The name of Ivan Glucina would bring back memories for many a South Fremantle supporter of the sixties. Remembered for his solid efforts in the ruck, he was an imposing player at six foot four and a half and fifteen stone eight pounds and was a favourite at Fremantle Oval. He was also a very competitive athlete, competing in State titles in javelin, discus, shotput, and hurdles, and was an A grade tennis player. But for most of Glucina's developmental years he played as a wingman or half forward. His first competitive junior football was at Merredin High School, before his family moved to Gosnells, where he won the South Suburban Football Association under 17 Fairest and Best award. South Fremantle heavies Frank Harrison and Joe Maffina paid him a visit, and in 1959, at the age of seventeen, he lined up with their colts side under the coaching of Bernie Naylor. Among his team mates that year were Eric Sarich, Gary Greer, and Peter Dougan. “It was always between Sarich and myself as to who was the worst kick,” Ivan laughed when we chatted with him. “But in my second year in the colts I won the goalkicking with Eric runner up.” As he grew, and a career as a wingman was out of the question, South took keen interest in the young Ivan as a ruckman. “Dave Ingraham was a very good teacher, as were Ernie Grose and Cliff Hillier,” he recalled. They must have been, because Glucina was the winner of the WANFL Colts fairest and best award in 1962, a year after another ruckman in Pat Astone of Perth was successful, and three years after East Perth's Graeme John won it. Glucina, being a late grower, experienced co ordination problems in his early years with South, but a promising season in 1964, when he lost the reserves fairest and best award to Ian Bassett-Scarfe on a countback, saw the big man ready for league action. A devastating hip injury the following year, however, scuttled those plans, and it wasn't until midway through the 1966 season that he was able to have a decent crack at the big time. Becoming a regular in 1967, Glucina was selected to play for Western Australia against Victoria in Melbourne in June of that year. He was a member of a ruck battery consisting of Bill Dempsey, Keith Slater, and John McIntosh, on what turned out to be a miserable wet day, not favourable to the WA side loaded with talls, and it told on the scoreboard. Continuing his progress over the following two seasons, a knee injury in early 1970 effectively terminated the football career of Ivan Glucina. “ It was a major disappointment, being a premiership year after a hard slog through the sixties,” he reminisced. “It's not until you can't play any more that you look at football in it's entirety. When I was playing, we would be working sometimes twelve hours a day. One of my coaches once told me that you only have a certain time in the game and you should give it the best you can. Looking back, a lot of us didn't do that.” “If I had my time over again I would certainly do it differently,” Ivan continued. “ Approach it differently. It was a sort of “footy is fun” thing. Before I went to South Fremantle, I had never known much about league football, hadn't listened to it, or took any interest in it. When I was a part of it I just didn't give it the value I should have.” Ivan had a lot of time for John Todd as a coach. “He was a teacher,” he said, but he couldn't resist a story about the great man. “We were playing East Perth, who were the current premiers,” he recalled. “In the first quarter, I handballed backwards in the backline, and Toddy dragged me. Minutes later, fellow ruckman Graeme Smith was dragged also for something or other. This was before the days of the interchange, when once you went off you stayed off, and there were only two reserves, leaving us with the bare eighteen. When Gary Greer limped off later, we were down to seventeen. We lost the game by a point. When I commented to Toddy that I may have revolutionised the game by hand passing backwards, he didn't see the joke.” Some would say that given the way the game is being played today, that comment was very insightful! And we had to ask him about those hands. The ones that would render a football invisible once it was in his grip. “I've never really thought about it,” was the answer. “But I could fit a king brown beer bottle between thumb and little finger of one hand,” he admitted. Glucina took on the coaching job with the Thirds at South Fremantle in 1971-72, and was later league runner under Mal Atwell. He regards John Gerovich, Tom Grljusich, Brian Ciccotosto, and Don Grljusich as the best he'd played with, adding that Cicco was certainly the funniest, and nominated Carton's John Nicholls, who he'd confronted in his State appearance, Bill Dempsey, and Pat Astone as the best he'd played against. “I did play against Polly, but he was about thirty six then, still a hard opponent, though,”he added. As his kids have grown up, Ivan has, as most Dads do, gotten involved with their chosen sports. This included coaching football at Trinity College and when his sons, Matthew and Andrew progressed rapidly as swimmers, he became a qualified swimming referee. They have done well in age championships. Ivan Glucina is still busily involved in his refrigeration and air conditioning business. He enjoys the family life with his wife, Alice, their children, and getting together with his four sisters and two brothers, as well as the occasional reunions with old South team mates. Ivan Glucina had a comparatively short time at the top level before being cut down by injury, but it was long enough to experience State football. He is not forgotten at South Fremantle.
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