Monthly Archives: July 2019
Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop has issued a blunt warning to new AFL chief executive, Gillon McLachlan: hands off the Western Sydney Wanderers.
The runaway success of the Wanderers – formed virtually overnight in 2012 and on a fraction of the GWS Giants’ mammoth budget – has been the source of amazement among those at AFL House, not least from the game’s highest office.
But instead of fighting the rival sport – currently in the midst of unprecedented growth – the AFL has instead held out the olive branch in the hope of joint growth in western Sydney.
However, Gallop told Fairfax Media that the suggestion the two codes could work together seemed implausible in the current environment.
“What would that [working with the AFL] entail? At the end of the day, we are in a competitive environment,” Gallop said. “We want people to choose our game to play and watch.
“Our popularity is booming and we are going to concentrate on our sport – and the business of our sport.”
Speaking at a western Sydney business lunch hosted by the Giants last Friday, which was attended by Wanderers’ chief executive John Tsatsimas, McLachlan said he liked the idea of the two clubs working together, hailing the Wanderers’ success as good for the Giants.
“I think it’s great for us. I think the success of the Wanderers is actually incredibly exciting for the Giants – a community binding behind one team,” he said. “I think if we can collaborate and partner with the Wanderers ongoing, I think that’d be fantastic. This is a very big market.
“I think seeing teams being successful out here is great for us and what we think we can achieve with the Giants.”
Apart from the Wanderers’ week-to-week success, the AFL remains envious of the popularity of the A-League Sydney derby, which has ascended into the pantheon of the nation’s must-attend sporting events.
Remarkably, of the seven times the Wanderers have played Sydney FC, six times the match has sold out.
Matches between the Giants and the Sydney Swans have never sold out; nor have they ever come close. While the Giants finally defeated their older brothers in round one this season, the relative disparity between the two teams has dented the credibility of the rivalry.
However, speaking at a school visit in Auburn Public School in Sydney’s west on Monday, McLachlan said the east-west rivalry would soon be replicated in the AFL.
“Some ask if we’re concerned about the success of the Western Sydney Wanderers. Quite the contrary – we are delighted by what they have achieved as it only further enhances Western Sydney’s status as one of the great sporting regions in Australia,” he said.
“I’ve also got no doubt that it won’t be long before the Giants’ rivalry with the Swans is akin to that between Sydney FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers: clubs from the east and west fighting for bragging rights in front of packed stadiums across the city.”
Privately, the FFA is still fuming at the way the AFL has responded to its requests to find a suitable venue for the A-League grand final, should Melbourne Victory or Melbourne City – two of the favourites for this year’s title – win the rights to host the event.
The FFA is looking to secure either Etihad Stadium, which has already hosted three A-League grand finals, or the MCG. The date it is looking at is Sunday, May 17, which is later than usual because of the break for the Asian Cup in January.
However, the AFL claims Victory and the Docklands stadium management approached it in July about keeping May 10 free and says it was only alerted to the request for a change in dates a fortnight ago.
Should a suitable venue not be found in Victoria, and the opponent be from NSW, the Victory is even contemplating shifting the match to ANZ Stadium to capitalise on a blockbuster pay day.
SUPPORT: Mark Birighitti.
JETS coach Phil Stubbins appears certain to back goalkeeper Mark Birighitti despite the likely availability of Ben Kennedy for Saturday’s clash with Perth at nib Stadium.
Birighitti has attracted criticism from fans after his unconvincing display in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Wellington.
The return of Kennedy, who has been cleared to resume flying after overcoming an ear infection that has ruled him out of Newcastle’s past two games, presents Stubbins with a selection dilemma.
Stubbins said Birighitti and Kennedy were ‘‘both great goalkeepers’’ and any A-League coach would be delighted to have two glovemen of their ability at his disposal.
While Newcastle’s squad will not be named until Thursday, Stubbins voiced his support for Birighitti and hinted that he would be retained.
‘‘I’m not going to discuss any player selections prior to the game, but the good thing is that we’ve got two very good goalkeepers and obviously it’s a bonus that Ben is back,’’ Stubbins said.
