Saturday, October 2, 2010

Les Murray in Hobart

Photos (Top to Bottom): Les Murray in Hobart this morning; Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett with Les Murray last night at South Hobart's 100th anniversary dinner [PlessPix]

The face of Australian football, Les Murray, of the SBS TV network, was in Hobart on Friday and Saturday to be the guest speaker at South Hobart’s 100th anniversary dinner on Friday night.

I caught up with Les on Saturday morning just before he left for Sydney and interviewed him.

Walter Pless: Les, What brought you to Hobart for your first visit to Tasmania?

Les Murray: The 100th anniversary of South Hobart Football Club, which is a fantastic occasion. One hundred years is almost unimaginable, how long it’s been around, and what it must have been like here when the club was founded in 1910. I was invited to speak at the anniversary function, which was terrific.

WP: Was it a good night?

LM: A beautiful night. Yeah, lots of real football people there, who I love to mingle with. You know, the top end, the so-called top end of the game, is not like that these days. You go to an A-League function or a Socceroos-related function, then you get 70 or 80 per cent of people there who are not football people. They come for the ride, basically, so I love to go to functions like this South Hobart one because everybody in the room is a genuine football person.

WP: What are your impressions of the A-League at present?

LM: The technical standard is very high. It’s the highest it’s ever been. When it first started off, I wasn’t very happy with the technical standard. I thought it was inferior to the old NSL. It was too much brawn and muscle and getting stuck in and not enough real football. And, now, over the years, partly due to the influence of the Dutch technical director, and other influences such as media pressure, the teams have started to play football. Nobody just lumps the ball forward any more. Everybody tries to play out from the back. They try to play with a bit of intelligence and movement, so it’s very good to watch now. Commercially, it’s got problems because they’ve made mistakes by not embracing their own communities, and the communities don’t have a sense of ownership of the clubs, and they have to fix that and fix it pretty quickly.

WP: In terms of the World Cup, do you think Australia has reached the stage where we’ll be almost automatic qualifiers every four years?

LM: Well, it’s never automatic, but we certainly have a realistic run these days. The qualifying path is such that we can expect to qualify every time because we are one of the elite nations in the Asian Confederation and, so, if they have four teams, or four-and-a-half teams, in the process, then we should be one of those.

WP: How do you rate Holger Osieck’s start as Socceroos coach?

LM: Well, I described him the other day in a blog as being a pro-active coach rather than a reactive one, which his predecessor was. Pim Verbeek was always reacting to what the opponent was on the day, whereas Holger, from what we’ve seen in the game against Switzerland and the game against Poland, likes to impose the game on the opposition, likes to take the game to the opposition, and likes to dictate play, and that’s very good for the Australian mentality.

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