Saturday, November 29, 2008

Perth belly flop: Perth 2 v CCM 2

Across this season and last, Perth probably have the worst record for closing out games. After being down 0-1 at half time - against the run of play, Perth displayed brilliance to get Nik R two goals. The second could be the team goal of the season - passing back and forth Trinidad, Nik, Trinidad, Nik, Dadi set up Nik

Bograad is sent off for a studs up from behind on Trinidad.

Then wollop against the run of play, CCM with everyone playing striker get level at 90 plus 2 with 1 to go. Petrovski scores as a sub. Could have been offside but it counts anyway. And CCM stay in the race.

Perth have real keeper problems. They have tried 3, none seem to have it.

Sydney 1 v Roar 1: Some ideas

At the beginning of this season it appeared that every young up-and-coming player wanted to play for Sydney. Now they can't wait to get out. Perhaps the answer lies in having to take less pay, than other clubs would have stumped up, to secure your birth. Once you are in it is all pressure pressure pressure to perform or loose your spot. Sydney's track record of making the finals would seem to make it a low risk decision, but this season the players are experiencing the downside of being outside the top 4. Add to this many players went to Sydney as a showcase for the Socceroos and European clubs. Pim put the kibosh on the Socceroos entry and Milligan (supposedly he was going to Arsenal) showed Sydney players how hard it is to get a decent Europe contract. Now they, along with Newcastle players seem to all got the message at once and want out.

And it shows in the way they play.

John Aloisi must be very frustrated. Last night he made Van Dijk at the other end look very good. While the Roar could mark their strikers one-on-one, with Moore covering Aloisi, it took two Sydney defenders to sit on Van Dijk. Great for the Roar as it opened up Minniecon and Zullo.

Again it was the Roar that should have won this match. While the Roar outplayed - outclassed - Sydney till the against the play equaliser in the 63rd, it was Miller leaving the field in the 38th or so that changed the game. Before that he was weaving his magic including a goal bound shot that was stopped by a Sydney forearm. His replacement, Tiatto, usually looks great it defence and less so in attack. Last night he looked very creative in attack opening up Minniecon and Zullo. Unfortunately his defensive error led to Corica's knee in.

Very impressive again was the cameo from Mitch Nichols, whose cannoning header looked most likely to create the win for the Roar. This year Mitch is re-developing the X factor he had at junior levels. He has a tenacity and fighting spirit that can go missing from the Roar up front. - McKay's brilliant poached goal from Minniecon's shot was another example of it at work in the team - Mitch just does not give up on balls and he is sky high with confidence. It would be a shame for the Roar to let this guy go when next year he could emerge as a star. Let's see him start Frank.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The week that MLS comes to the A-League

Fox Sports FC recon that Fred is the first of several MSL stars to head to Australia to top-up their centrally controlled, salary capped incomes. I have loosely followed the MSL for a few seasons. My main interest is that the A-League business model appears to be a hybrid of the J-League and MSL (with MSL as the major inspiration). Will the Roar pick up a new centre forward - Reinaldo being on the injured list for the rest of the season could facilitate another foreign player, or the guest rule could be used.


On the subject of business models, France has used its turn as its leader being President of Europe to support an Italian move to wipe out the dominance of the EPL. The plan is to have the FA accountable to a European football body. It would then restrict club debt levels and limit the number of players foreign players on a team at any time to 5. In one stroke this would collapse the value of non-English players as streams of foreign players would be forced out of the EPL, force massive promotion of English citizen players from lower leagues, and damage the international franchise of the likes of Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool... (See Kevin Eason 'England to fight Sarkozy takeover' in The Australian 26/11/8 page 19). What would this mean for the world game?

In a perverse way it may help England to its second world cup as the massive club infrastructure would, for the first time in a generation, be focused on the development of local talent.

Wither also up-and-coming players from third world countries whose shot at fame and fortune would be blocked.


Sydney FC and Newcastle appear to be quite a bit of bother.

Up until now Sydney has been the club that Australian players want to join. However, suddenly it appears that 5 of their squad are off at the end of the season - the latest being Ian Fyfe who is off to Adelaide.

