The Moreland Zebras Football Club is a progressive sporting club founded to provide an opportunity for all children, youth and adults to fulfil their sporting potential and ambitions. It will foster and engage in community initiatives, promote the game of Football and provide a safe environment in which all members can participate, regardless of race, colour or creed.
The Zebras have been represented by many ‘Socceroos’ over the years, recently including the likes of Mark Bresciano, Danny Tiatto, Paul Wade, Mike Petersen, Mehmet Durakovic, Fausto De Amicis, Billy Celeski and Michael Theoklitos
Recent Achievements include:
Victorian Premier League Champions 1998, 2004
Victorian Premier League Runners Up 1997, 2007
Victorian State League Division 1 Champions 2011
“Juventus” of Melbourne for this historical discussion is a group of “people” who have kept alive a tradition and culture that currently has a playing name as the Moreland Zebras; but has been known over the years prodominantly as “Juventus” but variously as Brunswick United Juventus, Brunswick Pumas, Melbourne Zebras, Bulleen Inter Kings, Bulleen Zebras and Whittlesea Zebras.
The seed of the club was planted sometime in the early 1930s when predecessor club Savoia (Savoy) was established by Italian migrants. This Savoia, who wore light blue shirts and black shorts, was disbanded in World War II. A war in which Italy would side with the Axis powers and in which Australia would send Italian immigrants to internment camps without trial.
It was in this war that a Carmelite monk by the name of Agostino Francesco Galanti served as a chaplain in the Italian army. Captured in Libya and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Victoria, Australia, once released he would stay in Australia and become a part of the already established Italian community.
Friar Galanti happened to be a monk who loved football and believed that by establishing a community football club that it would offer the youth in the Italian community a healthy and sportive outlet. So he enlisted the services of friend Rino Fontana who had been a member of the earlier Savoia football team.
A community meeting gathered in 1948 and the club Juventus was born, named after the great Turin club because of the name’s political neutrality (Virtus was also considered), with the club deciding on the main principles of political-neatrality and admission to all regardless of background and town born in (as Italy itself was still a newly uniformed country, with some division still remaining to this day). The early days of the club revolved around heavy running and fitness training and all other assorted methods to get an amateur football club combative, and the club eventually was promoted into the Victorian State Second Division in its third year and then into the First Division in its fifth.
In the first season in Division 1 a new coach by the name of Ivan Hrnic took over, it would be this genius technician who’d lead Juventus to glory. Having played in Yugoslavia’s top divisions, when arriving in Australia he naturally offered his services as coach to Yugoslavian Melbourne side JUST (Jugoslav United Soccer Team) first, though they rejected him on his inexperience in coaching. Luckily Juventus didn’t make the same mistake and hired him as manager for the 1952 season, in which they would be the team to beat, winning 13 games out of 18 matches with the rest draws. They scored 60 goals and conceded 19.
Brunswick Juventus would go on to win the next 4 Victorian State Championships in a row, and then again in 1958. They became one of the most hated and envied clubs in the league. Rivalries with Hakoah (Jewish), JUST (Yugoslav), George Cross (Maltese) and others often were bitter and sometimes got violent.
1970 was when Juventus won its next State Championship, and that year was arguably its best. In the pre-season the club had sound victories over the champions of the state leagues of both Western Australia and South Australia. Throughout this 22 game season Brunswick won 15 matches, lost 5, and drew 2. They then went to win the Dockerty Cup (the State Cup) and went on a trip to Sydney and beat New South Wales State Champions Yugal-Ryde 3-0. The 1970 Juventus side also drew 2-2 with Japanese National Champions Toyo-Kogyo.
By now though Juventus were reaching their peak, and despite winning the next two Dockerty Cups, the club was losing players to the wealthier Sydney clubs and faced off-field dramas with the club’s treasury. Incoming Presidents all tried to salvage the situation and turn things around but all failed. First Nino Borsari in 1971, then Alberto Alessio in 1972, and then Paolo Mirabella in 1973, who did a good job of keeping the club’s books balanced, brought no League glory but added the prestigious Dockerty Cup Trophy in 1977 in front of over 16,000 cheering spectators.
