A Rich Heritage
The Adelaide Croatia Soccer Club was founded in the early 1950s by a small group of young Croats to promote the Croatian name locally, nationally and internationally. The group was headed by the late Fahrudin Ceric, the then President; Cvjetko Milanovic; Drago Pispek; and many others.
They registered the club in 1952 and played their first game against a team from the Phillips Factory at Hendon.
The club affiliated itself with the SA Soccer Federation and played for 5 years in the metropolitan division. Its first home ground was at the South parklands on Greenhill Rd.
In 1954, Mr Branko Filipi, who was a significant leader in the club's early history, became the club president and remained so for the next 14 years. This was a record which still stands today. Along with his enthusiastic committee, Mr Filipi began securing the services of a number of promising recruits. In 1958 Adelaide Croatia entered into the second division and narrowly missed being promoted into the first division. That same year, the late Charles Perkins, now remembered as a leading Aboriginal activist, joined the team and later represented Australia. Charles Perkins was one of the most well known individuals to come out of Adelaide Croatia Soccer Club.In his autobiography he reflected with fondness on his friendships with Adelaide Croats and other immigrants he met through the club. Soccer was a truly multicultural sport and Adelaide Croatia reflected this.
In 1959 the club convincingly won the second division championship and secured a place in the first division for the first time. Once in the first division, Adelaide Croatia's fixtures and results were listed in the international soccer pools. This was historically significant as Adelaide Croatia was the only Croatian team from Australia in the pools and its progress was thus followed by Croats all over the world. The following year, that is in 1960, the club also made a move to its new headquarters at Hanson Reserve. There it remained until the year 2000.
The club's first major milestone was in 1961 when Croatia downed Cumberland 4-nil to win the Ampol Cup. The Advertiser, in its report on the match, wrote that no team in the state could have beaten Croatia on that performance. The club then moved from strength to strength and its successes have been numerous. But it wasn't until 1980 that Croatia won the coveted first place in the first division. This, of course, was considered the ultimate achievement for a State League side. Since then Croatia has won the league on another three occasions: in 1984, 1988 and 1997.
The club was so successful in the 1980s that a decision was made by the committee that, should Adelaide Croatia win the 1990 premiership, it would attempt to enter the National Competition. This was not to be as Croatia, falling short by just one point on the premiership table, missed the "play-offs". Hellas won the competition that year and later joined the National League as West Adelaide.
But Croatia continued to forge ahead as witnessed by some of its honours. These include:
Federation Cup winner - 9 times
Wills Cup winner - 3 times
Ampol Cup winner- 3 times
Bailetti Cup winner in 1968
Coca Cola Cup winner in 1984
And its championship honours include:
Second division Champions in 1959 1972 1975 and 2018
First division Champions in 1980 1984 1988 and 1997
Around 1990 some members of the Croatian Community were putting the wheels in motion to build a sporting complex to accommodate its successful team. The vision has become a reality some 12 years later. And the result is what you see about you today.
Many great players have walked through the doors of this club and many still remain great friends of Adelaide Croatia Soccer Club. Some of those players have represented South Australia and some have represented Australia. This is a true indication of a successful and well respected club. It is also an indication that the hundreds of players, officials and volunteers who have been affiliated with Adelaide Croatia over the past 68 years have kept alive the hopes of the club's founders and ensured that the Croatian name and sporting reputation has been vigorously promoted in South Australia.