Sunday, May 31, 2020

Three fly-in players from Sydney in 1983 were well worth the investment

Photo:  Story in Soccer Action of 11 May 1983 about Ulverstone's three fly-in players from Sydney.

There were a few raised eyebrows when Hobart Zebras decided to fly striker Mathew Sanders in from Melbourne each weekend for games.

It was a good investment in terms of goals, but the move didn’t result in Zebras winning a title.

This was not the first time that a Tasmanian club had utilised fly-in players from interstate.

In 1983, Ulverstone signed three players from Sydney on the recommendation of their coach, Otto Klaus, who had seen the players in action in Sydney.

Badih Hammoud (25), Jim Meerbani (21) and Peter Hassan (20) played only a handful of games for Ulverstone.

When Ulverstone played Croatia Glenorchy in a State-wide Cup match, the three Lebanese players from Sydney caught the eye immediately.

Hammoud had played for German club St Pauli in Hamburg and was all class.

All three were a cut above most Tasmanian players and against Croatia they were brilliant.

Hassan rattled the crossbar with a 35-metre thunderbolt and later scored, while Meerbani mesmerised the opponents with his dribbling and set up Ulverstone’s Irish star Liam Monagle for a goal.

In short, the three fly-ins were brilliant and it was not long before Croatia put the feelers out for them.

Photo:  The three fly-ins from Sydney made their debuts for Croatia against Olympia, as reported in Soccer Action of 18 May 1983.

Within weeks, all three had signed for Croatia and they flew down each weekend for games.

They made their debuts against Olympia and stamped their authority on the game, which Croatia won 4-3.

The teams were level at 1-1 at half-time after Bill Kirkpatrick had given Croatia the lead and Perry Forster had equalised on the stroke of half-time.

The second half saw the three Sydney imports take over and dominate.

Hammoud and Hassan netted to give Croatia a 3-1 lead, while Hammoud set up Mark Oakes for an excellent goal near the end to make it 4-1 from Croatia.

A penalty by Peter Sherman and a lobbed goal by Forster made for a nail-biting finish, but the Lebanese Aussie imports had been a revelation and confirmed Croatia’s faith in them and ensured that their signings had been a good investment.

All three players were technically excellent and showed local players how football should be played.

Those were the days.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Vale Kerry Ernest Dennis (8.07.1944 - 24.05.2020)

Photo:  The late Kerry Dennis, a prominent figure in Tasmanian football [Photo courtesy of Michael Hancox]

The death occurred in Hobart this week of Kerry Ernest Dennis, one of the movers and shakers of football in northern Tasmania for over 50 years.

Kerry had not enjoyed the best of health in recent years but remained involved in the game and was as passionate about it as ever.

He passed away at the Royal Hobart Hospital last Sunday, aged 75.

Kerry had a tenure as president of the Northern Tasmanian Soccer Association and, before that, was practically involved in the game as a goalkeeper, a coach and a trainer.

He coached high school teams and representative teams in the early 1970s and was also an accomplished goalkeeper himself at senior level in northern Tasmanian football.

He played for Launceston Juventus and had several spells at the club over several decades as a trainer and a goalkeeper coach.  He even drove the team bus at times.

He always returned to Launceston Juventus (Launceston City) after stints with other clubs.

Photo:  Kerry Dennis (second from right in back row, wearing a ball cap) with the Launceston City squad at South Hobart on 5 August, 2006 [PlessPix]

He was involved with Launceston City (formerly Launceston Juventus) even in recent months and coached the club’s goalkeepers.

He had a spell at Riverside Olympic as a goalkeeping coach before returning to Launceston Juventus, and he was also with Western Suburbs (formerly Launceston Croatia) for a time.

Kerry served as  president of Launceston Juventus for a time and was also on the club's committee at various times.  He played a leading role in acquiring floodlighting at Juventus’s  Prospect ground.

He also had a season as Launceston United’s coach.

With the formation of the NPL Tasmania competition, he became the goalkeeping coach at Launceston Juventus during the tenure of senior coach Lino Sciulli.

He followed Sciulli to Northern Rangers and was goalkeeping coach at that club for two seasons.

“He had strong opinions about most things and not everyone agreed with him all the time, but his one true love was Launceston Juventus,” said Lino Sciulli.

“He would have done anything for the club and anything for soccer in Tasmania.

“He always had the best intentions.

“As a player, he was a fantastic goalkeeper in his day.”

He will always be remembered as a prominent contributor to the game of football in northern Tasmania in particular.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

China in the news back in 1975

Photo:  Tommy Wright scored Tasmania's goal against China [Photo by Ralph Dymond]

China has been in the news a lot lately.

Back on Sunday, 3 August 1975, China was also in the news in Tasmania, but for a different reason.

On that cold, wet and windswept day, the Chinese national team, with an average age of 23, played Tasmania at the Showgrounds in Glenorchy before a crowd of 2,500 and won 2-1.

It was a coup for Tasmanian football as it’s not every day that the State team gets to play a foreign national side.

In 1923, Tasmania had actually beaten China in what was the State team’s first-ever victory against an international side.

The Chinese team in 1975, representing the People’s Republic of China, had played a game in Fiji and three games in New Zealand on the way to Australia, where they were due to play Tasmania, Queensland and Australia.

