Five generations of soccer royalty

Jon SolmundsonGeraldton Guardian
Seven-week-old Marshall McNamara, mum Teegan Gray, Tania Gray, Agatha Gray and Venera Sciuto gather under the shade of the football club their family built.
Camera IconSeven-week-old Marshall McNamara, mum Teegan Gray, Tania Gray, Agatha Gray and Venera Sciuto gather under the shade of the football club their family built. Credit: Jon Solmundson, The Geraldton Guardian

Geraldton has a certain allure that keeps many families in town for generations, and for the family who built the La Fiamma soccer club, that pull now reaches across five generations.

Born near the end of last year, little Marshall McNamara was the latest to join the Scuito line, and he was so desperate to get out and see the family he arrived four weeks early.

It was certainly a bit of a shock for 28-year-old mum Teegan Gray, who was flown to King Edward Memorial hospital in Perth to make sure everything worked out all right, but after all the stress of the early birth things are now going swimmingly.

The La Fiamma Sporting Club building is important to the family, with the elder patriarch Salviotore (known to everyone as Sam) Scuito building the ground floor of the clubhouse in 1988 and 1989, dedicating any time he had and pulling in favours to get it done.

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Mr Scuito was a lifelong soccer man. He joined the team Roma as goalkeeper when he moved to Geraldton in the 1950s. However, his daughter Agatha Gray said, he quickly left because he felt the team was rife with infighting and drama.

Mr Scuito had preceded his family’s move to Western Australia by four years in 1952.

There he had worked, building up enough of a life for his family to join him in relative comfort by the time he called for them in 1956.

They only got to see him for a short while before he moved to Geraldton for work in early 1957. This time his family only had to wait a few months before they moved to be with him.

Mrs Gray remembers the day she arrived in Geraldton with her mother Venera, brother Andrew, and newborn baby brother Giovanni “Johnny” Scuito.

It was September 28, 1957, Mrs Gray’s 12th birthday.

“The cultural differences were huge during those days,” she said.

“The flavours of European cooking began to appear eventually.

“It didn’t take long for Australia to catch up with the rest of the world, but it was very different to start with.

“People weren’t accustomed to seeing men dressed in elegant suits.”

Mrs Gray laughed as she recalled asking her mum to make her clothes because she loved fashion but there weren’t any clothes she considered fashionable available in the stores.

La Fiamma (meaning “The Flame”), which Mr Scuito borrowed from the name of an Italian community newspaper in the Eastern States, was started by Mr Scuito in 1959, and from there it grew.

There was some difficulty holding onto grounds, but once the team had secured a reserve and made sure they wouldn’t be moved off them, Mr Scuito began realising his dream of a reputable, healthy soccer club by building the clubrooms. Until his last day he gave his all to the club, dying at the age of 74, while onsite, helping to build the second storey of the clubrooms.

Today the club is Geraldton’s only soccer team to field a side regularly in Perth — an opportunity for those who want to keep living in Geraldton to play with the State’s best, and maybe even get noticed for it.

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