INGLEWOOD’S Julius Caesar Re has been awarded an OAM for his lifetime’s work popularising soccer in Australia.
Mr Re is considered a “visionary” by the Football Hall of Fame WA for seeing a game with potential and helping professionalise the sport.
involvement in soccer dates back to when Mr Re’s oldest brother Frank was one of the founders of the Perth Azzurri soccer club in 1948.
Mr Re became the club’s secretary in 1959 and he says “when I started the game was dead – we couldn’t get anywhere” with chaotic players and messy relationships between unorganised organising bodies.
“So I formed the professional federation,” he says, the Soccer Federation of WA, a proper organising body aiming to up the standards and turn the game professional. “That started it off, and from there all sorts of things snowballed.”
Teams flocked to the new organisation. Other states followed suit and soon an Australian Soccer Federation was established in 1960.
But years passed with WA unable to get a game with interstate teams, so Mr Re looked north for others to play against.
“I said if you people don’t want me, I’ll go to Asia and see if they’ll play football with us.”
“There was this Malaysian fella, we got talking, and he said ‘you’ve got a good story’.”
“He was the president of their football association,” Mr Re says, and also “the prime minister of Malaysia,” Tunku Abdul Rahman.
Malaysia had an upcoming soccer tournament coming up, a prestigious international competition where countries sent teams of their best players.
“The fella rang me up and said ‘we’ve invited Australia but they won’t come. Australia won’t come because they had the White Australia policy’, which was a stupid bloody thing in the first place.
“We were up there in 67, 68, 69 and 70. I think we were instrumental in going up there for there for four years, breaking the ice.”
From 1969 to 1975 Mr Re was a Perth city councillor and networked to get high end world soccer teams to come to WA to play, bringing over Chelsea, Manchester United and Roma, helping build the state’s profile.
But it’d be a long time coming before we’d get our first team in the National Soccer League, arriving in 1995 with the founding of the Perth Glory.
Mr Re was a founding member of Glory and as he turns 90 this year he’s hoping he’ll stick around long enough to see them bring home the championship for the first time, and to see a World Cup held here.
“We’ll have it one day,” he says.