WA Over 40's - 2010 Match Reports


WA vs VIC - Friday, October 1, 2010

Taking on the defending champions first up may not seem the best way to get into a tournament. But even though we had to travel 40 minutes back towards Perth to get to the Bunbury stadium, the Vics still had a fair few more kilometres under their belts, with many players only arriving in the State the day before. 

It certainly seemed to show early on, with WA moving the ball around simply and effectively, not allowing the visitors any chance to get into their own rhythm. 

Many of the new draftees to the side shone early, with Paul Armitage dominant in deep defence and midfield and Stewart McDonald demonstrating a big work rate at inner. Allan Coulthart seemed to be in everything from his flank half position. Eventually it was newbie Nathan Bridge who cut through at right wing, providing the pass for captain Craig Emslie, who made a trademark dive towards the right post and slipped the ball to the keeper’s left to open the score. 

Some of the intensity dropped off for a period and Victoria eventually strung passes together to goal, the 1-1 score line seeing out the half. 

Our boys lifted in the second half, leaving the Vics flat footed and chasing. Michael Starling got space at the 25 dead in front and with players peeling off and distracting the defence, he simply drove straight through, unleashing from the top of the circle, high over the top of the diving keeper. 

With some 40 seconds to go, winger Martin Turner attempted to help out in defence, but his clumsy attempt at the 25 turned into a slide, resulting in a short corner to the opposition. 

But the Black and Golds held tough to secure some very important points on the way to the finals. 

Result: WA 2 – VIC 1 
Goal scorers: Emslie, Starling 
Best player as nominated by VIC: Craig Emslie 

WA vs TAS - Saturday, October 2, 2010

At national championships, it’s best not to ignore the bleeding obvious but it also helps not to believe everything you hear. 

While Tasmania looked totally outclassed against New South Wales the previous day, they had beaten us the year before and we were also aware they had drafted WA players to bolster their depleted numbers. 

They still only came into the game with a bench of one but played a tough game in the circumstances. 

As the previous day, we got off to a fast start, moving the ball slickly and keeping Tasmania chasing the ball in their own half. 

The goal came early, with newbie Kim Christiansen, seconded to the inner line to cover for injured coach Alan Dick, cracking a ball into the circle from the left, for Stewart McDonald to deftly place his stick in the line and over Tasmania’s Australian representative keeper. 

There were plenty of short corner opportunities created but Tassie managed a freak goal back, somehow deflected from the base line across the goal to the sideboard. 

It was still 1-1 at half time but with goal difference likely to play a factor in getting top spot on the table, there was a strong incentive to make the most of Tasmania’s modest bench and increasing fatigue. 

Peter Bewick missed a sitter in the first half but eventually atoned with some good scrambling in the circle to get his first of the tournament from inner. 

Wayne Blazacjeck worked tirelessly all day and put his money where his well used mouth is for a sharp goal, while Stewart McDonald tipped the ball truly over the keeper in easier fashion than his first, having missed a good opportunity not long before. 

After his defensive error the day before, Martin Turner had a lot to make up to his team. 

It was a triumph of character against the odds. Turner suffered a badly interrupted sleep, courtesy of disruptive and frankly, drunk housemates captain Craig Emslie, vice-captain and captain of vice Michael Starling, Horrie (truly horrible) Rutter and Andrew (pale imitation of Turner) Rahim. All the qualities that made Horrie an outstanding fines master combined to make him a terrible roomie for alpha male Mikey and their banter quickly sounded like that of a couple who should have ended their relationship a decade earlier. 

Nevertheless, Turner clearly came to play and it was Starling who proved he could make a relationship work by breaking into the circle and slotting to his housemate in space near the right post, who turned the ball through his legs, leaving the keeper flat-footed and mystified with the remarkable display of skill. 

A pity to let another two goals in but Tasmania are a better side than their first outing suggested. Two wins from two games is a great start to a tournament into which WA has come with high expectations both for itself and from opposing teams. 