‘‘But Mark is an Australian international goalkeeper. He’s been someone that always gives his best for his club and his country.
‘‘He’s perhaps had a couple of moments [against Wellington] that he could have done slightly better with, but we all know how much potential Mark has. He’s 23 years of age and it’s a learning curve.
‘‘He shouldn’t be beating himself up over a mistake or something he could have done better.
‘‘That’s all part of the learning experience for a young goalkeeper.’’
Stubbins said it would be unfair to pin the blame for last week’s setback in New Zealand on individuals, declaring Newcastle were collectively below their best.
‘‘I’m not going to single any player out,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re a team.’’
While Birighitti seems likely to get a chance to redeem himself, Stubbins said he also had confidence in Kennedy, who has appeared in 91 A-League games but only six since Birighitti’s arrival three seasons ago.
‘‘I’ve got enormous faith in Ben and I want these goalkeepers to be fighting for the position,’’ he said.
‘‘Although they’ve got intense rivalry, and that’s a good thing, they’re still a team within a team.
‘‘We’ve got two goalkeepers there who most clubs would take in an instant.’’
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Federal bureaucrats in Canberra should not be left to run Norfolk Island, says the Speaker in Norfolk Island’s Legislative Assembly, David Buffett Mr Buffett said the federal government’s intention to abolish the island’s nine-person assembly was unprecedented in Australian history.
He said the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development had “at this stage not demonstrated the capacity” to run the island.
“The bureaucracy is grabbing the limelight,” he said.
Mr Buffett travelled to Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday with the island’s Chief Minister, Lisle Snell to lodge a petition of more than 740 signatures advocating the island’s residents have a say in how their 35 square kilometre home is governed.
The petition, signed by the island’s residents and descendants of the original settlers, called for a referendum or plebiscite before the island’s assembly was abolished.
Federal Territories Minister Jamie Briggs was coy last week about his plans for Norfolk, simply saying that “a range of options” were on the table.
Repealing the Norfolk Island Act 1979 and with it self-governance has been put on the agenda because of the island’s dire financial state, particularly following the global financial crisis.
Since 2010 Norfolk Island has not been raising enough taxes to pay for services for its 1670 residents and the island’s finances stay afloat on federal government subsidies of up to $8 million a year.
A quarter of the island’s population has left since the economic downturn and proposed changes would replace the existing 12 per cent GST on the island with Australia’s tax system.
Mr Buffett noted the Queensland Legislative Council voted itself out of existence 90 years ago to form that state’s unicameral Parliament but that it was not forced on the state.
Enough pace: trainer Robert Smerdon is happy with Politeness heading towards Saturday’s Myer Classic. Photo: Anthony Johnson Enough pace: trainer Robert Smerdon is happy with Politeness heading towards Saturday’s Myer Classic. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Enough pace: trainer Robert Smerdon is happy with Politeness heading towards Saturday’s Myer Classic. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Enough pace: trainer Robert Smerdon is happy with Politeness heading towards Saturday’s Myer Classic. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
A middle draw for Politeness in Saturday’s Myer Classic will give her the chance to run out a strong mile. Trainer Robert Smerdon had targeted the group 1 and had been pleased with her progress until her fifth behind Sweet Idea in the Tristarc Stakes at Flemington. “They stopped and started and it didn’t suit her,” he said. “We have had this race in mind for the whole preparation and we are going to have her at her best on the day. She has only had the one go at a mile and over-raced, but there looks to be enough pace for her on Saturday. We really understand her well now and she is a much better horse, so we’ve got some hope in her.”
Small fields alarm ATC Australian Turf Club racing manager Matt Rudolph has opened a review of Saturday field sizes in Sydney after disappointing acceptances for Rosehill on Saturday. There were only 71 acceptors, already reduced by two with scratchings. “We are looking to find out why we can’t get runners on a Saturday,” Rudolph said. “The small field without each-way betting is costing us turnover and it is not a good sight.” The news was better for Randwick on Melbourne Cup day with 172 nominations for the nine races, where prizemoney is $40,000 instead of Saturday’s $85,000. “Everyone seems to want to have a runner on Melbourne Cup day, I’m not sure if that has an effect on the Saturday races but it is something we will look at,” Rudolph said.
