Turning back time on history

One of Australia’s oldest football clubs, the producer of more than 20 Socceroos, is celebrating its founding 125 years ago this year.

Adamstown Rosebud, the Newcastle club that was established in 1889, is honouring the milestone with a special ball in July and is also preparing for promotion into the National Premier League this season.

Rosebud won the minor premiership and grand final in the NEWFM 1st Division in 2013 and heads back to the NBN State League, the top competition in the Hunter region, after a seven-year absence. Vice-president Andrew Licata said securing promotion is the perfect way to celebrate the club’s proud history.

“Two years ago we set a goal to be back,” he said. “We’ve achieved that. We’ve had a really big transition. We’ve got a bit of momentum behind us now.”

Licata said several years ago Rosebud, whose products over the years include Socceroos Ray Baartz and 1974 World Cup player Col Curran, made some strong decisions to turn the club around.

“It’s been about bringing in the right people,” he said. “Glen Chapman as head coach, he brought in the right players.”

Former NSL player Andy Stankovic came in as president while ex-Football NSW technical manager and ACT Football Federation coach education manager Alex Butt became the club’s technical director.

Chapman has now departed as the first-team coach, with Anthony Richards his replacement, but Licata said it has been about rebuilding the whole club.

“The focus has been on getting the structures in place to stay in the top division,” he said.

President Stankovic, also a former played with the club, said Rosebud is planning celebrations throughout the year and aiming to stay in the NBN State League.

“We want to be the best club in the Northern NSW Football Federation,” he said. “If we can make the top five in the league, that would be great for us.

“We want to compete and we want to grow. There’s a great committee here, they’re all passionate about the club and they’re all football people.”

Adamstown Rosebud was formed in the same year as clubs such as England’s Sheffield United and Brentford FC, Indian I-League outfit Mohun Bagan and Argentina’s Club Atletico Rosario Central. In its first year of existence in 1889, it only played trial matches but started in Newcastle’s local competition the following year, where it finished seventh.

Among the most famous players Rosebud has developed included 1920s Socceroo Peter Doyle, 1930s Australian representative Gavin Russell as well as the likes of national team plauers Allan Johns, Frank Parsons, Joe Senkalski, Baartz and Curran.

Current Newcastle Jets caretaker boss Clayton Zane was a junior with the club, the same as ex-Socceroo and NSL defender Graham Jennings.

Rosebud now has more than 400 members and has enlisted figures like Jennings to sit on advisory board to assist the committee. Former Rosebud junior and Newcastle Jet Stuart Musialik has also been enlisted as an ambassador for its youth set-up.

“Some people don’t realise that Newcastle was one of the first places where football was born in Australia,” Licata said. “When you see this club has been around longer then some of the English Premier League clubs, it says a lot.”

Rosebud hosted Manchester United when the Red Devils toured Australia in 1967 and took on a Northern NSW side at Newcastle’s No.1 Sportsground.

The club took part in the NSL between 1984 and 1986 under the name of Newcastle Rosebud United, after Newcastle KB United went under, keeping alive the Hunter region’s participation in Australia’s national football competition.

Licata said entry into the NSL in the 1980s caused Rosebud’s downfall but brighter days are now ahead.

“We lost our licensed club, we lost our dominance,” he said.

“The club went backwards for a little while but we’re on our way back now.”