FOOTBALL FOR FIRIES
ALBION PARK CITY FC INVITATIONAL ELEVEN v WOLLONGONG WOLVES
A first of the season hit out for the Wollongong Wolves, the FFA National Premier League Championship winners took on an Albion Park City Invitational select side in a great initiative instigated by Adrian Arciuli, the Albion Park City FC president and SBS reporter, presenter and producer. The idea was to raise funds for the Salvation Disaster Appeal and awareness for those impacted by the devastating firestorms that have recently caused loss of life, engulfed towns and bush land on a mammoth scale, burnt homes, factories, infrastructure, wildlife and livestock and have up ended peoples’ lives as a consequence, such as current Wolves player Chris Price, who was on hand to aid his parents in their attempt to save their Conjola Park home. Unfortunately, the firestorm was too intense as they battled and evacuation became the order.
Wollongong Wolves’ coach Luke Wilkshire, at the Press Conference for the match at the Fraternity Club on Wednesday 15th January, stated - ‘I think it’s nice that you can do things in sport to bring people together for a good cause. It affected everyone in the region and in fact everyone in Australia, and you see that it has gone global and it is good to see people taking steps to help those people. It is the least we could do…. Adrian contacted me about his Albion Park team playing my Wolves ‘ boys. From then it rolled and had a snowball affect. And then I decided to pull on a shirt and make it a little bit more interesting against my own boys. And I thought if I could get some of my former team mates involved then we could generate a little bit more. I think everyone has been fantastic. People in the region have supported us fantastically. I am really looking forward to get a lot of people out there to show support. ……We are actually going to do two 45s which will be tough and have drinks break in between for us older fellas, but it’s all for a good cause…No matter what they (Wolves) do either in training or playing game or a fundraiser, I expect them to play to win and I won’t tell them any different because winning is a habit…. They certainly won’t take pity, especially with the opposition and me. It will be the same with us old fellows. We will be professional but I don’t like to lose and it doesn’t matter what is. We have the experience but certainly not the legs anymore …Maybe at a time like this, the (predicted) rain will come and that will be fantastic as well. We certainly cannot lose.’
With a crowd of 1,402 at the game (and car spaces at a premium), the Illawarra football crowd turned up of enthusiastically to support this worthy cause. With sponsorship of three hundred per goal, the 6-3 score line was in itself not that significant, but the funds these generated was all too important.
In attendance at the match, were dignitaries such as the Wollongong Lord Mayor, Gordon Bradbery and Remo Nagarotto, a FFA board member, together with a number of fire fighters. With a wealth of football talent on display, the FFA Mens 1 Australian Champions together with the past Socceroo members such as Sasho Petrovski, Brett Emerton, Scott Chipperfield, Steve Corica (and current Sydney FC coach), Ljubo Milicevic, Luke Wilshire and David Carney plus Scottish international Gavin Rae, these players showed that Father Time has not dimmed their requisite skill and their performances thrilled the crowd. Robbie Farah, the West Tigers rugby League great and Liverpool FC supporter, converted a penalty kick in the sixty-ninth minutes, to garner his team’s first goal to round out a good display in the round ball code.
The Wolves took to the field with three different line-ups over the course of proceedings with the first grade squad having the first hour with the Under 20s on for the final thirty minutes. The match kicked off with new player Hamish Lamberton moving the ball to Thomas James. Lamberton began his debut with good touch and movement but unfortunately later succumbed to an injury, which tainted his debut to an extent. This match gave the team opportunity minutes for their legs in addition to the main objective. New recruits, in Ethan Kambisios and Marcus Beattie also made their 2020 debuts although both players were at the club in previous years, albeit in different circumstances.
The Wolves’ early ball movement was effective in their first official outing and before long Bul Juach had the ball in the back of the net with good lead up. However, the referee at this time, Bobby Mazevski had to check the VAR (on a mobile phone yet! or may be an actual camera but alas no big screen) and before long the goal was disallowed. Carney, with enterprise, tried to send a long ball over Justin Pasfield’s head as the Wolves’ custodian was a good deal off his line. Later Thomas James, after he had scored, following a Juach pass, was penalised for a ‘little’ push on his coach, Wilkshire, the ever-competitive right-sided APCFC player. Scant time later, APCFC goalkeeper Arcuili repelled a point blank effort from Juach. Wilkshire was subsequently working for the ball when Price took a leaf out of James’ book to impede his coach. Whether Wilkshire could out run Price was open to question. In the aftermath, it was Wilkshire who showed him the yellow card. Farah looked to make inroads and he passed the ball on to Jeremy Lawless. With his ensuing shot bulging the net, the cheers went up. However, his sterling effort unfortunately hit the side netting. Later, Guy Knight was another of the first grade squad to impede his boss and be carded for the offence. As the game proceeded, the yellow card went the other way, justifiably??