And Newcastle, now equal last, lost key players last year and look set to loose more next year. Both Milligan and Joel Griffiths are out for 2 weeks, and coach Van Egmont has 2 more to sit on the sidelines. The will to spend to keep up with the A-League arms race just isn't there.

I agree with Robbie Slater that all this moving around of players is anti-fan and the entry of new clubs could have been better managed. And Frank Farina in that now coaches are under much more pressure than players - even poor performers will be needed next year to make up the numbers - while coaches will cop the blame.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Roar 4 v Perth 1: Phew, and Wow and 'Give him a contract Frank'

Mitch Nichols that is.

The first forty odd minutes were excruciating. At about the 30th minute the guy next to me had said 'This is the worst they have played'. It was park football. The long ball game and only Perth looked like scoring. Nik R, playing lone striker, had it all over the Roar. De Vere saved us with one brilliantly timed tackle. And Moore would amazed all with his presence. Yet it was Perth who looked like scoring.

Then Van Dijk, who was having a dreadful game (he can't run, he can't jump, he can't beat defenders), got through the Perth defence only to be hit with a studs up challenge... surely a send off and kick just outside the box? No play on. But minutes later Tahj ran straight into the box to the right of the posts - and yes penalty, the Roar's first of the Season at home and only 2nd overall. Miller gets the ball and walks to the spot, but what's this? Van Dijk wrestles it off him 'Do let him Frank' - he scores anyway 'Now we're stuck with him'. Then right on half time Van Dijk is through does he shoot or pass? Either way Tahj gets onto it and slides home a second.

For the first time this year - happy at half time.

Perth come out strongly. 'Come on don't bore us with this sit back stuff.' Then Miller finds space to the right and the ball comes in from the left - first time, volley 'Wow, it's in' Seemed like he hardly hit it. Then Perth hit back hard and split the Roar up 3-1. Lucky they haven't done that all night.

'Sub Van Dijk Frank'. No its Minniecon coming off. Why? At least Mitch Nichols is getting his go. And it isn't that long before he loops one over the defence and in. His first for the club. Great goal. 'Sign him Frank. Give him a contract.' Stop Miron getting him.

Wayne Srhoj takes out Zullo from behind, should have been his second card, but the ref just gives the free kick (Sydney and Newcastle will be cheezed at the leniency) - he has been doing it all night and he keeps Van Dijk out of the game.

Miller wear's Mitch's boots. I wonder if Mitch wears Millers? 4-1.

Then its all Roar. Perth have had enough.

Great game from the u19s - Minniecon, Nichols and De Vere. Great come back Moore.

Ahhh I remember the winning feeling. More of that. More of that.

Roar keeping up with A-League: Michael Branch

I doubt it.

According to Michael Branch's Wikipedia entry, this 30 year old has barely trained for the last 2 years. It is a typical story of a youngster with a lot of promise who has failed to live up to the rigors of EPL, Division 1, Division 2, and, by the look of it, non-league English football. Plus he is a winger - frankly I am happy with our wingers...

If the Roar wants to win back its fans it will need to do better. Unfortunately, it has done its money on Van Dijk.

Finding a player in the league of Fred, Petrovski, Cristaino, Travis Dodd, Fabiano, Dadi, Joel Griffiths, Archie Thompson, Matt Simon... That is to get someone of the standard that is, well standard, for other clubs. Is, for the 10 games remaining (9) ex-today, going to cost the Roar money, serious money.

Dare they?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Roar Challenge

Since the Roar announced they were acquiring a quality striker, Wellington have forked out for Fred and Adelaide look set to guest one of Japan's top strikers Urawa Reds striker Ichiro Nagai.

The challenge is there for the Roar, a club noted for both its limited spending on strikers and its poor goal scoring techniques, to match its rivals.

Dare they?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Asian Boss says no to Wellington

According to Fox Sports FC Sepp Batter's 2IC and the head of the Asian region has said that Wellington will not be welcome in the A-League post the original agreement of 2011.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Craig Moore's Roar

The great strength of the Roar is the team environment. And Craig Moore has been Frank Farina's partner in the development of this team. Both Tiatto and Miller are at the Roar to support Craig and Frank. And their focus has been to build a team for the future.

