Tuesday, 17 July 2007
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
The following weekend, another double header. The bash bergie festival continued this time against Concord. They attacked in waves as is becoming the usual pattern as everyone just has to beat the undefeated team. This time though it paid off as a defensive organization lapse left no one on the right, and their talented but injury prone striker lofted a ball over our goalie’s head, perhaps one of the goals of the year as its no mean feat to do that to Roy. Up one goal Concord stopped playing for the rest of the game, preferring instead to fake injuries, kick the ball out or in the first half maim our players. This time their large Indian forward managed to break Harry’s nose, by putting his knees in whilst he was on the ground, and then crippled me with a late elbow and shoulder to the back while I was in the air heading the ball away. I hit the ground with my head and for a brief second thought I was in gagaland, which would have been preferable to the intense neck and back pain i felt instead.
I did get a chance to lash out and call him a benchod while writhing about though. So in less than a week I’ve managed a stuffed ankle, neck and back to be followed by sunday’s bruised calf, aching knees and even a torn fingernail! The benchod got a yellow but really should have been off for his kneeing effort earlier. Like last time Concord ran out of energy and we had several chances to equalize and even win, but for the first time this season luck deserted us. But the real reason we lost is because i didn’t wear my lucky blue undies and put a different blue pair on by mistake. As everyone knows, such things have more effect on games than how you play.
So, our first loss. The only consolation is it eliminates my nightmare of going through undefeated and losing in the grand final, as happened to Dylan in the under 9s. Anyway, we were all cheered up by sunday’s game, where we thrashed our B side 6-0. And I don’t even feel sorry for them, they played like shit, and having 10 players is no excuse given we beat Canterbury with 10. In fact I’ve gone past feeling sorry for other HPW teams, as we lost our grand final to gary’s team when I was with the Wonderers and george’s team were never very pleasant to play against last year, and certainly never would have felt sorry for us! So stuff em! They were 6 great goals too, especially Den’s, who should back himself more and go for it more.
If anyone even reads this you might be wondering what’s been happening for the last 2 months. Well what happened was that it basically rained for all of June – almost 400mm in fact, which is a lot, and as a result most of our games were washed out. Except one, where some dickheads knocked the goal posts over, and we’ve got a pretty good idea who… see an earleir post. So finally we got to play: 4 games in 8 days!! The first game was the Burwood Crankies. What a grouchy lot, they just complain constantly, and when they are not whingeing they are taking out players with bodychecks. We went to a pretty easy and quick 2 goal lead, and then tragically we conceded a goal to them, from a very well taken corner, and there really was little we could do. This motivated them to grumble and foul us more, but in the 53rd minute something even worse happened. George did a an angled run to clear a ball from a Burwood player going forward and they collided with the result being a badly broken leg to the Burwood player and an abandoned game. It really put an end to anyone’s enthusiasm about being in front and I suppose it scared everyone because no one wants anything like that to happen to them.
Things got even more bizarre the next day in our catch up game against Enfield, probably the nastiest team i our comp – in fact they’ve been idiots for the last 6 years. As usual they began with an all out attack on goal, which we held off as they have only one tactic – get it to their striker with the Pinocchio nose, whom I’ll name Pino. So if you can stay with him (he is quick though) they aren’t going to score. As left back i always end up on him, and in today’s game he decides to take me out late after i cleared a ball by going full pelt into my ankle, which is still aching 10 days later. I went off for the rest of the half, and in the meantime we got a goal to take a 1-0 lead at half time. My ankle seemd Ok so I went back on, only to have Pino elbow me in the face, and then about 5 minutes later shove me as i was getting up off the ground. Well that was the last straw, and I know its a red card for retaliating but this was his 3rd cowardly gutless hit on me (not to mention his late tackle on George which still has him with a stuffed shoulder at the moment) so i gave him a shove, which in true Italian fashion he turned into a dramatic pirouette and dive, complete with dramatic cry of pain. I mean you’ve got to laugh (or kick him in the nuts while he’s on the ground) – how pathetic is this guy? But it does underline one of soccer’s greatest problems – that a guy can commit numerous illegalities and acts of violence, and its usually the victim thst gets sent off. This dickhead really should have been off 3 tackles earlier, but instead its me off (though it was probably better for my cery swollen ankle), despite him crippling 2 players. What also doesn’t make sense is that why is it that countries with such a obsession with macho male behaviour produce such diving wusses? Rugby players take a battering every game, and yet the slightest contact turns these people into blubbing, cringing sooks. Is it really just “gamesmanship”, their win at all costs belief that they are the real winners as they get the penalties and the opposition gets red cards, or is it some deep psychotic problem that Freud would probably link to their mothers? Look at the Socceroos Italy World Cup match, and sure Italy won, but who came away with the most pride and credibility? I can certainly understand Zidane in the final now. Anyway, the good news is the ref didn’t put the red on the match sheet meaning no suspension (and rightly so) and we went on to win the game, thanks to a comical own goal and an even more comical goalie error where his own player headed the ball out of his hands – va fan culo, ENFIELD.
