Football Federation Australia has named its Teams of the Decade to celebrate 50 years of FIFA Membership. Here is the Men's Team from 1971-1980.
The team for the 1970s is based on the World Cup team for the 1974 Finals. It was centred on a bunch of lads born in the UK just after the War and it indeed had just two locally born players, Ray Baartz and Col Curran. Coach Rale Rasic had so many of his World Cup squad under him when coaching clubs in Melbourne and Sydney. His insistence on professional preparation for part-timers matched ambitions harboured when they were youths and ignited a work ethic most often associated with the British player. In addition, his choice of personality as well as skill was important in achieving the mental as well as physical toughness necessary to qualify for Australia-s first World Cup.
If at the core of the 1974 team was the uncompromising partnership of Wilson and Schaefer, Curran and Utjesenovic provided verve, class and some adventure from deeper positions. MacKay and Rooney linked defence and attack, the small men welded together Team of the decade | Mens 1971-1980 by the intimidating, indomitable Ray Richards. Ray Baartz missed the Finals in Germany but in him was the thrust of a midfield diverse in personality and playing style. Baartz was supremely suited to pushing forward as more than just support for the two strikers. Alston was the tall, aerial combatant playing the target man for balls played out of defence. Abonyi, more speed and skill, offered the contrast in ways that Toshack and Keegan were later to do for all conquering Liverpool. In all of this, Rasic maintained a classic spine, from Reilly-s height in goal through to Wilson-s strength and Richards- physicality to Alston-s aerial dominance.
Rasic preferred 4-4-2. It married with the talent available and, again, with the personalities he wanted/needed in his team. It packed a midfield capable of remaining drum tight in defence but expansive if called upon. Baartz was so important to attacking options and the blow from Uruguay to the person was as big a blow to the team. When Rasic needed more attack, Baartz played as a third forward and on those occasions the formation changed gear to 4-3-3.
Of course for the Cup Finals Warren recovered in time to play substitute but his force was less than what Baartz had provided in the campaign that led to West Germany. At least a midfield without Baartz could remain defensively strong. It may not have had the extra attacking flair to trouble opponents but it would ensure low scoring games against free scoring opposition.
Rasic-s preference for 4-4-2 was also consistent with the era. The freedom of the 1960s, when space was provided by less packed midfields, where 4-2-4 was known with just a forward link dropping deeper to assist a defending halfback pair, had petered out. In a later era it would later evolve to a solitary front runner supported by 5 midfielders in 4-5-1 formation.
Rale Rasic (Coach) Born: 26 December 1935, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina Clubs coached: Footscray JUST, Marconi, Adelaide City, APIA Leichhardt Rale Rasic migrated to Australia in 1962. As a player with Footscray JUST he won the Victorian State League championship in 1963. Returning home after 18 months, he resumed his association with JUST as coach in 1966. Known for his relentless fitness sessions, he led the club to the State League championship in 1969. At the same time he was the state senior coach for Victoria. Appointed national coach in 1970, he shaped a squad known for its mental as well as physical strength. Overcoming an exhausting series of qualifiers, the Socceroos won through to Australia-s first World Cup in 1974. Out of 3 matches came 2 losses, 1 draw, 0 goals. An emphasis on defence was criticised but the attacking prowess of West and East Germany dictated tactics. Rasic coached Australia in 58 international matches from 1970 to 1974. In club football thereafter, he was the inaugural NSL Coach of the Year with Marconi in 1977, led Adelaide City to victory in the NSL Cup in 1979 and won the national championship with APIA Leichhardt in 1987. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for “service to soccer” in 2004.
