Australia may have only claimed one point but competed admirably at the 1974 FIFA World Cup in West Germany. In 1976, the Australian Soccer Federation funded a series of friendlies to prepare the Socceroos for the 1978 qualifiers, beginning in March 1977, and a world tour later in the year. The Socceroos played the U.S.S.R., Velež Mostar, New Zealand, Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland, Hearts of Midlothian, Bologna and Hong Kong in Australia with mixed results.
The new Socceroos' squad had much to prove. World Cup coach, Rale Rasic, had been controversially sacked. Jim Shoulder was in charge and brought in some fresh faces and former fringe players. Captain, Peter Wilson, knew he had a significant task ahead to qualify - the previous World Cup being the Socceroos' first.
These were part-time players. Goalkeeper, Allan Maher, was a maintenance fitter. Doug Utjesenovic, a storeman. Richie Bell was an optometry student. Harry Williams, a clerk and Dave Harding a mail officer. Brazilian-born Agenor Muniz had only arrived in Australia in 1971. He was a gardener. Like Williams, Jimmy Rooney was a clerk, and a young John Kosmina a student. Peter Ollerton was a sales representative. Atti Abonyi had retired for a year and come back to the squad - a tailor, during the day. Gary Byrne was a survey draftsman and Colin Bennett, an electrician. George Harris was a school teacher and Jimmy Tansey, a service mechanic.
A time for pioneers. Heroes - all of them.
On Monday, 15 November 1976, the Socceroos under the name Australian Federation (being a friendly or B-international) played Sunderland, losing 2-0 at Roker Park. The next day, Birmingham City beat the Socceroos 4-1 at St Andrew's Stadium to end the world tour, which began in Indonesia in October.
Perhaps, the ASF made mistakes in preparing the Socceroos for the Finals, as the team were knocked-out by Iran and would not qualify again for some 32 years. However, this design celebrates a team of part-timers taking on an English club only promoted back to the Football League Division 1 the season before.
One for fans of the Black Cats.
Sunderland v Australian Federation 1976 T-shirt
- Unisex, regular fit
- Crew neck
- Mid-weight, 180 GSM
- 100% combed cotton
- Neck ribbing, side seamed, shoulder to shoulder tape, double needle hems, preshrunk to minimise shrinkage
Size S M L XL 2XL 3XL W 47 52 56.5 61 64 68 L 71 75 78.5 82 83.5 85
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