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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Talk of a Tasmanian team in the National Soccer League was a constant theme of the 1980 season.


The NSL was set to expand from 14 teams and Tasmania applied to join. The etam was to be called the Tasmanian Devils.


The plan was scuppered, according to press reports of the time, when the major sponsor withdrew following the departure of Ken Morton from the State.


Morton had taken Rapid to the State League title and was the coach-elect of our proposed NSL team, but he was appointed as coach of NSL side Wollongong for the 1981 season.


Gabriel Haros MHA was the chairman of the steering committee and he explained the application was withdrawn when only $50,000 of the required $100,000 could be raised.


The major sponsor, supposedly a hotel chain, withdrew their support once they knew Morton was leaving the State and taking up the Wollongong coaching position.


Morton coached Rapid to the State League title in 1980 and to the Ampol Cup. Rapid missed out on the treble when they lost to Brighton-ICL on penalties in a replayed Cadbury Jubilee Trophy final. The first game had been a 2-2 draw, with Alistair Hales, winner of the 1976 Rothmans Gold Medal, scoring both Brighton goals.


Brighton-ICL’s keeper at the time was 18-year-old Robert Harrison, who came from a soccer family. His father was Ken Harrison, while his four siblings, Scot (19), Neil (17), Paul (16) and Jud (11) also played. Ken’s wife, Pauline, was goalkeeper for Brighton-ICL’s women’s team. Scot's wife, Sandra, of course, now runs the popular “Soccer Cellar” store. Robert’s nephew, Nick Harrison, has played in recent years with Olympia and Glenorchy Knights. The Harrisons had moved to Tasmania from London in 1968.


Two of Rapid’s stars that season were David Smith, who is now coaching director in Northern New South Wales, and Peter Willis, the former Leeds United player. Willis joined Morton at Wollongong the next season.


Dale Blake, 19, was also a Rapid player who was being courted by three national league clubs. He suffered a serious knee injury early in the season against Burnie United which threatened his career. He did eventually recover and continued his Tasmanian career.


Rapid clinched the State League title when they beat Croatia-Glenorchy 4-1, with Smith netting twice and Mark Oakes and player-coach Morton once each. Brian Davidson, a New Zealander, who won the Rothmans Gold Medal twice, replied for Croatia.


Rapid completed an unbeaten league campaign with a 1-0 win over Juventus, the goal coming from Morton, who converted a precise cross from Smith.


Morton was not only coach of Rapid that year. He was also appointed as assistant coach to White Eagles, which caused a lot of talk around the traps. Eagles had appointed Eugene Mycak, a Pole who had been coaching in the USA, as coach, but Morton was appointed as his adviser when the team was in danger of relegation.


Eagles were still relegated at the end of the season, while South Hobart won the Division One title under coach Glyn Jenkins and were promoted.


South Hobart established a new junior section in 1980 called South Hobart Colts and they signed players as young as 8 years. The aim of the Colts was to have continuity in management and to create a community identity in a suburb that had been called the ‘cradle’ of soccer for the past 70 years.


1980 was also the year that Eastern Suburbs Soccer Club became the Clarence Soccer Club. Ken Simpson, who was an air traffic controller at Hobart Airport, was the coach and Paul Edwards the chairman. Steven Omant was the secretary, Andrew Eastman the treasurer, Roy Beardsley the registration secretary, while the general committee members were Ian Southorn, Carol Eastman, Paul Beardsley and Doug Saunders.


Brighton-ICL had an agreement with the Kingborough Council to build a new $500,000 soccer complex at Kingston consisting of a full-size ground, a senior training ground and two junior grounds. There were to be facilities for night games, television coverage and a grandstand. It was hoped the ground would be used for national league games and international matches.


Steve Darby was coach of Devonport City in 1980 after arriving from Bahrain, where he was assistant national coach. Darby, who hailed from Liverpool, was appointed as Tasmanian Director of Coaching at the end of the season on a three-year contract worth $15,000 per annum.


The Tasmanian Soccer Association president at the time was Vic Tuting, who was also vice-president of the Australian Soccer Federation. The Chairman of the TSA was well-known local solicitor David Wallace.


What about some of the squads of the day? Here are a few:


Juventus-Pioneer: Jones, John and Jack Dilba, Brine, Lapolla, Cowen, Young, Ambrosino, Parodi, New, Maccallini, Kent, De Felice, Di Venuto, Fabrizio, O’Donnell


George Town: Jones, Coogan, Hughes, Davidson, Galloway, Bull, Morley, Gimpl, O’Sullivan, T Farrell, Schiebl, Djakic, Stalker, Mason


Metro: Doig, Schiltz, Scanlon, Ian and Peter Gill, Hallam, Brown, M McIntyre, Fone, Pitchford, Tye, Kallenback, Bucher


Brighton-ICL: Harrison, McKay, Burton, S Collins, Charlton, Hey, Kirkpatrick, Dickinson, Hales, Anderton, Forster, Parker, Banagan, Heap, Donohoe


