Memories flow during football game
DOUG Stewart is no teenager and has a football CV that is impressive by any measure, little wonder then when he viewed this week’s friendly game between Australia and New Zealand the memories came flooding back.
Not that Stewart knows any of the current crop of players but he has played international football for Australia and he did play at Adelaide Oval.
That was 53 years ago when Australia faced one of the strongest English club sides.
The opposition was Blackpool and for Stewart making his debut for Australia, although he had previously played internationals for Burma, it is a game he still remembers with great affection.
“When I played at Adelaide (May 1958) the weather was dry, I felt sorry for them out there in those conditions,” he said.
The game against New Zealand was played in heavy rain but at least our national team won the match, something the 1958 team failed to manage against Blackpool.
Stewart was brought in for the final international of Blackpool’s tour with the English professionals already 4-0 up in the series.
The English football league team brought a strong squad of players on the tour with the great Stanley Matthews among their number.
Stewart said he was on the same flank as Matthews but due to the style of play in that era did not come into direct contact.
The privilege of looking after Matthews was handed to Stewart’s club mate Donny West who found a way to stop the England international.
“He rugby tackled him,” Stewart chuckled.
Although Matthews was 43-years-old at that time he was still a fine footballer who continued playing professionally for a further seven seasons in England.
Stewart said his contribution in Australia’s 2-0 loss that day was setting up a couple of chances for top scorer Bob Morrow, which he missed.
After the game when the players mixed the Blackpool stars had a few words of advice for the youthful Stewart.
“They told me I should have taken them on (instead of passing) as I had the pace,” he said.
One of the players Stewart spoke at length with was Matthews but the topic was not football.
“I talked to him about tennis as he knew I was a tennis coach and his son played the game,” Stewart said.
The following year Stewart again represented Australia in a friendly international where the opposition was a touring Hearts of Midlothian team.
Stewart went on to be inducted into the Western Australia Football Hall of Fame.
Even though Stewart is in his 70s he is still a ardent lover of football and actively coaches youngsters in “the beautiful game”.