Who Is Walter Pless?

Walter_Pless

A teacher by profession, but is now in his 37th 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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Australian representative footballer Alistair Rattray passed away in Hobart today at the age of 85.


Alexander (Alistair) Scott Rattray was born in the Scottish town of Burrelton and migrated to Australia as a 17-year-old.


Rattray, a skilful half-back, was a member of the Australian team which participated in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.


He first played for Wanderers in Hobart in 1949 and was a founding member of Caledonians, together with the late trio of Bob Easterbrook, Jim McCreadie and Jock Gold.


He played for Caledonians throughout the 1950s and retired in 1960 after an illustrious career which saw him win many representative honours for Australia, Tasmania and Southern Tasmania.


He was one of only nine Tasmanian players to have represented Australia.


Rattray was a member of the Tasmanian side that succumbed 11-0 to England before 6,000 spectators at North Hobart in 1950. He was named as one of Tasmania’s best players in that match.


He also played for Tasmania against South China in 1953 at North Hobart and starred in the 6-4 defeat.


His performance attracted the attention of Australia’s selectors and he made his international debut for Australia against Hong Kong in Adelaide in the Fifth Test (soccer internationals were called Tests in those days). Australia won 5-0 and Rattray was named as man-of-the-match.


In 1956, Rattray joined the Australian Olympic squad at the Heidelberg Village in Melbourne several weeks before the start of the Olympics.


The 20-man squad was made up mostly of players from Queensland, NSW and Victoria, with one player from each of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.


Australia played practice games against Yugoslavia and the USSR, the eventual finalists, and were annihilated.


In the first round of the tournament, Australia beat Japan 2-0 but were eliminated when they lost 4-2 to India.


Rattray did not see the final, in which the USSR beat Yugoslavia 1-0 before over 100,000 spectators at the MCG, but in an age when television was in its infancy, he and other Tasmanians relied on newspapers and the radio for the Olympic results.


After five weeks away - his employer, the Education Department, had given him three weeks’ paid leave - Rattray returned to Tasmania and continued to play at left-half for Caledonians until his retirement in 1960.


At a 1996 40th anniversary reunion in Melbourne for Australian athletes who competed in the 1956 Olympics, hundreds attended, but Rattray was the only soccer player.


Rattray was a regular at South Hobart until even two weeks ago, when he watched South Hobart’s game against Glenorchy Knights as part of South Hobart’s centenary celebrations. On this occasion he was accompanied by his wife, Mary. They had been married for 59 years.


He would walk to the ground from his home in South Hobart and always sit in the old grandstand. I had many a wonderful chat with Alistair in the old stand and he always had a positive outlook on the game. He would tell me about which players he admired in a particular match and discuss the tactics of the teams we were watching.


Alistair is survived by his wife, Mary, daughters Angela and Virginia (the latter is on the Tilford Zebras committee), and grandson Sam.


The funeral will be held next week.

[World Cup warm-up matches]

Australia 1 (J Kennedy 71) b Denmark 0

Switzerland 0-1 Costa Rica

Holland 4-1 Ghana

Portugal 3-1 Cameroon

The Matildas’ win in the Women’s Asian Cup is the highest achievement of any Australian football team to date, excluding Oceania titles.


Australia’s acceptance as a member of the Asian Football Confederation was an important step and is starting to bear fruit.


As the Asian Champions, Australia qualifies for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Finals next year, along with DPR Korea and Japan.


The Matildas won the Asian Cup in a penalty shoot-out on Sunday night in the final against DPR Korea at the Chengdu Sports Centre in China.


Played in monsoon conditions, Australia scored first in the 19th minute through 16-year-old Samantha Kerr, from an assist by Clare Polkinghorne.


Jo Yun-mi, 23, the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, equalised in the 73rd minute.


The teams were level at 1-1 after 90 minutes and neither side could break the deadlock in extra-time.


Australia won the penalty shoot-out 5-4.


It was a triumph for Matildas’ coach, Scottish-born Tom Sermanni, who is in his second stint as coach of the Matildas.


He took the job for the second time in 2005 and Australia made the quarterfinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2007.


Australia’s win was the more commendable when one considers DPR Korea’s record. They have won three of the last four titles, while China has won seven titles in the period 1986 to 1999 and in 2006.


Congratulations must also go to Tasmania’s Lucy Macgregor, who has been selected to represent Australia at the Under-13 Festival of Football in Vietnam from 20 June to 3 July.


Isabella Gee has been named on the stand-by list should there be any injuries.


Meanwhile, the Socceroos meet Denmark in South Africa this evening in a World Cup warm-up match.