Any contributions should reach Ricky Onsman by Tuesday midday.

Fatigue Failure

MATCH REPORT: by Gary van Heugten

Match: Balmain Rovers v Enfield
Venue: Henley Park, Enfield
Date: Saturday 19 June 1999
Time: 1pm

Thursday evening's game proved to have taken its toll on our squad today, with injuries preventing Ricky, Emrys and Joey from playing, while Carlos was still not running on all cylinders because of a severe cold. And while we were warming up, the Balmain AA6A "game of doom" scenario presented itself again - no referee, so we had to agree to the Enfield club secretary acting as ref.

But we can't blame the ref this time as he did an OK job - that needs to be said! And next to this, our captain Russell had to be taken off after 30 minutes as his troubled legs played up again. But even though we have all these excuses, and despite all these setbacks, we still should have performed better.

For the first 15 minutes, the teams were evenly balanced, and all seemed not too bad. Unfortunately, Enfield got in front by scoring a lucky but beautiful shot from 25 metres out. All was not lost as our defence held well, especially our wingbacks Dave and Bruce, until our sweeper (yours sincerely) made a fatal error which led to 2-0 just before half time.

In the second half, with Gary taking Russell's position in midfield and Glenn back in defence, we created a few chances, with Sergio and Gary (twice) missing opportunities to get back into the game. But when you don't convert the chances yourself, the opposition for some reason always will.

On the break with some very good skills, Enfield made 3-0 a fact, after which we still could have scored a goal to at least get on the score sheet. But sometimes you have these games where nothing seems to go in your favour.

Well guys, the only good thing we can take from this loss is that, despite all the setbacks, we still showed we can create chances by playing the passing game. So this Saturday, when we play Canterbury again, we will all be eager to get revenge for Thursday's loss, and we'll have 'm alive.

Although it doesn't show in the score, the Pele points go to:

Richard 3 points
Bruce 2 points
David 1 point

An Undisciplined Win

MATCH REPORT: by Glenn Bacic

Match: Balmain Rovers v Burwood
Venue: Blair Park, Croydon
Date: Saturday 3 July 1999
Time: 1pm

First things first - I’ll deal with the unpleasantries of the behaviour of the Rovers during the half time break. Not to do so, I believe, would be unfair to the majority of the side. We all know that the game can be a tough one and emotions can get high if we play with the spirit to win. This is accepted by all. The disappointing aspect was the time and the place. The “frank exchange” that occurred not only had a very negative effect on the team’s morale and performance in the early stages of the second half, but more importantly it presented a very poor image of the Balmain Rovers and frankly, we were not able to distinguish ourselves from the ill disciplined Burwood side. Overall, a low point in the club’s history.

On arrival, I was greeted by the sight of Sam tucking into a barbecued sausage sandwich only minutes before kick off. I thought nothing of this except that one, perhaps it may have a negative effect on Sam’s constitution whilst running around the park and two, maybe there was just enough time for me to squeeze one in as well.

Things weren’t looking good to start off as far as Burwood were concerned, with only eight players on the pitch when Mal’s whistle (god bless the big fella) was due to blow. This looked bad from a Rovers perspective as there is nothing like a comfortable win in the first round and a depleted opposition to make a side complacent. However, no such complacency would eventuate as Serge was ruthless in his pre-match pep talk (frightening actually in what he was going to do if we conceded a goal) and Burwood were finally able to assemble eleven on the pitch.

From the start of play the attack of Balmain was looking sharp. Not long into the game, Sam, with the ball at his feet, sighted the keeper off his line, burped, and then chipped the ball into the net from 35 metres out. The game proved to be a bit tougher after that, notably due to a few unmarked opponents in the midfield that sent the backs scrambling in defence. At that stage the game could have gone either way had Burwood scored. They might very nearly have if not for Adam, who leapt off the line to his left and managed to deflect the ball on to the side post of the goal and back into the field of play.

Soon after, Glenn made a charge from his position of fullback down the right hand side and crossed the ball in to Michael who slotted it past the keeper. 2-0 and Balmain could breathe easier.