As John Lennon warned before his untimely death, life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. The prognosis for Craig is very positive. He can still plan to be part of the 2010 world cup. The early detection of his testicular cancer will ensure a quick recovery. And we wish him well.

November and its Movember campaign reminds us that for men another cancer, prostate, can be as deadly as breast cancer is for women. But men are much less tuned into its dangers and slower to react. Further, depression affects people of all ages, sexes and backgrounds. And again has considerable stigma and slow reaction times for treatment.

Craig's disclosure reminds us to foster both a optimistic approach to life and to take responsibility for our health. That is something valuable to share from his experience. Now I am off to sponsor Neil and his Moe for Movember.

CCM 3 v Adelaide 0: Strike power

Central Coast was offered a gift by FFA and they took it.

While Melbourne and the Roar have been forced into inconvenient and tiring re-schedules to support Adelaide's Asian matches, CCM caught Adelaide at their lowest ebb. While the Roar played Adelaide as a warm-up to their ACL run, CCM benefited from playing a team coming down fast.

Watching the game, it was clear that CCM have used every minute of the 3 and half years of the A-League to build a champion team. Their strike power of Simon, McMaster and Petrovski, backed up by Caceres, matches that of Melbourne. Contrast this to the Roar and Sydney who (apart from season one for Sydney) haven't been able to live up to their attacking promise.

The Roar in particular looks vulnerable. Reinaldo looks to be out for the season. Kruse for most of it. Tiatto hasn't reproduced last year's spark and make now be out injured for a number of games. Moore (our best wishes to you Craig) seems set to rush back into the team. The club admits that Miller's injury is a time bomb. Other players just have not lived up to their expectations. And half way through the season none of the young potentials have had enough game time to be realistically relied upon in numbers. Injury, bad luck and international duty have stepped in the way.

The Roar has announced it is in the market for players. At the same, time Perth and Wellington have achieved major coups with Scottish and Brazilian stars. For Wellington it is a 6 week guest appearance by no less than Fred.

For the Roar a major new recruit will need to be of the caliber of Fred to turn their home season around (only 5 games left). American MSL players are available but just who is there that would have the physicality to make a mark in the A-League?

All A-League clubs know that with North Queensland and Gold Coast entering the market local and international players will be able to pick and chose next year. For teams finishing in the bottom 4, particularly if they have regularly been doing so, tempting players will become relatively more expensive. Players, as Cristiano has done this year, will invest in ACL exposure, but only look to non ACL contenders if the money is better than the value of their skills. Next year the salary cap will, for the first time, limit the equality of the A-League. The buying power of the lesser teams will be restricted. Sydney found this out this week with the loss of Middleby, new star Santalab and other to North Queensland.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mitch and Matt

Mitch Nichols - U19 super star

My mate Mitch. This year he hasn't had a run this year for the Roar. But against the toughest team in Asia, Korea...

I was feeling quite down this morning. Clayton had told me about the Packer dive. I hadn't seen it. I had re-watched the stuff that had concerned me from the match. It's a service I provide my mates given FIFA won't allow controversial events to be replayed at games. So the Tiatto foul - looked like he just scared the guy by jumping on the ball then that thug Fabiano ran into his back after the whistle, the Murdocca pen that was but wasn't called, the Zullo pen that may not have been ... that sought of thing.I hadn't bothered with the Packer incident. At the time it just seemed that Celeski poked Packer in the eye and should have been sent off or at least booked. Then my wife told me it was a dive and she'd seen it... jez Andrew we didn't even draw, it wasn't near the goal...

But then I nice surprise, I read the paper. My mate Mitch. The most down to earth teenager you'll meet, scored both goals to qualify Australia for the U19 world cup next year. This is a team with 5 Roars in it. Against Korea who Mitch told me had beaten Australia 4-0 last year. And Mitch's late goal winner - a bicycle kick. Come on Frank you know you like those goals, let's see Mitch v Perth.

