Newsletter - Monday 13 August 2001
This newsletter is published weekly with the generous assistance of the Orange Grove Hotel - an excellent place for post-game refreshments.
Balmain Rovers fields teams in Premier League Division 4 (Firsts & Reserves) of the Canterbury & District Soccer Football Association competition.
MATCH REPORT 1: Reserves
OUR SPONSOR: The Grove
MATCH REPORT 2: Firsts
STANDINGS: Medal, Boot
Match Report 1
Balmain Gets the Points
Balmain Rovers 4A Reserves v Enfield Reserves
Edwards Park, Concord
Sat 11 August 2001
Report by James Mackie
It was one of those Saturdays for the people of Balmain Rovers. For the last two years the Preliminary Final has not been the best. This Saturday had to be something different. It had to have flair and desperation. The team had the opportunity to reach the first Grand Final ever for Balmain Rovers.
The game started with three officials - great start, so far. We had 11 players and they only had 10 - even better. As usual Captain James lost the toss and the opposing team went with what they wanted and that was the kick-off. Interesting move. Well, from the start Balmain dominated the play. The midfield was pushing hard and the forwards were being fed the ball. We had plenty of opportunities to score early, but it just didn't happen. It continued this way, as the defence held strong from Enfield attacks.
Up front, Ammon and Emrys continued to beat the defence with pace and tried to knock the ball in. We had about three chances, before Ammon was put through and his pace was too quick for the Enfield defence, so the shoulder was dropped and the referee blew his whistle. It happened in the box and he called "Penalty". Within the next 20 seconds Enfield had somehow talked him out of it and he gave us an indirect free kick. I must admit the team took it well and didn't kick up a stink.
Sam and myself looked at each other and thought in our heads "You or me?" We came to the conclusion that I would tap it to the right for him to put it above the grasp of the keeper and in the left-hand corner. It all went like clockwork. Then the clockwork stopped for a second and the 11 Balmain players went nuts (well, Sam and I did). It was one-nil and finally the eleventh player for Enfield found the pitch and came on. It was 11 on 11. But we were ahead.
From this goal we found more legs - which was hard to do, with the sun trying its best to get to us and the pitch hard enough to play cricket on. But we kept on going and just doing the same thing - strong defence with good passing and pushing the Enfield defence to the limit. Ammon kept on bobbing up and he finally put one in (up to this game he had scored 16 goals for the season, so there is no need to go on about it). The team was up two-nil and looking strong. And, as I have said before, we just kept on doing the things that we needed to do, getting in the way of the Enfield attack and stopping the goals. They got through a couple of times only to meet the strong hands of Craig. Well, all I can say now is that we were doing everything right and from that comes goals - or near goals, and the latter happened continuously until the half-time whistle went.
At the break, Sam was dead and Adam took a breather. We brought on Paul M for Sam and Sohail at right wing. This brought us the same qualities that had just left us. We quickly got back into the routine of playing again and continued to pressure their players, moving quickly down the wings with our fast players in Sohail and John. These two continued to make breaks from the middle of the park and just kept on putting pressure on the opposition.
And, as stated before, pressure brings goals or near misses, and this time it was the former. Ammon had put his 18th goal in the back of the net for the season.
A short time after this goal, Ammon left the pitch to get some energy back so he could play in the next game. Mike got that run he has always wanted with the Seconds and played well. The reason I say this is because he kept on saying to me, "James, you alright? I'll cover for you." Meaning he would play in midfield sometimes while I tried to keep going. Thanks for that, Mike. From that point on I remember only about four things.
Firstly, I was trying to just keep running and thinking to myself, "How do these older fellas keep going? They remind me of the Duracell advert: the Bunny vs Pat Rafter." So Ricky, John, Dave and co - well done!
The second thing I remember was at one stage I was coming down the right flank and this defender miskicked the ball. Well, actually he got two balls in one. Mate, I was down for the count. I just wanted to sit there and cry, but I must admit I thought to myself, "You're the Roy Keane of Balmain. Get up and be a man," and it just didn't work until this Enfield player came up and gave me assistance. For those who were not around, I'll tell you the trick another time.
Thus this leads to the third thing I remember. It was towards the end of the game and the play was coming down the left flank and we were attacking. I remember seeing the ball being crossed and it was in and around the middle of the box. This left footer call Emrys had the ball and mate, I saw this foot being pulled back by his leg and, Bang! He let go and the foot connected beautifully with the ball and the next thing I saw was the ball hit the back of the net. It was 4-nil. Balmain had stamped its authority on the Gentlemen on Enfield. As we were walking back to the centre to have another kick-off, I heard the referee say to the Enfield Captain, "Do you want to play stoppage time? There is two minutes of it" and the Enfield fella said, "No thanks, they're killing us." How true a set of words.
