs: Canterbury, Pan Hellenic, Sydney Croatia, Manly High class keeper who progressed from Canterbury juniors into senior ranks. A series of capable displays between the posts forced his way into the NSW team and this was followed by selection for Australia for the first time, against Singapore in 1967. Corry shared the keeping duties with Roger Romanowicz on the Asian tour in 1969 and his remarkable skills won him selection in every match in the 1969 World Cup qualifying series and in four matches in the 1973 campaign. A keen eye, alert brain, coolness under pressure and a great handler of high balls. He was very efficient in goal-mouth tussles, especially corners and had an uncanny catlike ability to pick the right way in stopping penalties. He made 33 appearances for Australia and was inducted in to the FFA Hall of Fame. After retiring, he became club and then Socceroo goalkeeper coach.
George Keith Position: Defender Born: 26 May 1944, Scotland Clubs: Melbourne Hakoah, APIA Leichhardt George Keith played local football in Scotland from where he was signed by Arsenal as a junior player after impressing while representing Scotland in a Schoolboy international match. Looking for better opportunities, he migrated to Australia as a 21-year-old and started his new career in Melbourne with the Hakoah club. He impressed with his defensive ability as a solid right-side player and then switched to Sydney where he linked with the progressive APIA Leichhardt club. The move paid off when he caught the eye of selectors and was chosen in the Australian squad to play against New Zealand in Saigon in 1967. He was selected in the squad to contest the 1970 World Cup campaign which went on to become Australia-s first team to qualify for a World Cup finals tournament. His last A international match was against Israel in a World Cup qualifier in Sydney in 1969. He is a member of the FFA Hall of Fame.
Stan Ackerley Position: Defender Born: 12 July 1942, Lancashire, England Clubs: Oldham (England), Melbourne Slavia, APIA Leichhardt, Blacktown Another player who chose to travel and try his luck in Australia when opportunities did not arrive quickly in his home territory. Ackerley migrated to Victoria in the early 1960s and easily found a position in defence with Melbourne Slavia. His ability soon won him a place in the Victorian State team as a left-side defender and caught the eye of other clubs with Sydney-s APIA Leichhardt signing him in 1964. Ackerley was a tough, hard tackler with a quick recovery if beaten. He boosted the confidence of his team mates and built a reputation of never admitting his side was beaten. In general play, he was positionally correct and his strategy often turned defence into attack. He won his first Australian cap in the 1965 World Cup qualifier against North Korea and was chosen for the 1967 Asian tour and the 1969 World Cup qualifiers. He played in 30 matches for Australia and is a member of the FFA Hall of Fame.
Pat Hughes Position: Midfielder Born: 4 June 1939, Greenock, Scotland Clubs: APIA Leichhardt Scottish junior who joined APIA Leichhardt soon after migrating to Australia as a 20-year-old. He went on to play more than 300 matches for APIA, initially as a forward but ultimately as a halfback. His leadership ability on the field caught the attention of the national coach and he captained Australia in seven of the nine A internationals he played. He first came under attention in 1965 when selected in the Australian team for the first time as a defensive midfielder to play the World Cup qualifier against North Korea. He was the team leader against Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia in 1965 as the Australian team was trying to get together against overseas countries. Hughes was solid and quick in defence and a good ball distributor. He was a member of the team which played a three match series against Scotland in 1967, where he rounded off his international career.
Alan Westwater Position: Midfielder Born: 26 March 1946, Scotland Clubs: Canterbury, Stirling Albion (Scotland), Pan Hellenic Migrated to Australia with his family in 1957 as a young teenager and made his debut at the age of 16 as an active right-side midfielder in the NSW State League with Canterbury Marrickville in 1962. However, he only stayed one year before returning to Scotland to play with Stirling Albion. After three seasons in Scotland, he decided to return to Australia where he joined Sydney club Pan Hellenic. His composure in midfield and willingness to join in attack earned him selection in the Australian team for the international series against Scotland in 1967. He was a member of the national squad for the Vietnam tournament where he scored his first national goal against Singapore in November 1967 and scored again against Singapore ten days later. Westwater had a run of 14 successive matches with the national team, with his final match being against Japan in Adelaide in 1968.