Poor old van Dijk. It isn't his fault, seems either he was over-sold by his scout, or quite a few people made a mis-calculation about how tough it is in the A-League. Even feather-weight Michael Thwait out-muscled him in the game and consoled him afterwards.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

From our Japanese Corespondent

After last night, I didn't have much left. Our our Japanese corespondent has got it spot on here:

Somehow, this wasn't the typical Suncorp match. The last game I saw there against the Jets wasn't one either. All that possession and bombing forward that the Roar does did not ruin their defensive shape. Whilst Melbourne at times looked dangerous countering, Craig had the backline organised and it felt solid.

The Melbourne goal came from two uncontested headers. The Roar's tall timber was nowhere near Danny Allsopp and no one was near Archie. The goal in the jets game? A goal mouth scramble after a corner. Adelaide's recent winner? A badly marked corner (yes Cristiano was offside, but the defending that followed was rubbish) that's three points dropped.

Mass is impressing me playing wider on the right. He wants a goal. And he is trying to make it happen. A couple of his turns were great to watch. (John: Agree absolutely this is looking like his season).

A handful of Van Dijk`s touches were fantastic. He'd be this year's Johnny Warren medalist if he could take last night's first 5 minutes, and play like that across the full 90. Hell, if he could do that for 40 I'd be happy. (John: there were two Melbourne players on him whenever he got near the box. He does great tricks and flicks, but as the guy next to me said, he has one KRA - number of goals. And from the tone of today's Courier Mail my guess is that he could be replaced.)

Danny Tiatto is a liability. going in for a two foot lunge, then jumping up wild eyed and screaming at the ref? getting hauled away by your team mates? Kevin Muscat is also a thug, but at least he isn't a mad one. Roar was lucky not to be down to 10 men (not the tackle, but for the dissent). Dodd doesn't have Tiatto's footballing brain, nor his range of passing, nor his movement off the ball, but he isn't mad. And he isn't injured. He should start. (John: Tiatto looks like he could be out for a lengthy time - the rest of the season? He seems to have lost his impact since last season. Plus he can not get away with a thing. Anyone notice Fabiano charge him after the whistle? The refs provide no protection to Tiatto. Clayton isn't the only one who thinks Tiatto's time is up and yet he is already signed for next year).

Charlie Miller is tired. He is injured. And he doesn't trust his teammates. All those long range potshots he's taking when other options are available. But then, should he trust these teammates? Robbie Slater was saying that he thought he should be on the field for about 60 minutes. Frank is mad playing him for 90. He is gonna run down the most skilled player he has. its mad. He could probably use a week off at some point too. (John: Yes this was obvious last night. It is all Charlie Miller. Which leaves the Roar with few options. However, on the injury the prognosis seems to be that the hernia will burst in its own time which means they will use him while they can. What happened to the Roar of last year? Was Marcinho better than the club thought? Or is it Ognesovski that is leaving the whole?)

Mike Zullo is ready, willing and able to play 90. He is maturing, and would give a definite lift in pace, width on the left, and he has actually scored a goal this season. He should start. Out of all the bench players, he is the most ready to step up. (John: Without Zullo the Roar look narrow and very easy to defend against. Again in the Courier Mail Frank indicated that some U19s would be straight in - I would think Tahj Minniecon).

With enough seasoning this year, could Smits turn around and do a Matt Simon the next? HGe stays around the goal mouth. great tendency for a centre forward. and he won a couple of 50 - 50s with Kevin Muscat. Needs a bit more sharpness. And a lot more confidence. And the roar would have its centre forward. (John: And another 10 kilos in the gym. The Roar needs a Nay Fab or Cristiano. Our front line looks soft).

I didn't feel disappointed with the loss. My gut wasn't enraged. The Roar's attack all felt a bit toothless and aimless in the end. I couldn't argue to a Melbourne fan (if there was one over here in shingu) that my team should have won. (John: The future of the A-League requires winning teams in big population centres. The lack of interest in Adelaide's success demonstrates how important this is).

