A piece of WA football memorabilia to cherish
BOB BROWN, a Football Hall of Fame WA inductee, is the custodian of several precious pieces of WA football memorabilia, including a one-off Pennant that commemorates the State team's historic clash with Italian giants AS Roma 53 years ago.
He was the State team manager when WA faced Roma in the first international football match to be staged at Perry Lakes Stadium in July, 1966.
A crowd of over 15,000 saw the local part-timers go close to securing a shock victory over AS Roma, who had won the prestigious European Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and the Coppa Italia only a few years earlier.
Goals from Rod Reid and Henry Lukoszek enabled WA to hold a 2-1 lead with only 20 minutes to go, but the Italians responded to the challenge and eventually ran out 4-2 winners.
"It was a terrific game and the big crowd - it was the second biggest we had ever had at a State team game at that time - ensured a wonderful atmosphere," said Bob.
"Perry Lakes Stadium had a capacity of around 30,000, but we roped off the areas behind boths goals to ensure that the main stand and the opposite terracing were jam packed with fans, who had a terrific view of the action."
Bob explained how he came to have the unique Pennant in his possession. "The two captains exchanged Pennants before the kick-off and our skipper ran over to the touchline and handed the Roma Pennant to me.
"I made sure it was in safe-keeping and I've had it ever since. I wrapped it in plastic to make sure that it would remain in good condition - and it has.
"It really is unique. Most Pennants we received from overseas teams in those days were generic and only referred to tours of Australia. But the Roma one was obviously specifically made for the game in Perth. It says on it "Western Australia v As Roma, Perth 3/7/66" and it has the Italian flag colours on the reverse side."
The AS Roma team, and officials, stayed in Perth for a week and were special guests at an Ascot race meeting, with one of the races being named the Roma Cup in honour of the visit of the Italians.
The Roma Cup has continued to be a feature event at Perth race meetings every year since - and this year's running of the 1200 metre race will be the centre-piece of the Italian Day celebrations at Ascot on May 18.
Bob Brown, plus other officials and players who represented WA against the Italians 53 years ago, will be guests of Perth Racing at a celebratory lunch this year.
"It will be like turning the clock back," said Bob. "I remember going to the races with the Italian team and they had a great day out.
"They thoroughly enjoyed their stay in Perth and when we had a farewell lunch for them a few days later many of the players said they were sad to leave and had tears in their eyes and were very emotional as they sang Arrivederci Roma - in Italian, of course."
The WA starting team was: Lou Ivanoff, Roy Simpson, Neil Morson, Henry Marchant, Peter Atkinson, Wally Musial, Mike Ireson, Rod Reid, Paul Sobek, Henry Lukoszek, Ray Magennis.
The substitutes were: Alister Norwood, George Cairns and Lou Andrioff. The coach was Ziggy Pieda.
Italian-born Julius Re, who was president of ruling body Soccer Federation of WA at the time, acted as interpreter for AS Roma and was the team's pulicity officer for the entire tour of Australia, which saw them play eight games.
**AS stands for Associazione Sportiva. Roma was founded in 1927 and has won the Italian championship, Serie A, three times and the Coppa Italia nine times. Giacomo Losi captained the team in Perth and also the Roma side that won the 1961 Fairs Cup.
PIC ONE: Bob Brown with the famous Pennant. Picture courtesy of Richard Kreider. PIC TWO: Roma captain Giacomo Losi parades the Fairs Cup.