John Watkiss Position: Midfielder Born: 28 March 1941, Wolverhampton, England Clubs: Canterbury, APIA Leichhardt, Hakoah Sydney, Sutherland John Watkiss came to Australia as a ten-year-old and developed his skills in Sydney-s Canterbury area under Joe Vlasits. He transferred to APIA and created a then-scoring record of five goals in a match, against St George in a final at Sydney-s Wentworth Park. He was a versatile player who started as a striker, then switched to midfield before turning to defence. Despite being injured playing for APIA in the 1968 Australia Cup final he was signed by Hakoah for the 1969 season - the same year he made his debut for Australia as a defender against Greece at the Sydney Cricket Ground. His first goal for Australia was in a World Cup qualifier against South Korea at Seoul in 1969 where he reverted back to a midfield role. Watkiss played more than 450 matches for Sydney clubs Canterbury, APIA, Hakoah and Sutherland, leading to 23 full A internationals including the 1970 and 1974 World Cup campaigns. He is a member of the FFA Hall of Fame.
Alan Marnoch Position: Defender Born: 6 December 1945, Scotland Clubs: Hakoah Sydney Alan Marnoch began his career like many others in the local junior ranks in Scotland, playing with Midlothian Juniors where his talents were noted by several clubs. Seeking better opportunities, he migrated to Sydney where a friend advised him to join Hakoah. His determination and resolute defence gained him a reputation of being the soundest stopper in NSW since World War 2. He was almost unbeatable in the air in the penalty area against corners, free kicks and crosses and was seldom beaten in open play. He was chosen to represent NSW and followed with selection in the Australian squad to play against the country of his birth, Scotland in 1967. He followed with another sound performance against Greece at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1969 and was in the national team for the 1969 World Cup campaign against Asian teams and then Rhodesia and Israel. However, an inability to gain leave from his place of employment cost him a place in the Australian squad for the 1970 World Cup campaign which went to Peter Wilson. Marnoch played more than 300 games for Hakoah and 14 matches for Australia with his last appearance in the 1-1 draw against Israel at Sydney in 1969.
Bill Votjek Position: Midfielder Born: 29 September 1944, Croatia Clubs: Melbourne Croatia, Sydney Croatia, Melbourne Juventus After migrating to Melbourne, he gained his football learning with Essendon (Croatia) Juniors in the Melbourne competition. He graduated to Melbourne Croatia seniors in 1962 as a winger and then won selection in the Victorian state team. This led to winning a place in the Australian side to play New Zealand in Saigon in 1967. He played in the 1970 and 1974 World Cup campaigns and scored his first goal in the match against South Korea in the Vietnam tournament in 1967. He also scored goals against Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and Greece. His last Socceroo match was against Israel at Melbourne in 1971 when he then returned to local leagues, to be voted Victorian state league Player of the Year in 1975. Votjek was a speedy and elusive winger with good ball skills and good at creating scoring chances. He played 44 games for Australia (including 31 full A internationals), scored 13 goals and is a member of the FFA Hall of Fame.
Tom McColl Position: Forward (wing) Born: 19 September 1945, Glasgow, Scotland Clubs: Adelaide Juventus, Melbourne Juventus McColl played local juniors in London near Chelsea-s Stamford Bridge ground and was taken to Chelsea as an apprentice. Despite a rich period of learning, he became frustrated by his slow promotion and he migrated to Adelaide where he joined Juventus in 1966. Again not satisfied, he later moved to Melbourne to link with another Juventus where he quickly became established as a first team player. He used his speed and control to good effect on the wing and his variation of pace often deceived many opponents. He also had the happy ability to score goals when needed and was a full 90 minutes player. He was selected in the Victorian State team and then won national selection in the Australian team against New Zealand in 1967 under coach Joe Venglos. His first goal was against Singapore in 1967 and his last of nine international matches was in a World Cup qualifier against Israel in 1969. He sadly passed away in 1990.
Les Scheinflug Position: Forward Born: 1 October 1938, Yugoslavia Clubs: Prague, Marconi Came to Sydney in 1954 and joined NSW Federation club Prague in 1957 at the age of 19 as a left half. He had immediate success with Prague which led to selection in the Australian team to play touring Scottish side Heart of Midlothian in 1964 where he had a superb game. He won a place in the Australian team to play the 1965 World Cup qualifier against North Korea, named as captain and scored Australia-s first goal in World Cup competition from a 70th minute penalty. He scored again in the return match three days later. After a break, he returned as captain against Malaysia and later played in the Sydney series against Japan. A determined and thoughtful player, quick to score and notched 146 goals between 1956 and 1971 and was captain for seven of his 12 seasons with Prague. He retired in 1972 to become assistant coach to Rale Rasic in the 1974 World Cup squad. Scheinflug was Coach of the Year with Marconi in 1979, national coach in 1981, and took the Under 17 national side to the 1999 World Cup, losing 8-7 on penalties in the final against Brazil. A member of the FFA Hall of Fame, he was awarded the Australian Government Sports Medal in 2000 and boasts a great record for Australia as a player and a coach.