And Brunswick Juventus’s fortunes sunk further as they missed out on an invitation to the new National Soccer League (NSL), and despite now battling in a much weaker state league, Juventus kept sinking. It wasn’t until the early 1980s when new club President Bernand Santamaria took to task to save the club from relegation to Division 2. He formed a ‘triumvirate’ with accountant Greg Incantalupo and solicitor Dino De Marchi, and together the first thing they did was change coach. They brought in Gastone Boggi and he revitalised the squad with experienced players and veterans. Thankfully they avoided relegation.
In 1984, Juventus was finally promoted into the National Soccer League and against expectations, they achieved 5th in their first year. The 1985 season was the clubs most decorated. Although they came 2nd in the table, the Championship in the NSL was decided by a finals competition which resulted in a home and away final with the aggregate winner the national champion.
Brunswick Juventus played a division final against Preston Makedonia, winning 2-1 (having trailed by a goal for most of the match). Brunswick scored two late goals to win it, and advanced to the National League final series against Northern Division champions Sydney City.
Brunswick faced Sydney City and Fabio Incantalupo scored a goal in both legs to bring the aggregate score to 2-0, and Juventus were 1985 National Champions.
The next season Juventus would finish top of the table (minor premiership) but would be eliminated by Adelaide City 2-0 and by JUST 2-1 in the finals. In 1988, Juventus were relegated back to the Victorian State League in which they would remain until 1993.
A short stint back in the NSL from 1994 – 1996, saw the club eventually return to the Victorian Premier League.
President Joe Mirabella and its community decided to led the club firstly to Thomastown in an effort to stabilise the base of the club and its supporters.
Due to poor facilities and an inability to grow its base, in 1997, the fan base of the club moved itself out to the Veneto Club at Bulleen, in an effort to return the club to Australia’s top flight, the National Soccer League. The Italian soccer community embraced the consolidation with other Italian ethnic clubs Box Hill Inter and Bulleen Lions to form the Bulleen Inter Kings. The club shortly traded again with the “Zebras” moniker as the Bulleen Zebras at the turn of the century.
The club was successful in winning Victorian Premier League titles in 1998 under coach and ex Socceroo Gary Cole after coming runner up in its 1997 campaign. With David Hill’s influence at Soccer Australia creating an unstable environment over the National Soccer League, the club decided that it was not in its financial interests to apply for an NSL licence, as the barriers to enter were high, with no guarantees of long term survival as a National League club.
Content to play in the Victorian Premier League with an emphasis on development of future Socceroos, the club again was competitive and again in 2004, coached by 1974 World Cup Socceroo, Peter Ollerton, the club was crown Victorian champions for the second time in six seasons. From this team the Zebras launched the careers of ex Melbourne Victory and current Brisbane Roar championship winning goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos and Melbourne Victory’s Billy Celeski, both championship winners in the Black and White stripes in 2004 as youngsters.
In 2006, the lease held by the Bulleen Zebras at the Veneto Club was not renewed and the club looked towards settling itself at the purpose built soccer facility known as Epping Stadium, in Melbourne’s far northern region known as Whittlesea. This led to a name change to the Whittlesea Zebras FC.
After being crowned State League Division Champions in 2011, club members decided at the annual general meeting that the future of the club would prosper back where it all began, in the City of Moreland. The Moreland Zebras FC, will play in the Victorian Premier League in season 2012, Victoria top flight division.
Juventus is the club which played a roll in the careers of many Socceroos including former Australian captain Paul Wade, Mike Petersen, current Melbourne Victory coach Mehmet Durakovic, and Fausto de Amicis.
The clubs current administration is partly made up of past players and administrators from the old “Juventus” glory days and an offshoot of the Zebras family is located in Doncaster, playing as the “Juventus Old Boys”.
Juventus, the famous black and whites, have been proud to play a big part in the history of Australian soccer. The club’s supporters are still as passionate as the 1948 crop, when the club began.