Stratford Football Club – Plavi Jadran

The Blue Adriatic Soccer Club was formed in 1963. The first president was Nino Buratovic and the players were mostly Croatian migrants who were working on tobacco farms on the Tablelands or as cane-cutters around Freshwater and Caravonica.

The team became known as Plavi Jadran, the Slav name for Blue Adriatic, and the first match they played was a friendly against a Cairns Representative Under-21 side in June 1963. Plavi Jadran won 2-1.

The team was accepted into the Cairns Senior Competition and played at Martyn Street field. To raise money for a playing strip, dances were held at the hall in Stratford. Until sufficient money had been raised the team played in t-shirts and cane-cutter’s shorts.

stratford heritage trail cairns

Crad Evans Shield, 1966

In 1966 Plavi Jadran were admitted into the Far North Queensland Competition. That season they were undefeated, scoring 99 goals for, to 9 against. They beat Herbert River FC 2-1 in the Grand Final to win the Crad Evans Shield. Plavi Jadran was the first team to win the Crad Evans three years in a row, and they have won the shield on six occasions.

stratford heritage trail cairns

Stratford United’s undefeated 1966 team.
Image: Stratford Football Club.

In 1970 the Crad Evans Shield Competition was suspended and the teams decided to play a football carnival in Ingham instead. At the semi-finals on Saturday afternoon, Stratford knocked out the home team, Ingham Roma. When Stratford turned up for the Final on Sunday they found the Ingham locals had taken down the goal-posts and ploughed up the pitch.

Stratford United Soccer Club

Towards the end of the 1960s Plavi Jadran moved here to East Stratford Sports Reserve and changed their name to Stratford United Soccer Club. The team began fund raising for the club house which was built in 1976.

In 1975 the inaugural “Stratty Carnival” was held to mark the end of the local football season. The carnival has continued ever since and is the longest continuously run soccer tournament in Queensland. Teams have participated from as far away as Darwin, Brisbane and PNG.

stratford heritage trail cairns

Stratford Dolphins 2008 Premiership winners.
Image: Stratford Football Club.

Frank Farina, Socceroos coach from 1999-2005, was a Stratford junior player in the 1970s.


The Stratford Heritage Trail is an initiative of the
Stratford & Freshwater Community Association