The entire Melbourne Croatia Soccer Club and Melbourne Knights Football Club community is in mourning after the loss of Victorian State League Championship winning player and coach, William ‘Billy’ McArthur.
McArthur, born 28 October 1944 in Glasgow, Scotland migrated to Australia in 1966, signing for Croatia in the Victorian State League in the same year. He made his Croatia debut against bitter rival Footscray JUST in Round 14, getting on the score sheet together with the late Jimmy MacKay to record a famous 2-1 victory.
It was from that match that the lovable Scotsman with his trademark goatee became part of the Croatia Soccer Club extended family, the late Frank Burin organising for the question of McArthur’s residency to be resolved for his entire family.
It wasn’t until 1968 that the so-called Victorian glamour team, made up largely of fellow Scots, would taste the ultimate success of a Victorian State Title, the club’s first. Team of the Century coach Mijo ‘Michael’ Kiš led the side to a dominant first placed finish, winning the Dockerty Cup and Ampol Cup along the way, the first club to do so. The experienced McArthur, a hard but fair centre half, was crucial to the side’s success in its breakthrough season.
Billy McArthur was a loyal servant to Croatia, and when the club was unfairly expelled by the Victorian Soccer Federation in 1972, McArthur together with some other players pledged his loyalty to a club with no competition to play in. As the club administrators later learned that the VSF would dig its heels in and not readmit Croatia back into the State League, they released all the players of their contracts to find other clubs. McArthur, forever grateful to the Croatia club for giving him and his family a chance at life in Australia, decided it was time to hang up the boots rather than play for a rival side that would have ultimately benefitted from the injustice his club had suffered.
His service and loyalty were not to be forgotten and as the Croatia club rose from the ashes and emerged as Essendon Croatia, the club’s strongwilled President Joe Sigur remembered McArthur as an ideal person to lead the team and appointed him as the coach for the 1978 season. It was to be the year of Croatia’s second Victorian title. Billy McArthur is still the only Croatia player to win a Victorian title as a player and later as a coach. McArthur’s team was one of the most dominant Victorian football had ever seen. The team won 17 of its 22 matches and at one stage boasted 7 players that made up the starting 11 of the Victorian State team, whilst also boasting the last State League based player to play for the Socceroos, pocket rocket Tommy Cumming.
McArthur would again return to coach the club in 1982 when it made its third unsuccessful application to join the National Soccer League as well as changing its name to Melbourne Croatia. McArthur then retired from the game and continued to be a supporter of the club.
William McArthur was nominated in the Melbourne Croatia Team of the Century in 2003.
The Melbourne Croatia Soccer Club and Melbourne Knights Football Club would like to sincerely thank the McArthur family for Billy’s contribution to the club’s success.
William McArthur is survived by his wife Marita, sons William, Dean and Scott, grandchildren Jessica, Shannon, Jayden, Lachlan, Jett, Taylor and Oscar as well as his great-grandchildren Chase and Chanel.
May he Rest in Peace.
The funeral details will be posted as soon as more information comes to hand.
Dearest Billy, forever in our memory for your service to Croatia SC. Farewell to a great player, friend and Team of the Century nominee.
R.I.P. – Always remembered, never forgotten. Croatia Melbourne Soccer Club.