Planning and Building of the Spearwood Dalmatinac Sport and Community Club
Presentation by Norm Marinovich at the Spearwood Damatinac Club on 18/04/2021
My talk will have three parts.
Firstly I’ll outline the origin of the idea and the people who pioneered the concept.
Then I’ll present the information provided by Alex Banovich, Max Zuvela on the building of the club premises.
Finally there is the account from Vic Jakovich which centres on the story of the process involved in sorting out and establishing the basic grounds of the clubs finances.
The idea of a club started before the World War 2 when the social life of the Slav community in Spearwood was very active and based around a club housed in a building owned by the community on the corner of Rockingham Rd and Reserve St in Spearwood. The C(ch)itaonica.
After the war there was a mass migration of Slavs back to Yugoslavia in 1948-9 on the ships Partizanka and Radnik. One of those people was George Grbavac.
George found that life in Yugoslavia was not to his liking. After failing to get approval to return to Australia he tried to escape over the border to Italy, was apprehended and briefly jailed. He was eventually given his exit documents from Yugoslavia and returned to Australia in 1952. Many others also returned to begin life anew in WA.
The returned Slavs found life in WA different to what it was like prior to the war. Those returning had to re establish themselves which required much hard work while the Australian economy was booming resulting in everyone working harder and leaving little time for recreation such as existed pre war. George who was very active socially felt the lack of interaction with his fellow Slavs and set about promoting solutions. This lead to George and a number of others in the Slav community to join the Spearwood Rovers Soccer team with the bulk of the reserve side initially made up of Slavs including talented players such as Tonko Fiamengo, the Petkovich brothers, Matt Marinovich, Nick Bleus, Wally Klepac and Steve Glamuzina. Their home ground was behind the old Spearwood recreational Hall on Rockingham Road.
This proved to be unsatisfactory to George as there was a feeling that an anti Slav attitude existed in the clubs hierarchy and there was a limited opportunity to involve the wider Spearwood Slav community. George therefore proposed the establishment of a new club.
In 1962 Balkan Dalmatinac Soccer Club was registered as a new soccer club with George Grbavac as the Founding President. Fifteen of the sixteen Founding Members are now recognised on an honour board in the entrance lobby of this building.
The team played in the second division, trained on soccer pitches in Stevens St Fremantle and at Fremantle Park adjacent to the CBC School. The grounds and the change rooms were generally unsatisfactory and they didn’t have their own clubrooms.
Social events were held every two weeks either at Paget St in Hilton, or the Memorial Hall in Hamilton Hill with the major events taking place in The Melville or South Perth Civic Centre or the Fremantle town Hall
Dissatisfaction with that state of affairs lead to a desire for the club to have its own premises with a soccer pitch attached.
Fremantle City Council was approached and then the Cockburn Shire.
The paper by Alex and Max will address the evens from that point.
There is no doubt that George Grbavac was the driving force in developing the concept of a “Slav” based soccer club which eventually evolved into the current Community and Sports Club.
Dalmatinac Club’s History of Building a paper by Alex Banovich and Max Zuvela
Around the early 1970’s the Fremantle Dalmatinac Soccer Club President, Mr George Grbavac and Committee member Mr. Ivan Petkovich contacted Mr Šimun Sardelic, a prominent businessman, Mr Max Zuvela, an Architect, and Mr Alex Banovich, a local Pharmacist to assist the Club commitee as they were experiencing great difficulty in obtaining suitable playing and training grounds and
Fremantle Council were not being helpful. Ultimately, the Club also wanted to have their own sporting and cultural premises.
These 3 gentlemen agreed to form a sub-committee, outside of the Club committee to investigate what the possibilities could be. They arranged a meeting with the Fremantle Town Clerk who advised that the Council could build a soccer and rugby ground at the Southern end of Hilton Reserve on Carrington Street but, as our Club wanted the field and club rooms as soon as possible, we would have to pay the $70,000 for earthworks for both soccer and rugby and that they would only give us a lease for 21 years.
These conditions weren’t acceptable to the Club so an approach was made to Cockburn Council where we were welcomed with OPEN arms by mayor Alan Thomas. They were prepared to assist us to find both a 2 acre area of land on which to build a sporting and community Club premises, adjacent to an all weather soccer field. Very importantly, the Club would be built on freehold land owned outright by the Club .
As it was not possible to purchase Public Open Space for private ownership, considerable negotiation was required between the Sub Committee, the Council and Watson Foods who owned a large area of Buffer Zone land in the same Scheme. These negotiations were lead by Sam Sardelic & Max Zuvela and helped conciderably by Miro Srdarov and Lloyd Marchesi , as Councillors recommending the Council’s approval. Watson Foods very generously agreed to donate 2 acres of its land to the Club to exchange for the land next to the soccer ground and success was achieved at last.
