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Newsletter - Tuesday 22 May 2001 beerbeer
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.

UPCOMING: Fixtures STANDINGS: Medal, Boot MATCH REPORT 3: State Cup

Match Report 1

Goals, Goals, Goals!

Balmain Rovers 4A Reserves v Strathfield Reserves
Strathfield Park, Strathfield
Sat 19 May 2001
Kick-off 1.15pm
Report by James Mackie

Throughout the week leading up to this game, the “2DayFM Fugitive" had escaped out of the hands of Sydney a massive 30 times. You might be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with Balmain Rovers?” The answer is “7-nil”. The Strathfield goalkeeper could not get his hands on the fugitive all day. He tried hard but he let the fugitive into his net seven times. That morning, the Foxtel weather forecaster predicted the weather correctly. He said it would rain and rain it did - not the water type from heaven, but football goals of Balmain!

The Orange and Black were the “Liverpool” of Sydney. The defence structure of Donny “Markus Babbel” Nicholas, the pace of Ammon “Michael Owen” Mackie, and the intense runs of Craig “Steven Gerrard” Brown added to the whole team effort that created a fantastic beating of the young Strathfield team.

The game started out with a great win, that of the toss. Stand-in captain Craig Brown took advantage of the win and sent his team downwind along the hard bouncy pitch of Strathfield Park. It immediately took effect with fast and powerful runs from Paul Millard and Ammon Mackie. They got the ball via terrific buildup and excellent teamwork that put them in front of the opposition's offside trap and one-on-one with the keeper, and boy - they did not disappoint. Goal, goal and more goals.

The first came from Ammon Mackie off a rebound from the keeper. One-nil. The team was thinking, “That’s great, let’s get on with this.” The Balmain defence and midfield continued to dominate and continued to feed the likes of Ally, Ammon, Adam and Paul M. Not too long after the first came a second from Paul M. Great goal, great pace from him and terrific vision from the midfield. By this time Ally had put a few into the side netting and, in his Scottish way, started to get angry with himself and wondered, “When is it going to be my turn”?

Then it happened - the wonderful Balmain defence held out an attack from Strathfield and we counterattacked. I could imagine Martin Tyler calling the move on SBS. He’d say “John “Westerveld” Barker kicks it long to Paul “Danny Murphy” Smith, he has a look - great vision this kid - plays a one-two with Adam “!!!” Freeman, then passes to Paul “Robbie Fowler” Millard, who attacks the goal and passes to the left of him to the great Ally “Emile Heskey” Haining, who runs from an onside position to put it into the back of the net. GOAL!!! Ally’s off and he celebrates by doing the traditional thing when it is only 10 degrees outside, and that is for a striker to take the shirt off and be as happy as he can be.” All was great, until the Balmain side (along with Ally) noticed that the referee had blown his whistle to call offside. Ally could not believe it, but he accepted it and went on with it.

Balmain got back into it and continued to play fast, direct football and it paid off again, with this time Ally putting a ball into the back of the net and the referee allowing it. It was all great. The defence of Lachlan “Jammie Carragher” Mackie, David “Sammi Hyypia” Wright, Donny “Markus Babbel” Nicholas and the great (and playing below his age) David “Don’t mention Liverpool to me” Birds held up a treat and kept on beating the Strathfield attack into the ground, whether it was legal or not. These men, along with John in goal, set the platform for the midfield to work and for the forwards to score. It worked nicely for the first half. When the referee blew for half-time, you could see in the Rovers' eyes that they wanted this one.

At half-time, Manager Ricky “Gerard Houllier” Onsman had some words to encourage and a great game plan - to counterattack even more and score, score, and score! That is what the team's goal was. They pulled Ally off for the fresh legs of Mike “Patrik Berger” I-don't-know-he's-Paul's-mate and it all worked like a Swiss clock. When needed, John's goalkeeping was excellent, the defence was great - they were settled and ready, the midfield - even though a little groggy from the night before (Craig Brown) - continued to go round and kept on ticking and, well, the forwards with their pace just had to play one-on-one with the keeper, and that they did. Going into the wind helped I feel a little with our play. Yes, we had a three-nil start at halftime which helped us, but we wanted more. Magical balls from the midfield to Paul M and Ammon created the chances and boy, they didn’t disappoint. We just kept on going in. Ammon started the first half and within ten minutes had two goals to go with his first half effort to give him the hat-trick. Then it was Mr Millard’s turn. He was thinking “Ammon’s got three, I'd better catch up”. This he did, and put two more in, to give him a hat-trick as well. One of them was a truly excellent goal - the pass was spot on from Craig, excellent vision and excellent finishing. All went well and all came off the pitch ecstatic because we as a team could tell that when the final whistle went we had buried the Strathfield team.

