Monday, February 28, 2022

Weekend Summer Cup results - 25-27 February 2022

Photo:  Iskander van Doorne has returned to Tasmania and signed with South Hobart. [PlessPix]   

NPL Summer Cup

South Hobart 4-2 Clarence Zebras

Kingborough Lions United 3-2 Glenorchy Knights

Women’s Summer Cup

South Hobart 4-2 Clarence Zebras

Kingborough Lions United 8-2 Olympia Warriors

Taroona 3-0 Metro

Southern Championship Summer Cup

New Town White Eagles 1-0 University

Hobart city Beachside 4-1 Metro

Taroona 3-0 Kingborough Lions United

Hobart United 1-1 Glenorchy Knights {Hobart United won penalty shoot-out 4-3]

South Hobart 2-0 Clarence Zebras

Olympia Warriors 1-10 South East United

Social Summer Cup Tier 1

Taroona 1-0 Nelson Eastern Suburbs

NPL Development league

Kingborough Lions United 0-3 Launceston City

Women’s Development League

Kingborough Lions United 9-0 Taroona 9-0


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Simon Kuper’s brilliant exposé of CF Barcelona a ‘must read’.

Photo:  The cover of Simon Kuper's tell-all book about Barcelona. 

Barcelona have hundreds of millions of followers around the world and have been the most successful football club for the past couple of decades.

That reputation appears to have come to an end and for a club that prided itself in the motto “Mes que un club” (More than a club), it has become just another club.

The departure of superstar Lionel Messi was the catalyst for the decline.

As noted journalist Simon Kuper explains in his latest book, “Barca: The Inside Story of the World’s Greatest Football club”, (Short Books, London, 2021), Barcelona relied more and more on Messi to bring them success.

They failed to renew an ageing team and, when they did buy players, they were not the right ones.

The supply of home-grown products from La Masia, the club’s famous academy, dried up and new signings were mostly over-priced and did not add value to the team.

The decision to get rid of Luis Suarez was a monumental mistake, while Ronaldinho lost interest after being the best player in the world while at Barcelona and his lack of discipline spread to other players.

One quarter of Barcelona’s income last year was being spent on Messi’s salary and the club was headed for a fall  -  which has now happened.

The club has had its ups and downs before, but it has never been on a higher precipice.

Kuper details how Dutch superstar Johan Cruyff transformed the club in the 1970s as a player, and again in the 1980s as a coach.

He introduced the Ajax style of ‘total football’, leading by example when he joined as a player in 1973.

He was a contrary, arrogant figure, however, and often did what he wanted on the pitch, defying the coach’s instructions.  He believed in conflict and not harmony in his relationships.

Cruyff’s belief in personal conflict was the same when he was appointed coach.  After being sacked after an 8-year reign as head coach, he summarised his time as Barcelona coach by stating:  “When I started here, I was three times more famous than Barcelona.  Now we’re about even.”

He didn’t get on with fellow Dutchman Frank Rijkaard, the Dane Michael Laudrup, nor with English striker Gary Lineker, whom he played on the wing rather than at centre-forward.

Lineker felt that Cruyff was deliberately humiliating him and even tried to arrange a transfer, but Cruyff wouldn’t allow it until the rift eventually became too great.

Cruyff’s influence was profound, however, and the club was always associated with Cruyff from then on.  Every team at the club, from juniors to seniors, played Cruyffian football.

The problem with that was that when things went wrong in the Cruyffian system, they went very wrong.

One of Cruyff’s players, Pep Guardiola, who described Cruyff as a genius and who went on to become coach, summed it up thus:  “And if a genius does it right, and that’s nearly always, the result is perfect.  But if a genius does something wrong, it goes so incredibly wrong that you want to murder him.  Only geniuses take those risks.”

Guardiola, himself a product of La Masia, built up a super Barcelona team that featured up to eight La Masia graduates, including Messi, Iniesta and Xavi.  They swept all before them and accumulated trophy after trophy.

Guardiola was obsessive in his approach and it was no wonder that he was burnt out when he left Barcelona and went to New York on sabbatical before returning to coaching.

His departure was the beginning of the end for Barcelona.  The coaches who took his place all had only brief tenures.  The club realised that it was easier to sack a coach than to try and placate a team.  There was no substitute for talent.

The first team gradually got older and was not replaced by the same quality of player.

The departure of stars such as Xavi and Iniesta was catastrophic and Messi’s departure for Paris St Germain at the end of last season was the final straw.  The club is now deep in debt and success on the field is starting to elude them.

Kuper was given privileged access to people within the club and this is probably the finest book ever written about Barcelona.

It's certainly one of the most interesting and it’s well worth reading as you wait for the NPL Tasmania season to begin.


