Wednesday, 20 May 2020

More nothing than you can poke a stick at

Even though the pandemic is hardly over, Australia is gradually opening up again, and across the board sports are looking to resume in some form or another. So are is the NPL Victoria coming back this year?

Last week indiscreet murmurings on internet forums suggested that in our division, nine of the fourteen clubs weren't too keen to resume in 2020. Furthermore, the other five clubs, while wanting to resume, were sympathetic to those that didn't want to start again, especially if it meant not having crowds and the associated revenue at games.

But this apparent understanding began coming undone when news seeped out that the NPL 2 and 3 teams were keen on getting their seasons underway. How this would work without promotion to and relegation from the top division is an interesting question.

The whole notion of a detente however was blasted out of the water by Hume City's president Steve Kaya, who railed against the apparently ten NPL Victoria clubs refusing to resume, and noting that his club had resumed training. So, one team named within one faction, thirteen more to go across both. Then Green Gully announced that it was also resuming training, and the question for me was where did South sit?

My hunch - and it was only a hunch - was probably on the side of South being one of those not keen on coming back. That's less because of middling our performances had been, and mostly because our president Nick Maikousis had said at the beginning of the competition's shutdown that he didn't think the competition would return.

But according to Michael Lynch, alongside Hume and Gully, it's our club and Eastern Lions who make up the group of four clubs looking and/pushing for a resumption in play. Though there's some soccer-forum conjecture about Lions are actually in favour of resuming.

Football Victoria, which has been sending out intermittent updates on the situation via email, has a hopeful target of early July for the resumption of NPL senior football. From my isolated locale, I can't tell what's likely to happen.

Do the fans really want play to resume so badly that they're willing to put up with not being able to go to games? Are the players keen enough to come back even though it would mean having to put up with extremely stringent safety procedures on match days and at training? Is there even genuine scope for a return while the corona virus is still active within the community? What's the point of resuming if the whole thing can probably get shutdown with just one case if the virus in a player or official?

As usual, I've got a lot of questions and no answers.

Lakeside to receive funds for renovation
In other COVID-19 related news, the state government is planning to upgrade a wide variety of sporting facilities, as part of a pandemic economic recovery plan. According to this article in The Age, that includes renovation of Lakeside Stadium, whatever that means.

Match programs
Program-wise I've added the "possibly incomplete" Canberra City away 1980, the "I recently bought a copy off eBay" Sydney Olympic away 2004, and the "I was tardy in scanning it" Green Gully away 2019 to the collection. You know where to find these by now.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Tassie All-Stars stun the mighty South Melbourne Hellas in 1981 (via Walter Pless)

Photo of a pennant from the game between the Tassie All-Stars and South Melbourne
 Hellas, sent to Walter Pless by former Tasmanian player Craig Pitt. According to Pitt -
who played  against South for Tasmania in the early 1990s - the likely reason he has this
 pennant is that  he was a ballboy during the 1981 meeting between South and Tasmania.
During the coronavirus downtime, I've been mucking around with a collaborative project set up by Tony Persoglia to create and compile a database for interstate competition and tour matches, which will ultimately be uploaded to OzFootball. It's the kind of information which already exists in a piecemeal format on OzFootball - and in different, hard-to-find print almanacs - but which really needs a comprehensive clean-up so that we have a reliable one-stop shop for this kind of information. Here's a sample page of how this information will be presented once the collective effort is fully unleashed.

Meanwhile, unlike South of the Border, which has been slack with any sort of updating,
Tasmanian soccer journalist and historian Walter Pless has been spending the COVID-19 break putting up a series of fascinating posts on his blog on the olden days of Tasmanian soccer. Our lockdown interests met at the point where I needed info on a Tasmanian rep match from 1965 against an Auckland select in New Zealand.