Result: WA 5 – TAS 3 
Goal scorers: McDonald (2), Turner, Bewick, Blazacjeck 
Best player as nominated by TAS: Allan Coulthart 

WA vs NSW - Monday, October 4, 2010

Finding a way to the goals, other than through ace goal sneak Craig Emslie, was the difficulty for WA in this match. 

New South Wales play with precision and a fair bit of flair and were on their game from the word go, scoring in the seventh minute. 

Emslie was typically opportunistic, bursting through traffic from the right to square things up at the 16 minute mark. 

But goals at the 23 and 27 minute mark had the Black and Golds down 1-3 at the break. 

Player-coach Alan Dick had to sit out this game with a hamstring strain and asked the 15 players to lift just 5 per cent in intensity to get the ascendancy. 

But after New South’s fourth in the 55th minute, it was a big task getting back. 

Emslie scored his second with five minutes to go and WA pressed hard to get back in the game but it was too little, too late. 

It seemed the Waratahs could only remember one name and gave the best player award to former Scottish international Michael Starling, who had won two previous prizes in games against New South Wales. 

Perhaps they were focusing on his surname, which has as its first syllable a word that can mean ‘champion’ and a second syllable which belongs to a famously orange-haired Geelong champion footballer. 

Nevertheless, the midfielder was back to something like the form that earned him the accolade as WA’s player of the tournament last year in Melbourne and ‘Towel Boy’ finally has a third one to add to the washing rotation in his bachelor pad. 

But WA will have to produce that extra 5 per cent and perhaps a couple of percentage points more to match it with a slick NSW unit further down the track in this tournament. 

Result: WA 2 – NSW 4 
Goal scorer: Emslie (2) 
Best player as nominated by NSW: Michael Starling

WA vs WA Country - Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Warnings about Country treating the game against Metro WA as their grand final can never go unheeded. It’s always hotly contested and plenty of Country supporters come out of the woodwork to get behind their boys. 

Nevertheless, WA expected to rattle the backboard a number of times and get the goal difference up to press for top spot. 

The game was built on strong defence and despite an early scare and some sharp work from goalie Andrew Rahim to clean up, WA had much the better of the play. 

After his success at the inaugural Broadwater Beach Resort Ping Pong Championships, Allan ‘Bundy’ Coulthart clearly had his eye in and seemed to be in many of the plays from the back line to attack. 

Craig Emslie got the scoring started in the 12th minute and there were chances galore to capitalise on the team’s ascendancy. 

Wayne ‘Blazza’ Blazacjeck was lively and clearly benefiting from some medical help to get his hips in match order. But perhaps he was thinking of his palatial Bunbury beach pad, where the toilets are so large they could double as plunge pools, and didn’t quite get himself set for a goal haul. 

Adrian ‘Horrie’ Rutter had his best game by far, making deft intercepts and judicious tackles. 

Other Backstreet Boys such as Trevor ‘B-azz’ Beazley, Scott ‘Chumba Wumba’ MacDonald and Steven ‘Met the Vet’ Metcalfe also showed their wares and made sure we kept our first clean sheet. 

But it was Paul ‘Armo’ Armitage who caught the eye of the opposition judges as best on ground. Armo would certainly not be called ‘Leggo’, as he appears to have a pair of twigs attached to his torso and stuck into a pair of hockey shoes. 

The first division and Thundersticks warrior makes up for his slight build with remarkable dexterity on the field, getting into limbo territory with his low, finely timed tackles and exhibiting dazzling stick work to get out of tight corners and turn deep defence into attack. 

Up front, Peter Bewick, Nathan Bridges and Kim Christiansen tried hard all day, while Stewart McDonald, a fly-in, fly-out worker, flew in and out of the game with typical flair. 

After Ems had doubled the lead after 10 minutes of the second half and more chances went begging, it was up to the back line to hold the fort, with Rahim and Rutter starring. Horrie gave the big pumped fist when he cleared off the line late in the game and staved off what could have been an awkward goal against with just minutes remaining. 

