On August 9th, 1960, in the house of the late Dane Vrbanic, 28 Croatian patriots from London & St. Thomas gathered to form the “Croatian Cultural, Educational and Leisure Society ‘Zagreb’” named after their beloved Croatian capital - or “Club Zagreb” for short. The first club officials were: Ante Pretpotnik, Drago Glavanic, and Rudi Martinovic. At the second meeting of the said society, all of the members agreed on forming three entities to promote the Croatian name and activities. Thus, the Croatian Radio of London, the Croatian Herald “Hero” (“Junak” in Croatian) and the soccer club “Croatia” were formed. The first president of the soccer club "Croatia" was Ante Pretpotnik, and the first secretary was Ivan Bali.
London & St. Thomas “Croatia” began its first season in 1961 with a 5:1 win versus R.C.F. Continental. It was noticed early on that these men loved soccer and were also very good at it. Not too long after being founded, Croatia’s first notable trophy was won in the “Shafer Cup” with a 4:1 win over Polonia in the finals. This was followed shortly after with a 3:1 win in the finals of the “International Cup” against Soccer Club England. Club Zagreb helped finance soccer club “Croatia” until 1966 when a short-lived split between the two had taken place.
The late 60’s brought a whole new exodus of Croatians leaving communist Yugoslavia for a better life in the free west and many decided to move to the London area. With poor political and economical conditions back home - especially for Croatians - these new immigrants were very motivated to preserve their own Croatian identity and promote the Croatian name and cause for freedom and independence. Thus, many found they were able to do so through soccer. By 1970 under the initiative of Fabian Knezevic and Slavko Brkanovic, “Croatia” returned to “Club Zagreb” which had in the meantime built an actual clubhouse on the corner of Highbury and Westminster where it stands to this day. With the influx of Croatians to the area, both the club and “Croatia” saw a great increase in membership and players which in itself mandated the creation of more teams. The new secondary and junior teams were created and notably run by the initiatives of: Ante Baresic, Ivan Bali, Marko Dugancic, Nikica Jurica, Mato Brkic, Slavko Brkanovic, and Nediljko Ratkovic-Baric. By 1983, London & St. Thomas Croatia had grown to ten teams.
Amongst many success stories, it is with great pride that London & St. Thomas Croatia is also an original member of the Croatian National Soccer Federation of Canada & USA. Said Federation has held an annual soccer tournament since 1963 at varying locations across North America. In the best of times and worst of times, London & St. Thomas Croatia has managed to attend and participate in every single tournament since it’s founding until today. During the 1976 banquet of the Croatian National Soccer Tournament of Canada & USA, Croatian activist, philosopher, and dean prof. Stanko Vujica died of a sudden heart attack during the ceremony. London & St. Thomas Croatia then donated a trophy in his name and honour to be awarded to the most sportsman-like team; a reflection of the values of our club which is still awarded to this day.
London-St. Thomas Croatia picture from the 80's, all teams in front of St. Leopold Mandic Croatian Catholic Church in London, Ontario, Canada.
1973 League Cup Champions
1985 League Champions
1991 Division One Champions
1992 Division One Champions
1994 Division One Champions
1996 Division One Champions
1975 HNNS Tournament Fourth Place
1997 HNNS Tournament Champions
1998 HNNS Tournament Third Place
2008 HNNS Tournament Second Place
1989 Premier Cup Champions
1990 Premier Cup Champions
1997 League Cup Champions
1998 Premier Cup Champions
1998 League Cup Champions
1998 League Champions
2008 League Champions
2011 League Cup Champions
2014 Premier Cup Champions
1983 Level 1 Cup Champions
1984 Level 1 Cup Champions
1996 First Division Cup Champions
1997 First Division Cup Champions
1997 League Champions
2003 League Champions
2003 First Division Cup Champions
1984 Level II Cup Champions
1991 League Champions
2001 League Champions
2014 League Champions
2014 Second Division Cup Champions
1998 Third Division Champions
2012 League Champions
2015 Third Division Cup Champions
2011 Division East Champions
2014 League Champions
This section is to be continued, stay tuned for more of our story and pictures from our archives!