In 1972, two men talking together over a back fence shared a vision, of the St John Bosco Youth Boys’ Club, as it was known then, having its own soccer club. These men were Len Parker and Colin Laver. Their conversation led to the first meeting that was held with people interested in setting up a Soccer Sub-Committee. Those that attended the first meeting were Len Parker, Colin Laver, Patricia Laver, Ted Leese and Cas Castalyne. The meeting was held at the home of Pat and Col Laver. During this meeting many positive actions were taken. One decision led to a phone call being made to Bill Charlton in which he was informed that he had just been elected as the Club’s inaugural President.
The decisions from that meeting were taken to the St John Bosco Youth Boys’ Club for approval, along with a request for financial assistance. The princely sum of $100.00 was awarded and this money was then spent on soccer shirts. The dream had become a reality.
The formation of the Club continued with three nursery teams and one competition team. In those days this was the minimum number of teams that a soccer club could register with the Sutherland Shire Junior Association.
We were allocated an oval at Waterfall as our home ground. It was a block of land just inside the Royal National Park. The only facility we had were two dry toilets. To get the Club running required a lot of work on the part of a small, but dedicated, band of people. Timber for the goal posts was obtained from the Hurstville R.S.L. Club, which was being demolished at that time. The first set of goal nets were loaned to us from Heathcote Soccer Club. These were used until Maureen and Bill Charlton donated a new set of nets. A lady found some blue material so now we had corner flags.
Finally we were ready at the field for the first game of the season. To our horror we found a manufacturing fault with the shirts. Undaunted both Pat Laver and Wendy Carkeet produced, from nowhere, needles, threads and safety pins and quickly went to work on altering the shirts. THE PIONEERING SPIRIT WAS VERY MUCH IN ACTION.
The first canteen was a tent, which had been donated. Suppliers took us on trust, to help us get started, so now we had soccer balls! Naturally we had no power; therefore there were no pie warmers. Mothers, whose sons were due to play at home, were given a quantity of cold pies and asked to bring them to their game warmed up and ready to sell. A small burner was obtained which enabled a kettle to be boiled, so tea and coffee was now available. It must be borne in mind that none of these items could be stored in the tent and had to be transported to and from the field every Saturday.
After a couple of years we graduated from the tent to a $500.00 caravan, old yes, but it served its purpose. At one stage unbeknown to anyone, a hole appeared in the floor. It was eventually noticed because, on one particular day whilst being taken to the field, cans of soft drink were dropping through the hole and onto the road. Good fortune was smiling on us, because a following car, which was also going to the oval, kept stopping and picking up the cans.
After several years and much pushing for relocation closer, or, into Engadine, we were given a field at Dobell Road. This also had no facilities but we were able to raise funds to erect a canteen and the Council pledged further funds for the toilet block. We felt that, at last, we were home.
Of course, by this time, the Club was steadily growing from the original four teams and went to six, then ten teams as the numbers just kept growing. After several more years it was evident that we were outgrowing Dobell Road. At that time we were given a second field at Old Bush Road. This allowed us to handle the number of teams that were coming to Bosco, but it also meant that our labour was doubled along with the additional costs of fridges (and pie warmers) etc. However that small, but increasing band of volunteers, were quite happy to do all the extra work.
Naturally, we kept our eyes and ears open for land that would become available somewhere to accommodate two fields on the one ground. Eventually we were rewarded by being allocated two fields side-by-side at Woronora Heights. During all this time the club was growing from the humble beginning of four teams in 1972 up to today’s 74 teams. Ironically, yet again, strain is starting to be felt, as several teams are unable to play on their home fields due to the increasing demand.
It must be mentioned that the silent partner to our club has always been the St John Bosco Youth Centre (formerly Boys’ Club). They have supported us and at no time imposed any restrictions; we had complete autonomy. It must also be mentioned that without their aid in our first years it is probable that the dream may never have come to fruition. The number of sporting players that play under the Bosco Youth Centre banner is approximately 3,000 of which 900 form the (Winter) Football Club.
During the years, many of our players have furthered their interest in soccer. Boys and girls with a passion for the game have gone on to play representative soccer. An example of this is Shane Clinch, who went on to play National League for Sydney Croatia and Apia Leichhardt.
Jack Bird was President at Bosco for years and then went on to be the President of the Sutherland Shire Junior Soccer Football Association for many years and was also the President of Sydney Branch Soccer. Bill Charlton is now the Registrar for the Sutherland Shire Football Association. “History repeats itself” is a true saying, as Bill Charlton’s son Adam, was the President of the St John Bosco Football Club between 2005 and 2007 and has also been playing for 37 years. He is the longest playing member of the Club to this day.
To the men who had the dream, to the people who have shared their talent, skills, knowledge, their precious time in the past and currently and, to the parents of the children of Engadine and surrounding areas and, to the CHILDREN themselves, we say “THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL”.
From: 'The Start of Something Big - St John Bosco (now Football) Club Bill Charlton, first President of St John Bosco Soccer Club, April 2006 Revised and updated September 2010