Tuesday, 12 June 2007
Wednesday, 30 May 2007
For the first time this season we had 5 reserves on board, which can be a blessing or a curse. It was nice to be able to take a rest, but i think the rotations certainly buggered up our usual style of play. Players found themselves in either positions they didn’t like, couldn’t or wouldn’t play, and weren’t on long enough or were on too long. It was certainly shaky at the back in the first half, and Leichhardt, who are pretty much 2 excellent players and a lot of blobs, kept up a bit of early pressure. But as usual our defence held and we had our share of good chances to score, and Nigel was unlucky with a great shot following one of the through balls of the year. As in previous games, our defence frustrated the opposition in the second half and this enabled us to dominate the game, and it wasn;t long before Nigel scored a nice goal. Near the end of the game Ken produced a superb free kick from the side of the box to curl it into the net untouched. A late rally from Leichhardt despite their crumbling defence was easily contained and we finished the first round undefeated and top of the table. here’s to an equally successful 2nd round, where we will have to work hard to hold of challenges of an improving Canterbury and Enfield. best players were Neil, Peter, Brian and Ken. i had a very good game, producing a great tackle coming in from the player’s blind side that really startled him as he thought he was in the clear, and some nice passing moves up the side.
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Vs Abbotsford at Campbell Sheep Paddock 19/5/07
Time and time again, teams doing well underestimate the team coming last. This happens at all levels. But do teams learn? Nope, they don’t and that’s why we almost lost to Abbotsford, who have conceded numerous goals. We all went into this game dreaming of hat tricks, of potting goals from outside the box, screamers from half way, well timed headers into the top corner… Instead we plodded through the first half and wasted a strong wind at our backs with poor shooting, a totally disorganized midfield and defenders getting in each other’s way. The second half was even worse, with Abbotsford taking the initiative and mounting raid after raid on our goal box. In fact they looked bloody good, and if they had a decent striker we would have been in all sorts of trouble. But our defence held. I gave the opposition a helping hand by being smart and instead of clearing a ball tried to control it, only to miss it completely as it hit a cowpat and went off at right angles. Luckily Roy parried away the shot. I redeemed myself though with a goal saving sliding lunge and some good clearing kicks. George was dynamic in defence, some crunching tackles probably having the effect towards the latter part of the half of stifling any further confidence they had. Our goal came from some farcical efforts by their keeper, who was pretty uncoordinated for most of the game. Nigel managed to slot in a rebound as the goalie stranded himself on the edge of the box. Best players were George, Ian, Jud and Roy.
Campbell Park 2 is a tough place to play, looking as it does as though a vengeful army having conquered Abbotsford ploughed the park, sewing a crop of sand and burying the unfortunate defenders in a wight in the middle of a paddock. The hill on the Western side of the pitch has its own postcode and the overall impression, with the sea in the near distance, is one of a beach-head invasion a la The Dardanelles. Luckily for the Salsa, rather than determined Turks with machine guns, we were confronted by a group of portly gents in blue and yellow stripes. They were in trenches though and having been stung by previous visiting teams it was clear Abbotsford were lining up for a rear-guard action with occasional attacking forays based on manning the fortifications. The Salsa enjoyed 75% of the possession in the game yet struggled to make the match-scorers work hard for their pay. It wasn’t so much that we were profligate but it’s fair to say that we were corporately sluggish (remembering if you travelled back the aggregate age of the two squads you might actually encounter real-life Romans).
We lacked numbers up front at times and didn’t quite exploit the wings as we might have. However, the belief and trust the team have in their ability to first of all not lose, then build a platform to win continued and as ever, the credit for that goes to the defence, based on Roy the Rock. Only one goal conceded in 6 rounds is a fair reflection of the defensive performance (and the goal was a mis-directed cross that went in off the woodwork). So, well done the defence, again.
Going forward, the highlights were Mick dominating the right, around the half way flag and some good moves sprang from that part of what might in other locations be called the pitch. Harry made three or four busts down the right wing and turned in crosses but apart from that, there was a fair bit of aerial ping pong. Mick drove a ferocious shot that the Abbotsford keeper parried and several other crosses caused the keeper problems but a lack of incisive passing around the box suggested we were too happy to wait for Ken, Nick or Nigel to blast the opening goal and we didn’t really pressure the keeper even with the 20 knot wind at our backs.
