Regular editor Les Clarke is being held prisoner in an SBS sport news factory, but this week's match reports pretty much speak for themselves. The only personal note I'd add is that I had the distinctive joy of retaking the field this week. I was a bit nervous about being able to last a full match, but once the whistle went it was like coming home. Really, there is nothing to compare with running around in a cool breeze under a hot sun, chasing a ball, exchanging banter with team-mates and opponents and waiting for those moments when you make a key contribution and you hear the calls of "Well in!", "Well played!" and "Well, get up!" It's good to be back.
Sydney Amateur League Round 10
Arncliffe Aurora v Balmain Rovers
Arncliffe Park, Arncliffe
Sunday 13 June 2004
Reserves Kick-off 1pm
Firsts Kick-off 3pm
Reserves: Match Report by Dan Higson
On the very day Euro 2004 started in Portugal, the winter sun shone brightly down on Arncliffe (where?) as the Balmain Rovers Reserves left the field at full time heads held high, smiling and happy. The local supporters were still cheering and the atmosphere was electric. What a day for a game of football. Only thing was ... we lost! But how we fought...
After the referee turned up somewhat late (yellow card for time-wasting surely?) Steve finally led his team onto the pitch. With Serg up front with him, they took it to Arncliffe from the go. Ricky's towering presence at the back was a welcome sight after some weeks off with a shoulder injury (still looks pretty bloody nasty to me) and the Rovers were pumped. However, it wasn't to be ... at least the first half wasn't. Somehow Arncliffe penetrated through the Rovers defence several times only to be stopped by a fine performance from Morgan in goal - jumping and diving all over the place - thankfully stopping many attempts at our goal. Three efforts did make it past him and aside from a few fruitless bursts up front by Steve and Serg the Rovers couldn't pull one back. Arncliffe looked almost casual in their style, knocking it about with ease making the pass every time. In reply, the Rovers looked scrappy - missing passes and giving the ball away all too often. Gotaro's energetic scuttling from one end of the park to the other with the ball was sadly getting us nowhere and at half time the Rovers left the field 3-0 down. But our spirit was unbroken.
With a few changes taking place at half-time the team felt sure they could pull something out of the bag. And they did. In fact as soon as I came on the pitch in place of Al things turned for the better! However, I'm convinced the two events are completely un-related! With 20 minutes to go, Gotaro finally got hold of the ball off a corner and popped it into the back of their net giving the Rovers a much needed lift. Dave came straight back at them swinging one over the bar with Serg hitting the woodwork soon after. Arncliffe were looking rattled. Clearly 'crossing and shooting practice' at training had paid off. A few minutes later Kristian nodded a second in for the Rovers off a perfect free kick. We were off and we had the chance to level the score. The local punters were enjoying every moment of the game and the whole park seemed involved. But just as the Rovers were getting going the full time whistle went and it was all over. Another ten minutes and we would have had it. A 3-2 loss for the Rovers Reserves.
As I said, though, the Rovers left the field smiling. How many teams can do that? The Team Spirit, that Serg keeps going on about, is second to none and even after a few losses in a row, the general opinion was it was a fun game played against a team with a reputation for trouble who (as far as I could see) played a gentlemanly and sporting game of football.
As Ricky said "It's great to be playing with you guys".
3 - Gotaro
2 - Morgan
1 - Dave G
Firsts: Match Report by Ricky Onsman
The pitch was packed dirt and brown grass with a covering of unraked grass cuttings and soggy loam not quite covering the black plastic on the cricket pitch. Several key Rovers were missing. The opposition were second on the ladder, and had recently had a match abandoned for fighting. All set, then?
Arncliffe played a fast passing game that in no time had our midfielders chasing their tails. Their forwards had little trouble in making breaks through the Rovers defence and the goals followed despite some valiant individual efforts. Dave Hull was able to work with Les Clarke to move the ball from the backs along the left flank. Nick Vince delivered some good ball from right back until he suffered a very nasty ligament tear in his right shoulder that will see him out for some weeks.
The annoying thing was that the Rovers forwards were more than a handful for the southerners’ defence. The best example was a dazzling run through midfield by Ben Jones that fed the indefatigable Rob Liney who smacked the ball home with his usual zest. That effort made the scoreline 1-5.
As the appalling ground took its toll, Reserves players had to fill the onfield breach. Reserves goalie Morgan Bowling, brought on at right back to replace Nick, found himself back between the sticks when Miles Martin severely injured his knee. He had to suffer the indignity of two penalties (one following an unheeded offside call, the other for a technical handball in the box). Sergio Fiorenza also found himself backing up for Firsts and rewarded himself with a typically clinical finish for his fifth goal of the season. Ben found himself playing in the backline, which did much to stop the rush of goals.
