And then there's this, by Ian Warren from the Canberra Times, 20 July 1987. It's interesting because it shows how a number of aspects of the game and attitudes around it have changed. Interesting also that that some entrenched attitudes remain.
Notably this is written just before the game moved to summer. "It'll never work" or words to that effect claims Warren. Maybe it didn't.AMONG THE MANY enormous problems faced by Australian soccer in its (probably hopeless) struggle for increased and enduring popularity is that the spectacle of the game itself does little to recruit participants and fans. The televising of Australian soccer probably does the game more harm than good while the televising of, say, basketball or of rugby league is a form of living advertising for the game.
Every Sunday the brave SBS-28 network broadcasts a whole match from Australia's West End Soccer League, boasting in its publicity material that this broadcast offers "the creme of local soccer". Bravely, I sat down to watch a match (4.30pm, July 12) between Sydney Olympic and SouthMelbourne.
Soccer referees have busy aftenoons these days and this was a busy afternoon for a referee rejoicing in thename of Bill Monteverde. Mr Monteverde's whistle regularly pierced the aternoon air like the insistent mating call of some monosyllabic bird of preyas infringement followed infringeent. Once in a while a little soccer interrupted the flow of fouling.
I was at a State Bank soccer league match a few Sundays ago in which one hyperactive defender was always urging his team mates to "Bite him!Bite him!" whenever an opponent advanced goalwards with the ball. This was, I fancy, an instruction to tackle the player rather than hang back and wait for him to actually do something with the ball in his possession.
There was a great deal of "biting" in the match offered by SBS. After a short spasm of actual soccer someone wouldbe writhing on the ground like a postman chewed by a bull terrier, clutching the ankles and femurs "bitten" in the tackle. Trainers were always on the field, administering the equivalent oftetanus injections to their fallen warriors.
"He's been in the wars," the panel ofcommentators (which included Johny Warren, Les Murray and an Englishperson doing an imitation of the commentators on BBC and ITV soccer programs) commented as someone who had been repeatedly "bitten" bit the turf again. Mr Monteverde, like most modern referees so used to and hardened by the spitefulness of the modern game that it would have taken an on-field murder to get him to send anyone off, showed five biters the yelow card, a trifling punishment fortheir crime of making the game unwatchably dreary.
During half-time the articulate LesMurray interviewed two soccer administrators on the subject of playing soccer fixtures in summer and in the evenings. One of them thought that this would be a great idea since it would allow "families" to come to the match after a day at the beach.
It is typical of Australian soccer administrators, blinded by their love of the game, that they would even dreamthat Australian soccer is a family entertainment. They were speaking after 45 minutes of tripping, kicking, writhing, hard lying to the referee, shirt pulling and swearing. I have no special gifts as a lip-reader but even I was able to decipher some of the terrible things Sydney Olympic manager Eddie "chop him down" Thomson was shouting at the long suffering Monteverde.