Mr Football – John Birighitti



(John far right with good friends, Leo Marocchi, Alf Debono and Charlie Licata)


John Birighitti came to the then named Bayswater United Soccer Club in 1969, where the club had been newly promoted to 2nd Division, from 3rd Division the previous season. John joined the club in the role of Director of Coaching to guide the development of Football at the club, and as coach of the 1st team.

The clubs aim that year was to achieve promotion into the WA State Premier League. John’s strategy to achieve this objective for the club was through junior player development, and by season’s end Bayswater had finished fourth.

During the course of the 1969 season five players from the 1st team were selected to represent the WA State U18/s at a tournament hosted in Thailand. Even though Bayswater was a 2nd Division club, the talent of the side did not go unnoticed even though they were competing against 1st Division players for selection.

At the conclusion of the 1970 season, Bayswater United finished the league as champions and were promoted the following season to the 1st Division. A tremendous achievement from a young squad in which the average age of the side was a mere 21 years old, which consisted of five players being just 18 years old.

Once again in 1971, with a squad a lot younger than most, Bayswater finished the season in 2nd place, and in addition placed in the top 4, of the Cup Winner’s Cup. The following year Bayswater again featured predominantly in the WA State team with 8 players being selected, who were to compete against English 1st Division side the Wolverhampton Wanderers. That same year whilst coach of the 1st team, John was named the winner of the WA Coaches Federation “Coach of the Year” award. John again achieved this accolade again the following year.

The 1972 season saw Bayswater United win the Ampol Night Series, finish 2nd in the home away season, and participate in a season end tour of Queensland.

In 2004 John’s contributions were honoured, when he became a proud life member of the Bayswater City Soccer Club.

Over the years there have been many highlights and achievements in John Birighitti’s career, within WA Football and abroad, below are just a few.

  • 1963 – Established WA’s 1st Junior Football Academy at Dorrien Gardens, in addition established reduced pitch size, balls and goals for juniors under the age of 11 years
  • 1964 – Responsible for overseeing players for the newly created Perth Azzuri Juniors
  • 1964 – 1967 – John initiated matches for juniors, and established coaching seminars from Albany to Geraldton
  • 1966 -1973 – Coach of the State U/16’s at the Junior boys national tournaments in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane respectively
  • 1966 – Founder along with Bob Brown, Wally Frey and Frank Schaefer of the WA Coaches Association
  • 1969 – Attained FIFA senior coaching license
  • 1978 – Coached for a period of one month, Italy’s Serie A Fiorentina FC 1st team in Italy (entire pre-season) learning strategies and techniques, at the Italian National Team Headquarters at Corveciano and Fosdinovo
  • 1979 – Appointed Technical Director of Azzuri Seniors and Juniors along with the role of 1st team coach
  • 1980 – Honor of coaching football legend Sir Bobby Charlton when he joined Azzuri, for the 1st team pre-season night series
  • 1981 – 1st Voice on radio 6NR to transmit games played by the national Italian Football team, and then weekly Serie A league games
  • 1982 – Official correspondent for radio 6NR in Spain at the World Cup
  • 1983 – Founding member of “The Perth Entertainers” Soccer Club
  • 2004 – 2005 – Returned to Bayswater City as Technical Director
  • 2012 – Inducted into the WA Football Hall of Fame
  • During John’s coaching career 27 of his players went onto represent the state at either junior or state level. At a national level 3 of those players went on to represent their country, including Gary Marocchi, who also went on to Captain Australia.


Since retiring from active coaching John has continued to follow football in WA, from being a Perth Glory inaugural member, to fond memories of watching both his sons play at Bayswater. In recent years and some 46 years later (albeit in the grandstand) the Birighitti family tradition continues as John enjoys watching his grandsons play in the U18’s and U20’s for the black and blue of Bayswater.

John also enjoys watching many of his former juniors he coached some 40 plus years ago, conduct their own training sessions, and as coaches themselves on the sidelines. Now at 74, John also still manages a game himself on Wednesday nights with the remaining “Entertainers” squad.

In John’s own words, “Football has given me a lot, I have come to know many people and make many friends. Around the world I have been in many grand and beautiful stadiums, during games and periods when football history was being created. Being part of this football family in WA, is an honour and gives me great personal pleasure”.

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