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Half Time Heroes Contents Page

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kofi danning exclusive interview

LA LIGA PREVIEW

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sbs Cup fever’s Tony Wilson’S World cup safari

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PAUL MAVROUDIS MAKING NEWS REVIEW

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CHRIS PARASKEVAS

BYE PIM, HELLO HOLGER!

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MIKE SALTER SOCCEROOS/KIWI’S ANALYSIS

MIKE TUCKERMAN

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ON LOVING ASIAN FOOTBALL

CHIPPY BRADY

WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU BUCKLE’S?

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KIERAN PENDER

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BEN HALLS EPL PREVIEW

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SHANE DAVIS

WE CAN REBUILD

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NAT ADAMOPOLOUS SCARED OF DINOSAURS

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wayne snowdon takes on slatergate

DEJAN KALINIC

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WHO’S LAUGHING AT THE FURY NOW?

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A-LEAGUE PICTURE SPECIAL SYDNEY fc


The editor makes a comment.. Hello football fans and welcome to the One Year Anniversary edition of Half Time Heroes. Twelve months ago, Eamonn Flanngan had an idea about getting passionate football writers to get together and create a fanzine. And a year later and eleven editions down, Half Time Heroes is proud to bring you issue number 12. Thanks to everyone who has helped contribute to Half Time Heroes over the last twelve months.

We have had some great football personalities involved, from celebrity fans like Adam Spencer, Santo Cilauro, author and TV Star Tony Wilson, media personalities Neil Cordy and Latika Bourke & undefeated World Cup assistant coach Raul Blanco. We’ve had writers from Germany, Brazil, Ireland the UK, the USA, Italy, Ghana, Serbia New Zealand and all over Australia contribute and we have had over a cumulative total of over 80,000 readers. Proper “Fan Made”

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GLENN SIEVER’S MARINERS PREVIEW

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NUFCMVFC - MELBOURNE’S BUBBLE DOME

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A-LEAGUE PICTURE SPECIAL MELBOURNE

This month’s highlights on Half Time Heroes: Sydney FC up and coming Star Kofi Danning talks to Half Time Heroes in an exclusive interview. Read about his childhood in Ghana, playing at the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt, and his dreams and aspirations for Sydney FC and the Socceroos.

Tony Wilson returns for part two of his African World Cup Safari. We welcome Asian football expert Mike Tuckerman and Dejan Kalinic to the HTH family.

Also Ben Halls does an EPL preview, and Kieran Pender previews the La Liga season. Our regulars return and Wayne Snowdon’s cartoons are sure to crack you up. Chris Paraskevas, Mike Salter, Shane Davis and Nat Adamopolous tackle the biggest issues in Australian football. Plus heaps more. Enjoy Peace and football. Con Stamocostas A-LEAGUE PICTURE SPECIAL PERTH GLORY

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A-LEAGUE PICTURE SPECIAL NEWCASTLE JETS

Sarah D SUPPORTING SYDNEY FC

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Half time Heroes Q&A with Kofi Danning BY Con Stamocostas

Creating more headlines. Kofi impressed against the Fury as he set up one goal and scored the second, an undoubted screamer playing in his home debut scored the winning goal showing some deft dribbling skills and a against the Wellington Phoenix . The A League sea- powerful shot. Unfortunately, in late Decemson four was coming to an end and the goal and sub- ber 2009 playing a youth league match Kofi sequent celebration in front of the Cove ensured injured his right knee which ruled him out that a cult following had began for the season. Now fully fit, and ready to play football again Kofi spoke to HTH in an The wider Australian football community now also exclusive interview. knew who Kofi was. Not just for his skill and composure in scoring that goal but the big smile that he had Half Time Heroes: Hey Kofi, how are you feeling? Would you say you are back to full fitness? on his face- he was not a sour faced footballer.

In early 2009 a raw 18-year old called Kofi Danning came off the bench for Sydney FC and

Kofi Danning: Yeah I would say I’m back to full Kofi ended the year with another goal and was in the fitness. I feel good, I feel strong, I feel confident, all the positives are coming back , I’ve been doing a lot winning side as the Sydney FC youth team won the of rehab in the pre-season , it just made everything inaugural Youth League Grand Final. Kofi’s second easier and the coach is right behind me.

season began where he finished it.

( Sydney v Phoenix 12/1/09, Pic by Geoff Jones / Courtesy of Goal! Weekly)


HTH: You come from the second biggest city in Ghana, Kumasi which has a proud football history. It has produced its fair share of national greats like Tony Yeboah (ex Leeds, Hamburg), Tony Baffoe (ex Black Stars and many German clubs) and Samuel Osei Kuffour (ex Bayern). First off, what was it like growing up and playing football as a young kid in Kumasi? KD: It was great growing up in Ghana, probably one of the most exciting times of my childhood. I had a very happy childhood. I remember everyday just playing football. I would come home from school; first thing I’d do was chuck my bag down, run and get my soccer ball and go kick it, play with the kids on the streets and do tricks. I just wanted to be like my heroes.

HTH: So did you miss a lot of school playing football. Were you a good kid? KD:Yeah I was a good kid, cause I knew I’d get in trouble if I missed school, I knew I wouldn’t have my soccer ball around me anymore, I knew if I’d go home it would be somewhere hidden away. HTH: I read somewhere that your grandmother would threaten you with a stick - it sounds like my upbringing! KD: Yeah, my grandmother used to scare me a little, so I had to be good in order to do what I wanted.

HTH: Your mother came out to Australia first and you lived with your grandmother until you came to Australia aged seven? What was it like coming to Australia at such a young age with a new country and culture? KD: It was a very different experience. I have never been to a place that was so multicultural - everything was so different compared to Ghana. People are just so different here, it was kind of a surprise, it felt like I was in another world. HTH: How long did it take for you to get comfortable in your surroundings? KD:Probably about three years because when I first got here I couldn’t speak much English. All I knew was “thank you” and “hello” and that’s about it. When I was in Canberra I had to do ESL classes, because English was a second language. I did that for three years and all through schooling, and after five years I could speak English very well

HTH: What was your support network like - you said your mother was here with you? KD: I had my uncle and his family was here, my mum basically came because my uncle was here. My uncle supported us until we got on to our feet. And also my stepdad was with my mum and they got married about four years ago, and he’s been really good for us as well. I had cousins here and everything was there from the beginning.

HTH: You played at the under 20 World Cup in Egypt after a long and drawn out case with FIFA. Australia lost all three games and in an interview with FIFA you said “ I just don’t think we’ve had that same attitude that ‘Yeah, we’re going to do whatever it takes to win this game’”. The question is, a winning mentality is usually one of Australia’s strengths, so did the players find it hard to adapt to the Dutch mentality in that tournament, as there was lots of talk about a new playing system? KD: I don’t think we found it hard at all, I just think we found it hard with each other. Knowing what each other was going to do, trusting each other, and that is the biggest thing in a team environment. If you don’t trust each other and if you don’t want to work for each other, it’s not going to work. No matter what the coach says, no matter what anyone says, critics whatever, if the team doesn’t form together and work as unit everthing is going to fall apart. HTH: Why do you think the team didn’t gel in Egypt? KD: I think maybe the preparation towards the World Cup, there was a structured team and in that team throughout the qualification there wasn’t that many changes. And when the squad for the World Cup was chosen there was such a big change, a lot of players didn’t expect to be chosen and other players wanted other players in the team. When the squad was chosen it was a big shock. I think that maybe that might have been because of differences in the team, but I don’t know, that that is just how I felt. HTH: You have already reached cult status with the Sydney FC supporters group ( The Cove) and a lot of people have predicated big things for you what expectations have you set for yourself and how do you cope with those expectations especially the outside influence of media, fans and coaches? And don’t say I take it a day a time....(hehehe) KD: I just try and set myself goals. I set myself goals when I first signed with Sydney FC youth. My goal was to make the under 20’s team and play in the World Cup and also score goals for Sydney FC and start games for Sydney. I did all that, I didn’t want to get injured, and it’s just something that happens - I achieved all those goals. I have set myself new goals to be in the Olyroos, hopefully get a cap for the Socceroos if I keep playing well. Hopefully go overseas to Europe. But that won’t happen if I don’t get match time and keep improving as a player and keep learning. HTH: I remember the first interview after your debut senior game for Sydney FC where you scored. You gave an interview similar to Jeff Fenech infamous “I love you’s all”. How good must it be to have that relationship with the fans? When you play at home hearing the fans chant your name and have the crowd on your side it must be a good feeling? KD: It’s the best feeling in the world. I mean they come to watch us play, I know how they feel because when I watch the European players play I’m a fan, I just love what they do and you appreciate when someone comes up to you and says “you are my favourite player” or “I really like watching you play” because they go out of their way, and when we go out of our way to score goals and to clap them and stuff like that, they love it and I just like showing that appreciation back to them. (continued next page)


HTH: What is your favourite position to play and what skill do you work on the most? KD: My favourite position to play is striker. I think I probably work on my speed and dribbling skills the most because I like to take players on and create opportunities, for us to be dangerous in attacking third.

HTH:When you read about Maradona or Tim Cahill as a kid there is a common theme where they always had the ball with them? Did you sleep with the football as a young child? KD: I always had the ball with me. I always dreamt about soccer things, Id have dreams where I would run the whole field and beat players and score and then I’d wake up and get my soccer ball and just go train and practise what happened in the dream.

