Monthly Archives: March 2019

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Wanderers to be sold

Wellington stun Western Sydney with comeback win

Football Federation Australia is on the verge of selling the Western Sydney Wanderers after a sale price was agreed with a private consortium headed by Primo Smallgoods boss Paul Lederer.

Lederer has long-been mooted as the likely candidate to buy the Wanderers’ and has been in discussions about a financial stake in an A-League club for several years. He has submitted a joint offer alongside Pirtek founder Peter Duncan and a mystery Chinese businessman to take over the club.

Despite appointing equity firm UBS to find a potential buyer, the FFA has been in no rush to complete the proposed $15 million sale after the seeing the club’s surging popularity continue this year. The FFA has not disclosed if their valuation, which was formulated several months ago, has been met or exceeded.

There is a chance the deal could be completed as early as March but if the FFA is not satisfied with the arrangement, a sale may be held off until the end of the season.

That was only the positive news for the club to emerge from Parramatta Stadium on New Years’ Day as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat to Wellington Phoenix.

Wanderers coach Tony Popovic was at a loss to explain their capitulation in the final 25 minutes, where they conceded three times.

“It wasn’t our best [performance]. We scored first but they got a good equaliser and then we got punished for our mistakes,” Popovic said. “It’s the first time we’ve played at home this season and have lost. We’ve got to learn from it, which we will, and we’ll move on quickly.”

Popovic said his side was so keen to find a winning goal that they let their defence slip.

“At 1-1, I was still comfortable but I think we tried too hard and tried to force the issue,” he said. “They took advantage and that’s a credit to them. It’s a first for us and the players are disappointed. We’re not going to look too deep into it.”

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick said such a performance from his side was certainly due.

“The boys tell me they can’t remember being a goal behind and coming back to win but I think that’s to do with the mental approach they’ve got now. We’ve been working on that day since one of pre-season,” he said. “All round we’ve been playing good football [this season], I think there’s only two games we haven’t been played well but the law of averages says it’s got to come good and it did tonight.”

Merrick said 19-year-old substitute Tyler Boyd, who scored one and set up another after coming on, would take his game to the next level after that performance.

“He played a fair bit last year but didn’t seem to have a sense of purpose about him but now he understands more about the job and he has a sense of purpose on the field,” Merrick said. “He did a very good job tonight. I couldn’t ask anything else of him.”

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Partnership needed to drive game ahead

TO anyone on the outside, it may have appeared strange that for the past 92 years Newcastle district cricket and Newcastle City and Suburban cricket have operated as separate entities.

Since C&S was launched in 1921-22, the two associations have at times had a bitter relationship, and many players are ardently opposed to the rival competition. Any cross-over was deemed impossible.

The latest proposal to amalgamate the competitions, their respective umpires association and Newcastle Junior Cricket Association into one governing body is long overdue.

Cricket in Australia faces plenty of challenges to remain the nation’s No.1 summer sport. Due to changing work hours and family pressures, the free Saturday afternoon to chase around leather in the hot sun is a luxury that is becoming increasingly unavailable to many people.

Both the NDCA and C&S are in the business of promoting cricket, so it makes sense to pool their resources to face these challenges together instead of in competition.

Already the links forged between district and C&S clubs are proving beneficial and creating more flexibility for cricketers, especially those who cannot commit every Saturday.

Under a new proposal, an elected eight-person board of directors would appoint a paid general manager to run Newcastle cricket. This is another overdue step.

As long as the position is affordable long-term, it should benefit Newcastle cricket.

Local rugby league, rugby union, AFL, football and basketball all have a general manager or chief executive.

In recent years the NDCA, C&S and junior committees have worked diligently to further the sport, but they are all volunteers.

Due to a lack of time they are unable to dedicate the necessary manpower to grow cricket to its potential.

That includes boosting sponsorship, lobbying government for upgrades to No.1 Sportsground to cater for more elite cricket and introducing midweek competitions.

Plenty of negotiating and fine-tuning of the details will need to occur before one governing body is running Newcastle cricket.

It could be three or four seasons before it comes into operation.

In the meantime it is a proposal worthy of discussion.

POWER OF ONE: Cricket in Newcastle could come under the control of one administrative body. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

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Rising Phoenix stun Wanderers at home

STEIN Huysegems and Tyler Boyd combined to sink Western Sydney Wanderers’ undefeated home record and continue Wellington Phoenix’s remarkable A-League mid-season resurgence.

The Phoenix scored a 3-1 come-from-behind win over the Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium last night with Huysegems scoring two goals and setting up one for Boyd.

The Phoenix duo put on an attacking clinic after the home side had gone up 1-0 in the 62nd minute through Mark Bridge after great a deft chip from Shinji Ono.

But Boyd struck back in the 68th minute before Huysegems’s brace came in the 78th and 83rd minutes, the second a stunning back heel.

The win is the third straight for the Phoenix after previously enduring a winless start to the season.

The loss was the Wanderers’ first at home since January 6 last year.

With Ono and Tomi Yuric back and Michael Beauchamp wearing the captain’s armband, the Wanderers controlled much of the contest until after their first goal.