Umm, the penalty shouts? I thought Mass`s fall could have been one (but the challenge seemed fair enough for me), and Zullo fell over by himself. (John: My reflection last night was from the sentiment of the crowd. The FFA can not expect home crowds to keep showing up to have 50-50s go against them. The refing just looked one sided - look at the yellow card count (2-0)).

God, I ALMOST forgot the blackest mark on the Roar's performance. Packer's attempt to get Celeski carded. Going down in a heap clutching his face after Celeski's trailing arm went near him but DID NOT touch him? I`d love to see guys banned for this. If a handball can get some extra time out, this kind of simulation can cop it too. Got me wondering, was Cornthwaite lying when he went to the ref and said that Ney Fabiano spat at him? the video was inconclusive for me. They can ban Danny too for his two foot lunge, or for dissent, or anything really. Saves him coming off with a red card and leaving the team a man down. He is a red card waiting to happen. which is a pity, cos there is a good footballer in there too. (John: On the Packer incident given that that ref gave a free kick, it should be assumed that he thought it was intentional. Therefore it must be a yellow card or a red. Yet after the kick was taken the ref ran passed Celeski and touched his arm - which made the crowd very suspicious. If he though it was unintentional - why give a free kick? If he thought Packer dived, he should have been carded).

Dunno how many weetbix Lawrie McKinna is feeding them down at CC, but Frank should send a spy down there to find out how they are getting so much self belief. I've got a bad feeling that it comes from the top down. Frank is feeling the pressure, and it shows on his team. (John: The squad looks very thin now. Given that Van Dijk has been a failure, Miller is injured, Reinaldo is injured, Tiatto is injured, Kruse is injured and getting into trouble, it isn't clear where the solution is coming from, although football is about people standing up without notice). The CCM is all Matt Simon, who can work off Sasha Petrovski. You would have though after 4 years the Roar would have got their player acquisition right. But then some of their youngsters have not paid off - Grossman, Kruse, Griffiths. The answer is you need strong youths who will be forgiven indiscretions. I think other clubs looked the international schedule and decided against investment in players that may get there, particularly for youth. Hence Roar got 5).

Bring on Ballymore. 10 - 15 k at bally will feel much more like a home. Suncorp with 12 k feels empty. good noise from the crowd though. I figure go to Bally, and then go back to Suncorp when you are turning people away week after week. When i see j-league crowds, this is what I want for the a-league and the roar. Not the numbers, but the passion of the fans. especially the lower half of the table teams. Crazy bastards get smacked 3 - 0 by an Urawa or some other big club, and they are singing and stomping the whole way through, then they give their players a clap off. We DO NOT want the kind of fan who jumped on the basketball bandwagon, but then jumped off after a couple of good seasons. Build the love a-league, build the love ...

(John: The trouble with Bally is that the crowd could be 5,000. Public transport is very difficult there and currently the whole crowd uses buses and trains. In the pre-season I thought about going to Perry Park till I looked at the transport - an hour each way. Ballymore would be seen as a backward step and could encourage long suffering Roar fans to switch over to Gold Coast which is on the trainline).


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Roar 0 v Melbourne 1

12,000 sat through the pouring rain to see, in their eyes, referee Peter O'Leary wave 'play on' to two penalties. Before Melbourne scored the winner.

These people knew that all Cristiano, leading goalscorer in the A-League's Asian topping team, did to win a penalty last week was dive. Perhaps the two must authentic players in the A-League go down in the box - Murdocca and Zullo and its 'play on'.

The FFA has a credibility problem. The answer is get into the box as often as you can and go down.

Cheats have a green light.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Sydney 1 v Wellington 2: Don't blame it sunshine, moonlight, Kozzie

Neither coach is prepared to commit their x factor players, Aloisi or Daniel, to a full game. Aloisi did get a run late in the game but seemed easy t push off the ball. Given Wellington's control of the game, it is hard to believe that this is Sydney's first loss at home this season.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Osaka 3 v Adelaide 0: Lots of positives

The key numbers are:

Osaka Gross Revenues - $50 million AUD
Adelaide Gross Revenues - $7 million AUD


and then:

Australian Rules Football team typical Gross Revenue = $40 million AUD

So, if the Australian public want internationally competitive A-League teams it can be done. Transfer support and potential talent from AFL to the A-League.

