Posts tagged ‘West Ham United’

Monumental Decision

As someone who has gone through testicular cancer the Dylan Tombides Foundation is a great initiative to remind young healthy men that cancer is undiscerning and that your life can be snatched away from you ate any time.

Dylan unfortunately  lost his battle with testicular cancer in 2014 aged just 20. West Ham United the club which he was signed with in England’s Premier league paid him the biggest honour by retiring his shirt number, 38, an honour that previously had only been bestowed on former captain of the club and England when they won the World Cup, Bobby Moore.

Tombides joined West Ham aged 15 and was tipped for great things having represented Australia at U17 and U23 level, but sadly he never lived to fulfil his full potential.

There is talk that a statue may be erected in his memory outside NIB Stadium. Just over a week ago Liberal MP Ian Britza presented a letter, written by Socceroos’ Captain Mile Jedinak on behalf of the DT38 Foundation, to Premier Colin Barnett asking the Western Australian State Government to fund the estimated $100,000 cost of the monument.

This does raise a number of questions, if the state government agrees to fund such a monument, will they not be opening the floodgates for monuments to other young athletes whose lives end abruptly and prematurely? Western Australia has produced many remarkable individuals who have contributed greatly to society, yet few have such a memorial funded by the state.

The sum quoted is a great deal of money and one cannot help feeling that such a sum of money could be used far more effectively in order to alert young men from the ages of 16-35 to be aware of the signs of testicular cancer, because if caught early it is a very curable disease.

If a statue is to be erected, is NIB stadium the best place for it? Sure Dylan was a talented footballer so there is a link to NIB Stadium, home of Perth Glory, but Dylan never played for the A-league side, so will a statue have the resonance and desired effect at the this ground rather than say Stirling Lions where he played his junior football?

As this is a young man’s disease one cannot help thinking that the statue should be in a location where many young men would pass it on a daily basis, so that every day as they walk past the loss of one so young resonates. If it makes one man a week go for a check up, and saves more than one life a year it would be worth it. Tucked away at a stadium used roughly one day a fortnight, one wonders if it would have the same important impact.

According to the DT38 Foundation website the mission of the Foundation is “To provide testicular cancer support and awareness through education and opportunities.” The vision is to ‘Change the way testicular cancer is diagnosed.’ If that is truly the case one has to ask how much a statue – as lovely a gesture as it is – will help the Foundation achieve those goals.

As the website quite rightly states delay is deadly. Education is the key. So if we are to truly honour Dylan such decisions need to be thought through very carefully and some of the emotion needs to be taken out. What truly is the best way of making sure his life did not end in vain, what is the best way of ensuring that his legacy is that in passing he saves the lives of other young men?

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April 1, 2015 at 8:39 am 1 comment

France Wins Box Seat

Everyone knows the story about the tortoise and the hare, well it may just be that France is the tortoise.

The nation was devastated when cross Channel rival, London won the rights for the 2012 Olympic Games, Paris having been in the running for the global event. However France may well have the last laugh.

It is in fact a Paris based company, Vinci, who currently operate the Stade de France who have won the lucrative contract to manage the London 2012 Stadium, as well as the Queen Elizabeth Park. Vinci, will be responsible for installing 21,000 retractable seats to allow spectators at West Ham United games to be closer to the action pitch side, while still maintaining a world class running track. The Stade de France is one venue where retractable seating has been a success in the main as the pitch is in fact slightly lower so that the seating remains tiered and close to the action.

It may just be that this French company can reap the rewards without the initial investment. Withs such strong rivalry between the two nations this is bound to be nice compensation for missing out on the Olympics in 2012.

March 4, 2015 at 9:53 am Leave a comment

Going Through the Roof

West Ham United may be flying high in the English Premier League but things are going through the roof for the club at the moment.

First of all as mentioned on this site previously pressure is being applied at Government level for the Hammers to ground share with cross London rivals Tottenham Hotspur while they get their ground upgraded. Baroness Brady of Knightsbridge, West Ham’s Vice Chairperson however continues to maintain that the club will not ground share on a temporary basis with any other club. Even though the Greater London Authority is applying pressure to the London Legacy Development Corporation claiming they need to revisit the deal done with the hammers as the current one was “a poor one for the taxpayer.” Anyone knows you can always get a bargain down the East end, funny how the government weren’t aware of that.

