Almanac Soccer: North Geelong Warriors 2 – 4 Bulleen Lions

North Geelong has been the highest-ranking club in Greater Geelong for several years now. Founded in 1967 by Aldo Siketa, Ivan Sesar and Mirko Hrkac, North was not the first Croatian backed club in the area. An earlier Croatia had reached the Victorian State League by winning Division One in 1959 and was even presented with pennant as champion. But over the close season Preston Technical School Old Boys won a protest against Lions and leapfrogged Croatia into the top flight.


Visual proof that Croatia won Division One North in 1959. Dinko and Neven Paleka, Joe Bebic, Mark Viduka, Damien Vojtek and Vinko Buljubasic hold the pennant, which is kept in Melbourne Knights’ clubrooms. Photo: Roy Hay.


Croatia won every trophy they competed for in 1968 but was expelled from the State League in 1972 after crowd trouble during a match with Hakoah. North Geelong was also thrown out of the Provisional League that year but came back soon afterwards and has been a powerhouse in local football ever since. In 1991 with Branko Culina as coach, North won Division One and was promoted to the Victorian Premier League, winning that in its first season in the competition. It still holds that proud record. Coincidently, Bulleen was premier and champion the following year.


North has produced a conveyor belt of Socceroos, Croatian national team players and many who have been stars in the National Soccer League and the A-League. Steve Horvat Junior is now director of football at Western United, after a decorated career in which he captained the Socceroos. This year North will host the Croatian tournament that brings together clubs from all over Australia.


In 2021 North Geelong is in Division Two of the Victorian National Premier League and was one of only two undefeated teams after five rounds. Former Melbourne Knights’ player, Zeljko Gagula is the senior coach, assisted by Stuart Begg.


Luka Jurkovic (9) and Thomas Hidic (19) in desperate attempts to make contact with a North Geelong corner kick against Bulleen. Photo: Roy Hay.


Football, as is often said, is a funny game, but this one was anything but funny for North Geelong, while it was a wonderful demonstration of the effectiveness of Bulleen’s striker, Ben Everson. After a career that took him through the United States of America college system in Texas, he came to Australia via Iceland, York City and Gateshead in England, and then to Dandenong City. One of his previous managers at York City, Gary Mills said, ‘He likes to score goals and has done that wherever he’s been’. North might have been warned as the burly striker scored with a spectacular overhead kick in the 22nd minute. Fifteen minutes later he brushed aside North’s Daniel Serra and scored again. Everson completed his hat-trick in the second half.


North pulled a goal back through young substitute Luka Skoko in the 62nd minute, but any thoughts of a revival were stymied when Anthony Taranto came on as substitute for Bulleen and promptly scored a fourth goal for the visitors. Jamie Noggler replied with a fierce drive into the opposite top corner of the net, but North could not close the gap. Bulleen won by four goals to two.


At half-time, Josip Skoko said the league was very even and I should not pay too much attention to the ladder positions. That proved to be wise advice.




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  1. Kevin Densley says

    Great stuff, as usual, Roy. I love the depth and breadth of knowledge in your football writing – you wear this knowledge lightly, and by that I mean it is always there to be drawn upon, but never overwhelms your description of the here-and-now of a particular game.

  2. You are very kind, Kevin. I think for users/readers of this site in particular there has to be more than a blow by blow account of matches. The variety of approaches on the Almanac and the generosity of readers calls for something to stir their interest. In my case at the moment having been out of the football (soccer) loop for some time I am having to learn and feel my way back into the local game in and around Geelong. It is a delight to catch up with old friends, but then there is a whole new generation of people I don’t know at games these days—players, officials, spectators. The Geelong Advertiser has very little space, if any, for the local game so anything I can do to help remind people what it is about and its long and fascinating history underpins what I write.

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