New teams at Gold Coast and North Queensland are steps in this process. It is hard to see the Gold Coast sustaining an AFL team as well. And now that Clive Palmer has backed football, it would seem unwise for a millionaire to back another code, particularly now. And Jade North's move at the end of the season from Newcastle to North Queensland is another great step. I understand that part of his commitment is the development o local indigenous talent. A long overlooked step which the AFL has plied for a generation.

And of the game: some of the commentating was disappointing. Ross Aloisi was quick to point out and shake his head at the errors of his former team. Yet for much of the game they held their own. And for other A-League teams they would have learnt a troubling amount. Particularly about the short passing game and playing in tight positions. You could see them learning.

I suspect if they had played at Hindmarsh first the result and the pressure may have been different. But Osaka would have seen the tapes. They would have known how Adelaide play. And I suspect they would still have outplayed them. Less players, probably because of the language and cultural barrier, the work permit barrier (few English or other European relatives up there) and reputation barrier, leek out from the J-League. And the commitment from fans, players (no cricket, rugby codes or AFL to tempt them) and coaches (to technical excellence) and the age of the competition, gave Osaka a huge head start. Their coach acted and re-acted - stretching the defensive fortress to braking. Vidmar hasn't been used to that, even in the ACL.

While the second leg is still next week and anything is possible, what next for Adelaide? Well I think the end of the season will see dramatic changes in their line-up. I think Travis Dodd, despite his lack of fitness will be snapped up somewhere is Asia. So will Vidmar and all he wants to take of his coaching team. He may well get to pick who goes with him, particularly if he ends up in the Japanese 2nd division. Foreign teams will pick through the squad. I think Cassio will be rewarded with a major contract somewhere - I thought he was a stand out in the second half last night and people will notice that. Cristiano will go, against a high quality ref and defence he was disappointing, but he is a man in hurry and will not show loyalty to fans, club, just like he doesn't to the A-League now. Other A-League leaguers will work their way through the best of the rest, particularly goalkeeper Galekovic. Of course if they qualify for Asia again this year, some may be tempted to stay for another shot (Melbourne Victory if their keeper goes overseas?).

Whichever team qualifies for the next ACL expect the next big thing to come knocking on their door.

Meanwhile, Zora has packed his bags and left Newcastle. he was only a goal scorer in 2nd division and we are better than that. And Lei Lei Gao seems to have mentally done the same for Wellington. The later will further discourage A-League teams from considering Asian players for their squads.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hamish at My favourite Shop (Archives Fine Books)

' ... I'm looking for passion, truth and a window to the infinite. Literally anything can be a window to the infinite of course, but soccer is my preferred path just now... a good sequence of passes which befuddles a defence, a sharp and timely throughball or a clever, witty goal can always lift my heart.... ' Hamish 2008
My interview with Hamish from Football Down Under and Beyond and Archives Fine Books

Hi Hamish, how have you been?

Hamish: Busy, but pretty good I guess.

John: I have seen you leave a few comments around cyberspace, but few blogs if you include that hen joke.

Hamish: Indeed. Truth is I'm not just getting as much time to watch soccer, let alone write about it. I'm sure I'll write bits and pieces occasionally, and I follow the football media, including the blogscape, pretty regularly.

John: You now own Brisbane's best 2nd hand bookshop. A big change for you?

Hamish: Yes is the short answer. It's what's made me much busier than I was of course. I never thought I'd be a businessman, and if it wasn't books I guess I never would have been. It's a lifestyle change, even a spiritual change. Owning and being responsible for your own economy, with debts to pay of course, is a huge responsibility. Maybe a snappy description of the change is that working to live has changed to living to work. The distinction between living and working is no longer very helpful actually.

John: Is it going to feature football?