Steve Metcalfe needed to come off for the blood rule late in the game but thought he’d finish the job when he jogged straight into a metal bench at the start of the warm down, slicing his leg almost to the bone. 

It gave him the chance to test out his own veterinary skills later on, when he applied six stitches to himself. However, he has been howling at the moon ever since, so there are some concerns about the anaesthetic used. 

If we can win the championships, no doubt we’ll all be howling at the moon on Saturday night. 

Result: WA 2 – WAC 0 
Goal scorers: Emslie (2) 
Best player as nominated by WAC: Paul Armitage

WA vs QLD - Thursday, October 7, 2010

With second spot secured and first spot unattainable, there were different motivations to succeed in this fixture. 

The most obvious was to keep on winning and take that form into the semifinals. There was also some opportunity to control our own destiny by influencing the make-up of the four, with third and fourth spots totally up for grabs from any of the remaining teams. 

In the warmest conditions faced, the plan was to let the ball do the work rather than running around too much. Conserving energy for the finals was also a factor. 

The plan seemed to be working to perfection early on, with Armitage and Starling distributing plenty of ball through the back and half lines. 

When a corner opportunity arose in the 11th minute, there were high hopes of turning around the glaring statistic of no conversions throughout the entire tournament. 

Mikey Starling, the darling of Scots veterans everywhere, stepped up to the plate to claim his moment of destiny, slamming the ball to the top of the backboard. 

A pre-planned celebration for this milestone followed, with Starling gunning down the entire side. 

Unbeknown to the side’s oldest player, Martin Turner, those on the side line were expected to drop as well. 

It seems that Turner, a noted humanitarian and semi-vegetarian, was collecting balls after the warm-up when the call was made. 

His joy at Starling’s stellar strike was short-lived, with players making it obvious he had failed to fall and owed a carton. Horrie Rutter, in particular, constantly reinforced the fine, even while tackling and passing 50m from Turner. Horrie is a fines machine and the finest fines master in living memory, despite the revolving-door fines master policy employed on this tour. 

The sheer silliness of the punishment was clear, given what players know about the various physical effects of the excessive use of alcohol, let alone how attractive it can make room mates on long, lonely tours away from loved ones. 

Just two minutes later captain Emslie benefited from Man of the Match Peter Bewick’s clever lifted cross from the right, calmly guided through by the Australian Masters representative. 

WA continued to have much the better of the half but couldn’t capitalise on this dominance. 

A lull at the start of the second half led to a goal eight minutes in for the Maroons. 

The precarious 2-1 lead was the status quo until the 65th minute, when Trevor ‘BeAz’ Beazley deftly tipped the ball around the left post before clearly showing his delight at his first goal for WA 40s. 

Wayne Blazacjeck got an excellent pass from Kim Christiansen from the right of the circle and slotted from the left with typical poise and accuracy just three minutes later. 

The winning record was maintained and other results meant we would face WA Country in the semis, while Queensland faced NSW in the early game. 

Result: WA 4 – QLD 1 
Goal scorers: Emslie, Starling, Beazley, Blazacjeck  
Best player as nominated by QLD: Peter Bewick 

Semi-Final: WA vs WAC - Friday, October 8, 2010

There were hot conditions in the game against our country cousins for a place in the grand final. We were hoping for a hot performance to get us there, despite being down to 14 players due to injuries to defender Scott MacDonald and player-coach Alan Dick. 

Lots of forward pressure and defensive pressing gave a series of short corners and it was just the eighth minute when Mikey Starling, getting the feeling of finding the back of the net from the set play, hit the backboard low to the left. 

Andrew Rahim was having a strong game in goals, making sure the few Country forays were dealt with appropriately. 

Craig Emslie scored his best yet for the tournament in the 19th minute from a short corner, timing his interception of a sharp Wayne Blazacjeck pass from the left of the circle to perfection right in front. 

A 2-0 half-time lead became 3-0 just three minutes into the second half, when a clever run and cross from Nathan Bridge on the right wing found Blazacjeck clear on the left to slot home truly. 

