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Newsletter - Wednesday 10 July 2002 beerbeer

This newsletter is published by Balmain Rovers,
part of the Balmain & District Soccer Club.
The Annandale Hotel is the major sponsor of Balmain Rovers.

Match Report 1
Balmain Rovers 4A Reserves v Balmain Tigers Reserves
Easton Park, Rozelle
Sat 6 July 2002
Kick-off 1.15pm
Report by Fergal Murphy

So this was it. Our rematch with Balmain Tigers, the team that beat us off the park in our previous encounter, would be the litmus test for how much Thirds have (or haven't) improved over the season. Considering the 8-1 demolition in our previous meeting, terms such as 'damage limitation' and 'containment' were prevalent at training. A poor run of form of late also meant long odds for anyone considering a wager on Thirds.

The usual Easton Park fare of no officials was added to with no-one being able to trace the keys to the clubhouse to get the nets out. Our big brother side in PL4A had at least predicted the ref situation and arranged for a buddy of theirs to ref their game. He was considerate and early enough to ref Thirds' game also - bonus!

Ridagal Lybrzphy, Thirds' homegrown manager, had been busy taking notes during the World Cup campaign and was confident of not repeating the mistakes of the last encounter and risking the David O'Leary treatment in the off season. Darren Taylor was still celebrating Ireland's glorious defeat in Korea and Fergal was nursing a badly sprained ankle from the previous game.

Thirds had 12 players available that were Mike Arthur, Richard Lyne, Kelly Baigent, John Pereira, Adam Freeman, Jared Carter, Neil O'Donnell, Mike Badman, Phil Davis, Adam Brzozowski, Darren Lynn and Sohail Dahdal. Ridagal's homework had produced a top-secret formation, that for security reasons cannot be published to a public website. This involved a change of structure for the team, who played the traditional 4-4-2 for most of the season.

Adam Freeman agreed to start from the sideline as cover for a few players with injury worries, where he joined Fergal Murphy who was designated coach (doing a good impersonation of Scolari), linesman and fourth official.

From the kickoff the game was very closely fought in midfield, with plenty of challenges going in as both teams attempted to exert some control on the game. Both teams fought for every ball so the game was very tight. Inevitably, Tigers got some early chances, primarily cutting in from the wings. The Thirds' workrate was such that there was always a player back covering to cut out the majority of the runs. At the back, Kelly Baigent, Richard Lyne and John Pereira were covering each other and, more importantly, Tigers' front men, effectively. Mike A in goal was also putting in a strong contribution, making some telling interceptions early in the game and coming off his line quickly to shut down a one-on-one with the striker and saving Thirds from going behind.

When Thirds had possesion there was a very positive approach and very few long balls in hope. The backline combined well with the midfield and wings to work the ball out of defence without panic. Phil Davis, Mike Badman and Adam Brzozowski had a very high workrate, doing the simple but effective stuff in midfield. Jared Carter was all over the right wing in attack and defence and involving himself in plenty of moves.

Up front, Darren Lynn got involved by coming out to collect from the midfield and holding up the ball effectively before laying off useful balls to the advancing midfield, some of which ended in snap shots that didn't quite come off. Sohail Dahdal was having a mighty game beside Darren, particularly in his closing down of the Tigers playmakers who had been so effective in the previous encounter. Sohail succeeded in frustrating the defence to the degree that they found it difficult to clear their lines.

It was after a Thirds counter that Darren clashed with the Tigers keeper in a 50-50. The keeper came out of the challenge second best and had to be removed by ambulance to hospital with suspected broken ribs. Having replaced their keeper with a substitute, Tigers rallied and launched some strong and fast attacks on the Thirds defence, showing signs of breaking the deadlock. Thirds held firm and managed a few counter attacks, one of which saw Darren clash fairly with the replacement keeper who came out second best also.

The half time whistle brought an end to a tough first half with no goals. Thirds sensed there was a chance of going one better than a draw if we kept up the workrate. Mike Badman had given his all in the opening 45 and made way for Adam Freeman.

On taking the field to start the second half it was noticed that Tigers had yet again replaced their keeper through injury. Losing keepers seemed to drive on Tigers and they mounted a period of sustained pressure with many more attacks. Thirds were forced to make some desperate clearances at times and Tigers' best chance of the game came when Mike A lost the ball under pressure and the Tigers player missed a good chance from 15 metres.

This spurred Thirds to up their game and they immediately sent through wave after wave of counter attack. From a good buildup on the right Darren Lynn trapped the ball on the edge of the Tigers' box and slotted the ball home like a true marksman. Thirds could hardly believe they were a goal up but kept to the task. A couple more chances fell Darren's way shortly after this and with a bit more luck Thirds could have gone further ahead. Tigers heads were dropping and mistakes were creeping in, as well as some frustration vented verbally at teammates and the ref (who incidentally was doing a good job in what was a clean match). Kelly Baigent was making good runs from defence at this stage to relieve the pressure, and linked well with Neil O'Donnell on the left to mount a few strong attacks.

With the clock ticking down, Thirds gritted their teeth and spurred tired legs into action, with Fergal acting like a deranged orchestra conductor on the sideline in an attempt to help out.

And so the final whistle went and gave Thirds possibly their sweetest victory of the season. They raised their game to deliver an unlikely win and justifiably held their heads high leaving the pitch, having put Rovers back on the map in PL4R. Credit also to Tigers who played such a large part, leaving it one victory apiece for the season. Who knows, the derby decider could well be in the finals stage.

It would be unfair to attempt to pick individual players from this game, so the Pele points will be awarded one half each to the twelve players who contributed. (Given the auspicious nature of the victory, the selfless attitude of the report writer and the fact that the points do add up to the six allowed, this Pele points allocation will be allowed - no half points from here on, though - Ed.)


The Annandale Hotel

17-19 Parramatta Rd, Annandale
Ph 9550 1078

Ah, the Annandale Hotel. You want live music? Here 'tis - try Dan Brodie and the Broken Arrows this Friday or (if you like your choons loud and heavy) check out Segression on Sat'dy night. There's also top tucker at the Nosh Pit, the Locals Club is going bananas with giveaways, there are classic tacky movies from The Sounds of Sinema and, all in all, it's the best pub atmosphere to be found in Sydney. For a full rundown of weekly activities at the Annandale, click on the image below -

But wait! This Saturday, the usual 5pm post-match session at the Anno will be replaced by a more sedate (or possibly more raucous) barbeque at the fashionable Birchgrove residence of Paul "Eddie" Edwards (location details available by email request). As well as being open to players' partners and friends of the team, this event will be graced by the presence of (to quote their friend Nick Agafonoff): "two attractive, single young ladies interested in meeting attractive, single young gentlemen 25-35yrs". This is no lonely hearts column, but we know it's not easy to meet eligible young bachelors in this town, and unpartnered Rovers are, by definition, particularly eligible.


Match Report 2
Balmain Rovers 3B Reserves v Earlwood
Callan Park, Rozelle
Sat 6 July 2002
Kickoff 1.15pm
Report by Michael Sommers

THUMP!!!! That was the sound of Balmain Reserves being brought back down to earth last week after the mauling dished out by Lakemba. Well, actually it was more like THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP.

By the time Lakemba had put the last THUMP in the back of the net, it was obvious a serious reassessment of our game had to happen. We were cocky and brash and got our arses spanked because of it. Time to go back to the drawing board.

We had to start all over again, this time against Earlwood, a team who earlier in the season gave us a bit of a mauling as they ran out 4-2 winners. We lined up without the large presence of James in midfield, his place taken by Mark Bamford, who had the ever-present Pier by his side. On the wings were Emrys and Ben while up front was Rocket Robbie. Stepping down a notch to play a half up front with him in Reserves was Andy Farmery. In the back was Ally, Ricky, Donny and myself. In goal was Johnny Barker, who was soon to be replaced by the man-mountain we call Browny.

The game started, as one would expect, very cautiously by Balmain. You could sense some nerves still floating around the players. Either that or someone had a curry the night before. Earlwood had a lot of pace about them, and we were never going to match them in that department. We had to use our physical presence to get on top of this game, without attracting too much attention from the ref, who was having a good day's refereeing. Little did he realise what the next game had in store for him ...

After some attacking and counter attacking, around the 15 min mark Earlwood made a breakthrough with a pass that split our defence in two. I will hold my hand up for this as I should have been closer to their player, but I will bet my life that if we could replay that goal you would see he was a good two to three yards offside when the ball was played. But I guess I learned a valuable lesson, I'll just add it to my list.

LESSONS IN LIFE #3,405 - When playing a game of football, even with TWO linesmen - both with perfect eyesight - do not put your faith in them.

In all honesty, you have to hand it to their number 7 - he scored a cracking goal, there was nothing Johnny could have done about it. But rather than lay down and get trampled all over (which could easily have have happened), Balmain stuck to their guns and piled pressure on Earlwood. Andy and Robbie up front both laid plenty of balls on for one another, winning balls in the air as well as on the ground. Both Mark and Pier showed their commitment by getting back in defence when the ball was lost to the opposition. By this time Browny had replaced Johnny in goal, as the Barker boy's ankle injury prevented him giving his all. Browny's presence must have made a big difference to Earlwood in front of goal as they squandered a number of chances, most notably a penalty awarded to them for a tackle by Ally. The mere sight of the Brown one was enough to put off their player, who pushed it wide of the post. We were still in this, as long as we didn’t lose our cool.

