Around 160 people will gather in Geraldton this weekend to celebrate the 60th anniversary of one of WA’s most innovative regional clubs.
La Fiamma Sporting Club was formed by Salvatore Sciuto and has been a pioneer for Midwest football over the past six decades.
Salvatore died in 1995 but his family is still strongly involved with the Wonthella-based club. Many of them will be at Geraldton Grammar School on Saturday for the big night, including his son Giovanni “Johnny” Sciuto.
“There used to be a club in Geraldton called Italian Roma and Dad used to play for them as a goalkeeper. But every week there used to be fights … fights with the opposition and fights among themselves,” Johnny said.
“He got tired of it and told the local Italian community that he was going to change it and set up a new club.”
The name La Fiamma – Italian for ‘flame’ or ‘beacon’ – came from the title of a newspaper in Sydney where Salvatore’s journalist friend worked. In the first few years Salvatore’s wife Nerina made the team’s strips and they won their first titles in 1959 and 60. The club also led the way in other areas.
Johnny said they introduced the first junior teams in the region in 1967 and women’s football followed six years later.
“Then in 1978 we began a sporting club, which is why the name changed. We used to play a number of sports, including cricket, darts, pool, squash, softball and baseball. The one year we won the cricket premiership we had Dick Carr, who was a Government minister with Labor.”
La Fiamma joined the State League in 1990 and during a six-year stint even had a season in the second division. They currently have a side in the Belt Up Amateur third division.
Johnny added: “We have produced State players and had players who played in the old NSL, such as Trevor Mulvaney at Adelaide Juventus and Frank Bate with Wollongong Wolves.
“In fact if I ever won a lot of money I would love to see La Fiamma have a team in the NPL, or even the A-League, although that might be long after I’ve gone!
“It is such a special club. What does it mean to me? Well it cost me a marriage! But I always regard La Fiamma as my sister.
“And although we started off as Italian, it’s been a club for everyone, which is what Dad wanted. We’ve probably had more English people who have played for La Fiamma than anything else.
“It’s not just a club, it’s a part of my life, and I know a lot of other people who feel the same. That’s why people are coming from all over on Saturday, including one from the UK. It should be a special night.”