HTH: Got any advice for young kids who want to make it in the A-League and in football generally? KD: I think kids shouldn’t put too much pressure on themselves to practise every day and do everything perfect like the professionals do. I think they should just have fun and not put too much pressure on themselves. Because if they do, their game changes and things like that. I found that it happened to me when I put too much pressure on myself - I wasn’t myself, I think for them to be themselves and have fun they will get the chance to get noticed, just keep doing what they are doing.

HTH: How do you relieve that pressure? KD: By doing things that don’t even involve football, going out with your friends to the movies stuff like that, going somewhere that makes you humble and peaceful I think gets focus off what you want to do with football and when you come back you are a at stage where you go ohhh I missed it that much I want to play and you forget all about the pressures.

HTH: Your junior coach Mal Barac took responsibility for driving you from Canberra to Sydney and back for training with the Sydney youth team. How important is it for a young player to have that support? KD: It’s very important. Mal was my junior coach HTH: So one day you score a goal and your in Canberra he helped me a lot to develop as a name is the papers, everyone is talking about player. As a young kid, if you have you and and it’s someone to always help and push back to training, “The hardest player i have you along it makes a big difference your coach makes because you can get side tracked. And ever faced has probably been you run laps or danny Tiatto... it’s not good when you do so - he was whatever. So there for me and help me change the would you say it’s way as I grew up. I felt very confident a learning experi.....I’ve never played against a having him around and I still do. juggling all player who was so aggressive ence that? and so threatening.” HTH: Who else has aided your KD: Definitely it’s football education? Another player a learning experior coach? ence, it’s what you KD: The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) helped want the most out of yourself and I think, once you me a lot. When I was at the institute I learnt a lot of figure that out everything becomes a lot easier. things, I became more confident, I think I grew as a player, coming through the youth league and trainHTH: Who is the hardest opponent you faced? ing with the first grade boys like John Aloisi and KD: The hardest opponent I have faced has probSteve Corica I learnt a lot off them, they’ve taught ably been Danny Tiatto. I’ve heard he has retired me a lot of things, so I’m getting all this information now so it’s a bit easier for me to play. I’ve never and trying to put in myself and try and become a played against a player who was so aggressive and better player. so threatening. HTH: When was the moment you realised that you could do something with football - when did you think “I can make a career out of this”? KD: I think when I started playing youth league for Sydney FC. Because I knew I wasn’t that far away from being in the first squad, I came to training sessions where they all would be there (the first team) together in a group talking, and I had a chance to watch them, to be that close to them, you know you have a chance, and you know if you keep going you will get a chance. I got that chance, and I guess I took it and everything went on from there.

HTH: A lot of young African immigrants are showing up in the A-League and in Australia’s youth system. Tell us what is it like being an African Australian? KD: I think it’s great, I love Australian culture; I think at the start it’s hard to accept it. I had trouble accepting it, I think once you accept it, you learn to love it because you feel a part of it and things just become different, if you don’t accept it its just going to become harder for you. I just love it now being an Aussie.

HTH: You probably have never seen studs so close before? KD: Yeah that’s right I have never seen studs so close. I think fear was in my mind when he was there. But I’ve got past that stage where I’m scared of people and just proving to them that I’m not scared. Now I want to make them scared of me.

HTH: A-League players that have caught your eye? KD: I think the players we have got here are very talented; Terry Mcflynn is a very good player, Alex Brosque is the backbone of Sydney FC and Mark Bridge, Nicky Carle is brilliant on the ball. And when I think of our team, the champions of last year, I think I can learn off those players and be like them. Those boys I look up to.


(Pic by Geoff Jones / Courtesy of Goal! Weekly) Kofi’s Favourites: Movie: Cool Running’s, because it’s so funny, just pointless.

Band/Music: I love Akon. I’m a Hip Hop man I also like Rock music too like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Actor: I like Hugh Jackman

Actress: I would say Jessica Alba but she’s overrated now. But that’s a hard one too many. Food: I love Italian food, and different types of ethnic food. I grew up with ethnic food and I love African food.

TV Programme: I watch a lot of TV, like Family Guy, I love the Simpsons, I love shows that make me laugh I have a very good sense of humour. Your number one relaxation activity is? Sleeping, I love sleeping, sleeping is amazing.


Tony Wilson, sbs’s cup fever correspondant brings you part two of his African world cup adventure

In Nelspruit, Aussie fans finally found themselves

a pub. The Jock and Java was named after a dog in a famous South African children’s book called ‘Jock of the Bushveld’, the story of a weedy, misshapen, runt who grows into a great and fearless bull terrier, before eventually being kicked in the head by a kudu cow, losing his hearing, and shot, after a farmer mistakenly identified Jock as the dog who was killing his chickens. Jock’s story has a bit in common with the Socceroos campaign. We weren’t the best credentialed team, but we’d scrapped our way to South Africa with togetherness and pluck. Then, when we arrived, the Germans were the kudu cow, and the referees in our first two matches were the trigger-happy farmer, killing our campaign with two dubious red cards. It was a tear jerker to melt the hardest of hearts. Although when the end did arrive in Nelspruit, few Aussies were crying. We’d already done our grieving when we were kicked in the head by the kudu cow. Instead, the atmosphere in the stands after the Serbia game was one of exhilaration. The second half of that match has to rate with any game in the tournament, if not for the quality of the football then at least for the end-to-end excitement. And as for Brett Holman — the man who for so long has been regarded as the sloppy yet aerobically gifted runt of this team — he belted that ball with a power that lifted us all out of our seats. He proved me wrong. He proved everyone wrong except my brother, Ned, who was on the Holman bandwagon just because nobody else was. Now we’re just hoping that he can keep it up, and doesn’t get kicked by

a kudu cow. I had some great nights at the Jock and Java. On the first, we met a logistics operator who had his own small plane, and was determined to fly my cameraman Cam Fink and me to wherever we wanted to go in South Africa. He repeated his offer a dozen times, pleading with us to come, and stating over and over that flying instructors have fewer flying hours than him, and that he took his own family flying, and that our odds of dying with him were really quite miniscule. If he wasn’t so paralytically drunk, we might have said yes. As it was, it just didn’t seem right to put our lives in the hands of a guy who boasted of his ‘nude walking lion impression’ (something to do with tucking the testicles) and who led the pub in a rousingly offensive Africaans version of the haka. Had Robert Redford adopted such charms towards Meryl Streep in ‘Out of Africa’, I’m not sure she ever would have flown over those Ngong Hills On the next night, Australian tour groups arrived in force, and we filmed fans singing songs and toasting the players. My favourite memory will be of a sixty-five year-old woman with a pint raised to the heavens, jumping up and down in a beery mob singing ‘let’s go fucking mental’ with the Green & Gold Army. I wish I had that woman’s name.


On the day of the game against Serbia, we watched South Africa play France in the Fan Fest, a match in which the flickering and yet ultimately doomed hopes of the local population exactly foretold what Aussie fans would experience that night, and we hared around Nelspruit trying to find Serbians who would sing comedy terrace songs for us. We’d set up Aussie fans to sing that that Serbia needed Montenegro and the absent Montenegran captain, Marco Vucinic: (To ‘Here we Go’) Vucinic, Vucinic, Vucinic! Serbia needs Marco Vucinic! And the Serbians were granted a (singing) right of reply: (To Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’) ‘We don’t need no Montenegro …’ There were actually surprisingly few Serbians to be found. The ones we did find were generally from Sydney and Melbourne. We shot our story, and it screened, in edited form, on ‘Santo, Sam and Ed’s Cup Fever’ (crew pictured below). Perhaps the better footage we filmed that day was of Tim Cahill in an oversized green and gold comedy wig, applauding the Aussie fans as the team completed its victory lap. Cam Fink, the Cup Fever cameraman, had a pitch pass that night, and was just metres away. It was incredible, Cup Fever was a huge part of the South Africa experience for me and Cam. Every day, we met people and saw things that we just wouldn’t have seen if we weren’t making stories for Santo, Sam and Ed.