The half was summed up when Nigel attempted to re-write the prescription for the dosage administered to Concord last week, lashing out with another 25m shot. The drive went over the bar and continued 800m down the road and the Abbotsford keeper had to take a cab to retrieve the ball. Nigel has been a bit frustrated at the lack of Kiwi teams in the Super 14s final and it was beginning to show.
We thought having the wind against us might be a benefit in the second half as it would slow the velocity of the Salsa play and might cause problems for the Abbotsford defence later on.Did I mention the pitch? It was very unpredictable and we were playing every ball as though it might be Shane’s flipper. This tentativeness was compounded by a desire to watch the FA Cup Final from somewhere other than a ward at RPA to the effect that play became increasingly untidy and Abbotsford were able to launch a few attacks of their own. In fact, the third quarter of the game probably belonged to Abbotsford. In seasons past, we’d have conceded multiple times with the water at our backs and the wind in our faces and while at times the game was as pretty as Jose Mourinho’s press conferences, the backs held strong and were well abetted by George and also Den who slipped back along that left hand side.The breakthrough came in almost farcical style with the Abbotsford keeper caught on the edge of his 18 yard box with eight players between him and the sticks. A shot came in, from Peter I think, ballooned on an attempted clearance and swirled in the air for a maternity (about nine months) and Nigel (inevitably) was on the spot to swivel and crash it in to the back of the net.Abbotsford pressed but it was all over Red Rover. The Salsas’ 2007 attitude of going out to win by playing attractive football is under siege by teams out to negate the fun stuff but at least the results are coming. Mentioned in despatches: Jud for another gritty captain’s knock in the middle.So that’s six of the best all round, 18 points out of 18 and a meeting with our silvertail Leichhardt neighbours at Fortress Ewen to look forward to next weekend.Brian
Half time – me, Roy, George, Peter and Jud
Why so sad? Nigel, Mick, Den, Michael and Brian
No, its not a new dance step, its me doing a massive clearing kick
Thursday, 17 May 2007
The Salsas completed an alliterative trifecta of tough triumphs at the top of the table on the weekend when they overcame the previously 100% record of Concord at Fortress Ewen. Like the wins over the HPW 6Bs and last week’s destruction of hitherto unbeaten Canterbury, this was a hard fought affair with the football and the florid use of clichÃ©s the winners on the day.
Both teams started determinedly, aiming to wear down the other with conservative, grinding play, attacking mainly on the break. The visitors were increasingly on top though and began to enjoy periods of sustained pressure – the odds were lengthening on the Salsa despite fine defensive work from Iceman, Ian, (I’m Nursing My Groin) Neil, Warwick, Ken and George. The Salsa looked as flat as last Friday’s beer as Concord chipped away at the resolve of the home team. However, Roy pulled off a stunning stop midway through the first half that was metaphorically to prove the fulcrum of the match and simile, like the turning of the tide. By the end of the first half, the score remained 0-0 but the Salsa were starting to break out of defence and looking the team more likely.
The second half was enlivened by the arrival of Nick ‘Harry’ Potter, who arrived late from a Quidditch pipe festival where, flushed that he’d blown his solo, Harry cast a spell in midfield and increasingly going forward, his extra energy lifting Nigel and Ken in particular. On the hour mark, with Roy with stopping another dangerous Concord attack, it became clear that only the Salsa were going to score but despite a number of decent but distant efforts, it looked like Concord might get away with a draw.
Eight minutes from the end, Nigel ran onto a loose ball thirty yards out and blasted a shot into the far right corner of the goal at the River End. For all we know, he is still running around the pitch, arms aloft, and well he might be. Possibly the best goal ever seen at Ewen and the life drained from the Concord team in an instant.
A big lift for the Salsa in what looks every inch a preview of the Grand Final. The Salsa were without some key players, injured and suspended, and were carrying a number of walking wounded in the ranks. Come August the memory of Nigel’s letting one rip could be the emotional scar that cuts Concord like a knife.
