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Mickey Quayle, front row third right, during his State playing days

How ‘non-footballer’ Mickey played the Blues

Football West News

Chelsea will undertake their third visit to Western Australia later today and a clash against Perth Glory next Monday.

To mark the occasion we caught up with key figures from the WA State team from 1974, the last time the Blues came to Perth.

The latest is Mickey Quayle, a player who found football almost by accident …

Mickey Quayle still laughs at the memory of taking on some of English football’s biggest names – and of his father “going mad” at the thought of his son facing players who had won the FA Cup and featured at the Mexico World Cup just a few years before.

Because before he came to Australia, football was nothing more than a Sunday morning kickabout for the 73-year-old Liverpudlian.

“I’d never played a lot of football in England, I was more of a runner,” Quayle told Football West.

“I used to work in the betting shop – my family had some betting shops – so you couldn’t play on a Saturday. We had a Sunday side and I only joined that because my cousin played and he could hardly walk straight, never mind run. I thought I had to be better than him.”

Mickey Quayle reflects on his time for the State team

When Quayle headed Down Under in his early 20s he once more fell into a football team. Only this time he discovered he would be competing against players who were at whole new level to his off-kilter cousin.

He said: “I met a couple of lads when I worked in the railways. They said, ‘where are you from?’. I told them Liverpool and they were like, ‘Oh you play football?’. I thought everyone played football at the time, so I joined the Cracovia, which was a Premier League side here, a Polish mob.

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“Well they had Polish internationals, Polish first division players and everything playing for them … I’ve had a look and these players and they took my breath away. Fellas were hitting balls and catching them on the outside of the foot and flicking them over their heads and this, that and the other and I was like, ‘What am I doing here?’.

“Anyway, I got in the reserve side after a few months and someone got injured in the first team and I managed to get in. I was a centre-forward because I could run, a sprinter. But we had a centre-half who was out one week with flu and I got in and I was like a madman running round. I kept my place.

“Then a year later we got an English coach and he made me captain. And the next minute I’m picked for the State side and I’m playing against Chelsea! Unbelievable.”

Ray Wilkins playing for Chelsea in the mid 1970s. Photo by Getty Images

While Quayle was suprised by his rising stock, he did have one thing going for him.

“My dad played pro, he played for Crystal Palace and a few other clubs, and he was always wanting to get me down to a team. I couldn’t be bothered,” he said.

“So when the Chelsea game happened, my dad was in England and he was going bloody mad because I wouldn’t go and play. As I said, I wasn’t that bothered. But when I came to Australia, if someone said go down the football club it meant you had 20 or 30 mates.”

As for the match against Chelsea Quayle, who lives in Tapping, said: “I can’t remember an awful lot about it, we got beat 1-0 and I think they scored on the cusp of half-time.

“As for the Chelsea players, I’d heard of them but when I came over in the early 70s there was nothing (shown on TV). The only game you saw was the FA Cup final.

“They’d just bought a young lad from Bristol (City), Chris Garland. I spoke to him and he said he wasn’t very happy there and said it was too much of a clique.

Micky Droy of Chelsea in action during a match against Leeds United. Photo by Steve Powell/Allsport

“(Peter) Bonetti played in goal and Ian Hutchinson, who had a huge throw. And they had the biggest player and the smallest player in the league – Ian Britton in midfield and Micky Droy, a centre-half. He was a big lump of a fella, crikey!

“People said they weren’t trying too hard. Don’t you believe it. They were trying all right, they were all getting a cob on (getting upset).

“I enjoyed it. I only played a few games for WA and that was one of them. I also played against Aberdeen when they came over. And I was in a couple of the squads, we used to play a round-robin with the other States, like the cricket.

“After that I took the soccer up like it was my long lost friend. I only stopped coaching 18 months ago.”