Reg Date:Australia’s first football star


Australia isn’t much known in the football world besides that it is the reigning Asian Cup champion and it qualified for the last three World Cup tournaments with a limited success in the 2006 World Cup in Germany where they were eliminated in the Round of 16 by Italy.Besides it had a limited success with the National Soccer League where a large number of clubs were founded by immigrants which came to Australia and only recently with the A-League it has a real professional football league.However long before the qualification for the 1974 FIFA World Cup in West Germany where Australia made the tournament by beating South Korea 1-0 with the goal by Jimmy Mackay,there was Reg Date which was Australia’s first football star. Unlike cricket,rugby (both union and league) and Aussie Rules football,the European version of football struggled to gain traction in the Australian sports landscape for decades,but the man who began to blaze the way for Australia was Reg Date.Born in 1921 in the Newcaste suburb of Wallsend,Date showed his early football talents by playing for his school where he scored 94 goals in one season,in five years he scored more than 600 goals for the Plattsburgh Primary School he attended.In 1937 at the age of 16 he signed for the local club FC Wallsend and in his first game he scored twice.Paired with Alf Quill which was an Australian international during that time and another legend of football during that time Wallsend went to win 15 state cup trophies and two state championships.However his carreer at Wallsend came to end in 1945 when he signed for Canterbury-Bankstown where he continued to score goals,in just three seasons Date scored 193 goals which included 73 goals in the 1947 season.In the same year he reached the peak of his carreer when he made a debut for the Australian national team when South Africa made a five-match tour.In five matches againt South Africa,Date scored seven goals and even captained the team in the fourth match.However due to his confrontation with the officials in the Australian Soccer Association he made only three more apperances for the national team and managed to return to Wallsend besides the interest of British club like Glasgow Rangers which wanted him to sign.In 1953 after spending 18 years scoring goals Date retired from football and he passed away in 1995 in Newcastle.Reg Date was Australia’s first true football star in a period when football in Australia was basically a sport of immigrants which came to the country and struggled to gain publicity in the country’s sporting landscape.

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