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
Vs Concord Ewen Park 12th May 3pm
Well here we are for the top of the table clash. And like all top of the table clashes its a disappointment. Perhaps it was because we were playing at 3pm this time? Concord were a tall team, and had lots of players born in the 70s which no one else has had so far. They certainly passed the ball around well at first and looked threatening, but once their only striker got injured they really didn’t seem as much of a threat. They were certainly predictable and ket going left and then swinging in an angled cross, usually from too far out. This meant i seemed to be forever facing the far sideline, and the ball kept going to my right foot leading to some shockers of kicks. But can’t complain, had 4 perfect games in a row. We weathered their attack, and the game bogged down for a long time. it was about mid way through the second half that i think they gave up, and we started getting more chances. Like last week though the winning and only goal was another piece of brilliance from Nigel, as we smashed a shot in from the edge of the box with about 5 to go. My knee was crap all game, and really it was a game I’d rather forget, apart from a couple of nice tackles. Got a bit cocky about their fat little winger and gave him too much space, he was actually more skillful than usual, but he was easy pickings for the sweeping Neil and nigel backtracking more than he should have needed to do. Best players were Neil, Roy (some top saves) and Nigel. Won’t do that again, its back to close marking as long as i get support from midfield. A nice win against the only other undefeated side, so go us!
In the kids sport, Tara shot another 11 goals in the Ashbury Sparrows 16-5 win, Aidan won 2-0 over Canterbury in a fast paced game aided by some superb coaching and Dylan travelled all the way to Leeton to lose 1-0 but had a good game himself and even got a shot at goal for once. Maybe one day he’ll get a chance in midfield, its about time his coach tried something different.
Monday, 7 May 2007
I’m sure knees must be humans’ biggest design fault. They just don’t seem designed to take the weight of your body, and when things go wrong they do it in a big way. Maybe we should really be still crawling on the ground. My knee problems began way back in 1981 playing rugby for South Sydney RUC at the SCG2 ground. This lovely old ground that once had a nice old grandstand was removed about 20 years ago for no apparent reason, and now has a gym and a car park or something on it. It was nice oval except that it was hard as concrete. I remember hurting my shoulder there in a school game, and then landed hard on my knee after taking a bomb against Sydney Grammar old boys or someother such old school wanker side. Anyway, back in the days before sports medicine i just strapped it up each week with tape and kept playing for several more seasons. I never did find what it was. It eventually got better over 20 years until early in the 2004 season I was running back into position and all of the sudden my knee just turned to jelly. It turned out to be a torn cartilage but i played out the season with strapping and lots of Nurofens. I wasn’t going to lose my place in the team or miss out on another grand final chance. Anyway in January 2005 i had surgery to repair the tear, which isn’t a lot of fun but i do enjoy being out of it on anaesthetic. Afterwards isn’t so much fun though, as it really took a long time to heal. Don’t ever believe these doctors when they say you’ll be running around in no time – always add on at least another 2 months. Anyway, it didn’t give me much trouble once i started to play on it, the problems were more during the week after the game and still are. But last year, i found a weird injury to get, known as infected bursitis. This odd thing came about from a late kick in the right knee by a dickhead Leichhardt player, and the innocuous cut from it got infected, causing a skin problem called cellulitis. This spread to the useless sac of fluid in the front of your knee called the bursa, which blew up into a red sore balloon, as well as a surrounding hot, painful rash. When the specialist saw it he said it had to come off immediately, and so it was off to surgery once again. The op went fine, but I was really pissed off that I had to sit in the hospital for 12 hours before i even went into surgery. This was the same week that Tara broke her arm and had to miss her netball grand final, so it was a crap week for all. At least the recovery was quicker, but I still missed our last 4 games of the season. Anyway, this year both knees are great, but I better check the orthopedic textbooks to see if theres any knee problems I haven’t had. And as a warning, if you graze your knee at muddy grounds, wash it and use lots of antiseptic!
Ewen Park 5th May vs Hurlstone Park B
This year’s b side are a totally unknown side, almost entirely new players and a serious lot they are too. They’ve been undefeated up until now. We opened the game with numerous chances and Nick quickly snatched an early goal, and it should have been at least 4 more before they scored a lucky equalizer off one of those obvious crosses that sneak into the top corner of the goal following a bit of a defensive mixup from their throw in. But even though we had several injured or sickly players and only 1 reserve in the second half, i never doubted we’d win. What was surprising was that despite our continual stylish attacking moves, the winning goal came from a long range free kick that bounced twice untouched before going in past a surprised keeper. We were always going to score because of the way they set up their defence at free kicks but I’m not letting on more than that. This is going to be one year when the other Hurlstone Park team in our division isn’t getting any favoured treatment! Anyway, they barely got a shot in in the second half thanks to poor attack and some rock solid sliding defence. So the big game next week against Concord, it should be on TV instead of the farcical FA cup of Ferguson’s F***wits versus Mourinho’s Moneygrubbers. Back to the game, best players this week were Jud by a longshot, he seemed to be everywhere, Peter and Brian, who did a great holding and backheeling role despite a still crook ankle. Warwick also got off his sick bed to play a top game, but I wish he’d stop saying how much fun he’s having over and over like a giant 7 year old. As for my performance, although it wasn’t as good as the last few weeks, I was feeling crap as I hadn’t had a decent sleep all week. Did some good covering defence, there was hairy moment when a player made a good break from a long throw and I was able to keep him away from the ball and getting a shot in (it was ruled a corner even though i never touched it too). Felt a bit responsible for their goal as I had to go in on the receiver from a throw, but we didn’t really cover throw ins all game and a few more markers would have helped. Otherwise a reasonable game and finished with a sore shoulder and a nasty graze too.
Wednesday, 2 May 2007
In Memory of Jaddoo the Bunny
We were all a bit nervous about this game, as rumour had it that they were a div 3 team hiding in our division, and their previous results were pretty good. They certainly did look good as they put a lot of pressure on us in the first half. It was very difficult to get out of half as they mounted waves of attacks down both flanks. But strangely things turned around after our new player Nick M got himself sent of for retaliating to some niggling by a Canterbury player. We of course knew we’d have to lift and managed to go into half time at 0-0. In the 2nd half it looked like Canterbury were a player short and we soon took the lead with a goal by Nick out wide. This was quickly followed by an own goal, with the Canterbury defender beating Nigel to the ball to hit the back of the net. Our third came when Ken slotted home an amazing shot almost from the goal line. So 3-0, and although Canterbury tried hard, mostly down my wing, they couldn’t get through our superb defence. My players of the match this week were Ken, me again and Nick.
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
I don’t understand why people buy houses near things they don’t like. Why would you move near a sporting ground if you don’t like sport? This is what is facing our team Hurlstone Park at the moment. Our ground is Ewen Park, a pretty little ground on the Cooks River, Sydney that has been the club’s home ground for almost 80 years. Most of the ground is reclaimed land and landfill. We’ve happily played there with no complaints until recently, when our club, which has grown from 30 teams to over 70 teams, asked Canterbury Council to build a mini field, that is a field for kids under 8, in the space between the picnic area and our fields. Now this area although technically part of the picnic area is rarely used by picnickers as it is usually damp, and has long grass. More often it is used by teams as a warmup area. You wouldn’t think there’d be a problem with such an insignificant proposal but along comes a group calling itself Friends of Ewen Park and they object, saying the mini field should be built in th car park on the other side of the picnic area, away from toilets, dressing rooms and the canteen/admin area. This proposal presents safety and logistic problems, but that doesn’t worry this group, led by writer Nadia Wheatley, still living off the fame of one book she wrote years ago that she hasn’t been able to emulate since. Thankfully council saw sense and approved the new field. But the “friends” rallied and drew on support from the local Greens and some members of the local ALP branch to harrass council into having a draft development plan for the park and so the issue drags on. The FEP now have shown their true colours by now proposing to Council that the club should be made to move to Tasker Park, Campsie and are now claiming environmental and traffic safety reasons for this (next it will be that soccer causes global warming). One Green even tried to say that the fields are an ecosystem that is endangered. Now this all really upsets me as a Greens supporter and former member of the local Greens (the club even has 2 greens councillors as players!), as it is not an environmental issue, and if it’s a safety issue surely having young kids tramping back and forth without supervision through the picnic area or near a river is of more concern than the off chance of one straying onto the road? Theres also the historic factor that the club has been there for 80 years and the purpose of the park has always been as a sports field in winter and a recreational park in summer. These people are simply objecting to the club being there, and with the express purpose of removing the club completely, simply because they want the park all to themselves. Not only that, but they are quite happy to have the residents of Tasker Park, Campsie have the alleged noise and traffic issues. But then Campsie residents are just ethnic working class people, aren’t they, ALP and Greens “friends” of the working class, aren’t they. They can have the soccer team and we can have the park for walking our shitting poodles and doing tai Chi. All this crap about the environment is just a poor excuse to get rid of the club, and it irritates me as an environmentalist that they would even make such claims. Our club serves a large segment of the local community, hosts children of all backgrounds and socioeconomic levels and provides kids with exercise, community spirit and outdoor fun when most kids are locked in their room on the net or playing violent video games. One of the reasons Hurlstone Park is so popular a club is because we don’t grade, sort and eliminate kids because of their ability, ethnicity or background. We try and give every kid a game, unlike many teams in the district, and have a caring and responsible group of parents involved in the club at all levels. It is sad to think that local political groups see us as the enemy when there are so many issues for young people that need urgent attention that they could be expending their organizational abilities on. So please leave our club alone, and let us get on with the job of providing a service to the local community.
