The Modern Era
One of the greatest left wingers to strut the WA stage, Scottish-born Gerry Christie arrived in Perth at the age of 30 and went on to make a huge impact over the next eight seasons. He played 214 games for Ayr United and 100 for Airdrie before joining Perth Italia in 1989. His breathtaking dribbling skills were a key factor in Italia's 1989 and 1990 Super League grand final wins, while he scored the winner in that club's 4-3 D'Orsogna Cup triumph over Rockingham in 1990. Christie joined Stirling Macedonia in 1991 and got the vital goal in the club's Night Series grand final victory. He got a hat-trick in a 5-0 D'Orsogna Cup win over Athena that year and scored in the 4-0 Cup final win over North Perth Croatia the following season. Christie joined Spearwood Dalmatinac and inspired the club to back-to-back D'Orsogna Cup final triumphs in 1994 and 1995. He ended his career at 38 with a spell at Western Knights. He played twice for the State.
Top picture: Perth Kangaroos line up before their opening game in the Singapore League (from left): Michael Petkovic, Steve Bourne, Gareth Naven, Paul McVittie, Alex Cummings, Gary Lees, Paul Strudwick, Vince Matassa. Front: Sean Lynch, Vladimir Beretovac, Ray Marinovic, Taki Nicolaidis, Dale Wingell, Craig Naven.
Bottom pic: Scott Miller stretches in his Glory days.
A sensational hero for Perth Glory in recent years, Bobby Despotovski was born in Perth in 1971, but his parents took him to Belgrade as a baby and he didn't return for twenty years. He started his senior career with Floreat Athena in the early 1990's and was top marksman in the 1994 Night Series with seven goals in five games. Despotovski was also a goalscoring hero for the State team in famous victories over West Ham United and Nottingham Forest in 1995. In all, he got eight goals in eight State team outings, including a hat-trick against Burma in 1994. He joined national league club Heidelberg and scored nine goals in his debut season, going on to snare 26 goals the following year when the club played in the Victorian State League. He teamed up with Glory in 1996, going on to play a record 212 games for the club, winning two National Soccer League grand finals and scoring a club record 102 goals. He is one of only three players in NSL history to score 100 goals for one club. He has also played four times for Australia, scoring five goals.
Stan Lazaridis, Perth-born in 1972, is arguably Western Australia's greatest football export. His reputation began as a young left-footed teenager with Olympic Kingsway where, despite his age, he would intimidate many a defender with his extraordinary change of pace. His representative games began with Under-17 World Youth Championship qualifiers in 1989. He made his State debut against Moscow Torpedo in 1990 and came to prominence against German club Werder Bremen (1992) before moving to West Adelaide in the national league the same year. He made 73 appearances with the South Australian side ahead of accepting a trial with English club West Ham United in 1995. Lazaridis signed with the Hammers for season 1995/1996, making 69 appearances and scoring three goals, before moving to First Division club Birmingham City in 1999/2000 where he became an instant crowd favourite. His Socceroo debut arrived in 1993 since when he's played 63 times for Australia, making him the most capped WA player. He twice captained WA, in all playing ten times and scoring three goals while wearing the gold and black.
Paul McVittie, born in Newcastle (England) in 1965, played in the European Cup with Rabat of Malta before being tempted to Western Australia as a visa player with Kelmscott. This determined midfielder made his big breakthrough when joining Macedonia, captaining the team to league title and night series successes in 1994 and 1995. He also won league crowns with Western Knights (1998) and Fremantle City (2000). McVittie played seven games for Perth Kangaroos, scoring seven goals, and had a stint in the natioal league with Canberra before returning west to be a key member of Perth Glory's squad, playing 43 games in two seasons. He captained the State team in the Marah Halim Cup tournament of 1995 and, between 1993 and 1999, made a total of twetny-one appearances for WA. McVittie retired at the end of 2003 at the age of 38.
Born in 1972 into a family steeped in soccer tradition, Scott Miller was playing in the first team with Dalmatinac at 17 and won a League medal with the club at 19. He joined Perth Italia in 1993 and was briefly loaned to Sembawang (Singapore) before returning to win the League title and Top Four crowns with Italia. The lightning quick left wing-back scored twice in Italia's 3-0 D'Orsogna Cup final win over Stirling Macedonia in 1994. He was a member of the rampaging Perth Kangaroos side in 1994 and had a spell in the national league with Morwell Falcons before returning to join Perth Glory, performing many heroics over the years in his 211 appearances and scoring 17 goals. He has played eleven times for WA and has made two appearances for Australia.
A big central defender with a touch of class, Shaun Murphy has had a glittering career having played in the Barcelona Olympics, represented Australia in World Cup qualifiers, had eleven years in England and captained Perth Glory to the 2003/2004 national league title. Born in Sydney, he started as a junior with Sorrento and played a few seniors games before, aged 19, moving to Perth Italia to dazzle in the side that won the Super League title and the D'Orsogna Cup in 1990, the League crown again in 1991, and scored as Italia won the 1992 Night Series grand final. Murphy was transferred to Notts County in 1992, playing 109 games for them before joining West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace and then Sheffield United, for whom he played 158 times before returning to WA in 2003. At the age of 33, he was an inspirational leader for the Glory, playing 28 games and scoring four goals. He has played eight times for the State and has represented Australia on twenty occasions, scoring three goals.
