Frank Burin, who died on Friday 27 July 2012, was a pillar of Melbourne Knights, formerly Melbourne Croatia, throughout its history, serving as secretary of the club and on the State League Management Committee of the Victorian Soccer Federation for many years.
Born in Zadar, Croatia, in what was then Yugoslavia, he escaped as a seventeen-year-old to Italy. From migrant camps there he came to Australia in 1957, rather than America where his father had interests. After a time in the migrant camp at Bonegilla and short spell grape picking in Mildura he came to Melbourne and was quickly involved with the Croatia club, which relocated to Geelong from 1957 to 1962.
Always better as an administrator than a player, Frank went to Scotland on a recruiting mission in 1965 which brought Duncan Mackay from Glasgow Celtic and several other top players to Melbourne. He also helped bring Socceroo Jimmy Mackay to the club and Hammy McMeechan, for what was then a Victorian transfer record fee.
Frank Burin was secretary of the club in 1968 when it won the State League and the Dockerty Cup in a stellar season. Frank Burin became a member of the Commonwealth Public Service involved with its labour market programs. He often used to joke about how he would send Croatian migrants to ‘slave labour’ in the Ford factories in Geelong and Melbourne to help further their soccer careers.
When the Croatian community took over Essendon Lions soccer club in 1974 Frank Burin continued his involvement as it was transformed into Melbourne Croatia and became one of the strongest teams in National Soccer League winning back to back titles in 1995 and 1996.
He was very proud of his life membership of the VSF now Football Federation Victoria and was the secretary of the committee which selected the all-time Croatia team for its half-century celebrations. Respected by all involved with the game in Victoria he will be sadly missed by the whole football community.