Round 2 vs Enfield Ewen Park
In one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of we defeated the always tough and nasty Enfield Rovers 3-0. Although we were often under pressure, we were able to withstand an early assault on our goal thanks to great covering and some top class saves by our goalie, Roy. Against the run of play Nigel slotted in a beauty under the goalkeeper from a through ball by George. So 1-0 up at half time. In the 2nd half Enfield slowed down, and as usual resorted to complaining and late tackles to compensate for their lack of vigour. Although we always seemed to be in control, it was one of those games where you couldn’t really relax, and there was certainly an unspoken desire amongst Roy and the backs to keep a clean sheet. We felt slightly more relaxed after Jud’s lob from a throw in made it 2-0, and were ecstatic following Michael P’s superb strike into the left hand corner of the net from the edge of the box from a corner. In the last 15 minutes Enfield led more of a verbal barrage than a football one, and showed their lack of sportsmanship by heckling Scott when he seriously injured his Achilles doing a goal kick. Scott has since had surgery and his season is sadly over, as he was a big part of our superb defensive resurgence this season. As for my game, well frankly I was superb and kept up my form from last week. It’s so nice when everything you attempt works. Best on the field this week were ME, Peter, Mike D and Roy was probably my man of the match apart from myself.
Monday, 16 April 2007
A surprisingly easy win over the usually dogged and nuggety ( I’m sure this word was invented for them) Burwood side. As usual they were all cranky, there’s probably not a team in the over 35s that complain as much as this side. The shorter of the brothers in this side did his usual late tackles while his older brother disputed pretty well everything, even when i said it was a sunny day. Our team played a very solid game, with minimal errors and some good passing. We probably could have won by more but for some wild shots at goal, which were unnecessary given their poor defence. I had an easy 1st half, only kicked the ball once and the play only came down my wing for about 5 minutes. The second half was busier, they can be a hard side to contain but we stopped them in our goal third when it mattered. Of course as a left back how much you do is dictated a lot by who is at left midfield/wing, and not mention any names i had more to do when a certain person who is fond of the bagpipes doesn’t come back and cover their midfield. i did a nice block to stop a shot inside the box too. No injuries, and recovered enough to referee a game the next day. Brian’s match summary was pretty well spot on, I would have to say Neil and Michael P were the best on the field for us. Nice to start with a win! Goals were by Nigel and
In the kids’ games, Aidan’s 14/3s had a terrific 3-1 over Leichhardt Saints and Dylan’s side were flogged 7-0 by the giant Enfield side in the 16/1s.
Here’s our beloved leader, Brian’s match report:
Numbers had looked a bit dicey in the lead up to the first game of the season but in the event, we had 14 relatively fit and able turn out, so three subs.
A goal in each half was enough to see off Burwood at Blair Park on Saturday. Nigel put the Salsa 1-0 up after about 20 minutes with one of his specialities, the 30 metre cross that evades everyone.
A long period of Salsa domination followed without the killer goal and toward the end of the first half and also early in the second, it looked as though Burwood might make us pay for the profligacy in front of goal. As it turned out, Nick got the clincher about 15 minutes from the end when the ball came across from his right. It was like watching slo-mo footage of death of JFK but when the ball did arrive at Nick’s feet, he seemed to snap awake from hibernation and volleyed past the keeper, unmarked from the Burwood penalty spot.
It was coasting from there although we looked a little vulnerable at the back in the last few minutes. We could have conceded while trying to get a third goal but I think that’s fair enough. It’s OK for Premier League teams to control a game to preserve a 2 goal lead, I don’t know what else we can do but attack.
Since I only got to be a bystander, I’ll comment on what I can recall player by player. I might just add a mark out of 10, for fun.
Roy 8/10 Quiet day at the office for Roy but he didn’t make a single mistake. Was admirably mobile getting out to clear with his feet on a particularly dangerous situation and wonderfully composed when confronted by a back pass from the penalty spot.
Scott 9/10 Great game from Scott who held the line well as full back but raced up to attack at every opportunity. Made several really sweet passes, 25 metres along the ground to people in blue and white shirts. Great stuff. Needs to ensure someone is covering the full back gig when marauding though. Very impressive.
David 7.5/10 Another great effort. Only occasionally belted forward and always got back. One particularly well composed take and sidefoot over the sideline to safety was very smooth. As composed as I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Ice Berg for quite a while.
Neil 9/10 The way to tell how important Neil is to the team is to watch what it’s like without him. Even though the defence played well even when Neil was off, there was a tendency for the sweeper to get drawn in, perhaps unnecessarily. Neil played a cracking game as sweeper and sweated buckets for the team.
Ian 7.5/10 I am aware of the high scores but we haven’t got to Den yet. Ian was really good, not just breaking down opposition attacks from in front of the defence but, like Scott, distributing the ball, mostly fluently. Ian was a big problem (!) for Burwood at corners and other set plays. Needs to go the the edge of the six yard box, furthest from Nigel’s corners to head the ball back across goal.