The game took on a different complexion when Emslie came off with a groin strain after just five minutes of the second half. There were plenty of opportunities and openings but organisation went somewhat astray, despite strong leadership from the likes of Paul Armitage and Blazacjeck. 

Country got one back in the 53rd minute and they had a sniff of getting themselves back in the game. 

Umpiring was also going somewhat astray, with far too many plays allowed to continue in dangerous situations when no obvious advantage could be seen. 

Tempers frayed and eventually the captains were asked to let their players know to calm down. 

But Horrie Rutter gave some chat a short while later and we were down to 10 men with his yellow card. 

There were concerns that Allan ‘Bundy’ Coulthart would follow Horrie, after remonstrating at yet another dubious call, but he got the pink ‘love heart’ card instead. 

Somehow WA held on and Martin Turner put the result beyond doubt with just a minute to play, bringing down a ball that bounced from the keeper’s pads, dragging to his left, then raising a tomahawk into the empty goals. 

A grand final was always the aim and the team was looking forward to another shot at New South Wales, this time with the far higher stakes of the 40s title on the line on Saturday. 

Result: WA 4 – WAC 1 
Goal scorers: Starling, Emslie, Blazacjeck, Turner 

Final: WA vs NSW - Saturday, October 9, 2010

Swan Districts, Premiers 1990, 2010. Collingwood, Premiers 1990, 2010. WA 40s, Premiers 1990... Could they emulate their WAFL and AFL counterparts and break a 20-year drought? 

New South Wales had set the pace early and looked the team to beat, accounting for WA 4-2 in the round match. But watching their semifinal against Queensland, there was reason to hope. Queensland held a 1-0 lead for most of the first half and the Waratahs suddenly looked a bit tired and rattled. 

Would they be able to get themselves up one more time, after being runners-up to Victoria two years in a row? 

WA learnt a lot from their own previous contest against their grand final adversaries. NSW continually used the overhead to crack WA’s full-court press. This time there would be a mix of full and half-court presses to keep them guessing. 

It worked a treat. It was clear early on that NSW were short of ideas with the amount of pressure being experienced in their defensive half and were looking a couple of steps slower than the local(ish) boys. 

It didn’t take long for WA to make their move, Stewart McDonald finding space on the left and then slapping hard and fast from the top of the circle and giving the keeper little chance on his right. 

A defensive lapse that gifted the ball to NSW looked like surrendering the lead, but Andrew Rahim in goals made a spectacular save, dropping to his left from a strong hit on the left side of the circle. 

Momentum shifted again when player-coach Alan Dick ran straight on for an interchange late in the half, weaving into the circle, slipping the ball to his right, then dropping it cleverly under the keeper to give a vital 2-0 lead at the break. 

NSW showed character to take it up to WA at the start of the second term, forcing a penalty stroke that was duly converted. 

But they were squeezed for opportunities, with Coulthart and Armitage dominating at the back and repelling all attacks. 

The pressure led to a penalty stroke for WA and Blazacjeck was more than happy to step up and convert the chance. 

When another stroke was awarded in the last minute of play, WA knew the 20-year hoodoo had ended. Fittingly, captain, top goal scorer and player of the tournament Craig Emslie stepped up and made it look easy. 

Pandemonium erupted as players realised hard work, strategy and application had paid off with the national title. 

The icing on the cake was the slew of players included in the Australian squad for Singapore next year. 

For coach Dick it was a great reward for five years as a player and his second year as coach. Many thanks to manager Paula Dick and trainer Phil. 
Go the mighty WA 40s! 

Result: WA 4 – NSW 1 
Goal scorers: McDonald, Dick, Blazacjeck, Emslie 
Player of the tournament: Craig Emslie 
WA Player of the Tournament: Allan Coulthart, Paul Armitage (runner-up), Stewart McDonald (third) 
Australian representatives: Wayne Blazacjeck, Craig Emslie, Stewart McDonald, Andrew Rahim, Michael Starling, Alan Dick (train-on), Nathan Bridge (train-on), Paula Dick ( 45s Manager)