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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Photo:  Nottingham Forest and Holland goalkeeper Hans Van Breukelen in 1984 [PlessPix]

The recent announcement that Manchester United will play an A-League selection in Sydney next year took me back almost three decades.

On 3 June 1984, I accompanied several members of the board of the Tasmanian Soccer Federation to the MCG to watch Manchester United play Nottingham Forest.

United beat Forest 1-0 and Mark Hughes was the scorer.

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Photo:  My interview with Hans Van Breukelen in London magazine "World Soccer"

Hughes went on to play for Chelsea and Wales and he was most recently sacked as manager of Queens Park Rangers.

Ron Atkinson (‘Mr Beaujangles’ as he was known) was manager of Manchester United at the time, while the legendary Brian Clough was manager of Nottingham Forest.

Clough did not make the trip and Ron Fenton was in charge of the team.

I have often wondered over the years what happened to the Nottingham Forest players that I photographed at the time.  Their stories can serve as a lesson to youngsters who aspire to professional careers.

It must be remembered, however, that players at that time earned nowhere near as much as modern-day professionals.

They were happy to get a substantial payout with a testimonial match and buy a fish and chip shop or run a pub with the money they earned.

Nowadays, the very top players need never work again once they retire.  That's what happens when you earn something like $250,000 a week.

I have two photographs of Forest’s goalkeeper at the time, Hans Van Breukelen.  One is of him alone, while the other is of him with some young fans.

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Photo:  Hans Van Breukelen with two young fans at the MCG in 1984 [PlessPix]

Van Breukelen was a 27-year-old at the time.  He had been bought from FC Utrecht in his native Holland for $200,000 to replace England custodian Peter Shilton.

Van Breukelen played only 61 games for Forest before being sold to PSV Eindhoven.  He won 73 caps for Holland and played in the 1990 World Cup and the 1988 and 1992 European Championships.

He was a member of the Dutch side that beat the Soviet Union 2-0 to win the 1988 European Championship and he saved a penalty in that match.

I interviewed him before the game at the MCG for the London magazine “World Soccer” and he came across as a very humble man.  He was certainly destined for greatness but had none of the brash arrogance some potential stars show.

Van Breukelen is 56 now and lives quietly in Holland.

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Photo:  Nottingham Forest players (L-R) Ian Bowyer, Paul Hart, Bryn Gunn and Steve Sutton with some young fans before their game against Manchester United at the MCG on 3 June, 1984 [PlessPix]

Another photo shows four Forest players with some young fans.  The players are Ian Bowyer, Paul Hart, Bryn Gunn and Steve Sutton.

Bowyer, a midfielder, was 33 at the time of the photo and is 61 now.  He was a member of Nottingham Forest’s 1979 and 1980 European Cup winning sides.

At the time the photo was taken, he was in his second spell at Forest, having briefly joined Sunderland in between.  He notched up 564 senior games for Forest and scored 96 goals.

He had begun his career with Manchester City and also played for Leyton Orient, Hereford United and Grantham Town.

He managed Hereford United from 1987 to 1990.  In 2002, he was a coach at Forest and in 2006 was appointed assistant coach to Paul Hart at Rushden & Diamonds.  He later scouted for Portsmouth.

Paul Hart is also in this photo.  He was a 21-year-old inside forward at the time and scored a goal for Forest in the 1983-84 UEFA Cup semi-final against Anderlecht.  The goal was wrongly ruled out and it was later found that Anderlecht had bribed the referee to win the match.

Hart is 59 now.  He played for Stockport County, Blackpool, Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham City and Notts County.

He managed Chesterfield, Nottingham Forest, Barnsley, Rushden & Diamonds, Portsmouth, Queens Park Rangers, Crystal Palace and Swindon Town.

Bryn Gunn was a 26-year-old fullback when the photo was taken and he won the European Cup with Forest in 1980, coming on as a substitute in the final.

His daughter plays cricket for England.

He finished his playing career in 1996 with Arnold Town.

Steve Sutton, now 51, was a 23-year-old goalkeeper at the time of the photo.  He is the goalkeeping coach now at Nottingham Forest’s academy.

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Photo (L-R):  Nottingham Forest's Jim McInally, Steve Murray and David Riley before their game against Manchester United at the MCG in 1984 [PlessPix]

The photo of the three jovial looking Forest players features Jim McInally, Steve Murray and David Riley.

McInally, a 20-year-old fullback at the time of the photo, is 48 now and is manager of Peterhead.

He won 10 Scottish caps and joined Forest from Celtic.

Steve Murray ended up a tragic figure.  He left Forest to join Celtic but was injured and did not play a game for them.  He successfully sued the player who injured him in a tackle, but the injury ruined his health and quality of life.

David Riley, 24 at the time of the photo, is 52 now and coaches the Peterborough United under-15s.

He played in New Zealand for a time with FC Ponsonby.

After leaving Forest in 1987, it was all downhill with lower league clubs and non-league clubs.

There you are.  I hope you have enjoyed looking at these photos as they are a snapshot of the life and fortunes of professional footballers.

Incidentally, the TSF members on that trip included Roy Stoneman and his wife Linda, John Steenhuis and his wife Magda, and George Arnott.

Comments   

0 #6 Walter Pless 2012-12-29 08:32
Hi Greg. Enjoy the game. Try and find Fraser Nicholson. He's Forest's media and communications manager and I'm sure he'll look after you. Cheers!
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0 #5 Greg calvert 2012-12-29 07:31
Hi Walter, great article and ironic timing as I sit in a hotel in Nottingham looking over forest and notts county grounds. Hopefully going to see forest play crystal palace today.
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+3 #4 Anonymous 2012-12-28 20:20
Quoting Yoda:
Professional football isnt just the top leagues in spain,england,italy,holland and germany. There is so so many leagues that can offer footballers a fantastic life and career.

Obviously the money isnt as good but its a damn lot better payed then 95% of other occupations.
Even semi pro levels can be a living. Yes standard of football and facilities might not be as grand but a top league in asia or smaller european leagues tht is still a real professional football experience.

And don't ignore the A-League! The standard is lifting each season and salaries are also increasing - ensuring a decent living can be made from playing professionally here in Australia.
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+2 #3 Yoda 2012-12-28 12:41
Professional football isnt just the top leagues in spain,england,i taly,holland and germany. There is so so many leagues that can offer footballers a fantastic life and career.

Obviously the money isnt as good but its a damn lot better payed then 95% of other occupations.
Even semi pro levels can be a living. Yes standard of football and facilities might not be as grand but a top league in asia or smaller european leagues tht is still a real professional football experience.
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+4 #2 Anonymous 2012-12-28 02:08
Great to see the mighty Forest on the blog Walter. Alex McLeish has just been named their new manager overnight interestingly.
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+5 #1 Anonymous 2012-12-27 23:39
Love the reminiscing Walt. If I recall rightly, that was part of a tournament hosted in May and June 1984 which also involved Rangers (Scotland), Juventus (Italy), Iraklis (Greece) and two Australian national teams - Australia A and Australia B coached by Frank Arok and Eddie Thompson on a rotational basis.
Always wondered what happened to some of the players once retired. Thanks for filling in some of the gaps.
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