Mick 8/10 Looked composed, committed and skilful on Saturday, the best I’ve seen Mick play in a while. Really nice work, worked out where he needed to be (e.g. when Sott went forward) and really worked unfussily for the team. Looked like one of our best.
Michael P 8/10 A lot of guts for just showing up and playing but spiced up by a number of good touches, some blistering drives and some very effective challenges. Michael surprised Burwood players receiving the ball in defence by robbing them several times in the second half. This was probably because they were surprised as there were not so many tackles from Michael in the first half. Michael adds a lot to the team but with the bung knee, needs support for the lack of mobility and physicality. We need someone to help close down the opposition as they come out of defence (even with Michael occasionally mugging them).
George 7/10 Better first half than second. We need to play George more entrally, I think as the physical enforcer for Michael Phillips. Looked good on the ball. Very committed (but remember, it really might be someone’s grandpa!)
Nick 7.5/10 Looked very dangerous on the left flank for 20 minutes, then faded only to reappear as de facto striker for the last 20 minutes and get a critical goal. I thought Nick looked excellent on the ball and he should probably partner Nigel in the forwards.
Michael D 7/10 Michael got into some good positions (especially at the attacking far post) and could have had two goals. Another really good effort from Michael who is entering a golden period in his career.
Den 7/10 Like Nick, looked very dangerous on the flank early. Den took on a de facto forward position in the second half but there was tendency for the team to attemp the 30 metre rocket rather than look to roll the ball to the far post. We do need to vary this part of the attack and look for someone to get to the far post and, perhaps one time in three, pass to them.
Ken 7.5/10 Ken looks like he should be playing attacking mid rather than forward. He is strong, wins the ball well and is a great team player. Possibly guilty of too many pot shots this week. Having seen you score most of your goals Ken, you are at your best when you get the ball maybe 25 metres out, push the ball forward an extra 10 and shoot on the run, rather than teeing up the golf driver.
Peter 7/10 Played his heart out on the right in the first half and really put a lot in. Not well supported and had to cover too much ground. On thing I did notice was Peter playing the ball facing our goal (while he was running back). Generally, leave the ball for the player facing the opposition goal. Maybe Peter should have a run as a forward for the next couple of weeks (alternating with Nick) because I think Peter needs a clearer role in the team.
Nigel 8/10 Always committed, Nigel showed a lot of good touches and was always looking to put someone through (except on those occasions he was looking to kick the cover off the ball). I think we need to revert to a regular 4-4-2 for the beginning of every game unless it is a ‘don’t want to lose’ situation. Burwood looked better than I have seen them for a while and their defence is always decent. But despite Nigel’s industry, we didn’t make enough chances til the last half an hour. We need a big man/ small man combination up front, Nigel and Nick, or Peter, I suggest.
Anyway, I hope I have offended anyone, I thought it was a really good solid performance against a decent Burwood team and some troublesome calls from the ref who was trying to do the right thing but somewhat spectacularly failing in the effort.
Next game is Saturday vs Enfield at Ewen 1 at 1.15. I recall Enfield did the double over us last year, almost completely un-deservedly.
Wednesday, 11 April 2007
I was looking forward to this game against my old team, interesting to see how we compare as they had a pretty poor season last year in a higher division. This is the team that was “strengthened’ ie dropping players to other teams to be more competitive. Frankly though i think they are going to have a long season. It was also a chance to see our new players in action and they all did splendidly, especially Warwick in his first real soccer game. Although the Sparks led 2-0 at half time they were pretty lucky goals, just coming from misunderstandings with our almost totally new backline. We hit back really well in the 2nd half, with a great run down the left by Nick being finished off with a sliding shot by Ken. And this was with no reserves as a few players had to go at half time. We then stunned them with a spectacular high lob from Nigel to equalize, and they were never in it after that. We even had a few chances to win it, which would have been lovely. I had a great game, its nice when everything you do goes right, and the best thing was no knee problems, even after playing about 75 minutes of the game. This was certainly a promising sign for the season, though its going to be tough with Abbotsford, Burwood and Enfield teams in our comp. The only down side was a bad ankle injury to our team guru, Brian. For the Sparks however, they may need to borrow a few defenders from division 6!
Wednesday, 21 March 2007
We played Balmain in the grand final, and it really was a game we should have won. Chris Holley scored a superb equaliser from about 30-40 metres out, and we could have won it in extra time but one of our players missed an open goal and hit the post. Balmain were a very annoying team, but then anyone wearing gold and black annoys Souths supporters like me. In the replay we did all the attacking but lost on a hand ball penalty, which is probably the worst possible way to lose. I played really well when I actually got on the field, which only happened after hassling Walter a lot. Overall though it was a great season.