The fourth thing I remember was the referee blowing his whistle. And all I can say to that is "Thank heavens for that"! I was gone.
And due to this, the "Balmain Rovers Seconds" are the first Balmain Rovers team to make a Grand Final.
Due to the nature of the game, I gave the Pele points as follows:
1 Craig Brown for some great saves and great direction to his team mates.
1 Ammon Mackie for scoring two goals and making it a little easier for the team once that was done.
1 Emrys Hughes for that goal.
1 Ricky Onsman for being able to run around all game and be hard at the ball.
1 John Barker for being the Duracell battery on the pitch. You just kept going and going and going.
1 David Birds for exactly the same reason as Ricky and John.
All I can say to the rest of the team is everyone deserved a point and if I were the South African cricket captain I would have given you some, but our rules don't allow me to do so. Gents, WELL DONE! Abbotsford here we come.
This newsletter is sponsored by the fabulous folks at
The Orange Grove Hotel 31 Balmain Rd, Leichhardt Ph 9810 1435
Table football * pool table * pokies * TAB * cable sports TV
Regular live music * Friday night raffle
Drop in to Crocetti's, the Grove's new family restaurant
Match Report 2
Eddie of the Rovers
Balmain Rovers 4A v Canterbury
Edwards Park, Concord
Sat 11 August 2001
Report by Ricky Onsman
After all the quirks of the season, the Firsts' path to the Grand Final came down to a match against Canterbury. Canterbury! The team that had two winning results taken away from it during the season for playing an illegal player. The team that had a game abandoned against Abbotsford after a pitch invasion by its supporters. The team that had taken Rovers out of the Finals last year AND the year before that! If the Reserves thought they had done well to avenge themselves on the Gentlemen of Enfield, it would be small bickies compared to revenge on the Delinquents of Canterbury.
Following the Reserves onto the rock-hard Edwards Park pitch, the Balmain Rovers were ready - what there was of them. Carlos - long back in Ireland; Tim - back in England following the One.Tel collapse; Nik - not due back from hols for another fortnight; Jeremy - not sighted since early in the season.
The bench was occupied by Mikee - raring to go after a telling cameo for the Reserves in which he set up Emrys for the final goal - Ammon, Browny and James. With Denis in goal, Andy and Glenn provided central defence with Joey and Kon as wingbacks. Gary ranged from defence to attack through a midfield patrolled by Eddie, Pier and Clem, while Sergio and Ally provided the attacking focus.
With a calm and focused referee determined to stamp his authority on the match from the outset, both teams settled down immediately to what was at first like a game of chess. Like the board game, much of the early action was controlled by each team's defence. Canterbury's tall central defender and the bloke in board shorts were impressively calm, steadfast and damnably difficult to get past. So too, were Kon and Glenn, while Andy played with a radar-like sense of where to position himself to foil attack after attack.
The midfield was far less certain territory. Quick breaks by Eddie and strong runs by Gary didn't seem to get as far as they ought - but again, the same was true of the youngsters in blue and yellow. One thing that impressed the bystanders (who included three original Balmain Rovers come to join the festivities), was the gusto shown by Sergio up front. It's been a while since the Firsts Manager played with such a combination of control and energy. Meanwhile, Denis took care of the Canterbury shots at goal. Nevertheless, neither team made significant inroads in the first half, while both reached the interval with reason to believe they could win the match.
Half-time brought a change in goalkeepers, with Joey donning the purple shirt to bring Denis onto the field. Rovers set out in the second half with a determination that was perhaps exemplified by Pier's run at the goals. A looping shot placed the Canterbury goalie under pressure and Pier followed through to force the ball into the net with his shoulder, an act the referee determined worthy of a yellow card. It was from about this time that Canterbury reverted to the behaviour we've come to see as typical: shoulder charging, tripping, pushing, swearing and carrying on like escapees from the Home For Naughty Boys Who Don't Want To Grow Up. Their sideline supporters found voice, pouring scorn on the ref, above all.
It is to the absolute credit of Balmain Rovers that no-one retaliated, other than by sticking to the game plan and playing to their own strengths. Glenn Bacic started making incisive runs through midfield to liven up the attack, while Mikee came on for Pier and helped to pile on more pressure. Even though more and more of the action was taking place in the Canterbury half, the breakthrough would not come. Something had to crack, and it did - unfortunately it was Clem's ankle.