The big worry is the costs continue to rise at the former Olympic stadium, in fact they are going through the roof, literally. Work needed to strengthen the roof to accommodate the reconfiguring of the stadium is expected to cost in the region of UKL36million. Taking the cost of the conversion to a football stadium capable of hosting occasional athletics events to UKL619million.

The venue is due to host five matches at next year’s Rugby World Cup before West Ham take over the ground on a permanent basis. The fear is with additional costs to convert the stadium blowing out, the Government’s bubble has burst. Hence the pressure to find more events for the stadium to help pay off the debt.

Suggestions have been made that the Capitol One Cup – League Cup – final be played there as opposed to Wembley, or even England Under 21 or women’s internationals. One thing that works in West Ham’s favour is now most of the Greater London Authority would love to see them qualify for the Champions League and hope they can maintain their current form, as to do so would not only bring more games to the venue, but also much needed revenue.

One has to say some legacy…

November 4, 2014 at 8:52 am Leave a comment

Not Playing Ball

London rivalry has taken on a whole new meaning as a row between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur seems to be hotting up.

West Ham recently negotiated a 99 year lease starting in the 2016-17 English football season to use the former Olympic stadium as their home ground.

Their North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur are looking to request that their ground share with West Ham for a season while their own new stadium is being built.

West Ham’s Vice Chairman, Karren Brady, now Baroness Brady of Knightsbridge, has firmly opposed such a move, which has angered the London Legacy Development Corporation, who only recently came to an agreement with the Hammers after long and protracted negotiations.

The Legacy Board and the Lord Mayor of London are keen to see the tax-payer funded stadium paying its own way sooner rather than later and therefore would welcome the added income that would be generated by having Spurs as a co-tenant for one year. One anonymous figure in the original negations has been quoted as saying “Someone should be reminding West Ham tat they need to be flexible on this.”

It is believed that West Ham feel that they have the right to veto such a move even if Tottenham Hotspur or any other potential co-tenant agree a deal with the London Legacy Development Corporation. However those involved in the negotiations state that West Ham only have that right for the first season that they move from their current home at Upton Park. Tottenham are requesting to ground share after that first season.

This should certainly add some spice to this year’s fixtures.

October 8, 2014 at 8:45 am 1 comment

Hollingsworth for the High Jump!

One has to ask what was going through Australian Athletics Coach Eric Hollingsworth’s mind when he made the public statement criticising hurdler Sally Pearson? A decision that has now seen him suspended by Athletics Australia without pay until such time as the board can meet and decide on further action.

It was no secret that Hollingsworth and Golden girl, hurdler Sally Pearson did not see eye to eye. Athletics Australia have admitted this, and claim that they were managing the situation. It would appear that they did not do as good a job as they should have done.

One thing that Hollingsworth has miscalculated, as have many foreign coaches and administrators entering the Australian sporting landscape, the Australian public and media love their top athletes, and they will not have “outsiders” come in and speak out against them. The backlash on Hollingsworth will be immense.

Hollingsworth came out firing the minute that he was given the role as head of high performance with Athletics Australia. Back in 2009 he interestingly did not bemoan the funding that his athletes received, instead he criticised the way the money was spent. He pointed out that there were 170 scholarships for athletes in the various sporting institutes around Australia, and then asked why at that time only 53 athletes had competed at international level.

As a former Decathlete who worked alongside the legendary Daley Thompson, and as a man who was a development player in his teens with West Ham United, Hollingsworth was undoubtedly a gifted sportsman, who many have said was not afraid of putting in the hard work.

One gets the feeling that his problem is not entirely with Sally Pearson, but that he has used her to try and make a point. Although his timing is extremely odd.

Having made her captain of the Athletics team – although one wonders if such a thing is necessary – you can understand that he would have wanted and expected her to attend the camp prior to the Commonwealth Games. However one can also understand that Pearson as a World Championship, Olympic and Commonwealth Games Gold medal winner, knows what she has to do to prepare and be in peak condition for the major events, so her decision to run in London while the camp was on is understandable. What is clear is that the communication between the two was not handled as well as it should have been.

When one hears that Pearson had refused to speak to Hollingsworth since March when he had criticised her performance in Poland at the World Indoor Championships where she won silver, suddenly one starts to ask was it actually the coach who made her captain, or was it the administrators interfering once again, as sports administrators are so prone to do. Heaven forbid that it may well have been a sponsors requesting such an appointment.