Born in 1969 in Wigan (England), Craig Naven began his senior career alongside his brother Gareth at Bayswater Inter. His first international mission was in China as an Under-16 national representative in 1985. The strong right-back was the first skipper of the Perth Kangaroos team in the Singapore League in 1994, and he made 29 appearances for Perth Glory between 1996 and 1998 in the national league. He also played locally for Perth S.C. and Bassendean Caledonian. Naven's trophy cabinet could hardly have more substance with five successive championship medals with Perth Italia (1989 to 1993) and two D'Orsogna Cup's (1990 and 1993) along with successes in the Night Series and Top Four Cup. He made seventeen appearances for WA.
Twin brother of Craig, Gareth Naven was born in 1969 in Wigan (England), and this strong-tackling midfielder made his initial impact with Bayswater Inter in 1985 - the year the brothers were selected in the national Under-16 squad. Gareth was an Australian Schoolboy International in 1987, and moved to South Australia where he played 11 times for Adelaide City in the national league and locally for Birkalla. Naven then returned to Perth and played with Italia before having a spell with Malaysian side Sarawak followed by the Perth Kangaroos in 1994. He joined Perth Glory with his brother for their inaugural season and kept the captaincy until his retirement, playing 143 times for the club and scoring six goals. He received the first Perth Glory Life Membership in 2004. He won four State league championships with Italia and made twenty appearances for WA, and was the 1992 Gold Medal winner.
Spearwood-born goalkeeper Jason Petkovic has reached the pinnacle of the game in Australia, winning two national league grand finals, named Goalkeeper of the Year on three occasions, and playing sixteen times for the Socceroos. Petkovic, whose father Angelo was also a 'keeper, won the Pro-League Cup with Dalmatinac in 1991 at the age of 19, made his State debut the following year - all up he played three times for WA - and starred for Dalmatinac in the 1993 Night Series win over Macedonia. He joined Adelaide City in January 1994, eventually succeeding Robert Zabica between the posts and playing 155 games for the club. After trials with Glasgow Rangers, the tall and commanding stopper decided to join Perth Glory in November 1999, and has been an ever-present for the club, starring in their grand final wins of 2002/03 and 2003/04 and playing 146 times. He holds the national league record of clean sheets, currently at 107.
Younger brother of Jason, Michael Petkovic succeeded his sibling at Dalmatinac and was in the first team at 17, and was reserve goalkeeper with Perth Kangaroos at the same age. The athletic custodian starred in the Dalmatinac team that won the D'Orsogna Cup in 1995 at the age of 18, was transferred to South Melbourne the following year and won a place in the Olyroos squad for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. He won a Johnnie Walker Cup medal with South Melbourne (1996), followed by national league crowns in 1998 and 1999. He was the national league Goalkeeper of the Year three times in four seasons and played 161 games for South Melbourne. Petkovic was transferred to Turkish club Trabzonspor in 2002 and has enjoyed much success, including winning the 2003 and 2004 Turkish Cup finals. He played six times for WA and, so far, has made five Socceroos appearances.
Born in England, Paul Strudwick proved to be a pacy and exciting left winger and made an early mark with Bassendean Caledonian before moving to Perth Italia and later Kiev between 1990 and 1995. He also had a deadly weapon in his arsenal with a prodigious long throw that often caused consternation in opposing defences. In 1994 he played a major role in the success of the Perth Kangaro os in the Singapore League and was the leading scorer in the competition with 16 goals. Two years later he made his debut for Perth Glory against Sydney Olympic, going on to make 68 appearances for the club over three seasons and scoring 10 goals. Strudwick was picked in the State side in 1992, figuring prominently in the 2-0 victory over the Malaysian champions Selangor, making one goal and scoring the other. He went on to play a further five State games, including a trip to the Indonesian Marah Halim tournament in 1995. In the local competition he won two First Division championships and one D'Orosgna Cup with Perth Italia. After his stay with Glory he had a season with Athena and came full circle to finish his career with Caledonians.
Born in Sydney in 1967, Tracey Wheeler came to WA in 1990 and forged a successful career that makes her the state's most decorated female player. As a goalkeeper she represented Australia in two World Cup finals - in 1995 and 1999 - and also took part in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. In all, Wheeler won 49 Australian caps and would have earned more but for twice having to have left knee reconstructions during the 1990's. It was a similar problem with her right knee that forced her to retire from playing in 2002. She played in four national championships for WA - her first appearance in State colours was as a centre half in 1991 - and her clubs included Morley, Forrestfield, Fremantle United and Murdoch University.
Last updated 15th July, 2014