Peter Wilson (Captain) Position: Defender Born: 15 September 1947, Felling, England Clubs: South Coast United, Marconi, Western Suburbs, APIA Leichhardt, Safeway United First signed by Middlesbrough as a fullback, Peter Wilson migrated to Australia in 1969, signing with Wollongong club South Coast United, where he stayed for five years, interspersed with a season at Marconi. After stints with Sydney clubs Western Suburbs and APIA Leichhardt, he gravitated back to Wollongong to live and settled there. He turned out for NSW on 14 occasions. A private individual off the park, he was nevertheless a natural leader on the park. Imposing, uncompromising and never shy with referees, he was also cool under pressure in what became his customary role as sweeper. From 1970 to 1979 he set a then record with 116 appearances for Australia, 65 of which were full A internationals. Captaining the side from 1971, he particularly excelled during the 1974 World Cup finals. A player/coach with APIA when he retired from the game in 1982, Wilson forsook much to represent his country, making many sacrifices in terms of time, opportunity and income. He was an inaugural inductee into the Australian Soccer Hall of Fame in 1999.
Jack Reilly Position: Goalkeeper Born: 27 August 1945, Stonehaven, Scotland Clubs: Melbourne Juventus, St George Budapest, Melbourne Hakoah, Fitzroy Alexander, South Melbourne Hellas Tall and agile, Jack Reilly joined Hibernian as a goalkeeper in 1963, moved to the Washington Whips in 1967 and Melbourne Juventus in 1970. His impact in the Victorian State League was immediate and he was quickly chosen to represent Victoria by coach Rale Rasic. He went on to win 20 caps for the state. With Rasic-s elevation to national coach Reilly played the first of 35 games for Australia in 1970, 15 of them full A internationals. He was the keeper of choice on the 1970 world tour and thereafter, despite stiff competition from rivals in intervening years, was selected for the 1974 World Cup squad. Reilly played with distinction in all three matches in the finals against East Germany, West Germany and Chile but thereafter played just two more matches for the national side. After spending 1971 at Sydney-s St George, he moved back to Melbourne where he had stints at Hakoah, Fitzroy Alexander, South Melbourne Hellas and with Juventus again. He played his last national league match in 1981. A successful businessman, he has since held positions in the game-s Victorian and national administrations.
Doug Utjesenovic Position: Defender Born: 8 October 1946, Belgrade, Serbia Clubs: OFK Belgrade (Yugoslavia), Footscray JUST, St George Budapest Clubs: OFK Belgrade (Yugoslavia), Footscray JUST, St George Budapest Doug Utjesenovic was a seasoned full time professional for OFK Belgrade before migrating to Australia in 1969. Elegant and comfortable on the ball, he was often a sweeper in club football but played right back for Australia. Originally lured by colleagues and fellow countrymen already with Footscray JUST, he was part of the club-s State League winning team under coach Rale Rasic in 1969. That same year he played for Victoria and in 1971 he joined Sydney-s St George Budapest, again under Rale Rasic. Once naturalised, Utjesenovic played for Australia 61 times between 1972 and 1976, including 38 of full A internationals that included the 1974 World Cup qualifiers and finals. Injury suffered on national duty on tour in 1976 ended his international career. Displaying true grit, he recovered from knee problems and finished his club days with St George in 1980. Coaching positions with APIA Leichhardt, Parramatta Eagles and Bonnyrigg White Eagles followed.
Manfred Schaefer Position: Defender Born: 12 February 1943, Pillau, Germany Clubs: Blacktown, St George Budapest Manfred Schaefer came to Australia at age 12 and took up soccer at high school. In 1960 he joined NSW 2nd division Blacktown and then in 1963 transferred to 1st division Budapest, known from 1965 as St George Budapest. A club stalwart, he played more than 450 games for St George. First capped for Australia in 1967, he played a total of 73 games for the national side up to and including the 1974 World Cup Finals. 49 of these appearances were full A internationals. Solidly built with unending stamina, he played in the middle of defence. Rugged in the tackle and simple but effective on the ball, his centre-back partnership with Peter Wilson anchored the national team for years and was tested by no less stars than Brazil-s Pele and Germany-s Gerd Muller. Schaefer retired from the Socceroos following the 1974 World Cup and in 1975 took up coaching with his beloved St George. He went on to coach numerous other clubs in the national, NSW and Victorian state leagues.
