The day the State team had a Devil of a time
WHEN did the West Australian State team become Manchester United? The answer is on August 15, 1967, in front of 18,000 people at the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
The famous red strip had been presented to the West Australians after they had taken on United in an international challenge match at the WACA Ground on June 27, 1967.
"It was a wonderful gesture and maybe United were feeling sorry for us after beating us 7-0 in Perth," said Bob Brown who was the State team manager for the WACA Ground game.
"But I think the real reason for the strip donation was that the Soccer Federation of WA president, Julius Re, had been United's tour liaison manager during their trip to Australia and I think it was basically a thank you gesture to Julius."
Brown was also team manager when WA was invited to compete in the prestigious Merdeka Cup international tournament in Kuala Lumpur six weeks later.
"We, of course, wore our traditional State team strip of yellow with the Swan emblem in most of our games, but it was decided to wear the Manchester United strip in one of our group contests against Thailand," he said.
"It must have brought us luck for we beat Thailand 3-1. It was our first victory of the tournament after we had been narrowly beaten in our previous two games against host nation Malaysia and India."
Paul Sobek, with a double - his first a screamer from 40 yards - and Tony Lawlor were the WA goalscorers against Thailand.
WA were in action again the next day, against defending champions South Vietnam, and it was no surprise that tired limbs told in the end as they lost 3-0.
Two days later WA were beaten again, this time losing a thriller to Hong Kong - but the West Aussies finished the tournament with a flourish when they beat Singapore 5-3 in their final game with Paul Sobek getting a hat-trick, and the other goals coming from Tony Lawlor and Ray Magennis.
The rare photographs of WA in a Red Devils strip were only recently re-discovered by Brown.
"I had been going through a lot of football memorabilia and was pleasantly surprised to discover the slides of the first trip to Kuala Lumpur - and I was even more surprised when I realised that it included shots of the team in the Manchester United jersey," he said.
"I don't know what happened to the Red Devils strip after the tour. Hopefully it is still around somewhere, maybe gathering dust in someone's garage or shed.
"It would be wonderful if someone came forward with it now."
The Football Hall of Fame WA will stage a 50th anniversary tribute to the State team's first venture into Asia at a special function at Dorrien Gardens on December 12.
Pictured in the Red are (back row): Dick Jones, Ken Fitch (team doctor), Arthur Paginin (State federation rep), Julius Re (SFWA president), Peter Mitchell, Chris Wissink, Theo Paap. Middle row: Ray Magennis, Peter Giorgi, Alan Lind, Christian Ducasse. Front row: Bob McShane (trainer), Tony Lawlor, Paul Sobek, Jim McIntosh, Ziggy Pieda (captain/coach), Graham Oughton, Bobby Varlow.
Second picture: Getting ready to lead the team out - Christian Ducasse, Ziggy Pieda and goalkeeper Chris Wissink.