Mention the name Dez Marton to any long term St George supporter, or indeed, any visitor to St George Stadium during the early 1980s and the name means one thing…goals, goals and more goals.
Dez was the star striker of the Saints from 1981 through to 1985, in both the NSW State League and the National Soccer League, and is remembered warmly by those who followed the team during those years.
It was an impressive first year for Dez, who was coaxed out of retirement in Yugoslavia by then St George coach, Frank Arok. Arok, himself, had just joined St George as coach, for the second time, following the club’s relegation from the NSL at the end of the 1980 season. And with the club facing time back in the State League, Arok’s thoughts turned to Marton. “I had played for Frank in Yugoslavia in 1978 for Novi Sad, and had a period with Spartak Subotica, before finishing up with my company’s team.
I had planned to stop playing but then Frank brought me out to St George, and I arrived here on 1 February 1981. The Ampol Cup was on and I had no idea about this competition or the clubs, but I just started playing”. Not just playing but scoring goals. Arok had put together a strong team, with Dez on the frontline. It took only seven minutes of state league round one for Dez to hit the back of the net for his first St George goal, had his second within twenty minutes and then finished of his hatrick with a third in the second half, as the Saints slammed Avala (now Bonnyrigg White Eagles) 6-1. Australian Soccer Weekly reported in part: “Hat trick scorer, Marton, was not pleased with his display as he maintained he still has to get his bearings in Australia and step up his fitness. And that’s from a striker who has just knocked in three”. It was just the start for Dez, and St George, as the club raced though the first nine rounds with a 100% success rate, scoring 44 goals for only 4 against. It was not until round ten that St George dropped their first point, in a 1-1 draw at home to Sydney Croatia, the only point dropped at St George Stadium all season. Dez went on to score 38 goals in that first season as St George rattled in 92 during the 26 game competition.
Amazingly though, the Saints finished second in the table, with only one loss, that to the undefeated and league winners Sydney Croatia. For Dez though, the season was a resounding success, being voted Rothmans Player of the Year at the NSW State League gala awards dinner, having finished the year with a grand total of 45 goals, after five in the Ampol Cup and a further two in the finals were added to his 38 league goals total. But despite finishing second, St George were promoted back to the NSL for the 1982 season, and for the Saints and Dez, it was to be another successful year. It was almost a new team which started the season for St George, most notable for the signing from Auburn soccer club of the young Robbie Slater. Slater was to be Dez’s partner in crime up front for the Saints, and it wasn’t long before the new signing was learning from the star striker. “I used to stay behind and practice on my own after training at times, and I remember Robbie would watch from the edges of the area. Maybe he was a little shy, he was only a teenager then, but it wasn’t long before he was joining in too”, recalled Dez. After winning the Ampol Cup that year, St George went to finish second in the NSL behind the great Sydney City team of the time, but claimed the end of season Top 4 championship with a 3-1 win over the champions. Dez was on the mark in that game too, not surprisingly, scoring a hatrick. Dez had almost three more seasons at the Saints before Frank Arok suggested a move to Wollongong Wolves, midway through 1985.
“The Wolves had been struggling, and Frank asked whether I wanted to go down to Wollongong to help them out. I wasn’t playing as much at St George then, and the only aim for me was to make sure that they weren’t relegated. We were undefeated in six games, and we stayed up”.
That was the final year that Dez took to the pitch, moving into the coaching arena with the old Yugal in 1987 and then Bankstown. Dez assisted Frank Arok for a while at St George before taking control of the first team in 1992, the first year of State League football, after relegation from the NSL. There were further coaching stints, with Manly Warringah, Bonnyrigg White Eagles and Parramatta Melita, but there is no doubt that Dez is best remembered for his goals at St George, well exceeding the 100 mark all up.
Dez commenced his Golden Boot Academy in 1996 and it is still going strong, sixteen year later. His involvement in football doesn’t end with the outdoor game either, with Dez being the driving force behind the FNSW Futsal Super League side, Botany Bay Pirates. And has Dez really finished playing? He can now be found on many Sundays with the Dolls Point Over 35s, still seeking those goals.
Article Reference: http://www.stgeorgefootball.com.au