Hamish: It's a huge shop with sections on just about everything, including sport of course, and there is a soccer section (there is no alternative to the word 'soccer' in this context incidentally, as if I called it a 'football section' it would be poor communication as people wouldn't immediately know what I meant). I'm very proud of my personal soccer library which keeps expanding, and I think sometimes I could just put the whole thing in the shop (as I have with other parts of my private library) but I'm very reluctant to say goodbye to them. I got a lot of them from this shop after all (which is reflected in the smallness of the section left). The tension doesn't disappear if I just consider buying new stock for the shop, as I'll just want to buy the books myself, which isn't necessarilly good business.

I know I haven't answered your question. Of course I want to have a good and growing section on soccer, but the shop will not 'feature' it as such, as it would sort of be contrary to the spirit of the shop, which is to be very broad and cater for pretty much anyone. Difficult as it is for me, for example, we also stock books on baseball and American football, which I frankly see as pretty silly games. Not to mention cricket, which is a huge section.

John: What is your favourite football book and why?

Hamish: There's a few. For pop-fan literature, which is probably my favourite genre, Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch is heaps of fun, as is Tim Parks' A Season With Verona. An American book, Soccerhead is a great read as well, from the point of view of a genuinely new soccer not-even-fan, who ends up coaching his lads team and becoming fanatical. It might have rung a bell. Biographies? Probably Johnnie Warren's book. Mia Hamm's biog/memoir/soccer self-help book is right up there too - can't remember the title. I like collecting everything from coaching and refereeing books, fiction, childrens, history, books on hooliganism and even books on football injuries, but the ones I enjoy most are biographies and fan's books. In a good soccer book, like in any good book, I'm looking for passion, truth and a window to the infinite. Literally anything can be a window to the infinite of course, but soccer is my preferred path just now.

John: Actually Hamish you have quite a background. One of Brisbane's first bloggers?

Hamish: That's not a claim I'd make, but perhaps it's true. Maybe in the first few hundred or something. My sister Margo Kingston is credited with being a real pioneer in blogging.

John: You introduced me to the concept of getting joy from watching football. Do you still get joy?

Hamish: Whenever and wherever I can. It is a struggle to get joy, as you know, when you percieve all sorts of wrongness in the institutions of the game, but yep, a good sequence of passes which befuddles a defence, a sharp and timely throughball or a clever, witty goal can always lift my heart. Form and function in motion. Poetry even. Love it. I get more consistent joy probably from playing myself or watching my son play. Watching the lad pop a goal or do some really clever play? You know it yourself mate - that is joy.

John: How much A-League do you watch?

Hamish: Honestly this season I've been to one live match and watched one other at the pub (Jacob and I generally go to Richlands for this). I'm often working when the game's on.

John: You seemed pretty cheesed off with Frank's latest fine?

Hamish: It's appalling that there is such little transparency and then officials are institutionally protected from criticism, even when it's a) pointing out something that is bleeding obvious, and b) pretty light really. I have no evidence that the A-League is corrupt, but my point is that it might as well be, as noone would know or be able to find out, and with billionares and high stakes running around it inevitably WILL be corrupt. As a long-term student of history and politics, there is no maybe about this in my opinion. Corruption is 100% inevitable in the A-League if the current institutional arrangement continues. Here's a question for you... Do you think the A-League could even survive a match-fixing scandal?

Note from John: Readers are encouraged to comment on Hamish's question.

John: I see it as a lack of professionalism. The ref standard just isn't up to the job, keeping up with the pace. Look at Perth, their coach's job is on the line and Adelaide beat them 2-1, yet the replays showed that Adelaide's first goal was offside and the second was an out of the box tackle and not a penalty. Former Socceroo and sports journalist Robbie Slater said that the FFA risks creating a boring league by fining people that complain, and the fans actually come to see controversy - particularly if their team loses. Do you agree?

Hamish: Yes. It's another point but yes, I do agree. Controversy and the banter between coaches is fun, and most certainly part of the entertainment and indeed news-worthiness of the ongoing game. I guess fining coaches for speaking their minds is contoversial and newsworthy too, but it makes the game look stupid and anti-liberal. This final point is not small either in my view. Sepp Blatter makes lots of noise about how football can help the world move to a better place. Well, if that doesn't include the basic liberties of social democracy then I'm very skeptical.