It was beginning to get a bit physical in the midfield and we were beginning to slowly get on top of our opponents. I might have this round the wrong way but, if my memory serves me right, Ben had a shot that crashed off the bar and Robbie and Andy both had shots that were just wide. But it was Pier who got us back into the game after a cross from Ben, which none of their defenders picked up, was pushed goalwards by Rob and sat right up in front of Pier, who had the presence of mind to backheel the ball into the net. Shades of Denis Law playing for Man City against Man U last game of the season back in 19somethingorother.

So - halftime came and we were back in it. All we had to do was just concentrate on the game for the next 45 and not get involved with any of the argy bargy that they were looking for.

The second half saw Nick come on for Andy who was kept fresh for the Firsts game. This had turned into a pretty even game with both sides getting a number of chances. Earlwood certainly had a marvellous chance when their little number 11 (who caused all sorts of problems in our first meeting), unleashed a low hard shot to Browny’s right. How Browny got to it I will never know. It was a very similar save to "That Save" by Gordon Banks in the 1970 World Cup. Except this was not the World Cup, Pele did not take the shot, and it was not a header. Oh, and Brazil and England weren’t playing. But other than that, it was identical, and a fine save by the big fella.

Ally unexpectedly came off halfway through the second half, having finally succumbed to taking one cold tablet too many. Sergio came on into the right winghalf position, with Mark initially slotting into left back before moving to left winghalf, with Emrys sliding into the back four. The game ended with both sides showing lots of determination and desire to take all the points. As the final whistle blew there was a slight air of relief by both parties. It was a game that in the end could have gone either way.

Overall we would have to be a lot happier then Earlwood, as we were certainly seen as the underdogs in this match. The plus points from this match were the fact that we stayed positive, and only on the odd occasion did we lose sight of our objective. A good way to bounce back I guess.

The funniest moment happened after the game, as I learned from Clem that the player from their side who went down on the sideline in the first half did not have a bad injury after all. Apparently he was spewing his guts up from having quite a bit to drink the night before!!! Lessons in life #3,406 I think.

The Pele points go to:

2 - Pier - He never stopped running, and an instinctive finish!
2 - Browny - For "That Save"
1 - Ricky - Hard to stop him going into the midfield, but at least he wins 70% of the tackles when he is there
1 - Ben - For showing yet again what a class act he is on the wing


Match Report 3
Balmain Rovers 3B v Earlwood
Callan Park, Rozelle
Sat 6 July 2002
Kickoff 3pm
Report by Nick Vince

The many avid readers of the Balmain Rovers match reports have seen a variety of writing styles over the last couple of weeks. Some preferred to use a very sexual theme to entertain (and offend) readers, while others preferred to focus on marital bliss and harmony between our players on the pitch. Very original and humorous they were too, but I could see the trend getting more ludicrous as the season wore on.

Sitting down and writing this while in the middle of putting together a network proposal for a client was very challenging, particularly when looking for a theme for the day. Reflecting on the events that unfolded, I was thinking of using Boyz 'n the Hood or anything from the NWA music catalogue as my theme. I then thought about it and - really, what the hell - let's just write it as I saw it in the good old way with no reference to throbbing veins or an unlikely marriage between centre forwards.

A previous 2-1 win over Earlwood had Balmain Rovers going into the game confident of a victory yet mindful that too much confidence could undo our season. Typical of many teams we have encountered this season, we knew some of their players had a short fuse, but our aim was to play football and not react to any provocation. As an aside to this report it was Dave Hynd's last game for Balmain Rovers, which will please many of our opponents but not his team-mates. He has played some great football this year and has contributed a great deal to our success. I would like to wish him the very best of luck for the future and assure him that he will always be welcome back at Balmain Rovers.

We kept with tradition and made Dave captain for the day and his inspiring words led us onto the pitch and into action!!! A blustery day made for difficult conditions and (as usual) the cricket pitch proved a difficult opponent. Very early on, Earlwood played some good football and created a few chances which Browny ably dealt with in goal.

Predictably it was Balmain Rovers who produced the game-changing moment very early on. A great corner from Kon had a Balmain player up like a salmon heading the ball goalwards with the keeper on the floor and beaten. A bare hand diverted the ball away which was met with some frustration as the referee claimed he didn’t see anything untoward. Andy Farmery split a few veins in his protestations to the ref, who immediately produced a yellow card. We took the decision on board and carried on with the game. However, Earlwood became increasingly frustrated. Balmain soon took the lead with a Paul Edwards header from a Dave Hynd cross. Although we were not playing too well, a number of free kicks nearly gave Dave a goal on his departure with a rocket of a shot hitting the crossbar.