Another goal from Rob and two more from Arncliffe and the final score was 3-7 in a highly unsatisfactory encounter.
Rob (2), Sergio
3 - Ben
2 - Rob
1 - Dave H
Sydney Amateur League Cup Round 2
Balmain Rovers v Sydney Pharaohs
Callan Park, Rozelle
Monday 14 June 2004
Reserves Kick-off 12.30pm
Firsts Kick-off 2.30pm
Reserves: Match Report by Dan Higson
On the Queens Birthday Bank Holiday, 14 weary, aching men padded up once again to play a Cup match against the Pharaohs - a team we beat 5-1 at the beginning of the season. Even though many of the team had only just witnessed England's depressing defeat in full time by France in Euro 2004, the spirit was still there and after some limbering up and stretching the Reserve Boys were ready to do it all again.
With Steve and Ruben both out due to injury and Ricky on the sidelines holding the baby, the team was slightly different. Matt had returned from a stint as Firsts sweeper and Dave G was starting up front with Serg. And from the moment the first whistle went the boys were off, looking like a completely different side from Sunday's game. Gotaro's speed up the left flank was impossible for the Pharaohs to match and several times we penetrated their defence to have a pop at goal. Rich was belting round the whole pitch scuffling balls away from the opposition, with Kristian next to him casually dropping balls at the feet of Serg and Dave on the run and with Stew's presence at the back this gave the boys all the confidence they needed. Not a moment too soon Serg hammered one into the back of the net and we were 1-0 up. Morgan and the backs held off several corners, free kicks and goal attempts to end the first half in the lead.
OK, Pharaohs only had 9 men on the field at the start, and we'd missed about half a dozen shots right in front of goal - nevertheless it was game on. Some new legs were needed so Bruce came on for Al at half-time and we were back at them straight away. More runs up the wing from Gotaro and some more fine ball play from Rich and Kristian gave us a load more chances right in front of their goalmouth until Serg popped a second in courtesy of a textbook free kick (two Rovers in the wall split as the kick is taken to create a clear path to goal) and we were 2-0 up. Pharaohs were getting agitated and starting to look a bit mean and angry, hacking at the ball. One or two more players turned up for them and they looked like they meant business so a few more changes were made to the Rovers side with Rob Liney up front and Marshall at the back to finish off this game. 2-0 was the final score, a much needed and deserved win for this spirited team. Onwards and upwards!
3 - Sergio
2 - Gotaro
1 - Kristian
Firsts: Match Report by Allan Frydman
This is a story about my sunny afternoon at Callan Park. I was sitting on fold-out camping chair (with the comfortable foot rest) getting ready to watch a relaxing game of Rovers Firsts football, contemplating England's brilliant effort to snatch defeat from the hands of victory only hours earlier and putting together the Reserves match report and points in my head. Little did I realise that I was allocated to writing the Firsts report, so here comes my best effort.
I could see the pressure on the Firsts players' faces from the start. The Reserves had just made it through to the Amateur League Cup semi-finals, and it was now up to the Firsts to do the same. The opponents for the afternoon were the Sydney Pharaohs, whose Firsts team line-up had a lot of similar faces to their Reserves team. All the better for us. Our biggest concern from the start was our nemesis, the infamous waddling referee. Hopefully, he had changed and his decisions would be fair and just.
Finally it was time for kick-off, Rovers showed early on that we meant business. The change up front seemed to be working as Rob and Bushy kept busting through the Pharaohs defensive line deep into attack. Scrambling defence from the Pharaohs prevented the early goal, but with the Rovers midfield in fine form, beating them through the centre and running rings around them down the flanks, it wasn't going to be long before the floodgates opened. And open they did, someone (Rob I think) had a shot that must have taken all life out of the keeper as the save just rebounded out between Jeff and Rob with no defenders in sight. Something unbelievable then happened, as watching the ball roll between them from the sidelines, I could hear Rob clearly tell Jeff to take the shot (unlike his famous tackle of Serg in Futsal to get a goal). Jeff obliged and - as easy as it gets - slotted the ball to the back of the net.
Rovers were clearly upbeat now and it wasn't long before Bushy ran in from somewhere, found the ball near the edge of the 18 yard box and hammered it into the back of the net before their keeper even knew what had happened. From here we went into half-time clearly the better team and with a 2 goal advantage.
