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.


Anonymous said...

Yes those were the days Walter. Clubs had people in charge that knew what they were doing .
They didn’t spend money stupidly year after year without results or benefits.
Unfortunately those days will never be again.

Anonymous said...

Your words are precise . . .
You have great knowledge of football.

Badih Hammoud

Walter said...

Great to hear from you and thanks for your warm comment, Badih. Hope all is well with you. Cheers!