Adrian Alston.

Socceroos and the Trust: New book covers Adrian’s two great careers

Adrian Alston never thought he would find a passion in life that would match the highs of his football career with the Socceroos but he found it by accident at The Disability Trust.

The Trust’s longest-serving employee has been honoured with a book about his sporting career – Noddy: The Untold Story of Adrian Alston.

A member of the famous Australian men’s squad which created history by competing at the 1974 World Cup, the book was released earlier this month to coincide with the 50-year anniversary of the team’s qualification.

Adrian was born in England in 1949 and his career brought him to Australia as a teenager in the 1960s and after making his national debut as a 20-year-old, he was an integral member of the Socceroos at the World Cup in 1974.

He scored 17 goals in 62 games for the Socceroos from 1969-77 and was signed by Luton Town in the top English competition after the World Cup before stints at Cardiff City and the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Adrian is modest when it comes to reflecting on his sporting career and joked “it’s something for the grandkids to read” when asked about being the subject of a detailed biography.

“It’s nice for a bit of history. I’ve always been someone who’s emphasised the fact that we were a team at the Socceroos when we made the World Cup, it’s not about individuals,” he said.

“I was thrilled by the prospect of having a book written about me. I feel the book is symbolic of the achievements of an incredible bunch of players, some of whom unfortunately have left us.”

A serious knee injury curtailed his career at 29 and after trying his hand at coaching, he was at a loose end until a fateful call one night in 1987.

The person on the other end of the line was Arnie Olbrich from The Disability Trust who wanted to know if he could run a training session for an eager bunch of soccer players with intellectual disability.

“Arnie was a wonderful man who worked in the independent living program for The Trust for quite a number of years and he got my number somehow and asked would you mind giving us a training session. I said of course and from that, I said I’ll come back and have a kick-around a couple of afternoons a week.

“One day I’m looking in the paper and there was an ad that said ‘sport and rec officer at The Disability Trust’. I didn’t know I was already training with The Disability Trust, I only knew him because he’d asked me to do it.

“I applied for the job and he rung me up and said that’s us, this is it. I had to go for the interview and they employed me and from that, it’s just gone on and on.

“And then I had another career. I never thought I’d find anything I’d enjoy as much as football but luckily enough, it’s been brilliant and that’s why I’m still working now.

“I like it not because it’s me helping people, they give me a lot out of it. I just love the job, the people I’m surrounded by. I’ve made a lot of good friends.

“It’s a wonderful job and the Trust has been great to me. First class.”

The Trust has come a long way since Adrian first joined and after “getting a bit too old to be running around”, he made the switch to becoming a disability support officer more than two decades ago.

“When I first started it was mainly sport and rec staff, there was only six employees,” he recalled.

“We ran the indoor soccer program. I played alongside the guys, we didn’t play in a disability comp, we played in open competition at the indoor centres and we did really well. Five of them ended up representing Australia at the Paralympics in Barcelona in 1992 and I’m still working with one of them, Stephen Choat, who’s a lovely man that I’ve worked with since day one.

“As long as I’m feeling alright, I’m going to keep doing this job. It’s kept me fairly young, I reckon.”

Noddy: The Untold Story Of Adrian Alston, by Philip Micallef, is available from all good bookstores, Fair Play Publishing, and online for $32.99 as a paperback, and also as an e-book.

 

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