Thursday, November 5, 2020

Weight of history favours Warriors, but anything can happen in Saturday's Lakoseljac Cup Final

Photo:  Olympia striker Ben Hamlett (left) and Glenorchy Knights coach James Sherman at the pre-game media conference today [PlessPix]

The first time Glenorchy Knights and Olympia Warriors met in a State-wide Cup Final was in 1963, when they were relatively new clubs and known as Croatia and Olympia, respectively.

Croatia won that final 1-0.

They meet on Saturday at KGV Park at 5pm in the 2020 Lakoseljac Cup Final, which, for the past two decades, has been the name of the State-wide Cup.

The teams also met in the State-wide Cup Final in 1968, when Olympia won 2-1, and in 2017, when Olympia Warriors won 4-2.

The two teams have met nine times in State-wide Cup rounds apart from the final, with Olympia triumphing in six of these and Knights (or Croatia Glenorchy) winning three times.

But, that is history and the fortunes of the two clubs have changed markedly in recent seasons.

Knights should start as favourites on Saturday if one takes league form into consideration.  They finished second in the league, while the Warriors came fifth.

Knights scored more goals and conceded fewer than Olympia in this year’s shortened NPL Tasmania competition.

One must remember this will be cup football and league form may not have a bearing on the outcome.

Olympia thrashed Launceston City 7-0 in the semi-finals, while Knights downed South Hobart 3-2.

Both sides are expected to be at full strength and an intriguing contest seems in store for the spectators, the number of which is limited to 1,000.

Photo:  Olympia's Ben Hamlett became a father 12 weeks ago so he's had more important things than football on his mind in recent months [PlessPix]

“Making it into another cup final is always an exciting prospect,” said Olympia Warriors striker, Ben Hamlett who has missed most of the season through injury and family reasons and who has had limited game time recently as he makes his way back.

“The season has been up and down and stop and start, but you have to get on with what you’ve got and any opportunity to play football has been good.

“Cup football brings out the best in players because it’s a bit more cut-throat from my perspective.

“There’s a bit more at stake and that brings the best out of players.

“We’ve left our run just perfectly because over the past month or so we’ve really started to gel and I’ve noticed in the past few weeks that we’re more of a team than ever.”

Hamlett said there had been a change of coach early on and several new players which had changed the team dynamics but the side was looking to cap everything off in the cup final.  Olympia also recently changed its president, with George Mamacas stepping down from the position and George Verrios taking over.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of the club,” Hamlett said.

“We’re looking sharp and cup final football comes down the performance on the day.

“When we’ve played them in the past [this season], we weren’t much of a team.

“The vibes at training indicate we’re very confident.

“We respect them as a team and as a club and we know how much this means to them, and I’ve been quite close to Brendon Lakoseljac as well, but in saying that, we’re looking sharp and, as I’ve said, cup football comes down to performance on the day.”

Hamlett said he was probably fresher than most players after missing a substantial segment of the season and gradually working his way back into the team.

He said he had played with several of the Knights defenders at South Hobart and knew their strengths and weaknesses.

He said he didn’t really know who the underdog would be in this final.

Hamlett said it was a pity the winning side would not go into the FFA Cup as that tournament had been abandoned this year because of the pandemic, but as a cup competition, the Lakoseljac Cup was still a worthy prize to win.

“I respect Glenorchy Knights as a club, but there’s a cup to be won and I’m confident we can do it,” he said.

Photo:  Knights coach James Sherman said even if his players had not trained this week they would still know what to do in the cup final [PlessPix]

Glenorchy Knights coach James Sherman did not place much emphasis on the fact that his side had beaten Olympia in their two league meetings this season.

“Neither side was at full strength in those games and this will be different," Sherman said.

“They’ll have a couple of boys that didn’t play in those previous games, and so will we.

“We’re looking at this game a little differently and preparing for it a little differently, it being a cup final.

“But, at the same time, we want to make sure that we focus heavily on ourselves and our strengths and be aware of theirs, but other than that, as Ben said, it’s about who wants to win it the most.

“To be in cup finals is really important.  The culture of football clubs should be about getting into cup finals and winning cup finals and being close to winning the league or finishing as high up the league table as possible.

“That’s definitely something we’re trying to build as an ethos.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve had a successful season because we haven’t put anything in the trophy cabinet, but at the same time, there have been positive steps for us.

“We come into the Lakjoseljac Cup Final full of confidence and in a good position.

“It’s important that we are fresh.”

Sherman said his side had had a hard game against South Hobart in last week’s semi-final and some players had pulled up sore so the emphasis this week was on recovery.

He said the players were fit at this final stage of the season so recovery and relaxation were the priorities so that they could give the cup final everything.

He said he sympathised with Olympia coach, Rob Clarke, who had been unable to give his team a training run on KGV Park.

Clarke is believed to have measured out a pitch at Cambridge the same size as KGV Park in order to make his players familiar with the dimensions.  KGV Park measures 100 metres by 70 metres, whereas Olympia’s home ground of Warrior Park is 99 metres long and 60.9 metres wide.

“I’d be disappointed too, but at the end of the day, their players have played on KGV Park enough times to know it,” Sherman said.

“We have it Tuesdays and Thursdays so perhaps there was some other training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but it wasn’t anything to do with us because Football Tasmania do the bookings.’

“I understand Rob’s frustration.

“But, I know Clarkie prefers a bigger pitch, so KGV will suit Olympia.”



Anonymous said...

Anyone would think tomorrow is the world cup final ,FFT take a breath only 1000 people going not even you can stuff that up .

The Phoenix said...

Thats a tad disrespectful to the two sides that have made it.

Anonymous said...

Bit off topic, but.. Does anyone know why the Glenorchy Knights vs Kingborough Lions game says on FFT - No Game, 1-1 result?

Did this game get played? Or if not, why?

Anonymous said...

certainly fair enough, but I wonder if Olympia had treated any other side with respect across their club in the past few years whether more people would be willing to give respect back to to them��