While digging around for relevant info to help me out, Walter came across some South Melbourne Hellas archival materials, and kindly passed them along - and also managed to write about the Tasmanian state team beating our own South Melbourne Hellas in 1981. Here's the article originally posted by Walter on his blog - which he's kindly allowed me to reproduce on South of the Border. Naturally it's very much from the Tasmanian point of view. I'll have something more contemporary on the blog in the upcoming week.

Walter Pless' article in Soccer Action from October 21, 1981, covering Tasmania's win over South Melbourne.
The article above this one has then Hellas midfielder John Stevenson claiming that "it's Hellas' title in 1982".

Tasmanian coach Steve Darby really put his name, and that of Tasmanian football, on the map when he coached a Tasmanian All-Stars side to a 2-0 win over the highly-rated South Melbourne Hellas at South Hobart on 11 October 1981 before a crowd of 1,500.

South Melbourne Hellas had just finished second in the National Soccer League and their side included Alun Evans.

Evans began his career with Wolverhampton Wanderers and I had seen him play for Wolves in the United States against Stoke City in 1967.

Tasmanian coach Steve Darby. Photo: Walter Pless.
He joined Bill Shankly’s Liverpool in 1968 as a 19-year-old and played for The Reds for four seasons before losing his place to new signing Kevin Keegan.

Evans was the star of the South Melbourne side that came to Hobart but although he went close to scoring several times, the Tasmanian defenders kept him goalless.

Tasmania’s coach, Steve Darby, also had an impressive CV. He had been assistant national coach of Bahrain before coming to Tasmania to coach Devonport.

Darby also played for University and coached New Town Eagles, as well as the State team.

Darby went on to be the State Director of Coaching before leaving Tasmania and becoming a successful men’s and women’s coach in Australia and South-East Asia.

He coached the Matildas and the Vietnam women’s team, and was also assistant coach of the Thailand men’s national side.

The Tasmania All-Stars side was impressive and included former Middlesbrough First Division player Peter Brine in defence.

Photo: Peter Brine (rear at left) back in Hobart in 2018 to
 catch up with Craig Jones (front left), Nick Di Martino
 (rear right) and Denis Payne. Photo: Walter Pless.
The Tasmanian team was: Phil Kannegiesser - Alan Burton, Peter Brine, Darby Conlan, Chris Hey - Steve Kannegiesser, Eric Young, Willy Peters - Bruce Ward, Mark Oakes (Nick Cook 60), Ian Parker.

The South Melbourne Hellas line-up was: Laumets - Boon, Lutton, Xanthopoulos, Traficante - Stevenson, Shirra, Nicolaides, Campbell - Evans, Buljevic.

The Tasmanian side included other imports such as Eric Young (ex-Manchester United), Bruce Ward (one of the most lethal strikers ever to have played in Tasmania),Ian Parker (brilliant left-winger from the UK), Alan Burton (also from the UK) and Nicky Cook (was with Hull City).

The home-grown talent was impressive, too, with Chris Hey, Phil and Steve Kannegiesser, Darby Conlan, Willy Peters and Mark Oakes all playing from the start.

Eric Young (left) and Ian Parker catch up in Hobart in 2008.
 Photo: Walter Pless.
South Melbourne’s coach was former Greek international John Margaritis, who coached Olympia in Tasmania in the 1960s.

The referee was Tasmania’s Norm Johnston, a top-class official who had come to the State from Western Australia. He was here only a few years before returning interstate.

Goals by Ian Parker in the 11th minute and Bruce Ward in the 79th minute did the job for the home team.

I’d love to see the video of the game. It was filmed from the back of a ute parked on the grass at the side of the pitch near the present scoreboard. I know because David Martin and I were the commentators. David, Reg Tolputt and I used to host a half-hour football show on local radio station 7HT on Saturday mornings. Reg was one of the founders of new club Salvos (Salvation Army) and he was also the manager of one of Steve Darby's Tasmanian sides.

My match report in "Soccer Action" [see above] didn't appear until 10 days later because Steve Darby and I had been attending the semi-finals and final of the Under-20s World Cup in Sydney [won by West Germany 4-0 against Qatar].