Friday, May 1, 2020

English FA XI beat a Tasmanian XI 8-0 at North Hobart in 1971

Photo:  Match programme

On Wednesday, 9 June 1971, an English FA XI side defeated a Tasmanian XI 8-0 at North Hobart Oval.

The Englishmen scored four goals in each half, with the Tasmanian performance described in the media as ‘courageous’.  The Tasmanians were much shorter in stature than the Englishmen and were no match in the air for the visitors.

The referee, incidentally, was local referee Rodger Marlor.

The pitch was marked out so that the goals were situated at the Ryde Street end and the Blind and Deaf Institute end, which avoided large muddy areas caused by very wet weather in the days leading up to the game.

It was usual for the pitch to run from the main grandstand at the Argyle Street end to the bowls club end or Brooker Highway end of the ground.  This is how the pitch is laid out nowadays when NPL Tasmania games have been scheduled at North Hobart.

And parochialism reared its ugly head, as has often been the case.  The Tasmanian XI was made up entirely of southern players.

The northern and north-western players were made unavailable by their local associations for a trial game to select the State team because they had roster games to play, so only southern players were selected for the trial.

The trial game was played on a Saturday and the Possibles beat the Probables 4-1 through goals by Erik Owen, Paddy Gibson, Karl Schwesinger (penalty) and Peter Wood.

Metro youngster Robin Mills replied with a cracker for the Probables.

Tasmania’s coach, Duncan Summers, finally selected the following players for the Tasmanian XI:  Joe Udovicic (Croatia Glenorchy)  -  Mike Richards (Olympia), Jim Mackinnon (Metro), Joe Hanna (Juventus, capt), Karl Schwesinger (Juventus)  -  Brian McKay (Olympia), Erik Owen (Juventus)  -  Philip Owen (Juventus), David Owen (Dnipro), Robin Mills (Metro), Bernard Siggins (Northern Suburbs Caledonians).  [Reserves:  Denis Hardman (South Hobart), Frank Letec (Croatia Glenorchy), Johnny Genovesi (Juventus), Roger Norman (South Hobart) and Egon Mathias (Rapid).

Seventeen-year-old centre-back, Jim Mackinnon, and David Owen were the only players in the squad who hadn’t played against the visiting Cardiff City three years before.

Bernard Siggins was the top goalscorer in the league the previous season, namely 1970.

Photo:  Match programme

Barry Bridges, the English international, had played for Chelsea against Tasmania in 1965 and was therefore somewhat familiar with North Hobart Oval.

The visiting party brought 16 players with them to Tasmania and the captain was Mike Keen of Hull City.

The Englishmen conducted coaching clinics for schools during their stay in Hobart and it was estimated that as many as 1,000 youngsters participated.

I was in my first year of teaching at the time and coached the school team, including a very young Chris Hey.  The school soccer team assembled at the reserve near the present-day Claremont Plaza one day and four of the visiting English players conducted a coaching clinic.

I also took the school team to the game the following day.

The attendance at the game was 4,500, the same as for the Cardiff game in 1968.  It was again a mid-week match, so the crowd was impressive.

The English FA XI scored through Barry Bridges (3rd minute), Chris Chilton (7, 69, 70), Chris Garland (21), Mike Keen 40) and Norman Piper (63).

Karl Schwesinger saved twice off the line for Tasmania and Philip Owen had one of the few shots for Tasmania.

Substitute Egon Mathias, a tall attacker, almost scored with a header for Tasmania near the end, but a defender cleared on the line.

Joe Udovicic was outstanding in goal for Tasmania and he was replaced for the last 10 minutes by South Hobart custodian Denis Hardman.

The visitors were entertained after the match at a cabaret at the Polish Club in New Town and left for the Mainland the following day.

The tourists attended an Aussie Rules game at the MCG between Melbourne and Richmond while in Victoria but were not really impressed.

They didn’t disparage Aussie Rules, but their views of it were summed up by a comment by Dr Andrew Stephen, the English FA Chairman, who was on the tour.

In an interview with Noel Moore, a chief football writer with The Mercury, Dr Stephen said:  “I enjoyed the game and I think it should be preserved as a bastion of primeval sport.

“This is one of the few Australian commodities that has not been successfully exported.”

Photo:  Match programme


At the same time as the senior Probables versus Possibles trial before the game against the English FA XI, there was also a trial game for the Tasmanian Under-14s selection.

In the Under-14 version, the Possibles beat the Probables 3-1 with Bill Kirkpatrick, Ray Mohring and Stephen Pitchford scoring for the Possibles and Grotz for the Probables.

After that game, coach Jim Stewart (whose son Tony I also taught at high school) selected the State squad.

The Under-14 squad was:  Kannegiesser, Griffin, Coleman, Shadbolt, Lietz, Clark, Street, Farncis, Kirkpatrick, Mohring, Pitchford, Hay, Grotz, Elliott, Baker and Paul Marlor.


Charles Calthrop said...

Another great article...thanks Walter

John Skaro said...

Bernie Siggins I remember watching down at Margate. I used to love the clubhouse down there - lots of stuff pinned up on the walls from England's Shoot! Magazine. It's also where I first came across the expression, "Up the Gers". I asked the Scottish lady in the kiosk what it meant. Glasgow Rangers, she expanded.