Tobin Traces Roots

Central Coast Mariners assistant coach used the occasion of a round 6 trip to Adelaide, to head back to where it all began.

Central Coast Mariners assistant coach Alex Tobin used the occasion of a round 6 trip to Adelaide, to head back to where it all began. followed Australia’s most capped Socceroo through the streets of Adelaide’s beachside suburbs of Brighton and Glenelg, listening to the stories behind the life of one of the country’s footballing heroes.

Squeezed into the back of a late 90’s hatchback with two of Australia’s most decorated football identities chewing the fat in the front seat is a surreal experience.

Alex Tobin played 522 matches in the old National Soccer League, more than any other player, and represented his nation 113 times, 87 of those in “A” internationals, and tonight, is sitting in the passenger seat of Donald Campbell’s car.

Campbell isn’t the man who set eight land speed records in his machine dubbed “Bluebird” in the 1960’s, rather a mild mannered Glasgow born now South Australian based football icon.

He claims to have been a member of the FIFA referees panel longer than any other match official, serving from 1969 until 1989, and controlled powerhouses such as Brazil, Argentina and England on his way to 177 international appointments. On top of that, he was in charge for over 200 National League matches, and appointed to nine National finals.

Campbell also happened to be Alex Tobin’s coach, in the Under 13’s, at Birkalla Rovers in Glenelg.

Tobin lined up alongside former Aston Villa, Chelsea, Leeds and England defender Tony Dorigo during his schooldays, the pair growing up together during their time at St Leonard’s Primary and Mawson High Schools amid the beachside suburbs of Brighton and Glenelg, before renewing acquaintances years later, when the pair lined up on opposite sides in an Australia vs. England friendly years later.

Campbell and Tobin reunite on most occasions the Mariners Assistant returns to Adelaide, this time, the scene is popular Greek Restaurant Medusa’s Kouzina, a few steps from Brighton Pier.

In typical Greek style, owner Angelo Kontos lays on piles of Tzatziki, Moussaka, and Lamb, Lamb and more Lamb, although the Prawn and Scallop skewers, marinated barbecued octopus, Calamari and Fish seems to win over Tobin, Campbell, along with Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna, National Youth team coach Tony Walmsley and this scribe.

Amid the Yiros and Whitebait, Tobin and Campbell regaled their company with stories of players fighting after full-time whistles, scissor tackles and the dodgy deals of the dark old days of football in the South Australian capital.

Whether decisions made by Donald were right or wrong, or whether Tobin should have been booked or not, the debate will rage for the forseeable future.

One thing is for sure though, this writer is eagerly awaiting a return to Brighton and Medusa’s to not only again sample the gastronomic extravaganza on offer, but to also be a part of the next instalment of Alex and Donald’s lesson in South Australian Football History.