Friday, January 31, 2020

Oppressive conditions for the 2020 season opener tonight

Photo:  James Sherman (left) and Andrew Brown at today's media conference, which was not attended by the two TV channels, who are normally there [PlessPix]

The 2020 Summer Cup for NPL sides kicks off in oppressive heat and smoke at KGV Park at 8.30 this evening when Olympia Warriors take on Glenorchy Knights.

The hot conditions have forced the postponement of the 6.15pm curtain-raiser between the two clubs’ reserve sides.

Last season, the opening round of the NPL Tasmania competition was postponed on the Saturday, when three games were scheduled, because of a similar heat-wave.

The opening game between Olympia Warriors and South Hobart went ahead on the Friday night because conditions were not as bad as predicted for the following day.

I am wondering if both tonight’s matches should have been postponed as the added factor of smoke makes it somewhat dangerous for the players.  Heat is bad enough, especially on an artificial pitch, which radiates heat more than a grass surface, but smoke adds another dimension to the scenario.

The match will be refereed by former English Premier League official Bobby Madley, who is Hobart to address tomorrow’s referees’ conference at the University of Tasmania.

Photo:  Former English Premier League referee Bobby Madley will take charge of tonight's game [PlessPix]

Olympia have a new coach in Andrew Brown and plenty of new players this season.

They have recruited Callum and Declan Brown from the Knights, as well as Loic Feral, Adam Gorrie and Ben Hamlett from South Hobart, Elliot Hoysted from University, and Joseph Juma, Joseph Mwarabu and Jackson Khalif from Hobart United, the club new coach Brown coached to the Southern Championship title last season.

Olympia today also announced the signing of a new Japanese import, Kazuma Kobayashi, who has been playing in Queensland.

The Brown twins will not feature this evening as they are overseas.

Knights have also recruited well, signing Oscar Thomas, Jack Bowman and Alex Walter from South Hobart, Jordan Muller from Clarence Zebras, and Sam Leszczynski from New Town Eagles.

Andrew Brown said he would field the ‘best available team’ that he has.  Olympia have not played any pre-season friendlies so tonight’s game is effectively their first hit-out.

The Summer Cup used to be a serious competition but is now more like a pre-season series of friendlies.

Brown said he had over 30 players in his NPL and Championship squads and he would look to field the best 16 in his NPL squad.

Photo:  Olympia coach Andrew Brown said he understood if players who cannot get a game move on [PlessPix]

Knights coach James Sherman said he was pleased with his club’s pre-season so far.

“Hopefully, tonight we’ll have some decent football by two sides in very trying conditions,” Sherman said.

He said the bar would be open and a former EPL referee would be in charge of the match and so there was an incentive for fans to attend.

Photo:  Glenorchy Knights coach James Sherman said he had no doubts that tonight's game should go ahead [PlessPix]

Sherman said his club had played only intra-club matches so far and no pre-season friendlies against other clubs.

Former EPL referee Bobby Madley said he was looking forward to handling tonight’s game.  He is currently refereeing in Norway.

He said he regarded every game as important and handling a game at KGV Park was no different to handling a game at Wembley, once the game started.

“Every game for a referee is the same once the game starts,” Madley said.

“It doesn’t matter whether there’s 90 people there or 90,000 people there.

“I know that’s quite hard for people to believe or understand, but if you’re doing your job properly as a referee you’re concentrating on the 22 players irrespective of what colours they’re wearing.

“My job is to try and get every decision correct.

“It’s always nice to referee in a big stadium, but if you’re thinking about that during the 90 minutes, for me, you’re in the wrong place.

“I would prepare for this [tonight’s game] just as much as I would prepare for any game.”

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Eagles come home to roost

Photo:  The new badge for the New Town White Eagles Soccer Club

Southern Championship club New Town Eagles today decided to rename the club New Town White Eagles Soccer Club.

The change was made at the club’s AGM for 2019, which was held today.

The club will also adopt a new badge in line with the name change.

Photo:  The original badge of the new White Eagle Soccer Club in 1961

The club was formed in 1961 by Polish migrants as the White Eagle Sports Club and football was only just one sport that was played under its auspices.

Volleyball, basketball and table-tennis were other sports under the umbrella of the White Eagle Sports Club.

That was in line with the European tradition of a club having teams in a number of sports.

Barcelona and Real Madrid, for example, also have basketball and other sports teams in addition to their world-famous football teams.

In 1997, White Eagle, together with dozens of other clubs in Australia, were forced by the Australian national governing body to remove all ethnic connotations in their names.

Photo:  The New Town Eagles badge after the enforced name change in 1997

White Eagle thus became New Town Eagles.

Football Federation Australia recently allowed clubs to  switch back to their former names and emblems and the white eagle of Poland is prominent in the new badge.

New Town White Eagles Soccer Club president, Grant Nutting, said:  “The aim of the name change and alternate emblem is to pay respect to the founding White Eagle Sports Club and former New Town Eagles Soccer Club, whilst providing a design that is modern and representative of the club’s promising future in preparation for our 60th anniversary in 2021.

