A meeting in a snack bar in 1994 saw the merging of ex-patriots of the West Side Calabrian Club and the East Side Eagles, all who shared a common dream.
The dream; to create the best soccer club in Australia.
Red and Yellow would be the colours, the traditional Sicilian symbol, The Trinacria would be the logo (to represent their alliance with the Sicilian Club), and Sam Settecasi would be president; the Metro Knights were born.
Committee members included Peter Pipicella, Andrew Perrone, Tony Taormina, Ady DiBartolo, Frank Calipari and Rob Rende and the requirement was that the passion for good value soccer and love of the game would always be the driving force behind the club.
The Metro Knights aimed to set the standard for all other soccer clubs, whether it be their uniforms (stripes were chosen under the advice that they are threatening to the opposition), the standard of coaching or the standard of players, the Knights would always be the benchmark.
The first year went off with a bang with 16 clubs invited to TK Shutter grounds to compete in a round-robin tournament, an event opened by the Lord Mayor, which featured show rides and fireworks.
Metro Knights finished second in their first year but this was not enough to quench the thirst for success that the club stood for.
With a lot of pressure on him to succeed, Elio Marusic replaced Nick Malerba as head coach, and the second year of the Knights produced the results they were after.
The Knights finished first and were promoted to Division 1 in the Amateur League where they continued to finish in the top three.
After an invitation by the Federation in 1999 to then join the State League, the Knights, now under the guidance of Coach Mario Boffa and with the new name of MetroStars, did the unprecedented and won the championship in their first year and were promoted to Premier League.
With no premiership to their name after three years at this level, it was time for Settecasi to make a call, that although was in keeping with the stance of the club, would be the hardest thing he had to do in his years as President.
In 2002 Boffa was replaced as head coach, and Mike Barnett was welcomed to the Stars, where he lead the boys to success, finishing top for two years, but not managing to claim the that title of champions.
Finally, 2004 would be the year the Stars would shine and critics would be silenced, as Barnett coached a team of champions to be the first team in history to win all three major awards, Minor Premiers, Federation Cup, and the 2004 Grand Final.
The success of the Stars continues today, with the senior teams, junior teams and women’s teams never failing to produce first class soccer.
Although today some of the original members have left, and new members have joined, the committee still shares the vision and passion for the game that was created in that first meeting in the snack bar.
Committee members can be seen on match days looking as nervous as the players, and the loyalty of friends, family and volunteers can be seen as they help out in the canteen or clubrooms.
The culture of the club has been firmly implanted, so even now as Sam Settecasi steps down as President, after a reign of over13 years, the loyalty, passion and determination he instilled will remain.
Under new President Tony Taormina, the MetroStars will always strive to be the best soccer club in Australia, and president or not, Sam’s legacy will continue.
As a young seven year old in his home village of Caulonia in Calabria, Italy,
Frank Calipari would often miss school to play soccer, always as goalkeeper.
His first club experience was for his local team, before he decided at 16, that he was ready to try for AC Milan. Unfortunately, Frank was struck down with illness during the trails and consequently not only missed out on a spot with the team but also was unable to play again for 3 years.
By 19, he was ready to resume playing but now being considered too old to try out for AC Milan, Calipari took up a position as goalkeeper for AC Lombardia, playing for the team for six years.
In Adelaide to visit family in 1980, 27-year-old Frank participated in trials for Adelaide City on the advice of a friend. What was supposed to be a six month holiday, turned into a year and a half contract to play soccer with Adelaide City under then coach Bob D’Ottavi.
When the authorities demanded he return to Italy to apply for another visa before he could re-sign with City, fate intervened and Frank’s life took a turn when he decided to give up competitive soccer to begin a life with his wife Josie.
Frank considers himself the luckiest man in the world, not for his soccer credentials, but for the life he has shared with his wife and two daughters, Laura and Stephanie.
Frank did continue with amateur soccer for the Calabria club, and then following on to join the newly formed Metro Knights, where at 40 years old, Frank was the goalkeeper for the Reserve team for two years. Frank was also coach to both the First team and Reserves goalkeepers
Continuing his commitment to the club, Frank was on the committee when the Knights became the Stars and acted as coach to the junior goalkeepers for over five years. While he is no longer coaching Frank remains involved with the club as an executive committee member, but Frank continues to be an integral part of the Stars team, volunteering his time on training nights and game days.
Frank’s motto for a successful soccer career is to simply love the game, with the belief that if one commits themselves to what they love, they will not begrudge any sacrifices and will in turn succeed.
Frank can see great potential for the current players of MetroStars, believing the young players of today are setting a higher standard than those 20 years ago.
With a strong belief in the future of the club, the solidity of the committee and the work ethic instilled in the club, Calipari remains devoted to the Stars, and his hopes for the future are to continue to see more Metro players in the A-League.
For Jason Spagnuolo, life is very calculated. He has a plan in his head at all times, and a drive to succeed and compete that makes him a force on and off the field.
He lives with the determination to do whatever needs to be done to succeed, with the aim of being the best he can be, both as a player and as a person. As a result he has never considered sacrifices as a burden.
With the belief that there will always be another player as good as or better than himself, Spagnuolo has adopted a lifestyle that motivates and brings out the best of his potential, thereby bridging the gap between himself and other skilled players.