We tried to send something every day, even if the weight of quality material that was being produced back in Melbourne sometimes meant our stuff didn’t air. ‘ We made a children’s book called ‘Mr Messi’ and got Argentinian fans to read it. We set up a dodgy DVD stand in Langa township selling titles such as ‘Sneijderman 3’ and ‘Dude, Where’s My Kaka’. A few of our better unscreened clips are now up on the Cup Fever YouTube channel, as well as linked through my website, www.tonywilson.com.au It was a brilliant World Cup, four transformative weeks that taught me to love Africa and to love Shakira (‘Waka Waka’ and ‘Shoshalosa’ were the first two songs I downloaded upon my return). I saw eleven games, including three round of sixteen matches (Argentina v Mexico, Brazil v Chile, Spain v Portugal), one quarter final (Germany v Argentina) and a semi-final (Netherlands v Uruguay). Despite the dire predictions of friends and family back home, I didn’t get shot, stabbed or even yelled at. My twoday old LG smartphone was plucked from my pocket, but given the amount of fun I had in that superb beachfront Durban Fan Fest, it could almost be called an entry fee. I climbed Table Mountain and played football on a Cape Town beach. I visited Kruger National Park and saw lions, elephants, rhinos, hippos and a giraffe that resembled that Zigic guy who played on Lucas Neill. I experienced the boozy fun of Cape Town’s Long Street, and chatted with Gareth Southgate at 2.25 in the morning. Shakira had told us that it was time for Africa, and how wise that scantily dressed, tanned songstress turned out to be. It was time for Africa, and we loved it. Tony Wilson’s ‘Making News’ is a novel about an exSocceroo who gets caught up in a celebrity sex scandal. www.tonywilson.com.au


paul mavroudis reviews “making news” by tony wilson Being a World Cup year, 2010 almost by necessity

has seen a a flurry of soccer cash in books, timed to make the most of the mainstream Australian public’s quadrennial interest in the round ball game. There is a pleasing difference this year however – for some reason Australian publishers have seen fit to take a chance on fictional takes on the game as opposed to the usual hackneyed biographies and hastily written histories. Already Adrian Deans (Mr Cleansheets) and Neil Humphreys (Match Fixer) have had their soccer related novels released this year – now it’s Tony Wilson’s turn to take a stab at the genre, with his second novel Making News. I fancy that most readers of this review, should they be familiar with Wilson’s work, will know him best by Australia United, his memoir of the 2006 World Cup. Making News however, has far more in common with his debut novel Players, his hilarious and surgical dissection of Melbourne’s Australian rules culture, particularly how its media wing has made gods of otherwise mere mortals who take part in a decidedly provincial and suburban hobby. Indeed, Making News is very much like Players in its style and scope, which may or may not put off readers of that work. Admittedly there was much trepidation on my part even after getting a fair start on the book, but what wins one over is Wilson himself. Wilson’s writing style has been likened to Ben Elton’s – perhaps due to their penchant for clever metaphors and conspiracies which soar ever higher into the realms of absurdity – but where Elton would be best described as a comedian dabbling in books, Wilson is clearly a novelist with a keen sense of humour. His prose is measured, letting his situations explain themselves without Elton’s ‘look at how witty and clever I am’ style; his timing and restraint is delightful, building suspense and deploying his punchlines in an effortless manner. The novel centres on Lucas Dekker, the offspring of celebrity power couple Charlie Dekker and his wife Monica. Charlie is perhaps the greatest Socceroo of all time, a national hero, who at the end of his career has found himself in the well trodden path of many a professional athlete – desperate for cultural relevance but without the means to do so now that he’s retired, and forced into plugging razor blades. Monica is a self-help guru who has sold millions of books, specialising in cliché-ridden, mass-produced fodder dealing in family values, while her own marriage is plagued by accusations of infidelity. Both Charlie and Monica despise the fact that they are

tabloid fodder, but reminiscent of Oscar Wilde’s famous maxim, that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about, the Dekkers are also reliant on the media for giving them an outlet to maintain their relevance and further their careers. Charlie in particular is distraught when Lucas wins a traineeship with The Globe, a particularly vile Red Top who had once attempted to imply that Charlie was part of a gay sex scandal. Making News therefore is not a soccer novel per se – it is much more about celebrity ego, and the lengths both the subjects of tabloid news and those who write for them will go to control the images that get placed into the public sphere. Wilson stresses the symbiotic nature of this arrangement, while tending to gloss over and forgive the consumer at the end of the supply chain. Where Players was happy to create an entirely fictionalised world, albeit while basing many of its key characters on well-known Australian rules identities, Making News seeks to rewrite history itself. Australia does not lose to Italy in Kaiserslautern – Fabio Grosso’s penalty claim is denied, and Charlie scores twice in extra time to send Australia through to the next round. Sepp Blatter even apologises to the unfairly vanquished Italians. Various actual Socceroos, FFA CEO Ben Buckley and even George Negus appear in the work. Underneath the levity, and even beyond the range of his black humour, Wilson seems to bear some deep seated grudges. The injustices go deeper than that day in Kaiserslautern – they often feel personal. Wilson does not have a soccer background; indeed he is steeped in Aussie rules culture. His father Ray was a member of Hawthorn’s 1971 VFL premiership team, and Tony himself for a time was on Hawthorn’s list, albeit never making a senior appearance. It’s these facts that make one ponder how much Lucas, a failed athlete but more than competent writer, is an attempt by Wilson to perhaps express his anger at his inability to be what his father was and perhaps wanted him to be. If the story falls over at any point, compared to Players at least, is that it’s not quite as plausible as Wilson’s debut. London and its cast of characters seem impossibly small; the villains more broad; the balance of the teenagers’ naivety and maturity leaning too much towards the latter. But these are minor quibbles. Wilson once again showcases his talent in creating alternative worlds which are often frighteningly plausible. Making News is a blackly comic novel tempered by just enough sweetness to allow readers to keep the turning the pages, with broad themes that should attract a diverse readership – it’s certainly deserving of that audience.


Chris paraskevas

Reflects on what we expect after Pim’s reign and whether Osieck will deliver

The one memory that stood out from Pim

Verbeek’s three year reign as Socceroos boss for yours truly didn’t come from any nail-biting away qualifier, high profile friendly match or any of the three matches in South Africa.

Many will point to the 4-0 thumping at the hands of Japan as being the low-point of Verbeek’s reign and unfortunately for the Dutch manager, it will be the result he is most remembered for in years to come.

“Who is Pim Verbeek?” future generations of i n q u i s i t ive young sports “..unfortunately for the fans will ask.

of you out there, ...the won’t be deviated from a der the German.”

“I’m pretty sure he was the bloke who made us lose 4-0 to Germany in South Africa...” future generations of old-enough sports fans will respond.

I’ll instead respond by describing a chilly night at the Olympic Stadium – “That’s what they used to call it, kids” – when the Socceroos were beaten 1-0 by China in a dead-rubber qualifier that will no doubt be lost to the sands of time. By that stage Australia had already made it through to the second round of World Cup qualifying and such was the lack of build-up to the match that I won’t bother to fish out the date that it was played on, nor the details of the match.

What I can vaguely remember is that what was essentially an Australian ‘B’ Team produced a dour performance against a rather more enterprising China, the 4-2-3-1 Verbeek classic and the absence of recognisable superstars hardly what the 60,000+ fans in Sydney paid good money to see. The Chinese walked away with a 1-0 win. No doubt if Verbeek came under criticism for sending out a weak side with conservative tactics on that evening, he’d have pointed out that his job only entailed getting the country to the World Cup by any means necessary.

Attending as a fan on that evening – and a relatively young one at that – I couldn’t help but feel frustration, despite my delight at the prospect of a very real opportunity at qualification for a consecutive World Cup. After all, I was being made to sit in sub-zero temperatures with Mile Jedinak and Bruce Djite as my main sources of entertainment (earnest players but hey, for the money I was paying, I felt I had a right to ask where Kewell and Co. were).

What Verbeek never understood about the Australian job was that it entailed much more than mere more artistic getting results. Four years Pim approach ago, results were all that as Guus Hiddink great deal un- mattered gambled us into the World Cup finals with performances that were never pretty, save for a 5-0 thumping of Jamaica at Craven Cottage in what I recall was his managerial debut with the Socceroos. But hey, back then fans hadn’t seen a World Cup appearance for 32 years and in the case of the younger generation, hadn’t seen Australia at the finals at all. We just wanted to be there!

It’s amazing how expectations have changed within such a short space of time; it took four games in Germany to raise standards after three decades of having, well, virtually no standards.


I’ve often argued that Australian fans and the media have asked for too much in demanding results and style to go with it. Having said that, it’s difficult to pin-point exactly what style we’re asking for given the extremities of some of the opinion pieces being put forth. The Craig Foster school of thought is one that has no doubt caught on amongst a sizeable chunk of the masses and demands the Total Football of the Dutch 74’ side meshed together with the technical and tactical subtlety of Spain at Euro 2008, a sprinkling of Guardiola’s Barcelona on top and a slice of Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal for good measure. Oh, and results with that please.

A rather more sensible demand is that the fighting spirit for which Australian sporting teams are supposedly famed be replicated on the football pitch: we should be afraid of no opponent, prepared to take the game to the world’s super powers at every opportunity and never die wondering – zero strikers against Germany doesn’t quite satisfy that standard, I suppose. The question of course is how we translate such cliches into some sort of tactical shape and approach. Our style of play is established and ingrained in virtually every other sporting arena, whether it be in the pool, on a cricket or rugby pitch, but can we legitimately claim to have a style of football of our own? Exactly what would this Aussie way of playing sport look like up against Spain, Italy or Brazil and would it actually work in practice?

Style, it seems, has become as important as results to everyone but Football Federation Australia, who in appointing Holger Osieck have made it abundantly clear that they are concerned only

with the financial benefits of consecutive qualification in the form of sponsorship deals and the like (think the stampede of ads – pun intended – that preceded South Africa 2010).

Osieck is anything but cavalier according to reports and it seems, unfortunately for the more artistic of you out there, that the Pim approach won’t be deviated from a great deal under the German. For the pragmatists, it’s another four years of heaven, though you probably number zero now that Verbeek has left the country. The first squad selected by the Duchman’s successor suggests it’ll be more of the same for the time-being, which will frustrate those who were so desperate to see a departure from the two holding midfielders, one half-striker, two backtracking wingers approach under Verbeek. At times like these, I urge those of you who desire at least six one-two’s on the way to goal to remember the humble beginnings that this nation’s football history has forever been founded on, specifically with regard to the struggles of the national team for the best part of 50 years.

There was a time where the Confederations Cup was the closest thing we got to the world stage and now it appears as though we’ll be on the greatest stage every four years thanks to the Asian Football Confederation, who we’ve yet to repay for their generosity in the form of results or diplomacy. There will also come a time where fans and analysts will have a right to demand both results and a unique, Australian approach to football but in truth, that’s some way off and understandably so given the dearth of youth development and the sterility of the A-League in its formative years. Oh, and try to remember some of Pim’s more admirable qualities if you feel as though you’ve gained nothing out of watching the Socceroos for the past three years. I for one will never forget that he began almost every press conference with “Ya, it was interesting,” even though the majority of the time what he spoke of was conspicuously dull. Perhaps he was more of a positive thinker than we care to remember?


Mike Salter “the football Tragic” compares

the Socceroos and kiwi’s perfomance at the world cup http://thefootballtragic.blogspot.com

Happy to be there

Perhaps it was inevitable that New Zea-

land’s performance at the World Cup would be hailed as a triumph in the aftermath, while Australia’s would be considered a flop. After all, the Kiwis had a team made up chiefly of A-Leaguers and battlers from the English second tier; Australia could boast experienced Euro professionals, many of whom, admittedly, were past their best.

World Soccer, one of the most sober football publications of them all, certainly saw it that way. “A job well done,” was their verdict on Ricki Herbert’s charges, while Australia’s performance in South Africa was described as “a huge disappointment”. Harsh words indeed.

Yet one can look at things somewhat differently. The Socceroos were in one of the toughest groups, both of whose eventual qualifiers reached the quarter-final stage. They scored four points (as they did in Germany four years ago), they were reduced to ten men in their two opening games, and they did ultimately post a well-deserved win. New Zealand deserve enormous credit for their draws against Slovakia and Italy, but the plain truth is that they had a good chance to qualify for the second round, and they simply failed to grasp it. And therein, I feel, lay the difference in the outlook of the two teams. The pre-World Cup friendly between the two sides showed that there really wasn’t all that much between them. Pim Verbeek’s fading brigade were shown up badly against Messrs. Fallon, Smeltz, Killen et al.

The course of the World Cup proper, too, showed that the Kiwis could mix it with World Cup opposition.

Yet, when it came down to it, New Zealand

were satisfied with three honourable draws and an early exit. Australia, despite their abysmal start, were not.

Holland’s assistant coach Frank de Boer stated that he knew the Dutch had the edge in their semi-final against Uruguay when he saw some of the opposition players, even those in the starting eleven, come onto the field with cameras. Implication: the Uruguayans were simply happy to be there, and determined to savour the moment. The Dutch, on the other hand, were there to win. For the Socceroos, this sort of self-belief has been one of the legacies of Guus Hiddink. Whatever their nondescript form heading into the tournament, the Australians expected to make an impact, and they played their final game against Serbia determined to do so. Consider the urgency with which they restarted play after going 2-0 up against the Serbs, knowing that more goals were required to improve their goal difference. Verbeek’s men meant business. And New Zealand? Their final game was against Paraguay, who were in pole position to qualify. But the South Americans played a languid, almost lazy game, content to snatch the draw which would put them through to the knockouts. New Zealand, on the other hand, had to win to have any chance. And the initiative was there for the taking. But New Zealand, to the last, were simply happy to be there.


Mike Tuckerman: Bad Hair, weird names..... they must be asian footballers

I once wrote that most Australians couldn’t tell the

difference between Shunsuke and Kengo Nakamura.

It was a throwaway line made in a piece for SBS website The World Game, and was a reference to the fact both players share the same surname. So it was with some amusement I read that the statement was “racist” according to that bastion of equality The World Game forum, with one poster suggesting that everyone with black hair must look the same to me.

I chuckled at the irony of it all, because it seems to me at least part of the reason so many Australian fans dismiss Asian football as irrelevant without knowing the first thing about it. I could write a book on all the misconceptions I’ve heard about Japanese football: from J. League clubs being owned by corporations (they aren’t) to J.League clubs owning the stadia they play out of (they don’t) to J. League clubs desperately chasing success in the AFC Champions League (they’re not). But it isn’t fans who make mistakes about the J. League that trouble me - I think it’s great to hear any sort of discussion about the Japanese game - but rather those who dismiss Japanese football as unworthy of attention when they’ve never even seen a match. There are other derivatives of this kind of behaviour, one of which sees fans insist that every Australian who plays in Japan must be worthy of a place in the Socceroos squad.

First it was Eddy Bosnar, next it will be Matthew Spiranovic; but the truth is the young defender has endured a wretched campaign at struggling Urawa Reds. The on-loan Nürnberg defender currently owes his place in the Urawa starting eleven to the obstinence of German coach Volker Finke, but you can bet your last dollar there will be a groundswell of support for Spiranovic to go to the Asian Cup. Perhaps Spiranovic should travel to Qatar - I certainly don’t doubt his individual ability - but it would be nice if those who clamour for his inclusion had actually seen a game or two.

And it’s not even that hard these days, with Setanta now broadcasting at least one live J. League game per week, while highlights show Football Asia is a breezy introduction to the Asian game. Maybe then we’d hear less about Josh Kennedy “dominating” the J. League because of his height (a sample selection of J. League defenders sees Shuhei Terada stand at 1.89m, Mato Neretljak at 1.91m, Yuji Nakazawa at 1.87m and Kennedy’s own team-mate Takahiro Masukawa at 1.91m). Kennedy doesn’t succeed in Japan purely because of his height, he does so because he’s a good player who receives excellent service from team-mates Mu Kanazaki, Keiji Tamada and Magnum.

None of this would be possible to discern if I thought all Asian players looked the same. I certainly don’t think Masukawa looks like his 1.73mtall team-mate Tamada, just as I don’t believe that fellow Nagoya players Danilson and Igor Burzanovic look anything alike either. But it’s this idea that Asian football is too hard to understand because all the players supposedly look the same or have unpronouncable names or wear funny hairstyles that makes the Asian game such a mystery to us. And then we see Kawasaki Frontale smash Central Coast Mariners 5-0 and Pohang Steelers annihilate Newcastle Jets 6-0 and wonder what their secrets are.

But there’s no secret to it: Asian players simply train hard, are technically skillful and bring unique indivdual characteristics to their team - just like anywhere else in the world. Until we start to realise that, and begin to treat Asian players as talented individuals with unique personal traits and a variety of skills, we’ll struggle to replicate their success.

And we’ll still be confused about which one is Shunsuke and which one is Kengo, which is a shame, because not only can we learn from our Asian neighbours to the north, we can also have a hell of a fun time doing it... dodgy haircuts and all. (Mike Tuckerman is the Asian Correspondent for Australian Football Weekly)


CHIPPY B: Buckle-Up Ben where the bloody hell are you?

What a fantastic month for Australian football.

While you’ve been recovering from the World Cup, I’ve been remembering the good old days. The good old days of Australian football!

No, not the National Soccer League (NSL) that was crap and let’s state it loud and proud right now. Crap!

Sure I loved watching my Sunday football, Gippsland Falcons against Brisbane Strikers from Perry Park or even from Morwell because that’s the sort of guy I am. But anyone who tells you the NSL produced better football, better players, better athletes and better entertainment is dreaming. Would you ever have watched more than one NSL game on tv in the same weekend even if you had the chance?

Last weekend Perth v Newcastle, Adelaide on Friday night, the Victory v Fury, Sydney v Brisbane were all great games. Sorry Craig Foster, but they were entertaining. Only the former Asian Cup Socceroos and 2008 Olyroos Coach Graham Arnold’s Central Coast leave me cold this season.. so far.

But while last weekends games convinced me once more, did I need it, that the A-League is the business, it’s not the two leagues that I’m really on about. And it’s not the headlines from these “professionals.”

Sure Robbie Slater, Bernie Mandic, Harry Kewell, (Mike Cockerill seems very quiet on this one doesn’t he) Jesse Fink (I want in) have been talking rubbish the lot of them. Robbie and Bernie what are you on guys? Silly, silly handbags, but while they have grabbed the headlines the good old days I’m talking about concern the Chief Executive Officer of Australian Football. Remember John O’Neill the guy who loved Rugger so much...he went back! One week he’d tell us football fans we’re in Asia, the next week he’d tell us we’ve appointed Gus Hiddink, oh and then he mentioned a new TV deal, or Government support or sponsorship. He even talked “Vision”.

And then he turns up at the first A-League match in Newcastle on a Friday night with a scarf on and talks to us straight from the ground. Now Buckle-Up Ben has been busy, we all know that - especially as his media officer, operations manager and co have been booted, but when do we get the sales pitch for the true believers. Announcing the Socceroos games post-World Cup for the coming season. All we get is a media release on paper. Announcing the new A-League season. Did Ben even go to the launch? Announcing our new Socceroos Coach. Frank did it,

Announcing our new 11th team and attending their first game. Did Ben go? Announcing new sponsors, the progress of the Asia Cup bid, oh and the small matter of the World Cup bid. There is so much good news, but it seems Ben is on holiday. Football fans want the good news to keep coming. There is so much of it, it’s merely the way you spin it or present it. If you need some help Ben just ask John O’Neill! But get the vibe out there, now!


La Happenings! Kieran Pender 2010/11 la liga season preveiw

All aboard the Death Star! “I am your father.”

So utters Darth Vader to son Luke in the dramatic Star Wars scene, as the pair battle furiously in some distant world. Back home, as Darth Mourinho joins the football Death Star, the Dark Side’s attempt to destroy the rebels intensifies with the addition of German pair Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira. Will the season end in flames, with the Santiago Bernabeu collapsing to the ground as arch-enemy Lionel Messi sends his missiles into the small gap between Iker Casillas and the goal post? And will Mourinho finally admit to Messi that he is the Argentinean’s father?

Probably not. For legal reasons La Happenings would prefer not to make any such paternal claims, however the movie’s thrilling ending could be matched by on field action in Spain this season, as a cashed up Real Madrid outfit ally themselves with one of the most successful managers of the past decade. In Jose Mourinho, the Madridistas found themselves a hero for last year; when he won the Champions League at the Bernabeu it was hailed as Madrid’s win, despite ‘the Special One’ still being contractually tied to Inter.

However after disposing of Manuel Pellegrini, Mourinho was ushered into Spain as the savour of the Galacticos, a man who could finally bring success to Madrid after so many years. While Mourinho was adamant no big signings would disrupt his pre-season, ever-spending president Florentino Perez could not allow his coffers to regain shape. Cue the addition to an already imposing outfit of Angel di Maria, Spanish winger Pedro Leon, exciting young talent Sergio Canales, defender Ricardo Carvalho and the German pair of Ozil and Khedira. While Carvalho may just be following his manager around, the Portuguese centre back has already been with Mourinho at Porto and Chelsea, the rest of the transfers give Mourinho a squad arguably stronger than rivals Barcelona.

Not that their Catalan counterparts have been quiet this summer, and despite rumours of economic mismanagement under the previous regime, new president Sandro Rosell has splashed the cash on defender Adriano and continues to push for Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

The biggest signing for Barcelona this off-season, however, arrived not under Rosell, but as a departing gift from Joan Laporta. The man who could continue Barcelona’s dominance over El Clasico rivals, and was Spain’s top goal scorer at the 2010 World Cup, is gifted striker David Villa.

El Gauje, Villa’s nickname meaning ‘the kid’ in a local Spanish dialect, was prolific during his time at Valencia, and has been given the title of ‘best striker in the world’ by several publications However after coinciding for multiple years with financial disaster and a general level of insanity at Los Che, Villa has moved onto a bigger stage; one of the most successful clubs in the world. Falling to Mourinho-managed Inter in the Champions League semi-finals last season, Barcelona were unable to repeat their feats of 2008/9, but still won the Spanish league title, keeping the superstars of Madrid in their place. However, with the man who stopped them in Europe now at the helm of the Galacticos, manager Pep Guardiola has a mammoth task to once again beat off the Dark Side of world football.

With Messi (pictured left), Dani Alves, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Pedro all joining Villa as attacking options, the Barcelona forward line seems unstoppable. Yet Mourinho managed it earlier in the year, and will be looking to do it again and put the pesky Catalonians back where they belong. Whether ‘the Special One’ can bring success to arguably the greatest collection of football talent in the world is obviously the million dollar question, but whatever the outcome of this year’s season, one thing is certain. It’s going to be an exciting title race. Elsewhere in Spanish football, Valencia will be trying to regroup after losing their two best players, Davids Villa and Silva.


of the last game of the season, sending Sevilla ahead of Mallorca and into fourth. To add insult to injury, UEFA recently decided that their poor financial state means they will not be allowed a place in the Europa League, the consolation prize for missing out on Champions League football.

Sadly for Mallorca fans, this season could be a tough one, especially without the joys of European football to behold. Despite doing such an amazing job last season, manager Gregorio Manzano had to be let go for financial reasons. New manager Michael Laudrup will have a tough job ahead, and has already lost key striker Aritz Aduriz to Valencia.

While the side have signed various replacements, Roberto Soldado (formerly of Getafe), Aritz Aduriz (Mallorca), Sofiane Feghouli (Grenoble) and Tino Costa (Montpellier), among others, Unai Emery will still have a massive task on his hands to keep the side in the Spanish top four while competing in the Champions League.

In the battle for third and fourth, Los Che will be up against Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and possibly even Deportivo la Coruna. While sad that none of these teams can really challenge Barcelona or Real Madrid for the big prize, it does lead to an intriguing battle. While Valencia managed third last season, the transfer movement out of the Mestalla give Sevilla and Atletico Madrid the upper hand, as both have so far managed to hold onto their stars. Despite spending most of last season agitating for a move, Sergio Aguero is still at the Vicente Calderon, while Diego Forlan is also still at Madrid after an impressive World Cup. As if by miracle, Luis Fabiano is still at Sevilla, after spending the last month being linked with everyone under the sun. Whether he’s still there come next month is another question, but even without the Brazilian striker, the Rojiblancos still pose a considerable attacking threat. One side who probably won’t be challenging for European football this season is Balearic Islanders Mallorca. The heartbreak side of last season, Los Bermellones was literally minutes away from Champions League football, a real achievement for a side on the brink of bankruptcy and lacking any star players.

All that changed however when young striker Rodri scored for Sevilla against Almeria in the 93rd minute

While they may not be competing for the top spots, Mallorca probably have enough quality to avoid the relegation battle; where new boys Hercules, Real Sociedad and Levante UD will join a variety of other sides trying to avoid the drop into oblivion. Lacking the amazing strength of their namesake, Hercules will need a miracle befitting of a Greek myths if they are to survive this season. Even the signing of Paraguayan international Nelson Valdez may not be enough for the side from Alicante.

The new La Liga season has it all: title race intrigue, a challenging battle for survival, and the usual dose of mid table mediocrity. Can Darth Mourinho send the Death Star into orbit? Or will Messi and co rescue the league from the hands of the Dark Side? The new season kicks off on early Sunday morning (AEST), so be sure to tune in!


Ben Halls‘ EPL PREVIEW http://thebenhallsblog.blogspot.com/

J

ust as the ironmonger said to the cobbler’s wife, here we go again. The start of a brand new Premiership football season. The embarrassment of the World Cup is long forgotten, the shameful behaviour of our top stars swept under the carpet and every fan believes once that maybe their team will have a break out year. By October those same fans will be calling for managers to be sacked, players to be dropped and signings to be made, but for now everyone is happily drunk on optimism.

Actually, in all fairness, the Premiership season is already a few games old so for some supporters their season has already turned into a Greek tragedy. That is especially true for Aston Villa fans, who saw their team react to another season of trying to crack the top 4 by parting ways with manager Martin O’Neill and losing 6-0 to Newcastle. The same could be said for Wigan as well, who opened their campaign by being beaten 4-0 by the mighty (sic) Blackpool and then allowing Chelsea to knock six past them. Oh, and don’t even get me started on West Ham appointing Avram Grant in an attempt to stay IN the Premiership... Anyway, all that really matters is this – the Premiership is back! And, may I say, it is back in quite explosive fashion. After the first two game days, there have been four 6-0 victories (Arsenal, Newcastle & two for Chelsea). Take THAT people who became disenfranchised with football thanks to a terrible World Cup!

Looking ahead to the 2010\2011 season, I can really see the biggest and bestest battle once again coming in the fight for fourth place. The dynamic at the top of the table is now getting

quite boring, with Manchester United and Chelsea being engaged in season long dogfights while Arsenal nip at their heals waiting for one of them to slip up. Conversely at the wrong end of the table, 2010 should see Wigan and West Ham finally end their charade of being Premiership teams and fall back a league. Blackpool too, sadly, look all too likely to join them back in The Championship. A battle for fourth place may not sound all that glamorous, but you have to realise just what is at stake. With fourth place comes the final chance to play in the Champion’s League, complete with a potential £30m windfall, the prestige needed to attract great players and an overall boost.

Gunning for 4th this year will most likely be Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester City. Spurs were the team able to grab 4th last year, taking advantage of a Manchester City implosion and a dismal campaign for Liverpool, and will be looking for a repeat performance. However, Liverpool seem to be resurgent under the leadership of Roy Hodgson while Manchester City would buy your mum if they thought it would help them on their way to the top. Make no mistake about it, this is the battle to track this season, not the fight for the top or bottom.

All of that brings me nicely to my final point, where I shall stand proudly atop my soap box and thrash out my stubborn opinions like an over enthusiastic seal begging for a fish. You see, I have a real issue with Manchester City being in contention for the Champion’s League.


This is not just because I’m a United fan and therefore am forced to hate them with every breath in my being, it is because quite simply they are trying to buy success.

spent close to £250m on players such as Robinho, Gareth Barry, Kolo & Yaya Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlos Tevez, Joleen Lescott, Jerome Boateng, David Silva, Craig Bellamy, Mario Balotelli and James Milner.

Oh but Ben, I hear the farmyard cow moo, Manchester United and all the top clubs Quite simply, they are a mercenary team, just spend fortunes on players to try to achieve like Chelsea were before Mourinho turned up success, surely you’re being a hypocrite? Well, and pumped heart and soul into them. no, Mr Cow, I am not. Ever since Real Mafor My basic point is “For some supporters their season has already some supporters their this - all the top turned into a Greek tragedy. That is especially season has already clubs spend, but the true for Aston Villa fans,” turned into a Greek truly great ones also tragedy. That is espeprovide their own. cially true for Aston Villa fans, drid’s ‘Galactico’ days, signing top Taking my own beloved, and City’s rival, Manplayers has been a huge priority for any major chester United as an example, they do buy big. club. In recent years, Michael Carrick, Owen HarI am fully aware that a top club needs to spend greaves, Dimitar Berbatov, Nani, Anderson and, £30m a year in the transfer market to remain of course, Rooney (pictured left) have all cost that way inclined. However, Manchester City over £15m to bring in. are spending much more than that in short spaces of time to try to assemble a competitive However, key players like Wes Brown, John team. O’Shea, Jonny Evans, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher and Gary Neville were brought In the last two years Manchester City have in young and developed.

From Tiger Woods wiping $2bn in share value off the companies he represented thanks to his fall from grace to Formula One giving the equivalent of £75m worth of advertising for a 1-2 finish, sport and business are intertwined.

However, despite Europe’s complex labour laws, there has to be a way to curb spending in the Premiership. If Manchester City have a successful campaign and beat out teams who have organically grown their status due to savy transfers and good management, it may be time to take action against all this spending. If not, money may well start to undermine the whole ‘sporting’ aspect of this sport known as football.


Shane Davis: Rebuilding the Socceroos

To rebuild gradually or swiftly? That is a dilemma Holger Osieck will face as he selects his first squad for the September friendlies and, in five months’ time, his first competitive squad for the Asian Cup. The temptation, as always in a possible rebuilding phase, is to maximise the chance of succeeding in the forthcoming competitive outing. When one of Australia’s two major tournaments takes place just seven months after the other, it’s particularly tempting to keep around many of the World Cup players in their early 30s in the hope that their experience can deliver the country’s first male major title. For the new coach himself, it would also boost the public’s confidence in him ahead of a long World Cup qualifying campaign. Whatever the temptation though, a broad policy of out with the old and in with the new appears logical, not least because the old brigade should not inspire much confidence in landing the Asian Cup in the first place. In particular, the trials and tribulations in the last month of Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill -- the two main 30+ figureheads in attack and defence respectively -- should give Osieck food for thought.

The Harry Kewell-Robbie Slater saga doesn’t reflect well on either party but for Slater’s sake he at least has no national team position to maintain. As much as Kewell may have come out swinging regarding his playing future, things have probably gotten to the stage where his (increasingly public) distractive and meddling presence in the national team off-sets any further good form at Galatasary. It would also send out a powerful, instructive message from Osieck if he were to not select such a traditionally high profile and firstchoice player of 13 years. Neill is also a special case as captain and the easy option, in a sense, would be to continue with him in that role in the Asian Cup to provide a steady hand and help young players settle into the team. Against Slovenia however, Neill did not distinguish himself as a captain of an inexperienced side in need of guidance under a temporary coach.

Friendlies, particularly so soon after the World Cup and so early in the club season, rarely involve much intensity but the lack of it from Australia was strange given the spots up for grab and Osieck’s presence in the stands.

Perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Neill himself was playing overly casually (a frustrating habit of his), and in the end his lackadaisical distribution would allow Zlatan Ljubijankič to score Slovenia’s second goal. Even at his best it’s going to be a huge stretch for Neill to make Brazil 2014 at 36 and do what John Kosmina, Charlie Yankos, Paul Wade, Alex Tobin, Paul Okon and Mark Viduka before him couldn’t: become the first to captain Australia through back-to-back World Cup campaigns since the 1970s. If Osieck is intent on giving his likely 2014 captain the experience of leading the Socceroos in the Asian Cup, he will surely have to name a new full-time skipper. But who? Of the long established players, Tim Cahill (34 in 2014, but a late bloomer and still at his peak) and Luke Wilkshire (32) appear in reasonable contention to still be starters at Brazil 2014. Osieck would probably be justified going either way; Cahill is the more obvious choice than a player many deemed substandard four years ago, but Wilkshire would represent an even fresher look for the national team and do more to break away from the sizeable ego club of the present over-30s. Those are the experienced men, so what of the youngsters looking ahead to Qatar 2011? 37-year-old Mark Schwarzer’s name can probably have a line run through it but not simply because of age (Pat Jennings managed to make Mexico 1986 and perform sufficiently for Northern Ireland at 41, so Schwarzer shouldn’t be completely ruled out as being even a back-up). It would be nice to see how Adam Federici would fare in a senior major tournament and it wouldn’t do Schwarzer much good if he were to leave Fulham (after a transfer dispute) or Arsenal in the busy period of January.


A failure of Pim Verbeek’s reign was the inability to steadily bring through young players successfully and promote confidence in the local scene, and Osieck will need to stay strong and remain assured in the face of disappointing early results or performances. For encouragement with regards to rebuilding at the Asian Cup, he would be well advised to look back on Australia’s 2007 campaign, where shaky newcomers like David Carney, Michael Beauchamp and Mark Milligan battled valiantly after many of the experienced men let the team down.

(Photo of Kewell and Viduka by Atosha McCaw) Successful major rebuilding requires courage and faith when it comes to giving young players opportunities and not necessarily waiting for newcomers to fully “earn” their selection. Perhaps not many would think he’s done enough quite yet to make a major tournament squad, but Ben Kantarovski is the type of player arguably worth giving an early and extended chance to gain experience and make his way into the Socceroos.

Elsewhere, Matthew Špiranović (impressive at Beijing 2008) and Shane Lowry (cut from the 2010 squad) appear good young selections. In midfield, the somewhat forgotten man Neil Kilkenny should come back into contention due to his good form at Leeds and Graham Arnold’s belated departure, while the likes of Tommy Oar and James Troisi (now a regular in Turkey) are worth trying out at the expense of the continually ineffective Richard Garcia. Up front, Nikita Rukavystya, Nathan Burns, Dario Vidošić and possibly Mathew Leckie come to mind. Sadly, as much as youth should be persisted with, it must be said that Bruce Djite’s days with the Socceroos should probably come to an end for the foreseeable future given his extended run of opportunities and poor performances in them. Not every youngster given a chance will work out but that should not scare off or put pressure on Osieck.


South Australian football writer

Nat Adamopoulos

FOOTBALL DINOSAURS – WHY IS IT WE FEAR THEM? Having lived almost all my life somehow being in-

volved within the game of football both on and off the pitch, I have observed that there seems to be a recurring nightmare that our national and state administrators and governing bodies apparently have over and over again. That is of course the fear of the football dinosaur - those past coaches, players and administrators that sadly have been slotted into the classification of yesterdays men…some becoming heroes and others being tagged villains.

And if we must refer to them with the name of ‘dinosaurs’ then surely they are our greatest resource????If you speak to any paleontologist that studies these prehistoric creatures then you would know there is much to learn from them. And yet those at the top in the sport of football shun them away, waving their hands to gesture and suggest they know nothing and are not wanted…which is further than the truth. When dinosaurs first appeared about 230 million years ago the world was very different. There were very few of the animal groups we recognise today - no mammals, no birds and no lizards and very basic plant life. When our football pioneers first appeared the sport of football was very different. There were very few of the operational groups that we recognize today – very little sponsors, little or no media and marketing, no local prime time tv and no huge million dollar wages. The dinosaurs adapted to their surroundings and existed on very little as did our football pioneers. Now Im no rocket scientist here, but if

I had someone that survived on very little and had tasted some success, I know I would be accessing them all areas to firstly find out how the hell they did it and second-

ly, to see just how they would flourish having everything at their fingertips in todays environment.

There are many aspects of the game we can focus on here but lets just look at the coaching side of things… as this is consistently a talking point across the board for all who love this game so much. Im not preaching to the converted when we talk about the British invasion and the way our country’s technical influences have come mostly from Britain and quite rightly so as our county was based on British migrants originally.

That’s not to say British football was not good for us in Oz but somewhere along the line this direction stagnated and hasn’t worked and after many years of those in the know that sit in the outer trying to tell us this, the sport is now realizing we need something to boost our country’s level of capabilities and advancement for our football future. We look to new nationalities for coaching knowhow like going Dutch over the last few years. Correct me if Im wrong here but the definition of going dutch was that both parties paid for the services that were being provided or event that was happening and clearly that doesn’t happen here. ‘And yet we seem to have a multitude of knowledge and talent sitting in our own backyards that can be accessed and shared but for some reason isn’t. Four such great living pioneers are Rale Rasic, Zoran Matic, Raul Blanco and Les Scheinflug all Football Federation Australia Hall of Fame inductees, all intelligent men that have a vast knowledge and have achieved so much within their own realms and king-


doms of coaching and yet are consistently snubbed and ignored by the constanbulary. Just talk to these men and they will tell you they would willingly give their knowledge for the love of the game in the name of progress yet are never accessed. One wonders why this is so?

Between the Fab Four we have years and years of football knowhow and experience. The first Rale Rasic who is considered by many an Aussie soccer legend. Born in the former Yugoslavia, he immigrated to Australia in the early 1960s to play in the Victorian soccer league. By the ‘70s he had revolutionised the game in this country and, as coach of the Socceroos, masterminded Australia’s first qualification for a FIFA World Cup. Rasic has spent his life immersed in the game, so who better to ask about how the game has evolved over the years and what the country could do to change its success?

Following is Les Scheinflug a man who was assistant coach to Rale Rasic before the 1974 FIFA World Cup. He later coached the Socceroos team as well as the under 17 and 20 teams. Australian Hall of Fame Inaugural Inductee, Australian National Team Coach, Australian Youth Team Coach, 1979 NSL Coach of the Year… yet another who has seen what life at the top is all about and what is needed to stay there. Raul Blanco an Argentine-born Australia Association football coach who was well known for coaching the Socceroos from March 1998 to June 1999. He was also coaching the Olyroos (Under-23 side) at the same time and coached them during the 2000 Summer Olympics. Another ingredient to the receipe of success possibly? Then there’s Zoran Matic, the best man never to coach the Socceroos, a man who led Adelaide City to three NSL titles in a career which spanned 15 seasons. A man who knows the meaning of impossible is nothing. This man in his heyday was indestructible managing players who amongst them not only had talent but egos. A man who brought the best out of his players in the worst situations. A man who brought a side sitting in a pretty dismal 11th place on the ladder and looking anything but a finalist to rise to the task and storm up the ladder to reach fifth

spot on the ladder to make the finals. Then storm through a tough four finals games in 21 days to reach the grand final only to be beaten on the day. And the proves he is still indestructible today, last year recoving from serious injuries after falling an estimated six metres at a building site. He suffered from a brain haemorrhage, blood clot behind his eye, a cracked bone in his neck, fractured ribs, broke his arm and shattered left knee cap. But he recovered and recovered well for he is a man that chews up adversity and spits it out. Sometimes we can’t see the proverbial forest for the trees and subsequently miss what’s in our own backyard until someone else digs it up and benefits from it. Just like New Zealand’s Ricki Herbert did when he appointed Raul Blanco as his Technical Assistant in Coaching for the 2010 World Cup. And do you know why he did this???

Ricki Herbert took the time to sit down and speak informally to these guys as a mentor group, well 3 out of the 4 anyway and he came away from that conversation with so much valuable information no money on earth could buy. He then went on to employ one of the dinosaurs to ensure he could follow on from that meeting and put that knowledge to work. Now that’s being football smart! Here was a side representing a country that everyone touted as non deserving to be in the World Cup because of their qualification path and yet were better performers than the Socceroos, even managing to hold reigning World Cup Champions Italy to a 1-1 all draw…..not a bad effort by anyone’s stand

So as we flood our country full of Dutch coaching at the top along with a sprinkle of German knowhow and hope that football advances despite still having a majority of coaching at the lower ranks that laggs way behind…all ozzies can do is hope for a miracle. Because we all know there is nothing like experience and knowledge that has come from being there and doing that as these dinosaurs have done before us.

But instead of tagging them as dinosaurs I prefer to call them pioneers…pioneers that laid thefootball foundations for us to build on. In our own modern Jurassic Park, we must extract as much information from the Football Dinosaurs of the past to ensure we rise to the football future that awaits us.


DEJAN KALINIC:

Is a Football reporter with a passion for the game from grass roots to international level.

All laughs, no Fury, up North North Queensland Fury has

quickly established itself as the second favourite team for A-League purists around the country.

Fury Head Coach Franz Straka

Its exciting and open style of play is a key reason, along with an underlying enthusiasm amongst its young players and Czech coach. In week three of the A-League, they showed courage beyond their years to hold on for a point against the Melbourne Victory. The support from the neutrals could evaporate if they develop a poor run of form after a nice start to the season, which has involved them putting behind a tumultuous offseason. The enthusiasm of a couple of young stars appears to have rubbed off on the 52-year-old Franz Straka. The attacking intent and freedom from the likes of Isaka Cernak, 21, Chris Payne, 19, David Williams, 22, and Osama Mailk, 19, has been vital. To see the quartet playing well is one thing, but to see them dancing in celebration of goals and involving Straka is a joy to behold.

Meanwhile, Payne moved from champion Sydney and has made a thrilling start to the new season. Two goals and three assists, including a stunning pass for Williams to put the Fury ahead in Perth, and a delicate pass to put Dyron Daal behind against Sydney have been highlights already.

The story of Williams is one that can underline what appears to be a fine culture up north.

Stepping up to take a pressure penalty in front of a vocal set of Victory fans at AAMI Park, to level the scores, he showed nerves of steal to convert.

Returning from Denmark, Williams was expected to join the exodus that faced the Fury at the end of season five amongst financial troubles.

He has etched his place in the minds of many Australian football fans for his infamous handball goal against Wellington in last season’s finals series.

The losses included Rostyn Griffiths to Central Coast and Shane Stefanutto, who was a World Cup dark horse before a knee injury ended his season.

But the front man has enough time to steal the thoughts and praises of fans for positive reasons for the remainder of the season.

Instead, Williams signed on despite interest from elsewhere and fellow young talents Cernak and Payne joined him at the Fury.

The 19-year-old has a good first touch, pace off the mark giving him explosiveness and a fine shot.

Raw pace and an improving array of important attacking skills including finishing have made Williams a handy player. Cernak, now a teammate, showed glimpses at the Brisbane Roar, but given a chance and a starting berth by Straka has seen him excel.

He has a delicacy too, needed in tight spaces and under heavy pressure, particularly if playing the lone front man. “It leads to a potentially very dangerous attacking partnership with the loyal Williams and the likes of Cernak and Malik assisting”


Fury players celebrate: chris grossman, Erick Akoto and david williams find out where to get franz straka’s coat!

Fury pictures by Daniel Flis Courtesy of Goal!Weekly They can have and will hopefully continue to expose a number of A-League defences. For most of last season, fans supported the Fury against all teams but their own because of the underdog tag. Injuries in defence appear to be one of the few things capable of rattling the Fury’s depth, but they are not alone in the A-League with this issue. There is strength in attack with the impressive and always lively Daal struggling to get a spot in the 11.Midfielder and captain Ufuk Talay, as well as returning Australian Gareth Edds are vital cogs in the Fury side, dictating the tempo and possession for Straka’s side.

Fury winger and brisbane roar reject isaka cernak has been in excellent early season form: his afro is by far the best!

Yet, those predictions look warranted in the scheme of things with the club edging towards non-existence at the end of season five. But the faith has been placed in Straka and his youngsters and it has thus far paid off. Youthful enthusiasm can only get you so far, particularly playing against experienced and hardened bodies across the league. We will see goals, pace and excitement.Fingers crossed a loss or a succession of won’t dismantle the dancing. Hopefully the Fury can kangaroo hop into the finals.


Sydney FC in Pictures

Photo


os by Geoff Jones and courtesy of Goal Weekly


Glenn Siever (alias Midfielder) 2010 Mariners Preview Were do I think we will come… hopefully top four…

We have had heaps of changes to our squad since Graham Arnold has taken over. GA has changed the make up of the side so much from previous sides. This side seems to reflect GA’s want to have a young side with lots of talent plenty of speed and high technical ability. The Mariners is a young looking side very young but with substance I have listed at the end from the club site brief details of each player, listed their date of birth, age and any representative honours they have had. GA new side has 12 players under 25 including 7 players under 21 with one more spots to fill. Not that different to the current Germany side.

GA is looking for an experienced midfielder or striker, maybe even a marquee, but a marquee on a Mariners budget is my guess. Rumour was a Socceroo was returning, that has gone quite now and South American is the new word. The next signing GA has said will have experience and be expected to help build the squad.

Worth watching is whether GA can develop a side with all the Australian players aside from Lewis & Kwasnik having had representative honours. (Think about it, 15 of Mariner players have represented Australia at various levels.) Then add McGlinchey (New Zealand AW & Scotish U 20) and Perez (Argentina U 20). That is 17 representative players. Support this with a handful of experienced overseas harden players, HHHHMMMMMM. Is Graham Arnold up to developing this very talented and young squad into a top side? Does he need more than one year? Is this an A League seven and eight top side? Players to watch Oliver Bozanic very very very special IMO will be at least an A-League Socceroo .. this kid is a local boy returning home … he is a real talent ….

Mustafa Amini many good critics including Les Murry regard this kid who just turned 17 (April) as Australia’s best junior since Harry … and GA is charged with developing him (HHHHHMMMM) … … Expectations are high so I hope they do not bury him… He also needs to break into the run on team as well … but certainly one to watch especially for the future… Patricio Perez could be a huge flop but could also be one of the best buys the A-League has ever made…

rumour (from pub talk) is Perez was brought to help with the development of Amini. GA in a wide ranging Canberra interview hinted this may be the case as well without naming the player. Also keep an eye on Rostyn Griffiths and Trent Sainsbury, who have been impressive in training and trials…

The Mariners midfield will be totally different to previous years with Porter moving from fullback to mid where he played all his junior and rep football. We will have the smallest midfield in the league with speed to burn, and on paper at least lots and lots of ball skills.

Our defence this year looks solid without being the best in the league. It will be hard to break down especially if Chris Doig stays fit and Joshua Rose lives up to his name. Our front men Matty & Breen with decent ball from mid field can score. They will be supported by three number 10’s to choose from in McGlinchey , Amini & Perez. The midfield if GA and the players can put it all together could be mouth watering. Beyond doubt the strikers will get better service than they ever have before.