The Wolves moved the ball around succinctly and slickly but at the early part of the season, not everything came off as it was intended. Beattie was quick and direct on his first team debut. For the APAFC team, Milicevic and Zwaanswijk were composed in the backline and kept the Wolves at bay for a time and made timely interventions, plus a few gallivants up field at some pace, but a little bit slower in returning into position. Corica and Emerton showed their composure on the ball with insightful passing and guile, Emerton and Chipperfield had some bursts of speed.
With Chipperfield passing to Petrovski during the encounter memories were brought back of their Wollongong Wolves 1999/00 season and despite their chances in this match, they could not get onto the scoreboard, as indeed they had done many times previously. Petrovski burst through on a Farah pass and looked to goal but Wolves’ custodian at this time, Hayden Durose, who thwarted him.
On fifty-two minutes, Farah and Chipperfield combined and a rebound very neatly ended up in the Wolves goal. Three minutes later, the Wolves scored again as his coach was writhing on the ground momentarily. Not long later Dimoski added a second.
An Emerton cross saw Wilkshire making his mark on the scoreboard and his tackle on Harry Callahan brought up a yellow card and an ensuing penalty that James Stojcevski put a high shot over as Wilkshire scythed into the box to put him off with a huge smile on his face, indeed a ‘smiling assassin’
The final thirty minutes saw the Wolves under 20s team taking the field and one player goaled. However, the Invitational side scored three with Farah’s penalty followed by Corica and Wilkshire, with their good efforts. The game opened up for both teams with insightful passing and the old boys got a second wind.
It was indeed a grand occasion and the Wolves ball movement was at an early stage, but the Coach will ensure in the next training days that improvement will follow. In the earlier game, it was a Women’s All Star Match with City taking on Country. Country emerged the victors 2-1, but in truth, everyone at the venue was a victor. It was also indeed gratifying to learn that the Price family were able to be present at the benefit match.
Wolves midfield James Stojcevski - ‘Today was really good. It was a fun to get there and have a go against Luke and Luke had the same feeling as well… The turnout has been excellent…. It was our first hit out with some of the new boys as well and they are fitting in well…. We play in Newcastle and then play Manly at Butler….. We will do our work in the pre-season to prepare for the first round against Olympic.’
APCFC Invitational Eleven’s Steve Corica - ‘we came strong towards the end and Wollongong Wolves are a good team having won last year…. it was a long drive for me to come down here but it was for a good cause. It was good fun and it’s the first time I have played a big game like this for a while. It was great to meet up with some former Sydney FC teammates like Brett, Sasho and Dave, and Justin, and Jacob who was watching…We (Sydney FC) had a bye this week so I could come down.’
ALBION PARK CITY INVITATIONAL X1…….. 3
Robbie Farah, Steve Corica, Luke Wilshire
Harrison Taranto 2, Stefan Dimoski 2, Thomas James and Under 20’s player.
@ IAN McLENNAN PARK
SATURDAY 18th JANUARY 2020
6.00 p.m. Kick Off
ALBION PARK CFC
Coaches: Phil Moss
Squad - 1.Timothy Walsh 3.David Carney 4.Ashley Westwood 5.Ljubo Milicevic 6.Patrick Zwaanswijk 7.Brett Emerton 8.Rhys Marsh 9.Robbie Farah 10.Steve Corica 11.Scott Chipperfield, 12.Jeremy Lawless 13.Warren Grieve 14.Matt Apolo 15. Dylan Noronha 16.Sasho Petrovski 17.Gavin Rae 18.Mathew Chilcott 19.Darko Vidovic 21.Jay Horobin 22.Alan Warburton 23.Luke Wilkshire 25.Kyle Noronha 27.Adrian Arciuli 30. Mathew Skofic 37.Blake Glover
Coach: Luke Wilkshire
1. Squad - Justin Pasfield (GK) (Capt.) 2.Taylor McDonald 3.Darcy Madden 4.Nikola Djordjevic 5.Joshua Acorn 6.Ethan Kambisios 7.Chris Price 8.Brendan Griffin 9.Thomas James 10.Marcus Beattie 11.Takeru Okada 12.Harrison Taranto 13.Stefan Dimoski 14.Harry Callahan 16.Guy Knight 17.James Stojcevski 18.Hamish Lamberton 19.Bul Juach 20.Liam Wille 23. Hayden Durose 24.Lachlan Scott plus Under 20s team
By Malcolm Rowney