United glory days to be relived

These are the men who won the old South Coast United – not to be confused with the namesake going around in the Illawarra Mercury Premier League – the NSW Soccer Federation premiership in 1969.This year marks the 40th anniversary of South Coast’s triumph in what was the biggest prize in Australian football and goalkeeper George Ramage hopes to gather his old team-mates together for a reunion.Ramage, known in his heyday as the “green frog” for his uniform of the same colour, was one of the heroes as South Coast United stitched up the title with a 1-1 draw away to APIA at Lambert Park.Reports from the time indicate Ramage twice saved what looked to be certain goals to preserve the deadlock after Adrian Alston’s 34th-minute goal was cancelled out by Danny McKinnon on the hour.The South Coast team also included three players who were part of the first Australian team to play at the World Cup – 1974 Socceroos Alston, Peter Wilson and Max Tolson.The victory came six years after South Coast had thumped APIA 4-0 in the 1963 grand final. South Coast’s golden generation of players were last together for a reunion with former coach, the late Jim Kelly, more than a decade ago, but with almost 40 years gone since their crowning achievement, Ramage wants to take the chance to meet up with his mates again.”It’s a big milestone – it would be great to get together again,” Ramage said.Fortunately, many of the South Coast United team of 1969 live in the Illawarra, including Bulli coach Alston, Wilson, Adrian Ringland, Errol Freeme, Peter Beattie, skipper Ean Cuthbert and Phil Carr. Some, such as Tolson, Jim Harris, who coached the 1969 team and John Nuell have relocated to Queensland, while Irishman Joe McGrath, Scot Jim Strachan and Englishman Don Peachey have returned to their homelands on the other side of the world.Despite his team’s wealth of talent and achievements, Ramage remains modest.”We were pretty good – we were a bunch of locals and professionals who gelled together,” he said.Any South Coast players interested in getting in touch with Ramage should email peandgeo@aapt.net.au.

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