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

Balmain Bs and FiveDock Bs Battle in the Big Wet

MATCH REPORT: by Richard (Tripitaka) Walsh

Match: Balmain AA6B v Five Dock B
Venue: Timbrell Park No 3
Date: Saturday 2 May 1998
Time: 1.00pm kickoff

In a game that was too wet for the Referee, too wet for any mortal linesmen, Balmain & FiveDock Bs went head to head in the best slosh and mud fest seen for many seasons. Officially there was no game, yet from all vacant edges of Timbrell Park, through the mist, could be seen a flurry of black, orange yellow and green, and blacker still as the melee advanced. There was no question of retreat, the opportunity for soccer glory could not be denied.

The state of the field was indeed unique. One half green, soft and dampened, the other heavy with water and mud. It was this veritable watery, muddy moat that Balmain did use to protect their goal in the first half.

Balmain seized the opening moments of the game and made several advances into the FiveDock half, yet FiveDock recovered and placed considerable pressure on the Balmain backs, who excelled in defence. It was evident that FiveDock had forwards who could finish decently as even this inspired Balmain defence could not restrict some well placed shots at goal, yet saved gloriously by our keeper, on one occasion just nudging a superb shot safely over the crossbar.

Towards the end of the first half our halves and forwards regrouped to place considerable pressure on the FiveDock defence, to eventually put one away past an out of position keeper. Balmain held to half time, 1-0.

The beginning of the second half caught Balmain napping, FiveDock piled onslaught after onslaught, the pressure was too great and we conceded a penalty, 1-1.

While we had found comfort in the first half, we struggled to find composure with the opposite conditions of defending a slow green and trying to breach a muddy wall. Our halves and forwards made some brilliant solo runs as a passing game proved beyond us. There was an unnecessary element of frustration, as team play became very difficult, when clearly the conditions were to blame. We conceded another goal.

Emotions rose and confusion reigned. We should take a leaf out of Baggio's Buddhism Almanac, being "remove yourself from the ego ... focus not on the individual but on the harmony of the unit..." or perhaps more aptly put by those in 'Serie A' in a word "'Calme' does it". Together with a common unified mindset our team will be awesome!

My own experience during the game of losing total mind control is typified when calling for our backs to advance " Move out Earlwood Burwood,... er Balmain...Damn it!"

All in all I think there was a lot in that game to be pleased about.

(as it was not an official match, and there were many substitutions, no Pele Medal points were awarded)


Match: Balmain AA6B v Lakemba
Venue: Parry Park
Date: Saturday 9 May 1998
Time: 3.00pm kickoff

Something to think about: No progress on a nickname for the team ... so letís think about something more important - team spirit. The fact is, Balmain AA6B is, and will remain, a social football club. The effort to remain social affects two main areas: selection and on-field behaviour.

Selection: This year, 20 players have registered - 20 blokes whoíve paid $150 to have a kick around as often as possible. It is Balmain AA6Bís policy to give every registered player a run as often as possible. Added to this, those players who attend training will have priority to get at least half a game the following weekend. Also, players who miss out one week will have priority the next week, especially if they attend training. This will mean that very rarely will Balmain AA6B field its strongest possible side. However, it will also mean that everyone gets a fair go. Sure, we want to win games - but not at the cost of making paid up players sit on the sidelines week after week.

(Incidentally, Norman will continue to arrange games with other Balmain sides for surplus players on a weekly basis. Dave did this last weekend - ask him how it went.)

On-field Behaviour: We all know that we want to support each other while on the field, and we all know that itís very hard not to criticise team-mates when things go wrong. Somehow, we need to learn to be vocal in support of each other on the field, and save the criticisms for training and post-game discussions. And even at training, itís worth remembering that a softly spoken suggestion on ways to improve will have a more positive effect than screaming at each other.

This naturally also extends to our behaviour toward opposing team members. We have had the unsettling experience of playing what is probably the most aggressive side in our division first up, and there was a bit of niggling from them to which we responded in kind. Last Saturdayís Battle in the Big Wet attracted some comments from our opponents about our aggression. Just remember, most of our opponents are in this for the same reasons we are - fun. Also, in our division, the refs will come down hard on aggressive behaviour, and rightly so. If you are fouled, let the ref handle it. If there is aggression behind the play, tell Sergio (our Captain) and let him decide whether to approach the ref.

Thatís the end of todayís sermon. Except to say that it is my suspicion that if we all loosen up and focus on enjoyment of the game and each otherís company on the field, weíll actually play better. Just a theory.

Hereís another 1998 World Cup squad: