Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Socceroos beat Tasmania 2-0 at KGV Park in 1984 but almost lose a player

Photo:  My 'doctored' match report in "Soccer Action" of 17 October 1984.

The first time the Socceroos played in Tasmania was on Wednesday, 10 October 1984.

Australia beat Tasmania 2-0 at KGV Park on a cold, wet and very windy evening before a crowd of 1,500.

Conceding just one goal in each half against the full Australian national team was a very good performance by the Tasmanians.

I won’t forget that game for several reasons, apart from the fact it was the first time the senior Australian national team had played in Tasmania.

I was new in the job of soccer writer for The Mercury, and I was also writing for “Soccer Action”, a Fairfax publication and part of the stable of The Age.

The main reason I will never forget that game was because Australia’s midfielder, Alan Davidson, almost died in the 60th minute when he swallowed his tongue after heading a long ball punted upfield by Tasmania’s goalkeeper, Steve Craven.

As Davidson lay on the pitch and play went on, Graham Arnold, the present-day coach of the Socceroos, who had come on as a substitute at half-time, sensed something was wrong and raced over to Davidson, who lay unconscious on the ground.

It was Arnold who managed to release Davidson’s tongue and save his life.

Davidson spent the night in the Royal Hobart Hospital and was released the next day.

Davidson had suffered a similar incident in a league match a few months earlier.

He was on the verge of being signed by English club Nottingham Forest.

After the game, Australia’s coach, Frank Arok, implored me not to highlight the incident as he felt it would jeopardize Davidson’s chances of being signed by Forest.

I filed my report for “Soccer Action” later that evening and got a severe dressing down from the editor, the late Laurie Schwab, for tucking the Davidson incident deep down in the story.

Being inexperienced as a reporter, I had acceded to Arok’s request and, to help out Davidson, I had ignored the newsworthy nature of the incident.

Schwab rewrote my match report and headlined the incident and led off with it in the opening paragraph.

As it turned out, Davidson did join Nottingham Forest, who had won the European Cup twice, in 1978-79 and 1979-80.

He played a mere five games for Forest, however, in the 1984-85 season.

I had learned my lesson, and that was to watch events dispassionately and to always write what I saw, without fear or favour.

The teams were:

Australia:  Laumets  -  Gomez (Belic 48), J O’Shea, Cannell  -  Savor, Senkalski, Wade, Crino, A Davidson (Watson 60)  -  Farina, Egan (Arnold 46).

Tasmania:  Craven  -  Driessen, Monagle, Di Martino, Hey (Sherman 80)  -  B Davidson, Charlton, S Kannegiesser, Nunn  -  Parker, Sawdon (Pace78).

The referee was Jack Johnston, Tasmania’s FIFA-accredited referee.

Tasmania were somewhat in awe of their opponents in the first half but trailed only by the single goal at the break.  That was scored in the 35th minute by Gomez, following a corner.

Steve Craven was brilliant in goal for Tasmania and made several outstanding saves.

Australia’s second goal came late in the match through Joe Senkalski, who was unmarked at the far post and had all the time in the world to control a right-wing cross before netting.

Australia’s coach, Frank Arok, said the Socceroos had been surprised by how good Tasmania were and had not expected such a tough game.


Anonymous said...

Haha imagine playing against a Tassie team now

John Skaro said...

I'd have thought Arok would have encouraged the Davidson incident being headlined, Walter - to spare his blushes at only beating Tasmania 2-0. That result could have done with as much deflection as possible.

Brian Young said...

Doctored report;current reports always make games seem better than they were. 😁

Charles Calthrop said...

Important to talk our sport up though...