Any contributions should be given or faxed to Ricky Onsman (fx 9375 1446) by Thursday midday.

Flintoff Finds the Net!

MATCH REPORT No 1: by Cameron Herbert

Match: Balmain AA6B v Lakemba
Venue: Callan Park
Date: Saturday 4 July 1998
Time: 3pm kick-off

Balmain 6B's return fixture against Lakemba promised a lot for soccer fans, with Balmain coming off a goal bonanza in losing the previous week to Five Dock, but with the memory still fresh of our 6-0 loss at Lakemba in the first round. Of course with the enormous Balmain home ground advantage at leafy Callan Park, the two teams would be evenly matched.

The first half was played in true World Cup style, with lots of attacking play, but no goals. Lakemba hit the woodwork a couple of times, and Balmain responded with several rebound attacks, but could not get close enough to goal to pose a real threat. Adam N was in great form in goals with some top work, and Glenn B and Richard W were solid as usual as centre backs. In addition to a couple of promising runs up the right, Jamie F was able to sneak in a couple of warm up sledges to keep the opposition fired up. At half time the match was evenly poised.

The second half had something for everyone. Features included some great "feisty" play, with several strong challenges on Lakemba players running towards goals. Adam N brought down one striker with a superb charge (outside the box). After five minutes rolling around in "agony" (great World Cup style) striker resumed play as if nothing had happened, allowing Jamie F further opportunities for well timed sledges, although attracting the attention of Umpire Mal Colston as well. Further conflict resulted in the new look "violent" Richard W bringing down a player in the box. Penalty easily converted, and Balmain 0-1 down, with some rowdy screaming from the three Lakemba supporters.

It certainly looked hard to win from here, with 15 minutes to go. By now the whole team had got the sledging and general on-field chatter down pat. Mal Colston was threatening yellow cards left right and centre. The carding of both Jamie F and Russell B fired the team up a treat, with several promising moves, leading up to the magic moment of the season thus far, with Jamie F collecting the ball near the half way line, turning past an opponent and placing a long bomb neatly over the keeper's head into the left hand corner of the goals. Truly the goal of the century. Team and crowd went wild. Opposition could not believe it. Neither could Coach d'Angelo, who could not believe that it was a deliberate shot.

With a couple of minutes left, there was time for one last run towards the Lakemba goal, a corner, and almost another goal with a header being saved by the opposition keeper on the line right on full time. Still, with our first point, the team has rightful cause to celebrate. Clearly soccer was the winner from this game (to use a gratuitous cliche). Allez les bleus!

The Pele Medal points go to:

Adam Newcombe 3 points
Jamie Flintoff 2 points
Glenn Bacic 1 point

Victory ... at last!

MATCH REPORT No 2: by Ian Smith

Match: Balmain AA6B v Canterbury
Venue: Easton Park
Date: Saturday 18 July 1998
Time: 1.15pm kick-off

This is something for you all to reflect on: “The important thing in this life is not the victory, but the contest; the central thing is not to have won, but to have fought well” - Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

Well, after fighting so well throughout the season, we were finally rewarded with a victory, and a well deserved one at that. Balmain, you really played like a team. Watching from the sidelines for the first half, I could see that there was a real willingness to play like a team, and it was this fact that furnished the final result. Everybody played well, everybody talked to each other and, most importantly (and I think this is what has let us down in the past), everybody remained positive.

As for Canterbury, they are a team which has dropped down from Division 5. They weren’t bad, but our consistent play and skilful attacking runs left them with few options. Their one goal came late in the day when we were all a bit weary.

Given the conditions (it was wet, miserable and cold), we played exceptionally well. If we can maintain this type of play in good conditions, the possibilities should be limitless. Remember guys, this is the tail end of the season, and though we may not be able to finish on top of the ladder, we can certainly spoil it for a few other teams - and this, if nothing else, should be a great incentive.

Other players definitely worth mentioning are Russell Borman, Jamie Flintoff and Ronan Walsh. Russell deserves particular mention for his sparkling lob over the goalie’s head, which just hit the crossbar. Russell clearly has benefited from many late nights watching the World Cup. Bruce Smith also deserves a mention for his sparkling defence and determination. Result 3-1.

The Pele Medal points go to:

Sergio Fiorenza 3 points
Ronan Walsh, Jamie Flintoff, Russell Borman 2 points
Bruce Smith 1 point

Pele medal count:

13 Flintoff
11 Borman
10 Newcombe
7 Bacic, Fiorenza, Onsman
6 Walsh (Richard), Sommers
5 Smith (Bruce)
4 Walsh (Ronan)
3 Austin, Rosenthal
1 Nuzzo, La Spina