John Roberts

Soccer player

John Roberts was born in Aberdare in 1944 and lived Rawson Street before moving to King Street, Cessnock.

He started playing locally for Aberdare Rangers Under 10s, 12s and 14s before also playing for Police Boys Club Under 14s and then finishing his junior football with Cessnock East End Under 16s.

John then joined Cessnock’s senior club and represented Northern New South Wales against Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria in 1963.

In 1964, John joined Apia Leichhardt, winning premiership medals for that year and again in 1965.

John became (chronologically) the first player to be selected for Australia’s first venture into the World Cup when, at the end of 1965, he was selected for Australia’s full international qualifying round against North Korea in Cambodia.  At this time, John also played in an Australian XI team against Chelsea and AIK Sweden, and represented NSW against New Caledonia.

On returning from Asia, John took up an offer from Chelsea for a three-month trial period.  This was done against the wishes of the Australian Soccer Federation and with strong opposition from his club Apia, who refused to transfer his registration for nearly three years.

After the brief spell at Chelsea, in early 1966, John moved to Blackburn Rovers.  Whilst there, he spent a period of time in 1967/1968 on loan to Chesterfield.

In 1968, Bradford City negotiated a transfer deal and secured John’s services until 1971, when he transferred to Southend United.  Further transfers took place, to Northampton Town in 1972 and Bath City in 1973.

At the end of that year, John returned to Apia Leichhardt where he remained until 1976.  John was a member of that team when it won the 1973 AMPOL competition.  He continued his association with the club for some time as its goalkeeping coach.

During his career as a goalkeeper, John won many medals with the teams he represented, and enjoyed several promotions in the English football leagues when his teams progressed to higher divisions.  During his career, John played many games for Cessnock and Apia, and in the English leagues played a total of 187 games plus 21 FA and League Cup games.

John has been inducted into the Hunter Region Hall of Fame.

Plaque location
49 Vincent Street, Cessnock (garden bed)