Importantly for the first time the squad has the look of the Mariners long term planning from before we kicked a ball in Hal 1. That is accept we are a developing league that will loose its best players to overseas leagues. Accordingly try and get the best juniors you can into the squad, those who we may be able to sell. Thereby providing revenue to compete with the bigger clubs. Also to make it too and overseas team they will have to perform very well in the A-League so double bonus, plays well and revenue who could ask for more, further should attack other good juniors, and the cycle continues. Looking forward A League season 7 & 8 will be great season if we can hold this squad together, meaning there certainly appears a long term plan to entice top juniors, raise revenue and produce a creative and technically strong team. The sense of both long and short term planning that seems to have gone into this squad does impress me. In summary a totally different Mariners side to before, so much to look forward to, so much could go wrong, so much could go right, is GA the man for the job? Is the side to young?


Have a bow peep at the side, there is some real talent in this squad! Goal Keepers Name Jess Vanstrattan

Age 28

Int Honours Australian Under 17 and Under 20

Matthew Ryan

18

Defenders Pedj Bojic Chris Doig Sam Gallagher

26 29 19

Australia Under-17

Rostyn Griffiths

22

Australia Under 16’s and Under 17’s

Joshua Rose (pictured below) Trent Sainsbury Marc Warren

29 18 18

Young Socceroos Young Socceroos

Alex Wilkinson

26

Young Socceroos, Socceroos - 1 cap

Young Socceroos

Midfield Name Mustafa Amini

Age 17

Int Honours Young Socceroos

Oliver Bozanic

21

Socceroo ( 1 match), Young Socceroos

John Hutchinson

29

Don’t laugh International for Malta

Matthew Lewis Michael McGlinchey

20 23

Bradley Porter

23

Australian U 20 & U 23

Patricio Perez

25

Argentine under 20

Forwards Adam Kwasnik

27

Daniel McBreen Matt Simon (pictured above) Nik Mrdja

33 24 32

New Zealand International, Scotland Under 20’s

Socceroos squad against Indonesia Socceroos matches Asian qualifiers Socceroo - 1 cap


NUFCMVFC was at the Bubble Dome for the

Victory’s first home game.

Dawn of a New Era Round two of the 6th A League season, saw a new era dawn for football in Melbourne, with Melbourne’s first competitive A League match providing the new Rectangular stadium at Olympic Park a proper football christening. The event had been a long time in coming. There had been delays firstly regarding the capacity (which got put up from 20,000 to 31,000 to ensure the new stadium could meet Melbourne’s growing fanbase) and secondly the construction period was timely as well. Interestingly, some of the most enjoyable aspects of the whole match-day custom was returning back to the original haunts in Melbourne, getting off at different train or Tram spots, a different Car Park, talking to friends that one has made over the past few years back at the original and proper Richmond based drinking holes and walking to the Stadium once again along the original streets.

All this being topped off with the North and South Terraces back in their spiritual homes (and geographically the correct way around once again). Inside the ground, one enjoys the vibe of a real football experience as the chants reverberate through the catacombs of the stadium, there is the vibrant feel that only comes with being in a near full stadium in the air, something which wasn’t quite apparent at the Muscat testimonial and the Heart open day a week earlier. There has been a Rugby League international that pulled 31,000 for the stadium’s opening, but there is a different feel to football and Rugby League crowds which translates to a different feel come gameday.

When the first “derby” comes and Melbourne play the Heart Franchise created to accommodate surplus investors (and provide market saturation) is played on October 2nd, the stadium will be a place to behold.

Into the stadium, where the views are all excellent there is naturally a more proper football feel to the looks and feel of the stadium, right down to being able to feel the chill of the Melbourne winter air which you don’t get at Docklands. Another element you don’t get at Docklands is such a pristine pitch which should ensure some excellent footballing displays over the coming season.


Melbourne Victory in Pictures

Photos by Anita Mila


as, Daniel Flis courtesy of Goal Weekly


Perth Glory in Pictures

Pics by Anita


a Milas courtesy of Goal Weekly


Newcastle Jets in Pictures

Photos by J


John Turton, Adam Butler (courtesy of Goal Weekly)


sarah d looks forward to a new a-league season

I had been looking forward to the arrival

of my membership package as it means the football season is imminent. Also, I really liked last year’s membership’s gift- a fridge magnet in the shape of a jersey with the draw outlined for me.

The complimentary calendar with Sydney FC with the draw provided entertainment with interesting trivia- “look, on the 2nd of October in 2006 Carbone scores on his debut and oh that reminds me that there is a home game in three days” Both were more than useful to me and others in planning our lives around the football season draw. It was also useful to have the draw on the back of my membership that came in its own lanyard pouch. I liked to hang the lanyard and membership card up so I couldn’t forget where it was. It looked like I was set and couldn’t double book myself. This season I was left underwhelmed and unsatisfied by the white puffy packages arrival. My membership card had the usual cove image on the front but on the back there was only my seat number and that as a patron I must comply with the terms and conditions.

I did get a lanyard with the reminder that that we are the champions, but sadly no

pouch and a hole at the top of my card for the clip. Along with the golden ticket membership card there was a complimentary sticker with the slogan “your club, your champions” window hanger of a mini jersey. On one side it’s the home kit on the other the away kit, cute, but equally as useless as the sticker.

Now, almost four weeks into the season I’ve managed to double book myself twice on upcoming home games. I know for a fact that had the draw been printed on that useless cute mini jersey my friends would be less angry at my cancelling and dropping out of plans for football. As the season goes on I know some people

will feel the same, and have to endure the unimpressed rolling of eyes from friends and family as we say “sorry, forgot, football that Saturday.”


NEW SOUTH WALES BONDI JUNCTION, RAIL BOOKSTALL BONDI JUNCTION, SHOP 2, 93 GROSVENOR ST BONDI JUNCTION, BONDI JUNCTION RAILWAY NEWSAGENCY, GRAFTON ST BONDI JUNCTION, BONDI JUNCTION NEWSAGENCY, 201 OXFORD ST BONDI JUNCTION, EASTGATE NEWSAGENCY, 71-91 SPRING ST CHATSWOOD, CHAT’S NEWSAGENCY, 569 PACIFIC HWY CHATSWOOD, CHATSWOOD NEWSAGENCY, SHOP 249, 813 PACIFIC H’WAY CNR HELP ST CHATSWOOD, CHATSWOOD WESTFIELD NEWSAGENCY, SHOP 229-230 WESTFIELD S/TOWN, SPRING ST HORNSBY , NORTHGATE NEWSAGENCY, SHOP 1066 WESTFIELD S/TOWN HORNSBY, CORONATION STREET NEWSAGENCY, 16 CORONATION ST HORNSBY, HORNSBY MALL NEWSAGENCY, SHOP 1 33 FLORENCE ST HORNSBY HEIGHTS, HORNSBY HEIGHTS NEWSAGENCY, SHOP 4, 110 GALSTON RD HORNSBY, TO’S NEWSAGENCY HORNSBY WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN, SHOP 1, 33 FLORENCE ST BURWOOD, TOMKINS & GODWIN NEWSAGENCY, SHOP 2A, 16-22 BURWOOD RD BURWOOD, BURWOOD NEWSAGENCY, SHOP 7, MURRAY ARCADE, 127-133 BURWOOD RD PARRAMATTA, DALLAS NEWSAGENCY, THE CONNECTION ARCADE, SHOP 6, 162-172 CHURCH ST PARRAMATTA, PARRAMATTA CBD NEWSAGENCY, SHOP 16 MAYFAIR MALL, 272 CHURCH ST PARRAMATTA, SHOP 2 NEW EASTERN SUBWAY, ARGYLE ST NORTH ROCKS, GOODNEWS NEWSAGENCY, RAMP ON 328-335 NORTH ROCKS RD NORTH ROCKS, NORTH ROCKS NEWSAGENCY, 312B NORTH ROCKS RD LIVERPOOL, ELIZABETH DR NEWSAGENCY, UNIT 4 / 1 WOODLANDS RD LIVERPOOL, LIVERPOOL PLAZA NEWSAGENCY, SHOP 27 LIVERPOOL PLAZA,NORTHUMBERLAND ST LIVERPOOL, THAI L & V NEWSAGENCY, 64 MOORE ST HURSTVILLE, FOREST ROAD NEWSAGENCY, 308 FOREST RD HURSTVILLE, ORMONDE NEWSAGENCY HURSTVILLE, SHOP 4, 14-16 ORMONDE PARADE HURSTVILLE , NORTH HURSTVILLE NEWSAGENCY, SHOP 4 LEADER BUILDING CNR.FOREST & PARK RD, 182 FOREST RD MIRANDA , MIRANDA NEWSAGENCY, 88 KIORA RD MIRANDA, STH MIRANDA NEWSAGENCY, 94A KIORA RD TUGGERAH, SHOP 1082 WESTFIELD SHOP/TN, COBBS RD KOTARA, SHOP 133 GARDEN CITY SHOPP CTR, CNR PARK AVE & NORTHCOTT DR WARRAWONG, SHOP 4, 72-74 KING ST WARRAWONG, SHOP 39 - 40 WESTFIELD, WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN WARRAWONG, WARRAWONG NEWSAGENCY, SHOP 1, 145 KING ST FIGTREE, FIGTREE NEWSAGENCY - SHOP 1, 5 BELLEVUE RD FIGTREE, FIGTREE NEWSAGENCY - SHOPS 29-30, WESTFIELD S/CTR THE AVE

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Half Time Heroes August 2010