The first half ended with another couple of yellow cards and a bit of frustration on our part, not just with some decisions but also the way we were playing. The aim at halftime was to get a smile on the players' faces, as it was increasingly obvious Earlwood were getting too aggressive toward the officials. We needed to be calm, say nothing and let things take their course which was obviously going to be in the form of a red card somewhere. I informed the players that we were on top, would stay on top and probably only face nine players for most of the second half. We returned to the pitch with the dulcet tones of Paul Edwards reciting Cliff Richards' Summer Holiday to get us in a jovial mood. Earlwood (bless them) gave a resounding cheer when the referee returned to the pitch, which pleased the official no end despite being somewhat tongue in cheek.

Now the fun was to begin. Within 10 minutes of the restart, Earlwood were down to 10 men after their forward was sent off for alleging the referee indulged in sexual intercourse with himself. The expelled player eventually left the field and a few of his teammates received yellow cards for their protestations. I can't even remember what the abuse given to the referee was all about, but it wouldn’t have taken much to make him show the red card.

Not only did Earlwood want to play with only 10 men but soon they were so tired they wanted to get another player off the pitch. This time the goalkeeper wanted out of the game and instructed the referee to send him off - obviously in slightly more colourful language. The goalkeeper was disappointed to only receive a yellow card so he attempted to shake the ref's hand with his foot but was dragged away screaming at the last moment.

It was to get worse for Earlwood and the next part was an excellently taken goal from that man Paul Edwards again. Some great football from Ben Jones created the opening and Eddie ran on to shoot into the bottom righthand corner.

This was but a brief respite from all the troubles and sure enough the Earlwood goalkeeper received his marching orders for again commenting on the ref's sex life. Now they all joined in and it seemed every time an Earlwood player opened his mouth the ref was pulling cards from his pocket. An Earlwood player was so disgusted at receiving a red card for abuse that he tore the match sheet away from the ref. So officially no game was recorded, no one was subbed and no one was sent off!!!!

Ten more minutes of abuse was enough for the referee. He abandoned the game, awarding a 2-0 win to Balmain - ensuring full points for us yet again. It may even result in Earlwood being banned from the competition, which will make our title tilt easier as they had been running third. To be fair, they were not a bad side. Tey must simply control their tempers - something that can be applied to a lot of teams we come across.

As to our own performance, it wasn’t the best of the season but we showed enough to deserve the win. Some good performances - and a couple of below pars - but with all the trouble going on it wasn’t surprising. One big lesson for us over the last couple of weeks is that we have to keep quiet on the pitch. Only one other team has learnt to do that this season while the others have consistently offended and had players booked and sent off. We play such good football generally that if decisions go against us we soon make up for them

The Pele points go to:

3 - Dave Hynd - Who else? Has played brilliantly for the last couple of weeks and hit some great free kicks
2 - Paul Edwards - Another great game with two well taken goals and a great rendition of Summer Holiday
1 - Ben Jones - Came on as sub and played some great football


Award Standings

Pele Medal

13 - Paul Edwards, Ben Jones
12 - David Hynd
9 - Pier D'Angelo, James Mackie, Fergal Murphy
8.5 - Jared Carter, John Pereira
8 - Michael Sommers
7.5 - Kelly Baigent, Adam Brzozowski, Phil Davis
7 - Mark Bamford, Rob Liney, Ricky Onsman
6.5 - Darren Lynn
6 - Alister Haining, Ammon Mackie, Patrick Nolan
5.5 - Neil O'Donnell
5 - Nik Hopkins, Paul McDonnell, Darren Taylor, Kon Tsalikis
4 - Dean Da Silva
3.5 - Richard Lyne
3 - Nick Agafonoff, Craig Brown, Jon Drea, Donny Nicholas, Michael Ward, Brian Yeung
2.5 - Michael Arthur, Sohail Dahdal
2 - Matt Clementson, Bruce Fackerell, Andy Farmery, Paul Millard
1 - John Barker, Martin Hofman, Matt Linton, Joey Nicotra
.5 - Michael Badman, Adam Freeman

Golden Boot

19 - Rob Liney
18 - Darren Lynn
14 - Fergal Murphy
13 - Ben Jones
12 - James Mackie
9 - Paul Edwards
7 - Jared Carter, Dean Da Silva, Alister Haining, Ammon Mackie
6 - Paul Millard
5 - Patrick Nolan
4 - Nick Agafonoff, Sohail Dahdal, Pier D'AngeloDarren Taylor
2 - Adam Brzozowski, David Hynd, Martin Hofman, Kon Tsalikis
1 - Michael Badman, Mark Bamford, Phil Davis, Nik Hopkins, Michael Sommers, Brian Yeung



Saturday 13 July:

Div 4 Reserves v Five Dock @ Nield Park, Rodd Point - 1.15pm
Div 3 Reserves v Balmain A @ Birchgrove Park, Birchgrove - 1.15pm
Div 3 Firsts - v Balmain A @ Birchgrove Park, Birchgrove - 3pm


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Newsletter content © 2002 Balmain Rovers

Wednesday 10 July 2002