Col Curran Position: Defender Born: 21 August 1947, Newcastle Clubs: Adamstown, Marconi, Western Suburbs, Newcastle United Col Curran was the product of a family with long soccer playing traditions. Like fellow local Ray Baartz, his first senior club was Adamstown in 1963. At season-s end he paid his own way to Manchester United for six months of the 1964/65 season. Returning to Adamstown in 1966, he made the first of 35 appearances for Australia in 1970 and played his last game for the Socceroos in 1979. Outstanding in the 1974 World Cup campaign and finals, Curran-s displays at left back drew coach Rasic-s comment that he was “best footballer in Australia” at that time. Always keen to get forward, quick to recover and ever vigorous, he was well liked by both players and fans. In club football he was tempted by Sydney clubs Western Suburbs and Marconi but on each occasion after short stays returned to Adamstown. He joined Western Suburbs in the first year of the national league in 1977, moving to Baartz-s Newcastle KB United in 1978. After five seasons with Newcastle, Curran retired in 1983 aged 36.
Ray Baartz Position: Midfielder/Forward Born: 6 March 1947, Newcastle Clubs: Adamstown, Hakoah Sydney Ray Baartz was an outstanding Newcastle junior sent by Adamstown on a sporting scholarship to Manchester United in 1963. After six months he was signed as a professional for two years. Returning to Australia in 1966 he joined Sydney club Hakoah, remaining with them until retirement in 1974. A striker or attacking midfielder, he was known for his lethal left foot, speed and acceleration, poise and vision. Arguably, he was the most balanced player of his era. In 236 club games he scored 211 goals. His international career spanned 1967 to 1974 with 59 national appearances and 21 goals. In 48 full A internationals he scored 18 goals. At age 27 his career ended prematurely in Sydney in 1974 after a blow from a Uruguayan opponent ruptured an artery and caused temporary paralysis. Already selected in the 1974 World Cup squad, but now a non-player, he still travelled with the national team to West Germany. In 1977 he helped to launch Newcastle KB United as his local team in the first year of the NSL. In 2012 Baartz was named in the Greatest Ever Australian team.
Jimmy Rooney Position: Midfielder Born: 10 December 1945, Dundee, Scotland Clubs: Peterborough (England), Montrose (Scotland), Essendon Lions, Prague, APIA-Leichardt, Marconi, Heidelberg Jimmy Rooney played league football in the UK before migrating to Australia in 1968. After two years with Melbourne-s Essendon Lions he moved to Sydney-s Prague in 1970, then APIA Leichhardt in 1972 and Marconi in 1977. He was voted Australian Player of the Year in 1977. He moved back to Victoria as player/coach at Heidelberg in 1979 before moving on to Croydon City partway through the 1982 season. He made his first international appearance in 1971 and thereafter amassed another 99 games for the national team up to 1980. He was honoured with the captaincy on a number of occasions. A midfield terrier who played on the left, his drive and persistence was endless. Always snapping at opponents- heels, he was an excellent distributor after winning the ball. He also had a nose for grand goals, one of which was a smashing equaliser against touring Santos and Pele in 1972. Rooney was a crucial player in the intense qualifiers and Finals for the 1974 World Cup. He finished with seven goals for his international career.
