Remembering Franz Beckenbauer: Former Box Hill Junior Greg McLeod on receiving the Weinstein Medal

Greg McLeod was just 16 years old when he received the Weinstein Medal, but it is a memory that he thinks of fondly.

On the day Olympic Park and Victoria hosted Der Kaiser and New York Cosmos, it was in the prequel that Greg was recognised with an honour that began in 1975.

While the award has discontinued, the Weinstein Medal – named after former Football Victoria Life Member and Hall of Famer Michael Weinstein – has been shared by Box Hill United representatives Alex Rivero (1977), Steve Laurie (1998) and Selin Kuralay (2001).

Greg’s legacy will always be with Box Hill United, having been a junior through and through and made it all the way to senior level.

In this interview with Box Hill United Media, Greg reflects on shaking hands with Franz Beckenbauer, the differences between then and now, the club’s junior pathway and his advice for young players.

An advertisement promoting the match in Soccer Action, courtesy of the Melbourne Soccer blog.

What were your memories on the day?

Greg McLeod: As a young 16-year-old, I look back now and think I was a bit nonchalant about it all, sometimes you just take things for granted.

However, meeting Franz was a very special moment, and his achievements speak for themselves.

On the day itself, I was very much enjoying the occasion as the Der Kaiser and New York Cosmos match drew a huge crowd at the old Olympic Park.

In 1979, juniors were always part of the curtain raisers, so we had these big crowds watching on for our games back then. It was very much going through the flow and enjoying the moment for what it was.


How do you see the comparison between 1979 and today?

Greg McLeod: No doubt there is a massive difference with social media and having access to games on TV – there was nothing back then.

That photo (featured) is one of only a few photos that I managed to get because of how limited the coverage was.

These days, you can see every game that is played. We just didn’t have access to any of that.

The game is totally different now – the only way you could watch it is if you went live. People aren’t going to the games now because you watch it on TV or streaming services.

The crowds back then were middle-aged ethnics, full of passion. Whereas the A-League clubs are trying to attract third generation Australians which is totally different.

Everything is better about the game now, however the crowds have dropped with the more traditional folk missing.


What was your junior pathway like?

Greg McLeod: Box Hill was a very strong junior club, as it is today.

You knew if you were a half decent junior, you would get an opportunity to play in the seniors.

In 1979, we had an under 16 team that went undefeated – the club said that is the core for the senior team in 1980. That meant a team full of kids that would evolve together.

Box Hill give you that opportunity from a junior age, it’s just whether you want to stick around as a group.

In the end, we turned into a feeder club as some of our top players were getting poached.


Franz Beckenbauer and Gary Cole, courtesy of Gary Cole’s archives.


What advice would you give to our junior players coming through?

Greg McLeod: Some kids might be battling or not getting a game, and they think the answer is to transfer to another club.

Whereas if they stick with it and work harder to prove themselves, the opportunities will come.

There were players coming through with me that were never in the best players, but through grit and determination they got the best out of themselves.

The kids who have to work harder to get somewhere will actually have a better chance of going further.

On reflection, it came too easy for me going through juniors. By the time I got to seniors I thought it would be the same but was completely wrong.

Main thing is to not worry so much about where your peers are at necessarily. By putting in the extra work you will get the end result at a higher level.

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