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FROM HUMBLE BEGGININGS

The Australian Croatian Club in O'Connor has a rich history dating back more than 50 years. Learn all about how it started, where it's at now and what the future holds.

HISTORY OF THE CLUB

HISTORY OF THE CLUB

Founded back in 1969 as a social club for the local Croatian community and for the establishment of an independent democratic homeland.

The Croatians played a vital role in the construction of Canberra and the Snowy Hydro from the early 1950s, and many of those migrants and their descendants still call the territory home.

Subsequent generations have integrated into the Australian community and in the last few years the club has decided to transform and open to the wider Australian public; whilst also keeping the Croatian culture alive.   

Since 1997 we are proudly the home of the O’Connor Knights Soccer Club.

All Australians are welcome.

 

Famous Members:

Mario Dešpoja (father of former senator Natasa Stott Despoja) is a regular visitor who opened an unofficial Croatian embassy in Australia’s capital city, Canberra in 1977.

The embassy was on a main road in Manuka and attracted much publicity until it was closed down two years later due to pressure from the former yugoslav government.

Mario Despoja – Wikipedia

Josip “Joe” Šimunić is a Croatian retired footballer and current manager of the Croatia national under-19 team.

Born in Canberra to Croat parents, Šimunić started his career at Melbourne Knights then moved to Germany where he spent 14 seasons in the Bundesliga with Hamburger SVHertha BSC and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim before finishing his career in Croatia with Dinamo Zagreb.

He played for Croatia from 2001 to 2013, appeared in five major tournaments for Croatia – 2002 and 2006 World Cups, as well as the 20042008 and 2012 European Championships – and is the fifth most capped player in the history of the Croatia national team.

Joe’s family regularly attend the club and are a major sponsor (Empire Building) of the O’Connor Knights Soccer Club.

Club President Antun Sep
Current Club President Antun Sep

LIST OF PAST CLUB PRESIDENTS

  • Nikola Ojvan 1969
  • Stjepan Oreskovic 1970
  • Ivan Kovacic 1971
  • Franjo Boljkovac 1972
  • Zvonko Vlasic 1973
  • Josip Rasic 1974
  • Zvonko Vlasic 1975-1976
  • Sime Franjic 1977
  • Adolf Jankovic 1978
  • Zvonko Vlasic 1978
  • Bozo Djurasovic 1979-1980
  • Josip Butkovic 1981
  • Zvonko Vlasic 1982-1983
  • Nikola Zarak 1984
  • Josip Butkovic 1985-1987
  • Ivan Markovic 1988
  • Josip Butkovic 1989
  • Nikola Zarak 1990-1991
  • Josip Butkovic 1992-1993
  • Nikola Zarak 1994
  • Ivan Bagic 1995
  • Adolf Jankovic 1996
  • Nikola Zarak 1997
  • Drago Pilatic 1998-2007
  • Zdravko Tokic 2007-2008
  • Ante Mrkonjic 2008-2016
  • Ante Sporcic 2016-2019
  • Antun Sep 2019-Current

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The Early Days 

The Croatian community was given the concessional lease for all the land on the corner of David and McCaughey Street in the late 60s. In the early 70s we gifted land to the Polish and the French. Some photos above show the footings being dug by hand!

Did you know that the White Eagle Polish club (Nicolas Copernicus House – Famous Polish astronomer) next door was opened by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla in Feb 1973?

Cardinal Karol Wojtyla ended up becoming Pope John Paul the II.

He was born in Krakow Poland, the old ancestry homeland of White Croatia (White Croatia – Wikipedia).

Quiz: Did Cardinal Wojtyla come in and bless the Australian Croatian Club while he was next door?