What’s in the water? Emu Export or Vodka?
Inglewood United is one of the most progressive clubs in the NPL in Western Australia. But it wasn't always that way10 June 2017 | Chris Egan
As I interviewed official club historian for Inglewood United (formally Kiev), Brett Klucznik, his passion for Western Australia became obvious.
I ask Brett what led him to write the history of Inglewood United.
“I was around football, going to local games but didn’t have a team. I became an Inglewood fan when I wanted to write the history of the club four years ago. I got a feel for the club and they sort of picked me.”
Brett felt lost as the NSL ended and the A-League began. Perth Glory in the NSL had been his life, volunteering his time for the club. His duties included writing for the club's match day program, being a club photographer and writing a regular ‘West Aussies abroad’ piece for Soccer Australia.
Inglewood filled the gap as he didn’t feel the same with Perth Glory in the A-League.
It was football, but not as he wanted it.
“The A-League turned me off. The Glory in the NSL had a heart, had a community. Not just about the 90 minutes on the park. It was the pre-match entertainment, the diversity. The A-League came in, everything was homogenous, everything was the same, with a national marketing campaign. I think it bored Western Australia.
“I needed something that had a soul. The A-League didn’t have it. I went to every single game in the NSL for 9-10 seasons. I tried to do the same with the A-League but it felt soulless.”
Brett is still a Glory fan, but the A-League doesn’t speak to him. He is not ‘bitter’, his team didn’t die, but he now directs his passion and his volunteer time to Inglewood Kiev.
The passion for football and Glory is obvious as he recounts the goal of Scott Miller against Melbourne Knights on the 28th December 1996.
“I was standing on the hill with my girlfriend, who later became my wife. Everyone in the crowd went totally nuts. After that we didn’t miss a game.”
This particular game shaped the culture of Perth Glory. It legitimised the club as an authentic Western Australian team, with an official crowd of 14,759 attending the match – much more than the club was expecting. Western Australia had defeated the ‘bloody Vics’, which was a great reason for celebration.
Perth Glory became the third most talked-about topic in The West Australian newspaper after this match. It also helped create the fierce rivalry between Perth Glory and Melbourne Knights.
The Glory were a dinky-die ‘Sandgroper’ institution – just as identifiable as Emu Export. The nostalgia evident in Klucznik’s eye shows just how much passion and parochialism the Glory was able to tap into.
As his passion for the A-League wavered, Klucznik saw that he could re-create his experience of the NSL by becoming engaged with a state league club.
“They started off as strongly identifying as Ukrainian. Within five or six years the club was on its knees financially.”
The beginning of Inglewood Kiev would be reliant on the migrant camps from Northam to deliver players for its side. In those days not a short trek, as the town is more than 100km from Perth.
With only a small Ukranian community of 1-2,000 in Western Australia the club was on the verge of collapse.
“The board made some changes. They brought in outsiders. As a start, they brought in British players. By the mid 1960s, there was a cultural change within the club. Basically the Ukranians who remained, left the club. I believe the reason was that they felt ostracised; they all say ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ when I interview them today.”
It was this conflict that shapes Australian football's story. In this instance, it was the decision of the Inglewood United board to broaden the club’s base that ensures it is still around today.
“Val Zazula came into the club and hired Alfred Tipton. He was ex-English Army and he had a very different style of coaching. Up until then it was a social team. The club evolved from there.”
From 1957 – 1962 the club went up four divisions and they are now considered one of the most important clubs in Western Australian football. They decided that success was more important than ethnicity.
He cites their move to a new ground as evidence of their readiness to adapt to the environment.
“The lease on Inglewood Oval came up. Perth City had rubbed the British Football Association up the wrong way. Perth City, which was British-backed, were the biggest club in the state and Inglewood Kiev was a smaller club. But Inglewood Kiev won the tender.”
The community values that Inglewood showed were more in tune with where the governing body wanted to take the sport. It speaks of a greater story of Western Australia and of the state’s migrant population who adapted and succeeded. The attitudes were formed through a geographic isolation that required broader thinking, because of a much smaller population base than Melbourne and Sydney.
There was not the support base to sustain Kiev, so they broadened and eventually became Inglewood United rather than a page in history.
Inglewood United’s history of adaptation ensures it is one of the most progressive clubs in the Western Australian national premier league competition today. Recently, Perth Glory striker Andy Keogh was named as their coach.
Kiev adapted to become a more inclusive club because the key to survival was to adapt to the reality they faced.
It is both vodka and Emu Export that flows through the club’s veins.
npl, national soccer league, inglewood united