Friday the 17th of October 2003 marked a new dawn for football in South Australia. On a perfect spring night, thousands flocked to Hindmarsh Stadium, just west of Adelaide’s CBD, to witness the birth of Adelaide United.
The crowd of 15,568 represented the second largest attendance for a National Soccer League regular season match at Hindmarsh, and the biggest NSL crowd at the venue in 25 years.
The match was far from the highest quality but it didn’t matter. It symbolised a new start, with football factions united in a common purpose, in a city recognised by many as the heart of Australian football. The club’s name was more than just symbolic. For one, non-football people were being drawn to the game in support of a team that genuinely represented the whole of the state.
For one, non-football people were being drawn to the game in support of a team that genuinely represented the whole of the state. There were no ethnic ties, no internal division and for the first time in many years, there was genuine excitement about the sport.
Adelaide United had been born, and an example had been set for the biggest local overhaul the game had ever seen.
Ten years on, Adelaide United is one of Australia’s most successful clubs.
Two A-League Grand Finals, pre-season championships and a domestic premiership can be listed among the success.
The club was until recently also the nation’s best performed in Asia, having competed in the Asian Champions League more often and having won more games than any other A-League club.
A remarkable run to the Champions League final in 2008 and participation at the Club World Championship in Japan in the same year stamped the club’s place on the international sporting landscape.
However, it hasn’t all been trophies and success. A small town club has captivated and captured the imagination of thousands across Australia through a combination of on-field success and demoralising losses, internal division, coaching spats and player unrest.
Building towards long-term success, the club now boasts long-term owners, a Spanish coach with an ambitious plan for the future and a loyal and passionate supporter group to rival any seen in the
This book is a labour of love. Sitting in his office on a dreary June afternoon in 2013, the author, Loukas Founten, looked out of the window at the rain and pictured himself on a sunny beach in the Mediterranean. It was then that inspiration hit.
Loukas realised that Adelaide United would be entering its tenth season in 2013/14 and he began thinking back to some of the amazing matches he had been to and some of the memories he had of being a supporter of the club.
While staring out that window, it occurred to him that the club was more than just a team kicking a ball around on the park.
It had been a pioneer in the modern-day evolution of football in Australia and had cut a path for other clubs to follow in continental football. But Loukas realised it hadn’t been easy over the years, and there was a great story to tell. A passionate supporter of the club, Loukas’s journalistic training with ABC News has taught him to be impartial and objective and to not impose his own views on a story.
He kept this in mind when writing this book, allowing those who were part of the good times and the controversies to tell the story.
Loukas set about months of research and began interviewing past and present coaches, players, administrators and owners to put into print the story of one of Australia’s leading football clubs. He also collected and collated a number of results and records and sourced hundreds of photographs with the help of the club’s history committee, former media manager Nic Kerber and photographer Adam Butler.
The project would not be possible without the backing and support of Adam, and that of editor Margaret Bowden. Graphic Designer Paul Charles has worked tirelessly to create a cover and layout that is both pleasing on the eye and easy to follow. The work of Graphic Designer Karen Allen cannot go unmentioned and there are many others who have supported and helped in their own ways.
Aimee Hentschke played her part, as did Alexandra Christodoulou. Most of all Loukas’s wife Keerin has been patient and supportive and didn’t complain once that she was spending even less time with him than usual while he had his head buried under a pile of research.
Finally the book could also not be possible without those who created the story and those who were kind enough to give up their time to share their memories with Loukas. Thank you to Basil Scarsella, Nick Bianco, Dario Fontanarosa, John Kosmina, Aurelio Vidmar, Michael Valkanis, Travis Dodd, Jon McKain, Eugene Galekovic, Glenn Elliott, Joe Mullen, Bruno Marveggio, Rob Gerrard, Marcos Flores, Con Tsakiris, Adam Butler and Josep Gombau.
*Note: Gordon Pickard and Rini Coolen were approached but declined to be interviewed.
Loukas has played for a number of South Australian Premier League and State League football teams and continues to play amateur league for fun, fitness and because he’d go crazy if he didn’t.
When ABC Grandstand began covering A-League matches in Newcastle and Melbourne, Loukas suggested the team in Adelaide do the same, and he has been helping broadcast A-League matches in Adelaide since, mostly as a sideline reporter.
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His first full-time role in news was in Port Pirie for ABC News and he has worked in Adelaide since returning there in 2010 as well as stint in Sydney.
Loukas Founten is a journalist, formerly of ABC News in Adelaide. He has followed and supported Adelaide United since 2003.
Loukas was at the club’s first match, its first final in the NSL and its first
A-League final, as well as being at both Grand Final losses to Melbourne Victory.
Born and raised in Adelaide, Loukas studied Journalism at the University of South Australia before getting casual work in the ABC Newsroom in Adelaide.
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