Devonport: Darby, S Rimmer, Best, Rigby, A Rimmer, Zschoke, Gleeson, Frame, McKenna, Pizzerani, Robinson, Abley, Hawkes


Ulverstone: Ron Smith, Stuetzel, Shegog, Green, Carpenter, Hamilton, Kaye, Ted Dolliver, Gayle, Foote, Clare, Rush, Koch, Trambas, S Fisher, J Compagne


Burnie United: P Considine, Shields, Fishwick, I Newall, Glover, Wheeler, Troughton, Weymouth, Denton, Kendrick, Eastley, Rodger, Hardstaff, Chamberlain, Parke, Winchester


White Eagles: Michniewski, Steenhuis, C Collins, Rybak, Linnell, Witek, Mark and Andrew Leszczynski, Worden, Cook, Sherman, Schwaiger, Large, Cuthbertson


Launceston Juventus: Udovicic, Colla, Hemsley, Butler, Ross Wesson, Tontari, Matt Wesson, Guest, Savill, Streit, A Smith


Rapid-Wrest Point: P Kannegiesser, Nicholls, Willis, Nunn, Wilson, Mohring, Schmull, Nikolai, S Kannegiesser, Oakes, D Smith, Willcock, Francis, Southworth, Thompson, Morton


Croatia-Glenorchy: S Smith, Payne, M Guinness, Weitnauer, Trueman, W Peters, Sarfalvy, O’Brien, B Davidson, Spaleta, Thomas, Huigsloot, T Dzelalija


What a list of players and teams!


Burnie’s Mike Denton was a prolific scorer and a Socceroo striker, while Rapid’s Peter Willis and Launceston Juventus’s Peter Savill were both former Leeds United players.


Juventus-Pioneer’s Peter Brine was a Middlesbrough player, while Eric Young was formerly with Manchester United, as was Rapid’s player-coach Ken Morton. Juventus youngsters Ambrosino and Fabrizio went on to play in the national league.


Brighton-ICL’s John Charlton was the son of the famous England centre-half Jack Charlton and nephew of Manchester United’s Bobby Charlton, while Tony Dickinson was also an accomplished English import, as was Ian Parker.


Steve Darby was Devonport’s goalkeeper and later went on to coach in Singapore and Malaysia. He is now the assistant national coach of Thailand.


White Eagles’ Ken Worden later coached in the national league and won a title with Melbourne Knights, while he also coached the Singapore national side and club sides in Malaysia.



Two Tasmanian players finally came face to face in an English professional match this morning [Tasmanian time].


And, they are both goalkeepers.


When Tranmere Rovers of Division One and Accrington Stanley of Division Two met this morning in a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy cup tie at Rovers’ Prenton Park before 2,020 fans, Accrington’s Alex Cisak got to meet Rovers’ Simon Miotto.


Miotto, who is now 41, is the reserve keeper for Tranmere, but he is also the club’s goalkeeping coach. He was on the bench for this match.


Miotto phoned me this morning just after the game quite excited to say he had talked to Cisak and was delighted to catch up with a fellow Tasmanian. They are the only two Tasmanians currently active in the English League.


The teams drew 1-1, but Accrington won the penalty shoot-out 5-3.


Miotto said Cisak had played extremely well and made some important saves during the course of the 90 minutes.


He said they would maintain contact and he wished Cisak well.


I have mentioned Simon Miotto before on this blog (http://walterplessonsoccer.blogspot.com/search?q=Simon+Miotto). He played with Launceston City before heading overseas and playing professionally in England, Scotland and, before his current position with Tranmere, he played in Denmark and also with York City.


He has played in England for Blackpool, under manager Sam Allardyce, and Hartlepool, and in Scotland for St Johnstone and Raith Rovers. He was with two different clubs in Denmark prior to moving back to England to join York City. For an in-depth interview while he was with York City, look at:


http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/sport/other/features/biginterview/5079547.The_Big_Interview_with_York_City_goalkeeping_coach_Simon_Miotto/


In fact, if you Google Simon Miotto's name, you can find out a lot about his career.


He is the only Tasmanian to have been in an English Premier League squad. He was the third-choice keeper with West Bromwich Albion when they were previously in the EPL.


Although now 41, Miotto, who was a national champion triple-jumper when at school in Tasmania, has always been the model professional. He has kept himself in excellent shape and that is why he can still command a place as a player.


We try and catch up whenever he is back in Tasmania, but I can honestly say that the Australian media has not given him the exposure he deserves. For example, he has never been included in the ‘Australians abroad’ segments that are featured on a well-known TV network and yet he has been involved in five tiers of football, from the EPL level down to the Conference Leagues. He is good mates with Mark Schwarzer and they are in regular contact.


Tasmanians playing County cricket in England probably get better coverage locally, but Miotto has been a wonderful, if unheralded, ambassador for Tasmania for many years.


There you have it. We now have goalkeepers in Division One and Division Two in England.


If you are interested in the match report from today’s game, you can find it at:


http://www.tranmererovers.co.uk/page/MatchReport/0,,10365~54558,00.html#continue