The second half began and we were looking very disorganised and ill disciplined. However, things soon settled down with the Rovers putting away another early goal to really put the game out of Burwood’s reach. Carlos, who looked very uncomfortable with the ball on his right boot, was still able to finish the move off. Michael then grabbed his second for the day and Pier made the most of his thirty minutes with a lovely goal (and a yellow card) in which everyone thought he was going to cross to his left but struck the ball with pinpoint accuracy past the keeper and across the goal line.

5 goals up and you would have thought that the game was over, but the major play of the day was yet to come. Michael had two goals to his account for the afternoon but his appetite was insatiable. Sam’s kickstarter to the game had made a big impression on Mike and he wanted to get a piece of the action. The barbecue had packed up for the day so he was forced to search on field for the action. Here comes the double play ... Mike makes his move inside the opponent’s box (both field and personal) and comes up with a handful. The personal recipient of this play for some reason takes exception to this and retaliates with a slap that was heard all over the field. Big Mal, obviously very concerned for Michael’s welfare, sends the Burwood player off.

The only disappointment to the play was that it was intended as a triple play, however a direct penalty, for whatever reason, was not awarded to Balmain, thereby denying Mike a potential hat trick. (The Burwood player was outed until the end of the year by the judiciary - moral: don’t get Mike riled. Editor’s note).

A game of highs and lows with the overall result a fair reflection of Balmain’s ability to put away a few goals and come up with a clean slate.

The Pele points go to:

Michael 2 points
Joey, David, Richard, Norman 1 point

Seeking Revenge

MATCH REPORT: by Joey Nicotra

Match: Balmain Rovers v Balmain AA6A
Venue: Callan Park, Rozelle
Date: Saturday 10 July 1999
Time 1pm

The clouds were brewing and a Balmain-Balmain showdown was imminent. Following a close encounter in the first round, Balmain B was seeking revenge after they went down 3–2. From the moment the whistle blew, the game was fierce and aggressive. Balmain B was faced with their most physical and challenging opponents of the season.

First blood went to the Bs with a thundering downward header from the Bs’ most impressive “Headman” of the game, Sam. This was preceded by Russ’ pinpoint corner cross. What a “duo combination”!

The backs had a hard fought day with the continuous pounding attack of the As. Unfortunately, a soft foul in the box led to a converted penalty by the As: 1-1. With superior dominance in the air, the As continued to attack down their right. David, playing at left back, did well in holding out the countless attacks down his side. However, one of our strengths was the effectiveness of our counter attacks.

With the security of Rovers’ star Dutch international Gary (as opposed to our non-star Dutch international, eh? Editor’s note) holding the fort at sweeper, Richard and Glenn played with confidence, running the ball to midfield.

There were many incidents of off-the-ball pushing and shoving, with myself spending much of the time kissing the soggy Callan Park dirt. It was from one of these free kicks that the Bs deservedly scored. Gary sneakily awaited a pass out wide past the wall. The As’ defence was caught off guard as Gary crossed the ball into the box and Serge clinically finished it off.

The As quickly responded with a soft goal from a corner. At this point the Bs were getting somewhat dreary, with plenty of time still left on the clock. Then Norm came on and provided a much needed boost when it looked like the Bs were going to go down, running around like a mad dog and successfully defending his territory.

The final stages ended with the As continuing to attack - but it was the Bs’ counterattacks that offered closer chances of further goals. Rovers showed they could match it with any team, including the undefeated minor premiers. The only major difference between the two teams was 200kg.

The Pele Medal points go to:

Adam 2 points: spectacular saves, flawless keeping, and constructive instructions from the back
Sam 2 points: hard working in the centre and outstanding heading in both goal mouths
Norm 1 point: inspired a deflated team when the team needed it most
Richard 1 point consistent solid defending in the back

Pele medal count:
(points from match reports)

11 Gary
8 Joey
6 Russell, Sam
5 Emrys, Richard
4 Pier, Sergio
3 Norman
2 Adam, Michael, Bruce, David
1 Carlos, Glenn, Ricky

There are still reports to come on 4 matches played, including 13 goals and a heap of Pele Medal Points, plus plans for our End-of-Year celebrations.