Sheinflug And Moriarty Honored By FFA

When betting on football, it’s easy to be distracted by teams that are doing well in the rankings. By the “celebrity” players who seem to be having flawless seasons, and accompanying lifestyles to match. But as those who are old hands at soccer betting can tell you, those showier players are not always the ones to place your money on. While some of them do hold up under the glare of the spotlight and many eyes upon them, it seems that many of the most promising football players ultimately disappoint.

Instead of just placing all of one’s money on a “thoroughbred”, a fan serious about betting on football should consider everyone in the stable, including those unpedigreed workhorses. They may not get the focus and fascination of fans, bettors, and many sportswriters, but in the end they often have the longer, and better, football careers. Consider the histories of John Moriarty and Les Scheinflug for example. The Football Federation Australia did so in early November in a special celebration, honoring both men for their historic contributions to Australian football, and long, storied playing careers.

But on paper, neither of their stories look like that of the typical celebrity athlete. John Moriarty was the first indigenous player chosen to play on an Australian team, and one of Down Under’s “stolen generation”. He would learn that he was expected to handle both challenging new situations and persistent prejudice with grace. Scheinflug was a teenage immigrant from Germany, reluctant to leave his family in Germany for a newly emerging football league with an uncertain future.

The two former footballers are now seventy seven years old, and when they began their professional playing careers in the late 1950s and mid 1960s, the face of Australian football was very different. At that time, the sport was only beginning to find popularity as a spectator sport and the teams were only semi-professional. FIFA was unimpressed by Aussie efforts to be recognized as able to compete on the international level until 1963.

In the meantime, both Moriarty and Scheinflug garnered attention and accolades with their Australian playing. In an interview for the FFA celebration, Moriarty recalled that his first game in the late 1950s (South vs. West Australia) was a first for reasons besides being his first football match. It was his first aeroplane ride, and his first interview with a professional radio journalist. Two years later it appeared that he might represent Australia in World Cup matches. But Australia’s initial application to join FIFA was rejected. While Moriarty has never represented Australia there, he is still recognized as the first indigenous player chosen to represent the country. When a chance at an English soccer career fell through, Moriarty returned to his native country, where a solid career ultimately ended in a induction into the FFA Hall Of Fame. Today he helps to track down promising thoroughbreds and workhorses alike with his not-for-profit John Moriarty Football foundation for young indigenous players.

A young Sheinflug in turn was reluctant to pull up German roots to leave Europe and play Australian football. He was however captain of the Australian team that was trying to qualify for the 1966 World Cup, and its only scorer in a loss to North Korea. He went on to play for several Australian teams through the 1960s, and as an assistant coach qualified Australia’s first World Cup team in 1974.