PERTH in Western Australia is fast becoming a new home for hundreds of Derry folk who have emigrated to the vibrant city over the years.
And the steady influx of amateur footballers making the journey across the world from the North-West of Ireland are beginning to make a big impact on the local football scene.
In fact, a minor revolution is occurring in Perth’s amateur football league as a group of Derry men have dominated their rivals, winning back-to-back championships over recent months.
Derry Bhoys Football Club was formed by Culmore native, Christopher Lynch, almost 15 months ago when he realised the need for a football team to cater for the strong presence of Derry people in the city.
Christopher’s weekly five -a-side indoor team decided to enter Perth’s Hub Football League for backpackers and Derry Bhoys was born.
Consisting of 17 Derry men and five other Irish lads, the team went on to claim the league championship in their first season after a play-off victory over Emerald Bayswater Celtic.
Winning promotion, the Derry lads then went through the following season undefeated in a league involving 18 different teams made up mainly of English, Scottish and Irish backpackers, to secure their place in the Hub Champions’ League play-offs.
Four goals from former Derry City and Institute hitman, Vinny Sweeney, in the semi-finals secured a safe passage into the Grand Final where they faced ‘The Underdogs’ last Saturday - a team, like the Derry Bhoys, which remained unbeaten throughout the league campaign.
Derry Bhoys cruised into a 2-0 half-time lead thanks to goals from Sean Bradley and Paddy Villa but The Underdogs bounced back in the second half to restore equality and the final was to be decided on penalties.
In the sudden death shootout it was ‘man of the match’, goalkeeper, coach and club founder, Christopher Lynch, who emerged the hero as he saved the final penalty kick and the Derry Bhoys lifted the League Championship.
One prominent member of the Derry Bhoys team, Paddy Villa, who has been living in Perth from September 2011 working as a joiner, takes up the story.
“The team came about two years ago as I brought a group of us together to play in a five- a-side Indoor League which we also won twice in a row,” explained Paddy.
“Christopher (Lynch) was our goalkeeper in the second season and as more people wanted to play for us, it basically made sense to enter into a proper 11 a-side league.
“The league is called the Perth Hub League and it’s quite a good standard,” he added.
“Christopher, like myself, came straight to Perth from Derry and we loved it.”
Perth is now considered the top destination for Irish emigrants arriving on Australian shores and Paddy, who recently got married to a girl he met in the airport when he first landed in the country, has noticed the sudden surge of Derry people flocking to the city in recent years.
“Christopher is here almost two years and I’ve been here since September 2011. There is a really strong presence of Derry people in Perth, ranging from all ages. We are always helping each other out when in need and everyone seems to get along which is great.
“But in saying that, Perth is a massive city and if you wanted a break from the ‘Perth Massive’ as we’ve formally become known, it is very easy to do so.”
On the football front, the Bhoys have enjoyed plenty of success in such a short space of time and following victory in the Perth Hub Champions League last weekend they have now been invited to play a team from one of the top divisions in the Football West League, East Perth, this weekend, and it’s an occasion Paddy and his teammates are relishing.
“Everyone is still here in Perth that played in the Grand Final,” he explained. “And Christopher has just got a call from a top team here asking for a friendly this weekend. They are going to cover the officials’ fee, pitch fee and put on a barbeque and drinks after the match which is very kind. Of course we said yes!”
Derry Bhoys squad - Christopher Lynch, James Carr, Kevin Delaney, Ish Kelly, Kevin McDaid, Vinny Sweeney, Michael Burns, Declan McCool, Garvan Barron, ‘Bizzy’ Doyle, Paul McCafferty, Sean Bradley, Mark Young, Paul Livingstone, Conor Doherty, Oscar Kelly, Paddy Villa, Anton de Siberski (Dublin), Gareth Stewart (Belfast), Cliff Moloney (Tipperary), Davey Ryan (Tipperary), Shaun Kavanagh (Dublin).