United from day one: Scarsella sets standard

Adelaide United’s original number one, David Scarsella, embodies the South Australian spirit that unites communities in football and beyond.

Adelaide United’s original number one, David Scarsella, embodies the South Australian spirit that unites communities in football and beyond.

It is why lining up between the sticks for Friday’s Adelaide United Legends curtain raiser against the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Open Men’s Football Team before the Melbourne Victory Original Rivalry is an honour and a no-brainer for the ‘keeper-turned entrepreneur and player developer and manager.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in probably three Legends-type games and it’s always special on the day and the memories come flooding back every time.

“My grandfathers fought in the war and this is obviously for a really good cause and it makes you have a second think about it (protecting our country), and what that means.

David Scarsella diving to save a penalty in last season’s Adelaide United Legends curtain raiser against the ADF Open Men’s Football Team.

“The ADF team take it really seriously as well so it will be a good game on the park too as it always is.”

Scarsella will take to the field alongside former foundation squad teammates Richie Alagich, Fred Agius, Michael Brooks, Matthew Kemp, and Adriano Pellegrino in a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

They were all part of Adelaide United’s maiden season in 2003/04 when they played in what was to be the final year of the National Soccer League (NSL).

There was then a 12-month break from a professional Australian football league while administrators worked to establish the A-League.

“I was there for the demise of Adelaide City in the NSL and I was there for the first year of Adelaide United and saw its creation and how it brought everyone together.”

Scarsella hung up the gloves before the A-League’s introduction in the 2005/06 season, which was also the 29th season of top-flight football in Australia.

David Scarsella celebrates with teammates in the Club’s inaugural match.

United’s first squad was assembled from the core of Adelaide City’s squad, and Scarsella vividly remembers the rush to get United up and running in time.

“We basically went from rocking up to City training one night and being told there wasn’t going to be a club, to Adelaide United being formed literally two or three weeks later,” he recalls.

“We didn’t really know what to expect; we were training as a bit of a group that was thrown together and we didn’t really have a base.

“We didn’t have uniforms to train with, we were really just bouncing around and trying to get organised, and before you know it the first game rolled around.

“I remember rightly on the night that kick-off was delayed by an hour because there were so many people left outside the gates and about 4000 fans weren’t allowed in.

“Hindmarsh Stadium as it was back then was absolutely packed at 16,000 capacity and it set the tone for what was to come.”

It was a special night that set a standard of United players who are not only great players, but exemplary individuals in their own regard.

So many of them give back to the footballing community, including Scarsella who partners with another inaugural Red, Shane Smeltz, to manage and develop the careers of aspiring professionals, in between his day job as Managing Director.

Adelaide’s illustrious line of goalkeepers has been a reflective focus this week, and United’s very first number one gave a glowing review of the current first-choice goalkeeper, Joe Gauci.

“I’m in close contact with Eugene (Galekovic) and Joe for that matter and often we’ll exchange texts and ideas and tips with each other in those messages and I feel that Joe can keep progressing as far as he likes.

“I rate Joe highly and I think that he was at another level on the weekend and it’s going to need to be the same again against Victory on Friday night.

“In terms of being a goalkeeper, I think it runs in your blood in a way, as it was with my dad, Basil, who was a goalkeeper for Campbelltown back in the day.

“Chris Terpcou, who went on to be a coach at Arsenal, and Peter Blazincic also had a massive influence on South Australian goalkeepers of my generation and the young ones coming through today.”

While Scarsella never had the chance to play against Melbourne Victory, he can still reminisce on the fierce rivalry between cities when they were split as Melbourne Knights and South Melbourne in the NSL days.

“Melbourne Knights was probably one of the most hostile grounds I remember playing at and I think it stems back from the City and Knights finals games back in the day, and South Melbourne was a fierce rivalry as well.

David Scarsella with his four young sons.

“There’s always been that rivalry and obviously those first couple of years with Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory took it to another level, and it’s what football needs, doesn’t it?

“My family of four little boys will be sticking for the derby after watching me play in the Legends game first which will be priority for a lot of people of course,” he laughs.

Adelaide United legends: Cássio, Michael Brooks, Adriano Pellegrino, David Scarsella, Lucas Pantelis, Kelsey Zafiridis, Racheal Quigley, Jonas Salley, Jason Spagnuolo, Marcelo Carrusca, Adam Van Dommele, Laura Johns, Stella Rigon, Adam Van Dommele, Stella Rigon, Fred Agius, Elias Demourtzidis, Richie Alagich, Chad Bugeja, Marcos Flores, Iain Fyfe.

Each has made a memorable and significant contribution to South Australian football.

The day will also be acknowledging the work of the Poppy Appeal, who for more than 100 years, have supported Australian veterans and their families.

Donating to the Poppy Appeal will help the RSL continue to deliver life-changing support to our veterans when they need it the most.

You can donate today and give back to those who, through their service, have given so much to Australia.

Click here to donate.

Match details:
Adelaide United Legends vs ADF Open Men’s Football Team
Friday, 11 November 2022, kick-off: 4:45pm (ACDT)
Coopers Stadium

Isuzu UTE A-League 2022/23 Season – Round 6
Adelaide United vs Melbourne Victory
Friday, 11 November 2022, kick-off: 7:15pm (ACDT)
Coopers Stadium