Let me say everyone played extremely well and may we continue this form for the rest of the comp.

The Pele points go to:

1 point to John Barker for keeping the defence structured and for that clean sheet
1 point to David Birds for being a key part of the defence
1 point to Donny Nicholas for being steady and true in defence
1 point to David Wright for being able to be at the right place at the right time
1 point to Lachlan Mackie for sound defence
1 point to Craig Brown for showing the class to play balls through to the forwards

All up, the whole team deserved a point each but we can’t do that.


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Match Report 2

The Last Minute

Balmain Rovers 4A v Strathfield
Strathfield Park, Strathfield
Sat 19 May 2001
Kick-off 3pm
Report by Sergio Fiorenza

It looked as if the game against Strathfield might have to be postponed - if you lived in the Eastern Suburbs - but once we got to the ground, it was actually quite a nice afternoon.

While we beat Strathfield twice last year, they had signed a few new players and this game was a scrappy affair, especially in the first half, which seemed to take place in slow motion at times. The wind kept the ball in the Balmain half of the field quite a lot, but we managed to use the counter-attack quite effectively, despite missing three important regulars: Eddie, Clem and Nick. One of these attacks produced Ally's long awaited first goal of the season, although for a moment his looping shot looked like it would be overruled as Mikey had strayed into an offside position. However, Mikey - all credit to him for quick thinking - stood very still right on the goal line and didn't move. As he was thereby in a 'passive' offside position, it was 1-0 Rovers.

The rest of the first half was a tough slog for both teams, ending in an unfortunate incident which saw Gary run through on goal and collide heavily with the Strathfield keeper, who was knocked for six, although it was quite clearly an unfortunate accident.

Just after half-time, we were all standing in the centre circle and someone mentioned that the Strathfield coach would have his players all galvanised by this injury and we had to stay focused for the first ten or so minutes of the second half and not give away anything!! Well, this proved the kiss of death for us, because within five minutes somehow we were 2-1 down!!

For the next 40 minutes, we piled on the pressure and to be honest, we did everything but score a goal. They cleared the ball off the line about four times and Lady Luck was certainly smiling on them! But, eventually, the pressure paid off. With about one minute left in stoppage time, we had all 10 players in their penalty area for a corner. Sub Ammon's cross curled into the box and deflected to Tim, who powerfully headed the equaliser into the goal, glancing off sub Ricky's head on the way! By the Rovers' reaction, you would have thought we had just won the FA Cup with that effort!! You could see the relief and joy on everyone's face - what a moment!!

The Pele points go to

Pier D'Angelo - 3 points for an outstanding display
Tim Hinds - 2 points (I wonder why??)
Glenn Bacic - 1 point


Upcoming Fixtures

Saturday 26 May 2001
Balmain Rovers v Canterbury
Lees Park, Ashbury (away)
Kickoff Reserves: 1.15pm, Seniors 3pm

The second half of the draw should be available soon.


Award Standings

Pele Medal

9 - Craig Brown
7 - Gary van Heugten
6 - Tim Hinds, Ammon Mackie, Paul Millard
5 - Sam Tekin, Kon Tsalikis
3 - Pier D'Angelo, Paul Edwards, Nick Hopkins, Emrys Hughes, Ricky Onsman, David Wright
2 - John Barker, Andy Farmery, Sergio Fiorenza, Joey Nicotra
1 - Glenn Bacic, Eddie Briggs, Sohail Dahdal, Denis Jozic, Lachlan Mackie, Carlos Morata

Golden Boot

6 - Paul Millard, Ammon Mackie
4 - Gary van Heugten
3 - Sergio Fiorenza, Dorian Nkono
2 - Paul Edwards, Alister Haining, Sam Tekin
1 - David Birds, Eddie Briggs, Sohail Dahdal, Pier D'Angelo, Andy Farmery, Tim Hinds, Carlos Morata, Donny Nicholas, Joey Nicotra


