On this day 45 years ago, at the first ever Asian Cup, an ‘Australian XI’ went down 3-2 to Thailand in front of over 4,000 people in hot and sticky conditions in Hong Kong.
Pat O’Connor, who had the distinction of scoring the first goal for the Australian XI that day, admits she still feels a great sense of pride when reminiscing about that historic occassion.
"To think it was that long ago, but it only feels like yesterday," recalls O'Connor with more than a hint of nostalgia.
O’Connor, who was captain of that team and who's husband Joe was the coach, admits she still gets itchy feet now.
"You still get that match feeling...that thrill...you remember everything including running out onto that field...it was brilliant. I wish i could still do it!"
Christel Abenthum scored with a penalty two minutes after O'Connor's goal to get Australia back to 3-2, after being 3-0 down courtesy of Thailand’s goals from Lumjeag Boabutr, Yupadee Chaisawat and Wanvilai Thongsa. Alas time ran out with games lasting only 60 minutes in the tournament, primarily due to the heat and the torrential rains.
In the second game against Singapore, O'Connor and fellow future Hall of Famers Trixie Tagg and Julie Dolan netted as Australia won 3-0 in front of over 2,000 fans. Dolan would go on to captain the first official Australian team in 1979 and is cap number one on the official Matildas honour role.
The win against Singapore secured a semi-final berth where in front of nearly 7,000 fans Australia went down 3-2 to old foes New Zealand. Tagg and Dolan again scored for Australia but a strike from Nora Watkins and a double from Isobel Richardson saw the ‘Football Ferns' make their way through to the final. Never in anyone's wildest dreams did the players who took the field in that semi-final realise that one day both countries would co-host the 2023 World Cup.
Australia rounded out their maiden Asian continental appearance with a 5-0 romp over Malaysia to clinch the bronze medal. New Zealand beat Thailand 3-1 in the tournament finale. There were reportedly 12,000 people in attendance for the third place/final double header.
"It would have been nice for all the girls to have gotten together, and gone to Hong Kong, but sadly that can't be in the current climate," laments O'Connor. "We didn't do too bad in giving women's football a good name and it would have been nice to be able to celebrate."
Since that 1975 adventure, Australian teams have appeared in six other versions of the tournament. The second Australian team was a Western Australian team that played in the 1980 tournament. After that, as Australia was zoned to Oceania, the Matildas didn't appear at an Asian Cup again until 2006.
Australia hosted the 2006 tournament and actually went on to make the final against China, before going down in a penalty shootout in front of 5,000 people at Adelaide's Hindmarsh Stadium.
The Matildas made amends in 2010, winning their first and only Asian Cup title after beating North Korea in a dramatic penalty shootout in Chengdu, China.
O'Connor admits she feels a great sense of pride in her team for helping forge the path for Australian women on an international level.
"We got the ball rolling and although at the time we didn't realise it, to think of whats happened since then, we are immensely proud we played a small part in getting it started.
"When we ran out onto the field back then, we never thought of the future. We had to fight for recognition back then, whereas now, i'm so happy to see its automatic.
"The likes of Sam Kerr and Ellie Carpenter are now playing all over the world and are top players in their respective teams. It's brilliant to see.
"All those other girls as well who now get to play in front of bigger crowds and are recognised, it makes me feel proud that we contributed to that.
"They are out there and can show what they can do. They are on TV. They can get a contract overseas. I am really pleased for them."
While it was over four decades ago, O'Connor still remembers the fun time her team had in Hong Kong. She especially remembers the quality of the games and the different styles her team came up against.
"We didn't really know what to expect you know, we had never played many overseas teams before that. We had never played in Asia or Europe so we didn't know what to expect, so that was the good thing about it.
"We played against different teams from different places and we did well. It was good to see different styles."
Amusingly, O'Connor remembers more a goal she didn't score rather than the one she actually did.
"I wish I could remember exactly how I scored the goal, but funnily enough I remember more the one the excellent Thailand goalkeeper Anchan Chaipon saved," laughs O'Connor.
"Trixie crossed the ball from the wing and I connected beautifully with a left foot volley...I said to myself that was a goal...But the Thailand keeper was brilliant and made the most amazing save."
O'Connor admits her team made sure they lapped up every bit of the atmosphere of the occasion they were privileged to be a part of, insisting they felt like proper footballers during the tournament.
"We were all dressed in our tracksuits and wandering out on the field like all the big shots do before the game, we went to check the nets and all that stuff, we played the part well," she recalls with a cheeky laugh.
"We had a great time and they looked after us so well out there, it was absolutely brilliant. You'd like to do it all over again. We loved every minute of it."
Fast forward to modern times and O'Connor is full of optimism about the future of women's football in Australia. She genuinely believes the Matildas can go on to win the World Cup in three years.
"We have a good chance. Remember we are on home soil which really is a good advantage. We have three years to prepare, what more could we ask for.
"We will have lots of young girls and boys who will watch that World Cup and say 'I want to be there', which is exactly what we wanted to do all those years ago in Hong Kong."
Sadly for a variety of reasons, the 1975 'Australian XI' have never been officially recognised as an Australian national team, however, nothing will take away from the fact that 45 years ago this team were the first women's football team to represent Australia on the world stage. Only three members of that squad went on to receive official caps later on, but there is no doubt all 16 of these ladies forged the path for those that followed.