Who Is 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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Gold Coast United moved into second spot on the A-League ladder with a 3-1 win at home at Skilled Park against 6th-placed Wellington Phoenix before a poor crowd of 2,943 fans last night.

Bruce Djite put the home side ahead in the 5th minute. Tahj Minniecon attacked down the left and played the ball into the edge of the box, where Djite jinked his way past Jade North before beating Danny Vukovic with a low drive inside the far right-hand corner of the net.

Wellington should have been level two minutes later, but referee Matthew Gillett, in charge of an A-League match for only the third time, disallowed the effort because of the off-side flag. Paul Ifill sent over a left-footed curling shot from the left and it sneaked past both team-mate Chris Greenacre and United goalkeeper Glen Moss and into the net, but Greenacre was wrongly adjudged to be off-side.

Nevertheless, in the 9th minute, the visitors did draw level when Kristian Rees unnecessarily handled the ball and conceded a penalty, which was easily converted by Barbados international Ifill [6 goals in 10 games for Barbados], who placed his spot-kick into the left-hand side of the net as Moss dived the opposite way.

Gold Coast had two more chances to regain the lead in the first half but squandered them.

In the 35th minute, Jason Culina’s pass found Minniecon, but his shot on the turn was tame.

Four minutes later, Culina broke down the right and played a perfect ball inside to Djite, who lifted his shot over the bar.

Djite restored Gold Coast’s lead in the 70th minute with a cheeky flick with his right heel. James Brown had skilfully eluded two tight-marking defenders in Troy Hearfield and Nick Ward near the right corner flag and passed inside for Steve Pantelidis to drive the ball at goal and Djite did the rest from the edge of the 6-yard box.

Eight minutes from the end, a free-kick from deep on the left by Culina was knocked on with his shoulder by Djite and Brown nodded the ball past Vukovic to make it 3-1.

This was Gold Coast United’s first-ever win over Wellington in five meetings.

Photos (Top to Bottom): Les Murray in Hobart this morning; Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett with Les Murray last night at South Hobart's 100th anniversary dinner [PlessPix]

The face of Australian football, Les Murray, of the SBS TV network, was in Hobart on Friday and Saturday to be the guest speaker at South Hobart’s 100th anniversary dinner on Friday night.

I caught up with Les on Saturday morning just before he left for Sydney and interviewed him.

Walter Pless: Les, What brought you to Hobart for your first visit to Tasmania?

Les Murray: The 100th anniversary of South Hobart Football Club, which is a fantastic occasion. One hundred years is almost unimaginable, how long it’s been around, and what it must have been like here when the club was founded in 1910. I was invited to speak at the anniversary function, which was terrific.

WP: Was it a good night?

LM: A beautiful night. Yeah, lots of real football people there, who I love to mingle with. You know, the top end, the so-called top end of the game, is not like that these days. You go to an A-League function or a Socceroos-related function, then you get 70 or 80 per cent of people there who are not football people. They come for the ride, basically, so I love to go to functions like this South Hobart one because everybody in the room is a genuine football person.

WP: What are your impressions of the A-League at present?

LM: The technical standard is very high. It’s the highest it’s ever been. When it first started off, I wasn’t very happy with the technical standard. I thought it was inferior to the old NSL. It was too much brawn and muscle and getting stuck in and not enough real football. And, now, over the years, partly due to the influence of the Dutch technical director, and other influences such as media pressure, the teams have started to play football. Nobody just lumps the ball forward any more. Everybody tries to play out from the back. They try to play with a bit of intelligence and movement, so it’s very good to watch now. Commercially, it’s got problems because they’ve made mistakes by not embracing their own communities, and the communities don’t have a sense of ownership of the clubs, and they have to fix that and fix it pretty quickly.

WP: In terms of the World Cup, do you think Australia has reached the stage where we’ll be almost automatic qualifiers every four years?

LM: Well, it’s never automatic, but we certainly have a realistic run these days. The qualifying path is such that we can expect to qualify every time because we are one of the elite nations in the Asian Confederation and, so, if they have four teams, or four-and-a-half teams, in the process, then we should be one of those.

WP: How do you rate Holger Osieck’s start as Socceroos coach?

LM: Well, I described him the other day in a blog as being a pro-active coach rather than a reactive one, which his predecessor was. Pim Verbeek was always reacting to what the opponent was on the day, whereas Holger, from what we’ve seen in the game against Switzerland and the game against Poland, likes to impose the game on the opposition, likes to take the game to the opposition, and likes to dictate play, and that’s very good for the Australian mentality.

Nathan Tinkler today advised FFA that he will take up the option to extend his ownership of the Newcastle Jets licence in the Hyundai A-League to 2020.

“When I took up the interim licence two weeks ago I said that we wanted to gauge the support for the club from the local community and local business sector,” Tinkler said.

“I am pleased to say that the response so far from all facets of the Hunter community has been overwhelming and that has given me the confidence to commit to the Newcastle Jets for the long term.

“Our aim is to build the Newcastle Jets into a great asset for the Hunter community, Jets members and as a nursery for football talent in the region.

“This announcement is another step along that road.”

FFA CEO Ben Buckley said Tinkler’s commitment is a great endorsement for the Hyundai A-league and the depth of support for football in the Newcastle area.

“This is a fantastic result for the Hyundai A-League, the club and the people of the Newcastle area and shows that football has a huge future in the region,” Buckley said.

"I urge all of the Hunter community to continue to get behind the Jets and help Nathan and his team build something special.”

Newcastle Jets Executive Chairman Ken Edwards said the club was now in a position to make positive long-term strategic moves around club operations and the player roster.

“This commitment will enable us to get on with the serious business of building the strength of the club on a whole range of levels,” Edwards said.

“We are now working on securing the coaching staff, the playing roster and seeking further community and business support for the long term.”

Tasmania’s Boys’ Under-15s went down narrowly to Victoria Country today in the final match at this year’s Nationals in Coffs Harbour.

Tasmania trailed 2-0 but fought back with two goals before eventually succumbing 3-2 to the Victorians.

Francis Kenyi scored two fine goals for Tasmania to put them back in contention after they had conceded two soft goals.

The winning goal for Victoria was somewhat bizarre. It came from a long throw-in that bounced inside the 6-yard box. The Tasmania keeper got the slightest of touches to the ball before it crossed the line and that meant it was a goal. If no-one had touched the ball, it would simply have been a goal-kick.

Tasmania’s coach, Gary Slicer, described his side’s performance as magnificent.

“We showed great heart and great spirit and it was a magnificent performance by the boys,” Slicer said.

“We dominated at times and Francis’s two goals were excellent.”

The Under-15s failed to win any matches in the 5-game programme.

The Tasmanian Under-14s lost their final match 2-0 to NSW Country today.

"We played very well," said Tasmania's coach, Dale Itchins. "It was 0-0 at half-time.

"They scored about five minutes into the second half when one of our defenders was in a one-on-one situation and was shielding the ball, but the opponent managed to get in a shot and scored.

"The second goal was a magnificent free-kick from about 30 metres.

"We came third in our group of five teams and that's pretty good."

The Under-14s finished the tournament with two wins and three losses.