Monday, August 21, 2023

A Sunday of social football every bit as satisfying as watching the top flight

Photo:  An aerial duel between Hobart United's Mick Jones and South Hobart's Craig Westwood. [PlessPix] 

I was excited at the prospect of the Women’s World Cup Final yesterday so I decided to venture out in the afternoon to sample some local football in real life, just to get into the groove and to whet my appetite for the evening’s fare.

First stop was North Chigwell, where Metro were hosting South Hobart in a girls’ under-14 match.

Glenorchy Council seem to have a fixation lately of erecting high, wire fences around football grounds.

They’ve done the same at KGV Park.

It’s happened at Wentworth Park, too, which is a different council.

Could it possibly be Football Tasmania driving it, or are local councils in tune with each other?

Whatever, it makes it impossible to photograph the action from some vantage points and very difficult and uncomfortable, but just possible, from others.

Just watching games through the wire fences makes me cross-eyed.

It also generally means you can’t shelter from the elements if you want to photograph a game.

It’s a policy that should be reconsidered.

I had to go on to the perimeter of the pitch at North Chigwell to get my photographs.

Fortunately, the referee, who didn’t seem to have any official standing, let me be.

I didn’t stay long as it looked like one-way traffic in South Hobart’s favour.

And besides, I had other games to photograph.

I was rather surprised when I learned at the end of the day that the result was a close one  -  3-2 in South Hobart’s favour.

On ya, Metro.  You did well.  The day before, Metro’s Southern Championship side got their first league win of the season.  And, it was away against the highly fancied University at Olinda Grove.  No inconvenient fences up there on the heights.  Just that strong wind that often sweeps across the plateau.

Photo:  Action from Metro v South Hobart Under-14 girls at North Chigwell. [PlessPix] 

Next stop was KGV Park.

There were only social cup finals and social league games on Sunday and no NPL or Southern Championship games to capture my interest so I was free to stay as long as I pleased at each game and photograph at my leisure.

Three games were scheduled at KGV Park and I stayed only a quarter of an hour or so at the first.

Hobart City Beachside must have found their level in this social league as they ran out comfortable 3-0 cup-winners against South East United, who must be doing poorly compared to their senior Southern Championship side, which is challenging for the title.

Photo:  South East United players (in blue) come to terms with the bald fact that Hobart City Beachside have scored. [PlessPix] 

And so, on to South Hobart Oval for the Social League 2 game between South Hobart and Hobart United.

I had time to spare, so it was pie and coffee from the corner store near the ground.

A Hobart United player was in the shop, too, purchasing a coffee to get that caffeine fix before the exertions of the game.

I used to cover Mick Jones back in the mid-1980s when I was writing for three papers (The Mercury, and a Melbourne and a Sydney paper, all at the same time) and he was playing for the mighty Ulverstone.

He was a handy player and Ulverstone were a very good side, featuring stars such as Joe McGrory and Liam Monagle.

They didn’t have my favourite lamb and rosemary pie, so I had to settle for a scallop pie and a small cappuccino.

I finished my lunch in the car with time to spare and went into the ground ready for kick-off.

I recognised some faces on the pitch, which had a worn look about it at this time of the year.

I wondered if the players had had to remove dog faeces before the game could begin.

There was Chris Ware, who seems to have been refereeing for a century.  I admire his commitment as he is long retired from his profession but still officiates at games.  I’m sure the players appreciate his commitment as well.

Photo:  Referee Chris Ware at a drop-ball situation. [PlessPix] 

I noticed Craig Westwood in the South Hobart line-up.  He’s usually coaching South Hobart’s Women’s Super League side, together with Alastair Russell.  They won the title this year.

I knew some of the Hobart United side, as well.  There was Mick Jones, of course, but also Omar Carrillo, goalkeeper Moses Nkongo, striker Peter Songa and centre-back Callum Cooper.

There were ten spectators, but I didn’t bother recording their names.  Suffice to say I knew there’d be no pitch invasion or other trouble in this game.

I wish I had the names of the players.  DRIBL has a few issues, I think.

Mr Ware sent me the scorers by text later, while Omar sent me the United team-sheet.

I was pleasantly surprised by the standard.  There were obviously some skilful players out there who had played at a much higher level at some time in their careers.

It was, in fact, a delight to watch.

The game was played fairly, vigorously and excitingly.

Nkongo made one brilliant save to deny South, but had no chance when the home side opened the scoring.  An excellent through-ball put Dominic McSweeney through on goal and he finished clinically.  I’ve seen NPL players miss those.

Liam Fullbrook scored South’s second with a penalty, while Songa replied for United.

Callum Cooper was in deadly form.  First, he got a yellow card for a late tackle on an opponent. But, I do believe he genuinely missed the ball (remember what I said about the state of the pitch?).

Photo:  Callum Cooper surveys the damage to his own player. [PlessPix] 

Second, while trying to clear the ball, he whacked it full-force into the face of an unfortunate team-mate, who was only three metres away.  His lights went out and he went down like a prize fighter.  He required many minutes of treatment and then staggered off the field to be replaced by a club linesman who was also a substitute.

I’d seen enough, and had been impressed enough by the standard, to move on and head back to KGV Park, where DOSA were playing New Norfolk Panthers in a Social League Cup Division 2 cup final.

I hadn’t missed much and I was pleasantly surprised at the carnival atmosphere.

There were plenty of supporters in the grandstand and around the fence and balloons in the DOSA colours were prominent.

It was an exciting match and there was plenty of talent on display from guys who had played at the top level in Tassie.

DRIBL still hasn’t got the line-ups and so I can name only a few (two actually).

Paul Cairns stood out for the Panthers, while Brady Watson stole the show in hitting four goals in DOSA’s 5-1 win.

Watson was too fast for the Panthers’ defence, especially as the game wore on.

In summary, it was a marvellous exhibition of social football and deserving of promotion.

Photo:  DOSA's Brady Watson had strong claims for a penalty in this situation. [PlessPix] 

DRIBL has been somewhat disappointing, while there were no Football Tasmania officials on hand to present the cup to the winners.

I couldn’t stay for the final match, that between Phoenix Rovers and Barnestoneworth United.

Some generous and helpful people such as Darren Grainger and Chris Schofield provided me with details and a photo or two later in the evening.

I headed home to await the Women’s World Cup Final, which turned out to be an excellent game.

As for the local football I’d watched, I was every bit as satisfied as when I watch the top flight NPL.

Photo:  The victorious Phoenix Rovers [Picture supplied]
Photo:  Action from the DOSA v New Norfolk Panthers game. [PlessPix]
Photo:  Paul Cairns floored. [PlessPix] 


Ray Carroll said...

Top report Walter - you love this game & we all appreciate your coverage.
I wonder if the 'Darren Grainger' you mentioned in your report is the same lad I had in the Calies under age sides back in the 80's ??.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear, a great around the grounds Walter