This lifestyle comprises first and foremost of stability, surrounding himself with trusted and valued people in his life. He also takes into consideration diet, sleep, and fitness levels and lives by the aspiration of "Think for today to make tomorrow better”.
This way of living has certainly paid off, with the ex-Metro player currently training for his second season with A-League team Adelaide United. With a playing history that began in U8’s at Modbury Vista and included stints for Enfield, Campbelltown and Adelaide City and finally a 2 year run with MetroStars before starting with AUFC, Jason is now beginning to enjoy the success of his hard work.
As a kid, Spagnuolo was always drawn to sports of any kind, thriving on the competition and challenge. He reminisces about early times playing with younger brother and fellow Metro player, Daniel, where intense competition would always interfere with "friendly” play.
To an outsider watching the Spagnuolo boys play, the competitive spirit cannot be missed, with both exuding a strong presence and will on the field. And Jason credits his parents and family support with allowing this passion to evolve naturally.
The support of his family has been crucial in his success, yet Jason says when growing up there was never pressure placed on him surrounding his soccer and as a result the game is still fun for him. As he grew up, soccer came to mean so much to him because he personally found a passion for the game, and he continues to challenge himself with his own expectations of his ability.
Returning this season after recovering from an injury that shortened his playing time with AUFC in 2006, Jason is more determined than ever to prove himself. With the belief that every player always needs to continue to grow, his goals now are simply to play as much as possible and develop every aspect of his game.
Jason is inspired by people who are dedicated and believes the motivation to remain dedicated can only come from within oneself. For Jason, finding enjoyment and personal worth in the game is the difference between a player who turns up to training out of obligation and a player who turns up with a personal challenge to succeed. He would encourage young players to decide for themselves what it is that makes the game worth it for them and then make the most of every opportunity to play.
He continues to see every new season as a challenge and an opportunity and as in the beginning when he wanted to prove himself as an A-League level player, he continues to use his self-inspired discipline to tackle this challenge.
A proud export of MetroStars, Jason can still be seen on match days at his old home grounds, cheering on his brother. And with the A-League season about to start once again, Jason will no doubt resume his position on the field in the only way he knows how; with the Spagnuolo passion that has won over both Metro and United fans. And at the moment, Jason can’t think of any thing else he would rather do.
Ross Russo’s involvement with Metro began in 2002 as the coach for the U8’s.
At the time he was coaching the school team of his 2 sons’, Michael, 13 and Stefan, 11 as he had always been drawn to junior soccer and had previously devoted his time to coaching children with disabilities or from low socio economic areas.
This included a team of 7-8 year olds from impoverished families, children from MINDA children’s services and children of prisoners.
Ross’ passion for soccer began at 7 years old playing school yard soccer. Not wanting to bother his father, who had to rely on getting around on his push bike, Ross would tell him he was going to his cousin’s house and would find himself on the soccer pitch, playing in regular trousers and shoes so as not to get caught out in a lie.
It wouldn’t be until years later, when Ross was 12 years old, that he would finally play soccer with his first pair of soccer boots for Birkalla Soccer club and every subsequent state team after that.
At 11 years of age Ross faced his first hurdle in his career, becoming seriously ill and spending 1 year in hospital. Surprisingly though, this was the setting for his most inspiring moment. A visit from players from A.S. Roma inspired Ross to make a promise. They gave him a gift of Juventus socks and Ross promised them, ‘One day I will play for this team’.
At 15 years old, he fulfilled his promise, playing for Juventus and being selected for the U16 Australian Team. His very first match with Juventus remains his most memorable match, scoring 19 goals and leading the team to win 23-0.
While Ross’ soccer credits include a stint playing with U23 Australia Squad against top international teams such as Chelsea, another of his most memorable soccer moments comes again from his time with local team Juventus.
The memory is set over 2 grand finals; Juventus vs West Adelaide Hellas in The Wills Cup and The Coca Cola Cup. Juventus claimed victory in both games, winning 1-0 in the last minute of each game. Goal scorer? Ross Russo.
In the moment that he headered both balls on those finals, Ross said he already knew they were goals.
Now as Metro’s U19 assistant coach, he tries to impart to his players to have that kind of confidence every game. It is confidence he believes that derives from intense desire.
Ross has had the honour of playing with many soccer greats, naming Johnny Perrin as one of the most skilled he has seen. But the one he most admired, the one who encompassed everything good about the game and who inspired him with his courage, was Eric Norman. To this day, Ross is humbled to have played with him at Juventus.
Ross draws on this experience when coaching his team today. As the youngest player in his team when playing for Juventus, Ross had to earn his place as an equal, and says he survived through always remaining respectful and playing by the motto, ‘the team is bigger than the individual’. He learnt this lesson at 15 when he answered his coach back, only once, and consequently found himself on the bench for the next 3 games.
While he remains adamant that a player should always feel he can approach his coach, communication between the two must remain respectful and should always be constructive.
Ross brushes off the success he has had with young players he has coached, saying it is less about the coaching and more about what can happen when you teach young children their worth. "Soccer is a sport that teaches you more than how to play a game. Children learn they can rely on others and to treat others with respect”, says Ross.
But, it’s certain Ross’ legacy will lie with the future generation of soccer players and his impact will have a lasting effect.