Vest still pulling the strings
YOU can't keep a good man down.
At an age when most are reaching for their pipe and slippers, super coach Alan Vest - who will be 75 in September - is still getting his hands dirty...in the football sense.
Vesty, as he is affectionately known by the many players he has coached in a near-50 year career of pulling the strings, makes regular trips to Sarawak, on the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo.
He first coached there between 1991 and 1998, guiding Sarawak to Malaysian Cup success in 1992 and to the Malaysian Super League title in 1997.
"I love it up there and I'll be going again in September to do a bit with the Sarawak Under-18s," said Vest, who calls Perth home for most of the year.
"I took the team to Tasmania last year and we had a very good time."
Vest last coached locally when he had spells with Inglewood and ECU Joondalup in 2006 and 2009 respectively.
Before that he had a four-year stint as assistant coach to Mich d'Avray at Perth Glory - helping the side to back-to-back NSL titles in 2002-03 and 2003-04 - and then he briefly took the interim job as senior coach at the Glory in 2005.
"Mich was back in Perth from South Africa a few weeks ago and we had a great time reminiscing about those NSL triumphs, and particularly great memories of that last win over Parramatta Power," he said.
Much of his enjoyment in the game these days is garnered from watching his grandson playing for the Perth Glory under-13 team.
"I still go to local league games, but I love watching the grandson," he said. "He's with the under-13s but was only 11 at the start of the season."
Vest, who was born in Barnsley in Yorkshire (the same town as where another sports fanatic, Michael Parkinson, was brought up and educated), initially emigrated to New Zealand and was capped by the All Whites at international level, scoring on his debut against New Caledonia. He turned out 17 times for the Kiwis and scored six goals.
He captained New Zealand on a visit to WA in 1972 - and returned to Perth two years later to take over the coaching roles at Perth Azzurri and, significantly, of the State team.
He guided WA to back-to-back triumphs in Indonesia's Marah Halim Cup (1975 and 1976) and also masterminded a famous 2-1 win over the touring Glasgow Rangers side in 1975. The same side had earlier in the season drawn 1-1 with Middlesbrough and then only lost 2-1 to Manchester United, with George McMillan having a penalty saved by Red Devils keeper Alex Stepney to deny WA a draw.
Vest was inducted into the Hall of Fame's Hall of Recognition in 1996.
Top Picture: Alan Vest (right) with WA State star Nick McCallum holding the Marah Halim Cup in 1975. McCallum got the clinching goal in the 2-0 final victory over South Korea and was the tournament's top scorer with seven goals.
Bottom Picture: Alan Vest (right) celebrates Perth Glory's 2004 NSL title win with head coach Mich d'Avray (left) and Bobby Despotovski.