Hollingsworth was no doubt foolish to make such a statement and its timing was very poor; so too was its grammar! Quite what possessed him to take such action is puzzling, but it will no doubt all come out in the future. Do not be surprised if there was a great deal of meddling in the background that he felt was compromising his position. A position he knew was not going to be renewed when his contract expired in October.

Yet to take a swipe at a pin-up of Australian sport was a very peculiar and stupid move. If he was not happy with Pearson’s preparation, and felt that she was not  likely to retain her Commonwealth Games Gold medal, he has now given her the perfect excuse for failing, and he will be the one to take the rap.

 

July 31, 2014 at 10:41 am Leave a comment

Talent and Time, the Key to Success

They say that life is about learning from your mistakes and one looks at Perth Glory and hopes that this will be the case. Some cynics will no doubt ask which mistake?

The mistake in question is that of the senior coach. Let us go back to the A-League season of 2007-08. The previous season, the second of the A-League has seen the club finish as the last Australian team 7th in the 8 team competition, with only the Wellington Phoenix below them. Ron Smith was the coach, a man regarded by most in Australia as the best development coach in the country, having brought through many of the players dubbed ‘the golden generation.’ His task was to rebuild Perth Glory and bring through players who would be the foundation of the club in future years.

Players left over from the previous season included: Leo Bertos, Simon Colosimo, Jamie Coyne, Jamie Harnwell, Jason Petkovic, Naum Sekulovski, David Tarka, David Micevski, Alex Vrteski, Billy Celeski and marquee signing Stan Lazaridis. The last three players had all been signed the season before by Smith, although Lazaridis’s signature had been secured prior to his appointment.

The club had new owners who had bought the licence off of the Football Federation of Australia. Three men were to run the club, something that raised a few eyebrows as it appeared no one man was in charge, John Spence, Brett McKeon and Tony Sage.

New signings brought in were: Anthony Danze who was coaxed back to top flight football having been signed previously by Crystal Palace and who had shone in Australian youth teams. Dino Djulbic a virtual unknown from South Melbourne who had starred at Perth SC. Another unknown talent, Jimmy Downey from the AIS. The experienced Hayden Foxe returning from ten years overseas with clubs such as Ajax, West Ham United, Porstmouth and Leeds United, Nick Rizzo who also had spent time playing in Italy and England. James Robinson who had just won the A-League with Melbourne Victory. The young and raw Nikita Rukyavstya from the AIS and Perth SC. Defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley, an ex AIS player who had been signed by Sydney FC. Mitchell Prentice who was also ex AIS and had played in Scotland and Malaysia. Mate Dragicevic from Croatia, and goalkeeper Tando Velaphi from the AIS, and who had made one appearance for Queensland Roar.

Unfortunately for the club, its fans and coach, Stan Lazaridis was serving a 12 month suspension after testing positive to a drug test for anti-androgen Finasteride, a prescription alopecia medication, which was banned at the time. The marquee player was not allowed to train with the squad until the ban had been served, and ended up only playing two games at the end of the campaign.

Long standing number one goalkeeper Jason Petkovic was recovering from a broken leg that threatened to end his career and in fact would make only three appearances late in the season; which was a credit to him after such an horrific injury.

David Tarka who looked to be back to the form that saw him head overseas to Nottingham Forest looked to have put his injury woes behind him when in the opening game he tore his hamstring off the bone and took no further part in the season.

Hayden Foxe picked up a knee injury at the start of the season and was ruled out for several months. He too only played the last six games of the season.

So the coach had plenty of absentees amongst his senior players. Things however looked very positive for the club when in the pre-season tournament, despite playing only one game at home they progressed to the final beating, Newcastle Jets, Adelaide United, Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory. They led at half time in the final thanks to a rare Leo Bertos goal, but ended up losing 2-1 to Adelaide United at Hindmarsh stadium. The signs were positive.

Mate Dragicevic, started the season up front but struggled and was soon released. Goal scoring was an issue. Yet defensively the team looked solid. The first three games ended in 0-0 draws.

The next two games were lost 2-1 and 1-0 before a 4-1 thumping in Wellington. Two more draws followed against Adelaide United and Sydney before a 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory and another 3-3 draw this time with Queensland Roar. When the team lost 1-0 to Wellington Phoenix, Ron Smith and the club parted ways.

Smith had not won a game in the opening 11 games, yet he had not lost six of those games. Four of the five that he had lost were by a solitary goal. In the remaining games the club managed to win 4, lose 4 and draw 2.