Something special for KeysKen Keys added another success to his sensational spring when Bring Something won the Bendigo Cup on Wednesday. Keys will hunt his first group win with Rich Enuff in the Coolmore Stud Stakes on Saturday, but Bring Something could be the horse to bring him back for the Melbourne Cup next year. “I don’t think I want spring to stop, it’s wonderful,” Keys said on TVN. “It’s crazy, we have got 18 [horses] in work and we are playing with the top end of the level. We know it has to stop but it will be fun when it does. I think he can, with credibility, go to the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and then that will be put away time and I think we have got an exciting horse to look forward to next year.” Bring Something grabbed Massiyn to win by a half-head with favourite Order Of The Sun almost two lengths away.
Messara gets a kick out of price Paul Messara wonders what price Scissor Kick would be in the Coolmore Stud Stakes if he had won five straight. The colt was one of the standouts of the early spring in Sydney and the $16 on offer at Ladbrokes surprised his trainer. “I think he has the best form in the race,” Messara said. “Won three in a row then was wide all the way in the Golden Rose, before having no luck in the Stan Fox behind Caulfield Guineas winner [Shooting To Win]. If he had won five on the trot, he would be favourite.”
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Old foes: Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Waugh at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday. Photo: Cole BennettsThey are universally regarded as two of the greatest cricketers of all time but Sachin Tendulkar says when he and Shane Warne visited Sir Donald Bradman for his 90th birthday they were so daunted they couldn’t decide who should speak first.
“I remember Warnie was with me in the car and we were discussing who was going to ask the first question,” Tendulkar said on Wednesday night. “I said, ‘You are from Australia, so you should start’. And he was like, ‘No, you’re a batsman, so you can relate to him much better than what I can’.”
It turns out Warne was probably right. Test cricket’s world record run scorer was speaking in a visit back to what he declared his favourite ground, inducted alongside Steve Waugh as the latest Bradman Foundation honourees at a gala dinner at the SCG.
The Indian maestro scored three centuries in five Tests at the ground at an average of 157, none better than the unbeaten 241 in 2004 in what also happened to be Waugh’s final Test.
“The SCG is my favourite ground. I have always maintained that. It brings back all the memories,” Tendulkar said, speaking publicly in Australia for the first time in six years. “I was just outside in the car and I said it feels great to be back. It’s been a very social venue to me. Right back to 1991, which was the first time I played here.
“[It’s] just the feel of the ground. Whenever I walked in I felt I could go on and on batting. I just enjoyed the atmosphere, and the pavilion especially. It’s a fabulous pavilion with a lot of history. It is the heritage and the impact all the players have left on this ground. Performing against Australia always gave me a lot of satisfaction because I knew if you perform against the leading side that everyone takes notice of your performance. It is a different kind of satisfaction.”
Waugh, describing Tendulkar as “probably the modern-day Bradman”, was also honoured at a venue in which he enjoyed no shortage of highlights, in particular his final-ball ‘Perfect Day’ century against England in 2003. “It was one of those balls where it just came off the bat perfectly, it didn’t feel like I hit it hard, and all of a sudden it was like someone turned the volume up,” the former Australian captain said. “It was an amazing experience.”
It was Tendulkar who took the catch at the SCG a year later that spelled the end of Waugh’s Test batting career.
Tendulkar said there was a strong mutual admiration between him and Bradman when they met 16 years ago. “One thing was just to be able to meet the great man but also to know the funnier side of him,” Tendulkar said of their meeting at his Adelaide home in 1998. “I asked him a question: ‘what would you have averaged in today’s cricket?’ He thought about it and said ‘Maybe 70’. The natural reaction was ‘why only 70 and not 99?’ He said, ‘C’mon, that’s not bad for a 90-year-old man’.”