China beat Fiji 4-1, lost 2-0 and 2-1 to New Zealand, drew 2-2 with New Zealand, and drew 1-1 with Queensland.

The game against Tasmania was China’s sixth game on this particular tour.

The seventh and final game of the tour was against Australia in Melbourne.

The China squad was:  Lo-Huai-yuan (27 years old), Li Fu-sheng (22) [Goalkeepers];  Chang Chun-sheng (21), Liu Chih-tsai (21), Chen Yi-ming (20), Shen Yin-chang (24) [Fullbacks];  Wang Liu-yi (21), Ku Yu-sheng (27), Yang An-Li (25), Pei En-tsai (20), Liao Hsien-mu (21), Chang Chun (25), Wang Hsiao-ho (27) [Half-backs];  Tsao Kai-chun (28) captain, Ching Kuang-fa (20), Chang Tsung-pen (21), Li Te-an (18), Hsu Tseng-fu (23), Li Chung-tsai (24), Wang Chung-chun (27).  (Coach:  Yu Wen-huai;  Interpreter:  Chang Pin-hua)

The Tasmanian squad, coached by John Grimsey, was:  [Goalkeeper] Michael Roussos (Olympia);  [Defenders] Wolfgang Stuetzel (Rapid Wrest Point), Eamonn Kelly (Olympia), Larry Nunn (Olympia);  [Midfielders] Ossie Moore (Olympia), Andy Collins (Croatia Glenorchy), Tommy Wright (Olympia) (vice captain); [Forwards] Danny Spendiff (Olympia), Mike Denton (Burnie Spartans), Ken Worden (White Eagles) (captain), Alistair Hales (Caledonians).  [Reserves] Eddie Puclin (Goalkeeper, Croatia Glenorchy), Tommy McKenna (Devonport United), Steve Dunne (Rapid Wrest Point), Flavio di Paoli (Launceston Juventus).

Photo:  Wolfgang Stuetzel, a member of the Tasmanian team, won the Rothmans Gold Medal in 1981.

Olympia defender Darby Conlan had to withdraw from the Tasmanian squad after sustaining a knee injury.

The Chinese team arrived in Hobart at 1.20pm on Saturday, 2 August 1975, the day before the game.

They were greeted by the Rosny Children’s Choir, who held up a banner written in Chinese and sang a Chinese song.

The visitors stayed at Hobart’s Travelodge and had dinner that night at the Golden Bamboo Restaurant, where they were the guests of Mrs Katie Young.

On Sunday, the day of the match, the Chinese side had a light training session in the morning before being guests of Mr and Mrs Sim Chung at Lenah Valley.

At the Showgrounds, there was a display by teams of marching girls and also the Southern Command Army Band.

Before the kick-off, the two teams were introduced to the Tasmanian Premier, Mr Bill Neilson.

Following the game, the Chinese team had dinner at the Har Wee Yee Restaurant in North Hobart.

The following day, Monday, 4 August 1975, the touring side went on a tour of the Derwent Valley arranged by the Government Tourist Bureau, and then had lunch at the Golden Dragon Restaurant.

The players went shopping on the Monday afternoon and there was an official dinner that night at the Golden Bamboo Restaurant, hosted by the Hobart Chinese community and the Australia China Society.

The team left by coach for Hobart Airport at 9.30am the next day, Tuesday, 5 August 1975, to catch a flight to Melbourne, where they would play Australia.

Photo:  Tommy Wright in action for Caledonians against University at South Hobart.  The referee is the late John Howlin.  The University players on the left are David Forshaw and Dominic O'Brien, while the Caledonians players on the right are 'Spinner' Adkins and Bevan Schweiger.  [Photo by Ralph Dymond]

Now, to the game against Tasmania, which was refereed by Jack Johnston, Tasmania’s only FIFA referee and who was later to become the Tasmanian Commissioner of Police.  The linesmen were B Williams from the north and Danny D’Abate from the south, while the fourth official was Hugh Pillans from the south.

Tasmania took a shock lead in the 10th minute when Hales picked out Wright from the left and the Olympia player scored with a thunderbolt from 25 yards.

China drew level two minutes later when a left-wing cross bamboozled the Tasmania defence and the ball was turned home by Chang Tsung-pen.

A dangerous cross by Worden saw Denton challenge goalkeeper Lo-Huai-yuan in the air, but the ball was cleared.

China took the lead in the 23rd minute when Roussos failed to hold a corner and Tsao Kai-Chun netted.

The second-half was goalless, but Tasmania had more than enough chances to win.

Worden should have scored on one occasion from close range but was too slow in getting to the ball, while Andy Collins was denied by a good save at full stretch by Lo-Huai yuan, who turned the ball around the post.

Former Socceroo Denton, one of the shortest players on view, headed against the crossbar after a long clearance by Kelly, while substitute McKenna sent in a dangerous cross but there was no one up to take advantage.

Tasmania’s best players were Worden, Wright, Kelly, Hales and Moore, while the best for China were Wang Hsiao-ho and Tsao Kai-chun.

The Chinese were tactically and physically the better side, while Tasmania gave it their all and ‘played their hearts out’, according to coach Grimsey.

The curtain-raiser was a junior game between an Under-14 and an Under-15 team.

The Showgrounds were 72 years old at the time and could accommodate 1,800 people in the grandstand and 70,000 in the outer.  That surely had to rate as Tasmania’s own ‘Wembley’.