John: Last week the FFA banned the Eureka flag and a few hours later rescinded and said it was Ok. Mixed messages?

Hamish: See last question. Freedom of speech is our most valuable liberty. That sort of shit doesn't help our game or our world. I was just glad they saw sense but you're right - it was too late for them to not look like tools anyway.

John: What do you think of the Roar squad now? Your favourite players?

Hamish: Well I'm a little behind of course. Moore is outstanding every time I see him play. Yeah, Moore I guess. I don't really feel qualified to say what I think overall. Last season I loved, for different reasons, Matty, Tiatto and Seo, as well as Reinaldo, Zullo and Kruse. But from reading various commentaries on these guys' games, I think I need to watch some games to reassess my opinion.

John: Still can't win at home?

Hamish: Simple. I have to start going to games and wear a franjipani behind my ear. I had a high success rate with that technique last season. QLD Roar should sponsor me to do so.

John: Your prognosis for the A-League?

Hamish: Honestly I'm worried for the medium term. Being dependent on FOX, which is now the main bottleneck of any increasing of the fan-base, is a dangerous risk. Having the superficial appearance of corruption also doesn't help. Adding to what is discussed above, Frank Lowy being an owner of Sydney FC is as good as satire. Clearly the A-League needs to keep growing its fan base, and these things just don't help. I'm guessing that THOUSANDS of people were either put off by Farina's fine for speaking the truth, or merely had their disinterest in soccer reinforced. I mean it - thousands I reckon. Great timing guys.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Jets 1 v Roar 2: Squadran say: whowa whoo whoa

Both teams had 9 shots in the first half. But Newcastle only got one on target which was Joel's 7th goal in a row against the Roar. But it was way to early. Within a minute Van Dijk, near the left corner, had squared for Murdocca, who centred for McKay. And McKay cleverly stabbed the ball along the ground and straight ahead to have Covic go the wrong way. I even think it was on McKay's right foot, which would be his wrong foot. The left was happy hunting for the Roar as around 15 minutes later Murdocca chipped in for Smits to on head to Charlie Miller who had quietly slipped in behind the Newcastle defence on the right.

Just about all the action was in the first half. Murdocca was man of the match. He is leading the Courier Mail points table. And today he was both playmaker and prospective striker, drawing saves and hitting the inside of the right post. Charlie Miller popped up now and again and landed great passes, in the second half he ghosted in a few more time but his team mates where unable to provide him with quality passes. He came off in the 50s with his hernia playing up. He had done his job (could be a challenge in the heat against Melbourne next week).

Van Dijk had his best first half so far. Held off defenders and landed some great passes. He had a point blank header - straight at keeper Covic. He was quieter in the second half as the Roar sat back. He did win some great challenges. And had his best turn and shoot so far, but Covic was - again - on the ball.

Reddy had a busy game. And showed, despite the start to the season - which were not altogether his fault (against CCM at home 2-4) - he is capable of being a great keeper. He had one great touch over the bar from - I think - Joel Griffiths' head. Reddy played with his old support base the squadran - taking out Joel Griffiths in the first half and charging them in the second.

Adam Sarota got his first start. 10 minutes, chased some attackers, but no ball to see what he can do.

The Roar are now a point clear of CCM in 4th spot. If they were winning at home they would be 1st. If they can beat Melbourne next week, they will be a point ahead of the current leader. Whoo Whooo Whoo. That will be worth watching.

Sydney 3 v CCM 3: It is the Matt Simon show

Full marks to all for an attacking and entertaining game.

It was Matt Simon that dominated. He is, after only a year and half at the top level, the best striker in the A-League. His temperament is Kevin Muscat in attack. Score get that ball and get on with it.

I wonder how long CCM have this guy tied up for? In a year or two, if he is still here - and he is on Pim's radar, he will be the highest paid player in the A-League.

Sydney score 3 times against the run of play - some crackers too. Simon score two for CCM and Nic Mjra, back again, shows why he was once considered the A-League's best prospect.

Oh and Sasha Petrovski got a yellow for diving - but it was no-where near the box. Vidmar take note.