In The Beginning… The Australia Cup

Previously in this series we have looked at former new south Wales football clubs. But this time we will be looking at Australia’s first national club knockout tournament.

We have all witnessed the huge success over the past few years of the FFA Cup but there were plenty of competitions of its kind before. The Australia Cup was the country’s first ever national club competition which took place each year between 1962 until 1968 when the competition was abolished. Travel Costs would prove too big of a hurdle to over come for the tournament.

The Australia Cup

Henry Seamonds was the brains behind the creation of this Competition. Seamonds was at the time the Chairman and Treasurer for NSW Federation of Soccer Clubs. In 1961 Seamonds arranged a meeting Victorian Federation counterparts. It was at this time the Australian Soccer Football Association was suspended by FIFA. Seamonds not only planned to create a national Knockout tournament but also create a new national governing body for football in this country. The original idea for the knockout cup was to have all clubs from across the county flown into Sydney for the matches. The idea was that all the games would be played over a five week period but this competition never managed to get under way. The following year the Australian Soccer Federation was formed with Henry Seamonds taking on the Chairman role.

Australia Cup 1963

1962 would finally see the Australia’s first club knockout competition; the Australia Cup get underway. The first Year of the Tournament would see 16 teams take part which included four from Victoria and Sydney, three from South Australia and Queensland and two from Northern NSW. The first year of the cup would see Yugal take home the trophy. Yugal were far to dominant in the final which took place at Wentworth Park against St George Budapest who suffered an 8-1 defeat. The third place playoff saw two Italian teams in Brunswick Juventus and Adelaide Juventus going head to head. There would be no separating the sides with the match heading to penalty kicks which finished in favour of the South Australian based side. Yugal would also receive A£5,000 prize money for their efforts.

The second year of the Australian Cup would see four Tasmanian clubs take part in an expanded tournament. The Sydney and Melbourne clubs would enter the Cup in the second round. The 1963 final would be an all Melbourne affair with Port Melbourne Slavia taking on Polonia Melbourne. The final would end in a scoreless draw resulting in a replay match taking place which Port Melbourne took out 3-2. Ports three goals were scored by their Welsh import Desmond Palmer who had previously played for clubs such as Swansea and Liverpool.

George Cross FC would take home the Cup in 1964 defeating APIA Leichhardt in the Final. The final would take place at Olympic Park stadium in Melbourne with 15,000 spectators that saw the match locked at 2-2 after the 90 minutes. Archie Campbell was the Hero in extra-time netting the winner for George Cross.

Winners Plates

The 1965 Final would take place between Sydney Hakoah and APIA Leichardt at Wentworth Park. The final would be forced to a replay after the first game finished 1-1, Hakoah would take out the replay match 2-1. Hakoah and APIA would meet again in the final in 1966 at Wentworth park but this time APIA would prove too good winning 2-0.

APIA would again make the final in 1967, this time meeting Melbourne Hungaria at Olympic Park stadium in Melbourne. Hungaria would finish on top 4-3 in a high scoring final. Melbourne Hungaria were coached by William ‘Billy’ Walsh who was a former Irish international as well as 109 appearances for Manchester City during his playing career. Attilia Abonyi scored a hat-trick for the winning side. Abonyi made 61 appearances for Australia between 1967-1977 scoring 25 goals in that time for Australia.

The final year of this competition would give us an all Hakoah final with Sydney Hakoah taking on Melbourne Hakoah. The 1968 Final would be played over two legs with the first leg being played at Wentworth Park where the Sydney side won 3-0. It was off to Middle Park in Melbourne for the 2nd leg which seen the Sydney side prove far too good taking out the 2nd match 3-1. Sydney would take home the Trophy after a very dominant performance over both legs which finished 6-1 on aggregate.

Interstate travel would prove too big a hurdle for the competition to continue and it never really captured to imagination of fans who where more interested in Domestic leagues.

After the passing of Henry Seamonds in 1963 the name ‘The Henry Seamonds Memorial Trophy was engraved on the trophy. In 2011 a group of builders discovered the trophy at the Sydney Hakoah club in a pile of rubbish. The finders contacted Football Federation Australia but they had no interest in the safe keeping of this historic Cup.

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