There is no doubt that Football is a results based game, and if teams are not winning some fans opt to stay at home, but this was supposed to be a work in progress. Sure Smith signed a few players who did not perform as expected, sure he suffered with injuries, but if he was to lay the foundations of the club for the future surely he deserved more time? These were games being lost by just the odd goal. Arsenal fans will remember how under George Graham how they won the Championship on the back of many a 1-0 win. That is how finite the margins can be.

The question is were the players good enough?

Of the young players that Ron Smith signed Billy Celski went on to play for Australia and win the A-League Premiership and Championship. Danze retired a month after Smith left. The unknown-when-he-was-signed Dino Djulbic, also went on to represent Australia, as well as play in Germany, China and the UAE. Jimmy Downey was hampered by injuries, but moved on to play for two further A-League clubs as well as play in the Dutch Eerste Divisie with Sparta Rotterdam. Nikita Rukyavstya has also made the national team, and is one of the few AIS graduates to make it overseas, playing in the Netherlands and Germany. He is currently signed with Mainz, but on loan to FSV Frankfurt. Nikolai Topor-Stanley is on his fourth A-League club, Western Sydney Wanderers and will play in his second Grand Final this weekend, he too went on to represent Australia after leaving Perth Glory. Sadly for Tando Velaphi despite staying in the A-League his appearances have been limited at both Melbourne clubs since leaving Perth.

This shows that Smith knew how to spot talent. That talent may not have shone at Perth Glory, but it blossomed when it left. Who knows what could have happened had that talent been kept in Perth.

When Kenny Lowe was unveiled as the Perth Glory’s new coach club CEO Jason Brewer stated that “he is by far the best youth development coach in Australia, nobody knows the talent that we have in this state better than Kenny Lowe.” Hopefully if the club realises this, and it is not just rhetoric, he will be given adequate time to develop that talent. It is also hoped that the way games are lost will be looked at rather than simply the scoreline. Development takes time and as history has shown, Glory’s impatience, and the owners desire for instant success has cost them in the past. Hopefully the same mistake will not be made again.  Certainly the talent the club spotted by Smith, and which the club then let slip through its fingers would show that patience may well be the key.

 

 

 

 

April 28, 2014 at 10:05 am 3 comments

What’s the Point?

There has been a great deal made about the proposed player points system in football in Western Australia, and around the country. A system that will see players supposedly in their prime at 25 or 26 years of age prejudiced against and squeezed out of the game.

The move has already been branded illegal by a lawyer specialising in employment law. The PFA has also come out on the side of the players to try and stop such a move, but it would appear the FFA and its satellite state bodies are ploughing ahead regardless. Many believe the reason being that they know the clubs will face legal action, and not those governing the game and implementing the rule.

At last week’s meeting of clubs fortunate enough to be chosen to participate in the inaugural NPL season in Western Australia to try and appease the clubs, Football West advised clubs that they were prepared to increase the number of cumulative points a team can have on the park. They even said that they were prepared to increase the number of visa players – non-permanent residents – to four per team.

However clubs were told that they would have to revert to the national standard once they qualified for the NPL finals series. So the points value of their team would be lowered and they would only be allowed two visa players. Which seems a little ridiculous; You play all season under one set of rules, for the honour of playing in the finals, but then cannot play the same team because the over-riding rules do not allow you to.

This confirms a desperation on behalf of the FFA and the state bodies to do whatever it takes to have every state playing in a NPL branded competition. The clubs will be the one’s putting their future at risk if they accept this compromise, as they, as the employers will face the legal challenges.

Since when has picking a team been about how many points a player is worth?  Yes, disability sports use this system, but it should and must always be about picking the best team. If you are young yet capable you will earn your spot as Pele and Norman Whiteside did at the World Cup finals; they are the youngest to players to play in a World cup finals, both being aged just 17. Equally if you are an older player you too will only be selected if you contribute to the team, Dino Zoff won the World Cup with Italy at 40 years of age. Many will say, but he was a goalkeeper, which is true, but if we look at the English Premier League Teddy Sherringham pulled on a West Ham shirt for the final time 95 days shy of his 41st birthday. Ryan Giggs is still playing for Manchester United at 39 years of age, Stuart Pearce was still playing in the top flight at 39, and Gordon Strachan was the first 40 year old player in the Premier League.

Age has no limits, and should certainly never determine whether a player plays a sport or not. The points system is foolish in the extreme and only those who have limited playing experience in sport would think to implement such a system.

 

September 16, 2013 at 11:01 am 2 comments

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