Other News

Way Down South

Balmain Rovers v Como-Jannali
Jannali Oval, Jannali
Sat 20 May 2001
Kick-off 1.30pm
Report by Ricky Onsman

Ah yes, the State Cup! Where the little guys get to mix it with the pros. In our case, we got to mix it with a Division Three side from the Sutherland Shire competition. Who had won three of their four games this year. And who didn't play on Saturday. While our squad of 18 had to cope with the absence of Gary, Eddie, Clem, Nick, Glenn, Emrys, Tim, Pier and Joey. Do your maths - there's not the full complement left, is there? And yet, we turned up with a full set. Even had three subs. Yes, of course they checked the cards. Look, don't ask!

The game was the thing. A crisp afternoon in the southern suburbs, not far from Sylvania Waters, with that bright, wintry sun that only Sydney seems to get. A pitch that was remarkably dusty, with ample space to run and an odd curve from one side to the other. After the long drive, the feeling of strangeness was compounded by the arrival of an ambulance to take away a junior player with a broken leg from the previous game (perhaps it's a good thing you didn't have to relive that, James).

The Rovers starting lineup featured Denis in goal, a backline of Andy, Ricky, Browny and Wrighty, a midfield of Neil and Ian (I told you - don't ask!) and Dorian, Paul Millard, Ally and Eddie up front. Good Lord! Sergio had benched himself, along with Mikey and Kon! As anyone but the opposition could see, an untested lineup.

Well, the testing started straight away, and didn't let up, really. First up, Como's freshness gave them a fair bit of zip, and they had clearly practised some angled passing moves. However, the Rovers defence mostly held, bellowed into formation by Browny - "Get up, get up, get up!!! Get back, get back!!! Ricky, Ricky, Ricky - mark him!!!!" So, while the midfield players sorted themselves out and each side had a few attempts on goal, I just stuck with their number 6, a friendly fellow who didn't seem inclined to run very much. Suits me. Sadly, the one time I let the bastard slip, he squeezed a shot past the diving Dennis to put the home team 1-0 up. Bugger!!!!

From then on, Browny REALLY took control. Every long, high clearance from their keeper would be met first with a loud, low "Browneeezzz!", followed by the thwack of his head connecting with defenceless leather. Neil limped off, Kon came on at left back, pushing Andy into midfield - which was not his greatest wish come true. There were good moves through the middle, with Dorian, Paul and Ally testing the southerners' defence, and some clever sideline moves from defence to forwards, but half-time came with the score still at 1-0 to the home team.

In the second stanza, everyone got tired, hot, annoyed with the ref and frustrated at the lack of progress. Yellow cards started to appear, and each side's defence dominated proceedings, enlivened in our case by an occasional mad run up the right by Wrighty (where did he get the energy?) and the more frequent scuffles between Paul and one of their defenders. Browny settled into a pattern of taking a goalkick every three minutes as a result of their strikers' crap shooting, interspersed with the same "Browneeezzz!" - "thwack!" as in the first half.

Sergio and Mike came on, only to be baffled by the alternately sluggish and breakneck pace of the game. I kept shadowing the number 6, who conveniently squatted on the ground most of the time - except for when he escaped me again, ran ten metres with no defence in sight and tapped the ball straight at Denis, who was so surprised the ball bounced off him and another Como-ite had a much better shot, which Den then saved with a marvellous stretching dive.

All in all, it was an odd game. We played like a team of individuals (yes, I know we are - but we're not supposed to play like that), while they played like a team that didn't know what to do to win the game. Except they did, anyway. It would have been nice to win, but then again, they have to play Marconi next round. Frankly, rather them than me.

The Pele points go to:

Browny - 2 points. Nonstop running, yelling, kicking, heading, throwing
Denis - 1 point. Prevented it being 3 or 4-0
Wrighty - 1 point. Played two full games in two days at full pelt
Paul - 1 point. Also played two in two, and deserved a goal
Ricky - 1 point. Because Kon reckoned I should give myself two points



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Tuesday 22 May 2001