Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The 1981 Tasmanian State-of-Origin team and other musings

Photos (Top to Bottom): The 1981 Tasmanian State-of-Origin team, with Steve Darby at extreme left in the back row [Photo taken in Melbourne and courtesy of Les Shorrock]; Peter Sherman (left) and Larry Nunn [Photo courtesy of Ralph Dymond]; Peter Sawdon; Chris Hey (left) shakes hands with the captain of the AIS, with referee Jack Johnston partially obscured at right; Rothmans Gold Medal winners (L-R) Danny Spendiff, Brian Davidson, Larry Nunn, Liam Monagle, John Kirkpatrick, Brian McKay [PlessPix]; Ian Parker in action at South Hobart for Caledonians [Photo courtesy of Ralph Dymond]; Ian Parker (left) and Eric Young; Bruce Ward [PlessPix]

The Easter break gave me a chance to delve into the archives and I came up with a page from The Tasmanian Mail of 28 July 1981 and an article I had written about Tasmania’s ‘State-of-Origin’ team.

I was also writing for “Soccer Action” in Melbourne at the time, and also coaching Metro.

Steve Darby was the Tasmanian coach and the team had just had two wins from two outings.

They beat a Victorian Youth XI 2-0 in Melbourne and a ‘Rest of the World’ side 1-0 at KGV Park.

Darby was an excellent coach and was on the look-out for opponents for Tasmania.

Darby was the Tasmanian director of coaching at the time, but was keen to coach the State side as he did not want to be merely a ‘theoretical coach’.

He had coached Devonport City the previous year in the State League.

Tasmania had not had a State team for five years until then, so the results were newsworthy.

Proposed games against the Australian Institute of Sport and Queensland had been called off because of financial constraints.

Victoria had not responded to a challenge issued to them.

Darby outlined three reasons for the establishment of a Tasmanian ‘State-of-Origin’ team.

Firstly, he felt there was a need for Tasmania’s senior players to have a further professional aim beyond just playing for their clubs, and that was to play for the State.

Secondly, he was keen to give the youngsters of the time a target, namely to play for the ‘State-of-Origin’ team.

Thirdly, he felt it was important for Tasmania to play against top-ranking opponents so that they could see where they stood relative to Philips League (the national league at the time) players. This would also enable Tasmanian coaches, administrators and fans to gauge the standard of our football and its progress.

Remember, this was the time when Tasmanian football had a host of top-quality European imports, so the pressure to have a Tasmanian State team made up of the best available players was intense.

Some of the imports were Brian Davidson (New Zealand), a two-time Rothmans Gold Medal winner, Ian Parker (UK), Liam Monagle (Ireland), Bruce Ward (UK), Peter Sawdon (UK), Ken Worden (UK), John Charlton (UK), Kevin Swinscoe (UK), Nick Cook (UK), Peter Willis (UK), Eric Young (UK), Peter Brine (UK) and Peter Davidson (New Zealand).

Darby stuck to his guns and insisted on the formation of a ‘State-of-Origin’ Tasmanian team comprised of locally born players, or those who had been here since the age of ten.

The squad he chose was: Goalkeeper - Steve Kannegiesser (Rapid-Wrest Point); Defenders - Steve Kannegiesser (Rapid-Wrest Point), Chester Willcock (Rapid-Wrest Point), Conrad Hughes (George Town), Larry Nunn (Rapid-Wrest Point), Darby Conlan (Launceston Juventus), Chris Hey (Brighton-ICL), Alastair Payne (Croatia-Glenorchy), Leon Darko (Juventus-Pioneer); Midfielders - Willy Peters (Brighton-ICL), Mossie O’Sullivan (George Town), Chris Gleeson (Devonport), Angelo Ambrosino (Australian Institute of Sport), Luciano Fabrizio (Juventus-Pioneer), Darren Bacon (Juventus-Pioneer); Forwards - Mark Oakes (Rapid-Wrest Point), Andy Scheibl (George Town), Neil Thomas (Croatia-Glenorchy). The manager was Brian McKay, a star of Olympia and Brighton-ICL and a former Rothmans Gold medal winner.

A State League was in operation at the time and I can remember the last day of the 1981 season. Brighton-ICL were playing Launceston Juventus at South Hobart and the winner would be the league champion.

It was the first and last time I saw a queue at the turnstile to the South Hobart ground stretching down to Macquarie Street as the match kicked off.

Brighton-ICL (formerly Caledonians) won 2-1 and became the State League champions. The State League then folded and it was back to the two regional leagues in 1982.

In 1981, Rapid, Croatia Glenorchy and Juventus Pioneeer were eying the Philips League and had hopes of being admitted.

Rapid had won the 1980 title, but by 1981 some of their best players, namely Phil Kannegiesser, Peter Willis, Ray Mohring and David Smith, had followed their coach, Ken Morton, to the new National League club, Wollongong City.

White Eagles had been relegated from the State League in 1980. Their squad included goalkeeper John Michniewski, a Polish import who had come here via the American National Soccer League, Frank Letec, Peter Sherman, George Krambousanos, Nick Cook, Mark Leszczynski, Ken Worden, and Iraqi import Nuri Aziz.

Worden would go on to become national coach of Malaysia and Singapore.

1981 was the year when Tasmania had its first FIFA referee and national league referee, Jack Johnston, who went on to officiate at the 1983 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Mexico.

He later became Tasmania's commissioner of police.

1981 was also the year Darby, Wolfgang Stuetzel, coach of Ulverstone and a Rothmans Gold Medal winner, and I attended the International Coaches’ Convention in Sydney as Tasmania’s representatives. The convention coincided with the FIFA Under-20 World Cup.

We were at the final at the SCG, where West Germany beat Qatar 4-0 in heavy rain.

We stayed at the same hotel as the West German and Qatar teams and regularly attended their training sessions.

Some of the notable speakers at the conference were former England manager, Sir Walter Winterbottom, and the Brazilian coach, Evaristo, who was a star with Barcelona and Real Madrid and was coach of Qatar’s under-20s.

Evaristo won 14 caps for Brazil and scored 8 goals.

One of the images I retain of that time was the look on the faces of the Qatar players on the morning of the final as they came to breakfast. It was one of dejection. It was teeming with rain and they had rarely, if ever, seen such weather conditions. They were beaten before they took the field.


Beardy79 said...

Not sure why there are no comments on this blog as yet, but let me be the first to say to Walter - great read, well done.

Anonymous said...

Maybe because many of the drop-kicks on this blog were not even around then.Many of them ,I would guess, based on some of the comments and trash that is written here,were but a twinkle in their fathers' eye back then .Many of the players listed by Walter could compete in today's game with their eyes shut.

Jean-Pierre Raymond said...

Walter, you never cease to amaze me. brought back fond memories of when our game was great.
Alas, i doubt if we will ever see those passoniate crowds and brilliant players again in Tasmania.
more reminiscing please!!!

Richard Bennett said...

Thanks again Walter for this history. It is before my time in tassie and it is fantastic to hear about some past highlights in tassie football.

athlete nutrition said...

Their team is one of the most fantastic team I have ever seen.