Vardar. A name forever associated with the most successful Macedonian team we have ever produced. A name that serves as a symbol to those who have emigrated abroad. In our case for those who emigrated to Perth, Australia.
This is a guest article written by our friend J.S. from Australia.
photo: kids of Stirling Suns in 2005
Perth has one of biggest minority Macedonian communities in the world with estimates at over 20,000 including those from Aegean Macedonia. The story of the Vardar football club in Perth started in the early 70’s. The foundation of the cultural club Vardar and construction of the community center gave the Macedonians a place to call home in Perth. Through this the club North Perth Vardar was also formed. Over the years, the club made its way through the leagues of Western Australia to ultimately be a mainstay in Division 1. Names were changed but for the most part, we were known as East Perth Vardar. In the early 2000’s however the Football Federation of Australia decided (wrongly) that clubs were not allowed to have any ethnic identifiers in names or logos, from this we became what would be our final title, Stirling Suns.
In the years to come after the name change, we would see a very turbulent and unstable period for the club. The community would see the bank repossess the community center we built with our own blood, sweat, tears and money. The greediness and selfishness of various members in the club would see money being stolen and the club ultimately run into the ground. This turbulence came to its climax in the 2005 season which would see the football club rack up $16,000 in unpaid fines. This huge sum of fines for various disciplinary offenses from coach’s players and supporters would ultimately kill what was left of a football club who was only heading in one direction, South. The fines could not be paid back and to this day are still unpaid. The Juniors would continue to operate separately until they too disbanded due to lack of interest at both pitch and boardroom level.
Since this time, the Macedonian community have been without a true Macedonian club to support. Stirling Lions have long existed and play in the top flight however they have never been backed and supported as much as Vardar had been. This mainly due to the club being of Aegean Macedonian origin. Not that the Vardarci had a problem with this but the issue was more the Vardarci identified with Vardar, not the Lions. Also through playing at a higher level there was often no Macedonians present in the squad if not one or two. It was a club that could not bring in the support of the Vardarci.
Fast forward to the present and this is where we are today. Club-less and in desperate need for an entity to bring the community back together. Here we are doing our best to do just that. The numbers of our community speak for themselves. With thousands of Macedonians in the city and us being so patriotic, the population is most certainly there to obtain a good level of support. Those who went to Vardar matches to support, would come streaming back. We were one of the best supported clubs in the state. Just last year in the local ethnic football world cup, the Macedonian team comprising of mostly Macedonian players drew in a crowd of 200 on a Wednesday night for a FRIENDLY. If that does not tell you the interest is there nothing will.
The community is begging for another Vardar, and the community deserves it. It will take a lot of hard work, with football west rules making it almost impossible to create a new club in the Perth metro area. The most likely option would be to align with another already established club and forge the new Vardar using them as a medium.
Ultimately what we want to achieve is simple. We want to bring the Macedonian community back together. We want to give the future generation an opportunity to mix with other Macedonians and preserve our Macedonian culture. This is something that is severely lacking at present. The football club was the glue that held the community together. Without it, slowly but surely the younger generation of Macedonians are forgetting who they are and where they come from. This project is about them. The past generations had their chance and failed. All we can do is put the right wheels in motion to ensure the new generation have something they can call their own. The best memories I have as a child were with Vardar. The friends I made the skills I learnt as a footballer and the culture I kept and continue to keep to this day. These are the things I wish every young Macedonian boy or girl could experience and cherish throughout their life.
Aside from the community goals, for sure what we would love to achieve is footballing success. Why not be the best team in WA? We want to have a production line of players with Macedonian backgrounds going on to forge great careers. We want to see the clubrooms filled with hundreds even thousands after a league title or cup win, in typical Macedonian fashion, with drinks flowing. The community as one.
We want to build something we can be proud of and something other ethnic communities can envy. We have the potential to create something special here, and I hope in 10 years I read back on this with a smile, knowing we have achieved what we set out to do.
If you would like to support the club follow us on our social media accounts or get in contact via e-mail: