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.