The Club then became The Spearwood Dalmatinac Club and Set about having Tsigulis & Zuvela Architects draw up plans for the NEW
Sporting and Cultural Club. At the same time Cockburn Council started the earthworks on a fully Professional, cambered soccer pitch, complete with underground drainage and reticulation, to prevent flooding in winter and to automatically water the grass in summer. The excess soil was dumped onto the club’s building site to create a natural grandstand viewing platform for spectators at matches. Floodlighting was subsequently added to enable training and games to be held at night. It is now considered as one of the best playing fields in this state and is presently being used by the Soccer Federation of WA to stage the State Soccer Night Series Competition.
While all of this was happening, the Soccer players were still in the amateur Sunday League and Social functions were held fortnightly in Paget Street Hall or the Memorial Hall where modest funds were collected to keep the Club financial.
With the acquisition of the land, and very little money to build a substantial Club building members built a basic Bocce pitch and a Builders shed for weekend gatherings to encourage NEW members to join the Club and others to donate to the Building Fund. Members who had building trades were encouraged to donate their services and materials to the construction, when it eventually started.
Max Zuvela’s architect firm finally completed the plans and submitted them to the Council for approval. His work was heavily discounted to support the project. Others to donate or heavily discount their services were:- Earthworks: Eddy Garbin, Ceilings: Brian Valeta of Vista Ceilings, Concrete: Steve Simich,
Brick laying: Tome & Ante Borcich. Ceramic tiles: Faruk, Painting: Ante Žabica, Plumbing: Ante Nadilo Krenich
The building Contract was awarded to Tecon Building Company, owned by Tony Pogorelic and John Petkovich. They enabled others to donate their services and products, so reducing the cost of the building to the Club.
To complete the project it was necessary to arrange a substantial Bank Loan and here the ANZ had faith that we would repay the Loan.
Alex Banovich was the Club president for the 3 years while all the above was being achieved. He passed on the mantle to Miro Srdarov who was president the following year when Sir Charles Court, Premier of WA, opened the Club on 05/03/1977 Alex MC’d the opening ceremony, followed by a sumptuous Dinner and dance late into the night. There was great jubilation among the membership about what had been achieved, that Just a few years before, had been considered near impossible. Our community and youth would now be able to enjoy their own, first class facilities, permanently; in fact the clubs hall had a much bigger capacity than the Town Council’s Hall. This was demonstrated a few years later when the Johnny O’Keefe Rock Concert was held at Dallies and all tables had to be removed to accommodate over 1000 people in the hall. That was a night to remember!
Whilst still holding dances at Paget St Hall, Marko Marinovich organised a Miss Dalmatinac competition among the members daughters present with each girl selling raffle tickets. The winner was the girl raising the most money and was Valma Tomasich, sister of the Current Club president, Dennis Tomasich.
Mark had asked Alex Banovich to MC the quest and following that very successful event Alex saw the potential to raise much more money if the quest was organised on a more Professional basis over many more months and with prizes of trips to Europe for the Beauty Queen and Charity Queen. The next few years saw very successful gala night functions at the Pagoda Ballroom for the crowning ceremonies of the Miss Dalmatinac Quest and many thousands of dollars raised to reduce the club’s debt to the bank. Alex then further expanded the quest by inviting the other ‘Slav‘ clubs to provide entrants to raise money for their own clubs and so the quest was then renamed “The Miss Jugoslavena Quest of WA” and raised considerable funds for each Club. The Charity Queen was always from the Dallies Club. It seems we had the most organised and the most generous members and supporters. On the 150th centenary year of WA the quest was further expanded to become a National quest, with girls from most states represented in Perth, at Cantebury Court. The Queensland Miss won and they then held the quest in Brisbane in the following year. Overall, many hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for the competing clubs so many thanks to Marko for coming up with the great idea.
Once the Club was on its feet they applied for a Professional team in the State Soccer League and, over the ensuing years, they worked their way up to First Division where a few years later they won the State Championship and every other competition held by the State Soccer Federation. Throughout this time the amateur and junior teams were also actively developed to cater for the needs of our youth and future champions.
The members mentioned above, as well as many others worked tirelessly for the Club, often neglecting their own Jobs, to ensure that the Club continued to advance. Many had come from their homelands in search of a better life for their families. So, with very little money and with little or no English language skills, they showed Just how Resilient they were and mostly, continue to be to this day. Several of the Foundation Members of the Club are still active on various Club committees.
They are the most generous and hardworking migrants we have experienced here, so its no wonder the Club has been so successful.
Having members with such great resilience is truly a wonderful asset for any organisation. Fortunately Dallies has many.