“The feedback we received from past and current players and officials was extremely positive and we couldn’t be more delighted with the final result.

“There was a significant amount of work involved prior to the transition and it will be some time before we fully implement the changes.

“The club would also like to take this opportunity to thank Domin8 Designs for their assistance in bringing this emblem to life.

“The club would like to thank everyone for their input and we are excited for what the future holds.”

Two works in progess on view today

Photo:  Riley Dillon (extreme right) scores Clarence Zebras' second goal against South Hobart today [PlessPix]

South Hobart beat Clarence Zebras 4-2 in a pre-season friendly at Cornelian Bay this morning.

It was South Hobart’s second win in two pre-season friendlies.  They beat Kingborough Lions United 2-1 last weekend.

Some people are saying South Hobart are in trouble because they have lost as many as eight players from last season’s team, but on the evidence of these two friendlies, they are far from finished.

They have a very young team, but coach Ken Morton is sure to get the best out of them.  And, they may well pick up a few players once disgruntled personnel from other clubs start looking for a place to play.

One can only field 11 players at a time and squads tend to be composed of 15 or 16 players, so if a coach has 20 at his disposal, some players are going to be discontented.

It happens at the highest professional levels and it happens in leagues such as our own Tasmanian NPL.

Veteran Mark Moncur played in goal for South Hobart today, but the word is that an import is on the way.

Photo:  Clarence Zebras' Brad Jones tackles South Hobart's Tobias Herweynen [PlessPix]

Clarence Zebras had new signing Nick O’Connell in goal.  The youngster, who was previously with Kingborough Lions United, had last year out after knee surgery.

The only players I recognised in the Clarence Zebras squad apart from O’Connell were Chase Clark, Riley Dillon, Lachie Burt, Jayden Hey, Cody Snell, Adam McKeown, Josh Jones, Brad Jones, Sam Jones and Alex Smith.

South Hobart had Kobe Kemp, Bradley Lakoseljac, Sam Berezansky, Mark Moncur, Samson Juju and a whole heap of youngsters on view.

Photo:  Nick O'Connell in goal for Clarence Zebras today [PlessPix]

“It’s a run-out and we wanted to have a look at 17 or 18 players trying to play an hour of football,” South Hobart coach, Ken Morton, said.

“We also wanted to have a look at the structures because I think we have to change that with so many young players in this year.

“So, there’s a lot to work on.

“The only good thing about it is that we have time.

“I mean, the season doesn’t start until March 21, so really everything we do until then is about preparing the team that can compete at NPL level.

“Physically, I think we’ll cope all right. Kasper Hallam and Sam Berezansky had good experience last year and Bradley Lakoseljac is a little bit older and stronger.

“It’ll take time, but I thought there were good moments today, but obviously, there were some sloppy moments, too.

“There’s a lot of work ahead of us.”

Photo:  Clarence Zebras' Lachie Burt (left) tries to elude South Hobart's Tobias Herweynen [PlessPix]

Morton said one cannot read too much into such friendlies because coaches are continually making changes to give everyone a run.

He said South Hobart will play against Victorian visitors Pascoe Vale next weekend and then, on 15 February, South Hobart will travel to Melbourne for a return match and that is when he will field his best eleven and the team that will play in the NPL.

Photo:  Ken Morton (right) deep in thought [PlessPix]

“That’s when we’ll start to gauge where we’re at,” Morton said.

“We had good moments today, but not enough of them.

“They’re having difficulty in finding the confidence to play the ball forward and in between lines, especially here [Cornelian Bay] where the ground is a bit tight.

“Overall, I’m very pleased with the effort and commitment from them.”

Photo:  Nick Morton (seated second from right) on the South Hobart bench.  The big question is whether he will play this season after breaking his leg late last season. [PlessPix]

Clarence Zebras were missing several established Zebras players from last season and they had four overseas players on view.  These guys are not imports but are backpackers looking for a club and a game.

Clarence Zebras coach David Smith knows there is a lot of work to be done to bring the club up to speed since the merger between Clarence United and Hobart Zebras.

Photo:  David Smith (seated) pondering [PlessPix]

“We’re probably where we thought we’d be,” said Smith.

“We were missing six or seven today and brought in four triallists and there were a lot of young kids we wanted to have a look at, so we’ll go from there.

“I wasn’t that disappointed because I kind of knew where we’d be and it was out first hit-out.

“What did I learn?  That we’re probably going to have to be a lot more aggressive, but that’s probably because of the players we had in there today more than anything else.

“When I start to bring in the Paces [Matthew Pace], Huigies [Luke Huigsloot] and Walshies [Dwayne Walsh] and a couple more guys like that, we’ll see.

“We know where we stand and we need to rebuild so we’ll just do that”.

Photo:  A back-packer triallist named Florian wins a header for Clarence Zebras against South Hobart [PlessPix]