Australia set off for the Vietnam National Day Soccer Tournament in Saigon at the start of November 1967. It was a strange and frightening experience for the Australians being pitched into the middle of an ongoing war, which was beginning to become unpopular at home. The team would be eating with soldiers in their mess and then going to play football, while their colleagues went off to fight.
It was a successful tournament for the Australians, who came up against South Korea in the Final on 14 November. The match nearly did not take place after the team was informed that there was no space in the stadium for the Australian military personnel who had been a huge support to the players on and off the field.
The Australians threatened not to take part. As it turned out, the service personnel were allowed in and the rest of the crowd supported Australia rather than the Koreans, much to the Aussies' surprise. South Korea scored in the first minute, but the Australians responded brilliantly. Billy Vojtek produced a wonderful solo goal after 36 minutes and Attila Abonyi and captain John Warren added the others in a 3-2 win. The first international tournament victory for Australia.
Though mortar batteries could be heard in Saigon on most days, it was said at the time that there were so many Vietcong at the matches that there was no trouble at the Cong Hua Stadium.
John Barclay, the tour manager, told the team he had put his head on the block for them. He overturned an Australian Soccer Federation decision that the team should return their official tracksuits at the conclusion of the tour! Talk about playing for the jerseys.
Johnny Warren wrote in his autobiography that the players received $50-a-week while on tour plus $10 as an allowance. The contrast with modern times is striking, even allowing for changes in the value of money.
The Australian players in this team really were pioneers.
Vietnam 1967 National Day Victory 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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