Who Is Walter Pless?

Walter_Pless

A teacher by profession, but is now in his 38th year as a football writer. Has written for "Soccer Action" (Melbourne), "Australian Soccer Weekly" (Sydney) and "World Soccer" (London), as well as for several Tasmanian newspapers. Currently contributing to "Goal!Weekly" in Melbourne and the Australian magazine "Soccer International". Played for Croatia-Glenorchy, Caledonians, Metro, Rapid and University in Tasmania, as well as in the United States of America. Coached University, Metro and Croatia-Glenorchy.

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Where, oh, where is the A-League going?


Watching tonight’s first leg of the major semi-final between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC at Etihad Stadium took me back to my time in America in the mid to late 1960s and the National Soccer League.


It reminded me that in Australia, just as in America, football is not king.


Etihad Stadium tonight was a disgrace.


One end of the pitch was like a beach, with hardly a blade of grass.


A rock concert had been held there in the past few days and sand had been spread and compressed in a vain attempt to try and repair the damage to the grass.


It looked just like the baseball grounds in which those American NSL games were played all those years ago.


The attendance of 18,453 was the lowest ever for a Melbourne Victory finals home match.


This is a far cry from Melbourne’s average for finals home games of 47,000.


I wondered whether an AFL finals game would have gone ahead on such a pitch.


For the record, Melbourne won 2-1 through first-half goals by Nik Mrdja in the 16th minute and Carlos Hernandez in the 40th.


John Aloisi replied for Sydney in the 42nd minute, his shot taking a decent deflection off Kevin Muscat before looping over Mitch Langerak in the Melbourne goal.


Mrdja’s goal came following a beautiful pass out of defence by Muscat.


Simon Colosimo and Stephan Keller, the two Sydney centre-backs, made a complete hash of trying to cut out the pass and Colosimo actually headed the ball down and into the path of Mrdja to score.


Hernandez, who took the second goal well with a shot across Clint Bolton from the left of the box after Colosimo and Keller were caught square, almost had a second three minutes after the resumption, but his lob with the outside of the right foot dipped sharply and hit the crossbar.


The gloss was taken off Melbourne’s victory when Mrdja was sent off in the 73rd minute after he elbowed Shannon Cole in the jaw behind play.


The return leg is in Sydney in two weeks’ time.


Let’s hope there’s not a rock concert scheduled there.













Steve Darby, the former White Eagles coach who is now assistant coach of the Thailand national team, has sent a genuine Poland short to his former captain at White Eagles, Mark Leszczynski.


I delivered the shirt and match programme to Mark ‘Spider’ Leszczynski today and he was chuffed at Darby’s gesture.


Spider was one of the mainstays of that great Eagles team of the middle-80s to early 90s and was almost unbeatable at sweeper.


Thailand played Poland in a four-team tournament in Bangkok recently and Darby managed to get the number 5 shirt from one of the Polish players after the match.


Poland beat Thailand 3-1.


The other teams in the tournament were Denmark and Singapore.


*****


Ian Gray, the former Australian international, has been found dead in his apartment in Elizabeth Bay, Sydney.


The 46-year-old's death is being treated as suspicious by police.


******


Manchester United beat AC Milan 3-2 in their European Champions League match before 80,000 fans at the San Siro this morning (Australian time).


Wayne Rooney scored twice for United, who led 3-1 at one stage.


Paul Scholes grabbed the opener for United, who had Michael Carrick sent off near the end.


Ronaldinho opened the scoring for Milan after just three minutes following a David Beckham free-kick, while Clarence Seedorf netted Milan's second five minutes from time.


In the other game played in France, Lyon beat Real Madrid 1-0 through a goal by Jean Makoun.






New Town Eagles goalkeeper Nathan Pitchford will be out of action for three to four weeks after injuring his right shoulder in Sunday’s penalty shoot-out against Olympia.


Eagles won the shoot-out and Pitchford saved one penalty, but he suffered an injury to his AC joint while diving to his right for a penalty taken by Aaron Smith Richardson.


Smith-Richardson scored with the spot-kick.


Pitchford has suffered a grade 1 tear in the AC joint.


Andrew Savage was at training tonight and seems certain to be selected in Eagles’ senior side for Sunday’s Summer Cup match against Tilford Zebras.


Savage filled in last season when Pitchford suffered a serious knee injury in a pre-season friendly.


But, he snapped an Achilles tendon in his first Summer Cup match and also missed the rest of the season.


Craig Minty filled in initially until Eagles signed Michael Soszynski.


Minty was in Melbourne tonight and his availability for the weekend is uncertain.


******


Glenorchy Knights striker-cum-midfielder Danny White received a one-match suspension after being sent off in Saturday’s Summer Cup match against Taroona.


White will miss Sunday’s game against Clarence United, in which Luke Huigsloot (Clarence) will come up against Jacob Huigsloot (Knights).


******


Former leading referee Michael Sprod is making a comeback, but whether he will referee at Premier League level is not known


There were six referees at training at the Showgrounds this evening.


Referees' head Robert Freke is generally pleased with the attitude of his charges this year.


*****


Metro's women's Premier League side have now forfeited all their Summer Cup matches.


Initially, they had withdrawn only form the opening game against Olympia.


I suspect they will face a fine imposed by FFT.




















Many players dread a penalty shoot-out.


It’s amazing how many accomplished players fail when the pressure is on and they have to score from 12 yards (11 metres).


Remember John Terry’s miss in the European Champions’ League Final for Chelsea against Manchester United in Moscow?


How about Roberto Baggio’s miss in the World Cup Final for Italy against Brazil in 1994?


The game is littered with such glaring failures by big-name players.


But, there are players who never miss. They say a penalty is just a simple 12-yard pass.


During a game, players make 12-yard passes all the time in normal play, so why do they fail when they have to make ‘a 12-yard pass’ in a penalty shoot-out?


It’s probably because of the mental pressure.


Shown above are photos of what I have called: “Anatomy of a penalty shoot-out”.


It’s the shoot-out between Olympia Warriors and New Town Eagles last Sunday in their Summer Cup match at South Hobart.


I wonder how you would have fared if you had been one of the penalty takers, or one of the goalkeepers?