A memoir of soccer in South Australia the 1950s
Bill Murray saw my piece "Bastards Like Them' on Shoot Farken and thought he'd send his own recollections of the time. Bill played with and against the trinity of Perkins, Moriarty and Briscoe and has some fond memories.
|Harry Williams in action, photo courtesy Roy Hay|
|John Moriarty and Bill Murray in recent times. |
Photo courtesy Roy Hay
The third star to emerge from South Australian soccer in the 1950s is Gordon Briscoe. Of more modest soccer talent than Perkins or Moriarty, Briscoe is today a professor at the Australian National University, in academic terms going beyond his two “cousins” from the St Francis home for boys in Semaphore with their bachelor degrees: but like Perkins a fighter for Aboriginal rights, alongside Gary Foley and others from the late 1960s. Unlike Perkins and Moriarty who never lost their love for soccer, Briscoe’s interest in politics took over from his interest in the game, although two years in the UK in the early 1960s and recurrent injuries played their part.
I played soccer for Port Adelaide for three seasons from shortly after my arrival in Australia in October 1954, and well remember my first encounter with Moriarty. It was a state trial for the Intermediate (Under-18) team to play against Victoria for the Skolnik Cup, where I was given the instruction: “Just put the ball in front of the little black kid”: that was it as the young Johnny Moriarty flew down the wing with the ball at his feet leaving everyone else in his trail. Moriarty’s career took off, mine drifted, but one of my favourite memories of him after that was the fun to and from an Under-21 State team visit to Port Pirie in 1958. (I was a reserve. I might also add that in the squad was Denis Harlow, future historian of the game in South Australia to which he has devoted his life in every capacity) I have since been told that Johnnie was not a singer but I seem to remember some very good Elvis interpretations. An outstanding feature of Moriarty that I noted then and have had no reason to change my opinion since is that he was always a great sport and a gentleman in the best meaning of that word.
|Charlie Perkins watches SA goalkeeper gather the ball against Victoria,|
photo courtesy Roy Hay
|Image courtesy Roy Hay|
Like me, Gordon Briscoe did not reach the same playing level as Charlie and Johnny, but in becoming a university professor he has surpassed any level I achieved in academia. We both played in Port Lincoln, but he before I arrived there in late 1958. There was a very strong aboriginal presence there, but none in any of the three soccer teams. In my memory, which conflicts with those who say Aboriginals did not play a big role in the Rules games, Aboriginals starred in more than one team. I played Rules on Saturday and soccer on Sunday, Gordon seems to have played only Rules, but I well remember Charlie Oliver who got Gordon to play Rules: he reached the top level in South Australian Rules but I knew him best as a spearfisherman. (Gordon says he played soccer in Port Lincoln) Gordon and I did not see much of each other after the days at Port Adelaide until we had a brief meeting at the Australian National University in 1969. I also met up with Charlie again, by then better known as an activist on Aboriginal causes, and was pleased to give him a copy of a book of documents on Australian history I had compiled, with one document unambiguous proof of how the Aboriginals of South Australia had been robbed of their land.
|Charlie Perkins vaulting his APIA opponent playing for Pan Hellenic in Sydney.|
Image courtesy James Hothersall