We started off the second half in much the same vein as the first. An early ball to Rob led to a one-on-one with the keeper which was easily lobbed over the goalie's head and into the back of the net. Nice work and a 3-0 lead to the Rovers. A couple of minutes later and we were treated to an instant replay, except that now the score was 4-0 Rovers.
We could see that the Pharaohs were now getting frustrated and the wobbling referee had obviously had enough with being fair. As the Pharaohs kept tripping over blades of grass, the ref kept giving them free kicks. One of these free kicks landed just outside the six yard box and an unmarked attacker dispatched it to into the net for what could only be considered a soft reply. But still, we had a three goal lead with 20 minutes to go, and not enough Englishmen on the team to really worry.
The referee apparently thought that as well. When a Pharaohs player was ever so gently nudged within the penalty box, nearly all the players were preparing for a corner, but Pharaoh's No 13 called "Penalty". The ref took a few minutes to catch up to play, and once his wobbling subsided, decided yes, maybe there was a penalty there. 4-2 to Rovers and many an unhappy chap on the field. The penalty was especially hard seeing Les had just been physically molested at the other end of the field with no penalty in sight.
After the restart the Rovers were fired up again. The ref, trying to make up for his dubious penalty call, kept giving us free kicks but we could not capitalise. The final scoreline remained 4-2 to see both Rovers teams through to the Amateur Cup semi-final.
Rob (2), Jeff, Simon
3 - Ben
2 - Les
1 - Bruce
Futsal Report by Stewart Shaw
Rovers v Euro Boys, Thursday 10 June
The Rovers met Euro Boys in a game that had everything ... great goals and some controversy, courtesy of a smelly old man in black and his appalling refereeing.
The Euro Boys are a male striptease act who play football on the side. Quite good. Combative. Well choreographed. But when Serg won the ball firmly and fairly their big guy lashed out like a little girl. The ref decided to ignore this. Serg, being a man of principle and a knight of the pitch, removed himself from the field for the rest of the game less he "smash the ball 'accidentally' into the ref's face".
It was 0-0 for a long time and Balmain Rovers were playing the theoretical perfect marking game. That's why it took the most beautiful goal I have seen in Futsal to put us 1-0 down. A chipped ball in was met by an overhead kick into the top corner.
But ... Liney. He doesn't pass them into the corners, he doesn't flick them, slip them or caress them over the line. If he doesn't score early he at least softens them up, pummeling them cruelly with that dense little ball. There's usually at least two marking him as he traps every upfield pass we make, he turns and tussles his way to an acute angle, until the trailing defenders marginally back off, and then he wellies it in. 1-1. then 2-1. then 3-1.
I was in space at one point. Maybe he was suffering from adrenal fatigue or maybe it was to do with Venus' transit across the Sun, but Rob passed to me. It was a bad pass though.
We made our one defensive slip, their movement catching us slightly off guard and it was 3-2. The game was very finely balanced and everyone was playing a blinder. I missed a couple of sitters, perfectly plated up for me by Stew and Marshall.
The referee was joined by George the Futsal official, who had sensed the tension and knew this ref needed close monitoring and it surely influenced the ref when he disallowed their equaliser. The ref thought it hadn't touched anyone on the way in from the kick in. Did it? The arguments ran on for several beers but the history books will record that Balmain Rovers ran out 3-2 winners.
12 -- Ben Jones
8 ---- Chris Daley, Jeff See
7 ---- Miles Martin, Dominic Salomoni
6 ---- Sergio Fiorenza, Rob Liney
5 ---- Les Clarke, Dave Hull, Marshall Moir, Stewart Shaw, Gotaro Uematsu
3 ---- Steve Adams, Morgan Bowling, Brendan Coutts, Ricky Onsman, Michael Penman, Richard Raward, Nick Vince, Kristian Wiles, Jim Wragg
2 ---- Simon Bush, Ruben Davis, Dean Lenz, Radan Sturm
1 ---- Bruce Fackerell, Rick Currie, Dave Griffiths, Matt Linton
16 --- Rob Liney
7 ---- Sergio Fiorenza
4 ---- Jeff See
3 ---- Dave Griffiths
2 ---- Simon Bush, Dom Salomoni, Radan Sturm
1 ---- Chris Daley, Dave Hull, Ben Jones, Marshall Moir, Gotaro Uematsu, Kristian Wiles
Sunday 20 June 2004:
Home to Botany @ Callan Park, Rozelle