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’.


Alistair Hales said...

Walter . It was such a great time to be involved in the China game. We were all given the last week off work to train full time at Grove Road and there was a camaraderie between the players as we were all happy to represent Tasmania. It is hard to imagine that it was almost 45 years ago and was superbly organised by John Grimsey who sadly like some of the players is no longer with us. I remember it well in a great period of Tasmanian football. Wonderful memories! Alistair Hales

John Skaro said...

I went to the game as an 8yo boy with Dad, who coached Rapid that year... and I remember your distinctive, pinpoint passing style well, Alistair.