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Vale Graham Arthur Smith (3 July 1935 - 16 February 2022)

Photo: Graham Smith at South Hobart on 22 May last year, a ground where he produced some of his finest performances as a player. [PlessPix]

Graham Smith, the former Rangers, Hobart Juventus, Launceston United, Northern Suburbs Caledonians and University player, passed away in Hobart last week after a long period of illness aged 86.

Smith, who was from the UK, became a University stalwart and played in the club’s social teams for many a year aged in his 60s.

A fitness fanatic, Smith also played Rugby, which probably explains his fearless efforts on the football field and his reputation as a hard man who took no prisoners.

A teacher by profession, Smith moved to the north and north-west of Tasmania in his career and played for the very successful Launceston United team of the mid to late 1960s.

Photo:  Launceston United in 1967 with Graham Smith in the front row, fourth from the left. [Photo courtesy of Trevor Hill]  

He was a team-mate of Jim Witheford, who was also a teacher and helped form the Launceston Matric club.  Witheford was also the soccer reporter for The Examiner for many years.

Smith was in the notable Launceston United team that competed as Tasmania’s representative in the 1967 Australia Cup competition.

Launceston United beat Olympia 1-0 in terrible ground conditions at White City in Launceston to qualify for the Australian Cup, where they were drawn against Melbourne Hungaria in Melbourne.

Olympia tried to have the result at White City annulled and wanted a replay, but they were unsuccessful.

They were so embarrassed by the defeat that they offered Launceston United $500 as a prize in a replay in Hobart, in a game that was to be merely a friendly and would not affect United’s place in the Australia Cup.

Launceston United declined, citing fixture congestion as the reason.

Smith, who normally played at inside-right, was used at right-half against Melbourne Hungaria.

Launceston United put up a brave fight and lost 2-1, but they received a standing ovation from the Victorian crowd for their display.

Olympia (twice) and Rapid had been Tasmania’s representatives in the three years prior to the 1967 competition.

At first, it looked as if the 1967 competition would be abandoned as the Victorian and New South Wales federations were not happy with the inclusion of such light weights as teams from Tasmania.  Their member clubs put up such a fuss, however, that they had to change tack and the competition went ahead.

Launceston United also qualified for the 1968 Australia Cup and were eliminated after losing 1-0 to Melbourne Hakoah in Melbourne.

The current FFA Cup has reverted to being called the Australia Cup from next season, so what’s new under the sun?

Launceston United now compete in the second tier of Tasmanian football (in the Northern League), but their women’s team did remarkably well in 2021 as newcomers to the Women’s Super League state-wide competition.

Photo:  Graham Smith watching a game in August 2006. [PlessPix]  

With Graham Smith a leading light, Launceston United were a wonderful and powerful side in the mid to late 60s and prided themselves on being an amateur club.  They certainly taught some of the semi-professional clubs a thing or two.

Smith returned to the south of Tasmania and was appointed captain/coach of top-flight club Northern Suburbs Caledonians in 1970.

He was the 'enforcer' in the Calies team that won the 1973 State Knock-Out Cup with a 3-1 win over George Town.  Roy Chadwick was the coach at that time.

Injury limited his appearances at times and he eventually joined University in the mid-1970s, where he played and coached for many years.

He was made a Life Member of University in 2003.

He was a lecturer and tutor in political science at the University of Tasmania for many years until his retirement.

He still attended games occasionally until even last year.

Photo:  Graham Smith watching a game at one of his happy hunting grounds, South Hobart, on 25 March 2012.  When he played there it was known in soccer circles as 'Headquarters'. [PlessPix]

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Summer Cup results from Friday and Saturday, Sunday (18, 19 and 20 February 2022)

Photo:  Alex Holmes played centre-forward for Olympia against one of his former clubs, Glenorchy Knights. [PlessPix]

Friday night Summer Cup, 18 February 2022

Summer Cup (Social Tier 1)

Nelson Eastern Suburbs 2-1 University Bees

Summer Cup (Social Tier 2)

South East United 0-4 Barnstoneworth Scrappers

Southern Championships Summer Cup (Friday night, 18 February 2022)

South East United 5-1 Kingborough Lions United

Metro 2-5 Hobart United

Summer Cup (Saturday, 19 February 2022)

Southern Championship Summer Cup

Glenorchy Knights 2 v South Hobart 8

Clarence Zebras 0-0 Hobart City Beachside (Hobart City Beachside won 7-6 on penalties)

Taroona 3-1 New Town White Eagles

University 4-1 Olympia Warriors

NPL Summer Cup (Saturday, 19 February 2022)

Kingborough Lions United 1-3 South Hobart

Women’s Summer Cup (Saturday, 19 February 2022)

Clarence Zebras 4-0 Taroona

Olympia 13-0 Metro 0

Kingborough Lions United 2-5 South Hobart

NPL Summer Cup

Olympia Warriors 0-1 Glenorchy Knights