Jimmy Mackay Position: Midfielder Born: 19 December 1943 Edinburgh, Scotland Clubs: Airdrie (Scotland), Melbourne Croatia, Hakoah Sydney, South Melbourne Hellas Jimmy MacKay played 1st division in Scotland for Airdie. Arriving in Australia in 1965 on a working holiday, he joined Melbourne Croatia and helped the club win numerous honours. In 1972 he moved north to Sydney-s Hakoah and in 1975 returned south to South Melbourne Hellas. Selected for Victoria on more than 25 occasions, he began his national duty in 1970 and ultimately appeared 52 times for Australia til 1975, including at the 1974 World Cup. He was a midfielder who read the game brilliantly. Partnered in the national team with Jimmy Rooney, Mackay dictated games with passing that brought all others into play. A highly effective defender with a calm demeanour, he also had the knack of scoring goals in big matches. None were as vital as his 28 metre drive against South Korea in 1973 which sent Australia to its first World Cup. It charged the nation. The proverbial “players- player”, he retired in 1977. A comeback in 1979 was short-lived. Tragically, he died in December 1998 aged 54.
Ray Richards Position: Midfielder Born: 18 May 1946, Croydon, England Clubs: Latrobe, Hollandia, Sydney Croatia, Marconi, APIA Leichhardt Ray Richards arrived in Australia in 1963 and played in Brisbane and for Queensland before moving to Sydney in 1969. A brief spell with Croatia gave way to Marconi in the same year and he stayed with them till 1978, which included three seasons as player/coach. He played a handful of games with APIA Leichhardt in 1979. The move to Sydney had brought representative games for NSW but it was Richards- international career which sparkled. Beginning in 1967 but blossoming from 1970 under coach Rasic, Richards played 60 times for Australia. He played his last game for Australia in 1975. A swashbuckling, no-frills player, he was the national team-s midfield destroyer. His strength in the tackle was prodigious, his heart and passion providing the beat and adrenalin that all teams need to be great. His moustache or beard was as famous as his long throw-ins. His send-offs were memorable, be it after the haymaker punch in Mexico when he walked without waiting for the referee or for his multiple yellow cards against Chile in the 1974 World Cup.
Adrian Alston Position: Forward Born: 6 February 1949, Preston, England Clubs: Preston (England), South Coast United, St George Budapest, Luton Town (England), Cardiff City (England), Canberra City, Tampa Bay Rowdies (USA) An apprentice with Preston North End, Adrian Alston was recruited by South Coast United and immigrated to Australia in 1968. He later played with St George. He first played for Australia in 1969 and was a regular member of the national squad through to the 1974 World Cup. His performances there drew high praise and led to offers from various Bundesliga clubs. Eventually preferring Luton Town, he later went onto Cardiff City and after a brief return to Canberra City, went to the US with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. His career came to a premature close with injury in 1978. From 1969 to 1977 Alston played 62 games for Australia, 39 as full A internationals, with a total of 17 goals. A tall, rangy striker, he was nicknamed ‘Noddy- for his ability in the air. Memories linger of him connecting with long throw-ins lobbed towards him by teammate Ray Richards. Yet Alston was also known for his deft touch and skills as a target man. In the 1974 World Cup he particularly excelled at receiving and shielding long balls played out of defence, impressive given his East and West German opponents.
Attila Abonyi Position: Forward Born: 16 August 1946, Budapest, Hungary Clubs: Melbourne Hungaria, St George Budapest, Sydney Croatia Atti Abonyi arrived in Melbourne in 1957, played junior football with St Kilda in 1958 and made his senior debut with Melbourne Hungaria in 1960. Most of his major league matches were with Sydney club St George and from 1977 Croatia. He retired in 1979. In 89 appearances for Australia from 1967 to 1977 he scored 36 goals, 25 of which were in full A internationals. His career included more than 500 first grade matches. Without injuries there would have been more, especially for Australia when business obligations restricted touring. A swift and skillful striker, he took part in three World Cup campaigns, and the 1974 World Cup finals. There he played against West Germany and Chile, coming agonisingly close to scoring against the former. His skills were recognised by Manchester United, who invited him as a guest player in the last game of their 1975 Australian tour. He scored one of United-s three goals. Upon retiring, Abonyi coached at Sydney Croatia and numerous other clubs in Sydney up to 1988. He was an inaugural inductee into the Australian Soccer Hall of Fame in 1999.