Hall of Fame: Jimmy Rooney

Jimmy Rooney

Born in Dundee Scotland, Jimmy Rooney played with Lochee Harp, Peterborough United and Montrose before he migrated to Australia and joined the Victorian club U.S.C. Lions in 1968. He moved to New South Wales to Prague in 1970 and then moved to APIA in 1972. Rale Rasic gave him his first Australian cap against the touring English team in 1971 and he became a fixture in the national side leading up to the World Cup in 1974, playing in midfield alongside another nuggety Scot, Jimmy Mackay. The pair were the engine room of the Socceroos, combining huge work-rates with incisive distribution and the ability to transform a game with an act of brilliance when it was needed.

1974 Socceroos
The 1974 World Cup Socceroos, with Jimmy Rooney (centre) at his peak.

Rooney was part of the Socceroos team which qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 1974 and played in all three matches in West Germany. He was capped 102 times by Australia (57 A internationals) and captained the side on several occasions. He scored some memorable goals in the green and gold, including one against Santos of Brazil and the mighty Pele. Rooney played in the inaugural National Soccer League season for Marconi and subsequently for Fitzroy United Alexander. He continued to play at club level and set up an innovative coaching academy at Springvale with Gus McLeod, combining that with turning out for Hamlyn Rangers who played in Geelong.

Jimmy Rooney and Trevor Cherry
Socceroo Jimmy Rooney and English star Trevor Cherry prior to the Socceroos v England international at the Sydney Cricket Ground in May 1980. Source: Les Shorrock collection. Deakin University.

In addition to his national representative games Rooney played for Victoria and New South Wales on numerous occasions against visiting touring teams.

Upon his induction, Jimmy Rooney was still deeply involved in the game, coaching and teaching at Eastern Lions, the amalgamated Old Scotch-Waverley team in Victoria’s State League Division Two, with long time friend, Jimmy Williams, achieving promotion in 2012. His most recent involvement was a decade long stint with St. Kevin's Old Boys Soccer Club.

Jimmy Rooney and Pele
One of the all-time greats, Jimmy Rooney... and Pele of Santos and Brazilian fame. Source: The Courier.

In the evenings and overnight at weekends he will watch matches on television, always learning. And he has a daytime job with Metricon Homes in Mount Waverley. His wife tolerates his involvement in the game which has been his life, knowing that this will never change. He is a member of the Hall of Champions of the Football Australia Hall of Fame. The best player in the National Premier Leagues Victoria Grand Final each year is awarded the Jimmy Rooney Medal.