2004 would have been even better if it wasn’t for a new Hurlstone Park team in our division, the first ever. I felt really fit and was running quicker than ever, but sadly in the 2nd game of the season did my knee cartilage. But there’s nothing strapping and painkillers can’t fix and i played most of the season. We made the grand final only because Marrickville got kicked out of the comp, but lost in our worst game of the season to the other HPW team.
2005 was really weird, as I found out I had been moved into a new side. But it turned out for the best, because they were good players and I learned a lot, got to play in different positions, such as centre back, midifeld and goalie (which i really like but is so stressful) and top blokes. We had a fun season and only just finished out of the top four. i know i can be a bit of a whinger and a bit stroppy (unlike many of our club players, i’ll always say what i think. i know lots of players think the same but never say anything) but yet again i got moved into another new side. george’s team were great blokes but some of them were Arsenal supporters so i arranged a transfer to Brian’s team, the Salsa, where i remain until they get sick of me too.
2006 season was my best yet, and I’m a pretty safe defender now, apart from the odd embarrassing air kick. My positioning is probably my best strength, and I remember one game against Enfield last year where i reckon i saved maybe 6 or more goals. Sadly i came off in the last 5 minutes and Enfield socred twice to win… But of course no one remembers this because no one notices backs unless they make a mistake. How many defenders win FIFA player of the year?? Strikers and midfielders can be crap all game and then get 1 goal, which everyone remembers, but no one recognizes the importance of defenders, which is why Aussie kids never want to be one. Anyway, the Salsa finished just out of the 4 but weall had a great time. I missed the round robin playoffs with a very peculiar injury, more of which later.
Monday, 19 March 2007
My soccer career began when I was 7 playing for Maroubra United in the Eastern Suburbs Association. We were coached by Mr Gooch, a grouchy old guy who just insulted us a lot while sitting in his folding chair. We played at Coral Sea Park, Maroubra,and I think we did Ok, but to tell you the truth I remember very little of my 2 years there before I discovered that rugby was more fun (though I don’t remember ever not liking soccer..). I can only remember 1 game, when our goalie caught the ball and rolled into the goal.
At high school (South Sydney High) soccer was the poor relation. My mate Bill was told not to try out by the teacher because it was only for the “wogs” and the team was basically made up of the Greek and Croatian kids. They did well though, winning a few zone comps.
Meanwhile i played school rugby and 1 year of rugby league with maroubra RSL “Diggers” – sadly no longer around. After school I played rugby for South Sydney Rugby Union (now South Sydney NZ rugby, but having lost all the tradition and links with their pre-1908 past, not sure if they even wear red and green any more) and 1 year with Coogee Juniors all in the subdistrict rugby comp. I also played for Maccabi soccer club in the Sydney Amateur league for a few months, but quit as i was sick of the travel to Vaucluse twice a week and playing games against and being clobbered by racist thugs around the Western suburbs. Plus rugby was again more attractive.
I returned to soccer when I turned 40 to get fit and joined my kids’ club, Hurlstone Park Wanderers in their over 35s side, in 2001. My first season was pretty unmemorable, as i didn’t have a clue how you played soccer any more, was totally unfit and have no ball skills whatsoever. At least I could clobber people back, because most over 35s soccer players are terrified of being tackled hard, having been protected by referees all their lives. i also managed only about 20-30 minutes a game because i was crap and we also had lots of reserves. My team, now usually referred to as the “Wonderers” were pioneers as over 35s before it became fashionableas it is now. There was only one division, and rarely new players as most players stopped after All Ages when they had kids or got injured. The “Wonderers” were also unusual in that they saw themselves as a Marxist intellectual collective team that prided itself on witty dialogue on and off the field, and occasionally they were, though i found later that most other teams just thought they were wankers. They were a very cliquey group and still are, forming an autonomus collective within the bulging ranks of today’s over 35s teams at Hurlstone Park. Most “outside” players that were with the team since 2001 have all moved on to other teams. But as XTC sang, they’re “happy in their world”.
Anyway, the first season wasn’t particluar successful and either was 2002. Infact i can’t remember anything baout the 2002 season, and I’m sure no one else does. In 2003 however, we somehow made the semi finals and the grand final. This season was my best so far, but i didn’t get all that much field time as the Wonderers had a coach this year, an arrogant wanker named Walter who really didn’t rate me, though my defending (I’m almost always at left back, and actually like it!) was improving and i was better than a lot of our other defenders.