Some spectators had been wondering whom the tall chap taking an interest in the game was. Johnny Barker's notion that it was Clem's physio was borne out by his rushing round the field to deliver immediate first aid to the wounded midfielder. This brought Ammon onto the field and again the level of Balmain's game seemed to lift. Eddie started to push forward more and more, Gary was driving forward, Ally was wrestling the ball off opponents and Joey made a couple of terrific saves. By this time, the spectators had risen from their lounging positions, stopped scoffing sausages and were lining the pitch. The level of cheering from both sides rose to equal the efforts of those on the field.
In parrying yet another attack, Andy stepped the wrong way or stretched a bit too far and felt that sickening pop in the calf that tells a player they've torn the muscle. He could barely hobble to the sideline, to be replaced by Browny. Unbelievably, the action seemed to rise yet another notch. Even as exhaustion lined the players' faces, the play became more intense, as both sides angled for that elusive single goal close to full-time that would break the spirit of their opponents. Finally, however, the man in the yellow shirt blew his whistle and told the players to take a few minutes rest, before continuing on for 10 minutes each way.
Extra time showed there was plenty of fire in the bellies of both teams, and no quarter was given in attack or defence. Suddenly, shockingly, a Canterbury midfielder put through a simple straight ball through the middle to give their speedy number seven a clear run at goal several steps ahead of the Balmain defence. His shot thundered into the back left support of the Balmain goal, sparking screams of delight from the Canterbury players and supporters - and the inevitable torrent of abuse that must come with it from these idiots.
There was still 15 minutes of playing time left, however. The ref allowed only a very short break between halves and the teams were at it again. It will go down in Balmain Rovers legend that this team managed not only to be undaunted by the deficit, but lifted YET again to compose attack after attack on the Canterbury goal. Every player dug deep, and one man rose above it all. A pass, a run, a flick, a scramble and suddenly - gloriously - the ball was in the Canterbury net! Eddie had once again delivered when the need was greatest.
The game was alive and there was everything to play for. After having played so well early, the Canterbury boys showed themselves to be just that - boys playing against men, as Balmain drove forward again. I seem to remember the calm boot of Browny playing attackers onside, while Ally, Ammon, Sergio and Gary piled on the pressure. Almost inevitably, the man who scored the winning goal turned out to be the one who has been so often the agent of his opponents' demise this season - Paul Edwards. His second goal could not be kept out, just as Balmain Rovers could not be kept out of their destined rematch with Abbotsford in this year's Grand Final.
It's hard to believe that this was not the climax of the season, that there is still more football to be played before Balmain can claim its just reward. But there it is, a Preliminary Final that played like a Grand Final, delivered in the most dramatic fashion at the fittingly named Edwards Park by Eddie, of the Rovers.
The Pele points go to:
Eddie - 4 - frankly, it was hard not giving him all six
Glenn - 1 - turned defence into attack with energy and cunning
Andy - 1 - totally outplayed his opponents and prevented several goals
Balmain Rovers Reserves v Abbotsford Reserves
Sat 11 August 2001
Balmain Rovers Firsts v Abbotsford Firsts
Sat 11 August 2001
At this stage, we don't know the venue for the matches. Following our protests, we believe they will be played at the same venue (which - unbelievably - was not the original plan). Venue and kick-off details will be emailed to both the Players and the Newsletter list as soon as available (probably Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning).
There will be light training at Cohen Park from 7pm on Wednesday 15 August.
18 - Paul Edwards
16 - Ammon Mackie
14 - Craig Brown, Paul Millard
12 - Gary van Heugten
11 - Andy Farmery
10 - Kon Tsalikis
9 - Tim Hinds
8 - Nick Hopkins, Sam Tekin
7 - Glenn Bacic, Emrys Hughes
6 - David Birds, Joey Nicotra, Ricky Onsman
5 - John Barker, Donny Nicholas, Paul Smith
4 - Pier D'Angelo, Alister Haining, Ian Ladkin, David Wright
3 - Denis Jozic, James Mackie, Lachlan Mackie
2 - Sergio Fiorenza, Matt Clementson
1 - Eddie Briggs, Sohail Dahdal, Carlos Morata
18 - Ammon Mackie
13 - Paul Edwards
12 - Paul Millard
8 - Gary van Heugten
6 - Alister Haining, Sam Tekin
4 - James Mackie
3 - Craig Brown, Sergio Fiorenza, Tim Hinds, Dorian Nkono
2 - Pier D'Angelo, Andy Farmery, Emrys Hughes, Nick Hopkins
1 - David Birds, Eddie Briggs, Sohail Dahdal, Ben Jones, Carlos Morata, Joey Nicotra
After the Final
Post-match celebrations will begin at the Annandale Hotel immediately after the Firsts game. More information will be emailed on this Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.
Details of the Balmain Rovers Awards do will be made available at the same time. Due to public demand, this will most likely be held on the afternoon of Saturday 1 September.
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