The hosts probably should have gone into the break ahead.

A Juric header flew over the bar in the 14th minute after he was incorrectly ruled offside, before a powerful shot from Aaron Mooy was deflected wide by Phoenix goalkeeper Glenn Moss.

Then, in the final minute of time in the opening half, an Ono header hit the bar.

With Youssouf Hersi constantly threatening the Phoenix defence after the break, the Wanderers always looked likely to score, and it was a well-deserved lead when they went 1-0 up.

But then the game turned on its head as Boyd and Huysegems dominated to secure the upset win for the Phoenix to give Wanderers coach Tony Popovic plenty to ponder in the new year.

Boyd slid in at the far post to guide in a low Huysegems cross from the right.

The bald Belgian then dispossessed Mooy and rammed home a low left-foot finish inside the far post before Boyd drove in a low cross, which Huysegems flicked in deftly past Covic.

● Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said his only fear for the 2014 World Cup was players gloating over past victories and failing to be humble in the face of the great challenge ahead in Brazil.

‘‘We have to forget the past and not gloat over what we have won in previous years,’’ Del Bosque said.

‘‘Humility is not an empty word. When I ask for it, it is because it is the path to success.’’

Spain, champions of Europe in 2008 and 2012 and World Cup winners in 2010, face fierce competition in the tournament, which kicks off in Brazil on June 12.

‘‘The players have won a lot, almost everything, and their vision is not the same as it was five or six years ago. That is my only fear. We come back to humbleness. You have to be humble, sportsmen, and good lads.’’ AFP

AIRBORN: The Wanderers’ Michael Beauchamp tackles Wellington’s Louis Fenton at Pirtek Stadium last night. Picture: Getty Images

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One new year’s resolution for Johnson

Mitchell Johnson doesn’t deal in new year’s resolutions. And when you’ve been travelling as well as the reborn Australian fast bowler over the past few months, why bother changing a thing?

Even as a new year has arrived, Johnson is still coming to terms with what he accomplished at the tail end of the last.

“I haven’t stepped back and had a look at it yet,” said Johnson, who has 31 wickets for the Ashes series with Friday’s fifth match in Sydney to come. “That’s something that when I’ve retired or finished this series I can have a look at and be really proud of.

“I’m proud of it at the moment but I don’t think it’s really sunk in. Even winning the Test in Perth, I don’t think it’d really sunk in yet that we’d won the Ashes so that’s why I think we want to win 5-0. We’ve got that hunger there.

“We want to go on with it so that desire is still there and it’s something we’ll look back in years to come and be really proud of and hopefully be one of the greatest teams to have played in the modern era.”

That final statement sums up what an astonishing turnaround Johnson and Australia have managed to stage this summer. He was there in India when they were dubbed the worst team to tour there nine months ago, and wasn’t even part of the squad that was then beaten 3-0 in England.

Number one in the world, a place in the history books – Michael Clarke’s Australians had kept their lofty ambitions in check for much of the series. But now that England are thoroughly buried and they have their own mojo back, they want to make sure it doesn’t go the way of Johnson’s ‘mo, which will finally get the razor treatment after Sydney.

Just how realistic their goals are will be determined next month when they meet the world’s best side, South Africa, on the Proteas’ turf. It was in Johannesburg more than two years ago that Australia last won a Test away from home against one of the major powers of world cricket – South Africa, England or India – and their record on the road last year showcased just how challenging they have found it to excel in foreign territory.

With a new lease of life Johnson, at 32, can hardly be blamed for feeling as if he can conquer the world.

“It’s just staying as fresh as possible mentally and physically. We’ve got a little bit more time off this year,” he said. “So it’s just having those times when I’m able to get back home and do the right things back home.

“One of the big things for me has been to be able to keep my gym work up. Keep that strength going, just keep being around positive people and keep enjoying my cricket. Which is what I have been doing over this past year. It’s pretty simple really, I don’t want to over-complicate it.”

That is exactly what Clarke has endeavoured to do in his management of Johnson against England, with spectacular results.

Reaching speeds of 155.8km/h in the Boxing Day Test and having used the short ball to devastating effect since the series began, Johnson’s hold over the opposition can be traced back to a basic tactical instruction from Clarke: Bowl fast.

“My role has been very clear,” Johnson said. “In the past I’ve felt I’ve had to play different roles, and sometimes that still happens where you have to back off a little bit and maybe tighten it up a little bit.

“In general my role has been to go out there, bowl fast, be aggressive, bowl in short spells. I’m very comfortable with that.”

An SCG wicket with a healthy tinge of green awaits him on Friday, and against a hungry quick with an eye on a whitewash that could be more bad news for England.

“There was a lot of talk about 5-0 the other way,” Johnson said. “I’ve been involved in a lot of losses against England [so] we really want to make it 5-0.

“And to be at this ground in Sydney, the wicket is looking pretty good for us fast bowlers so would be nice to go away from this 5-0 up and be one of the only teams in history to do that.”

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Sydney Thunder left dumbstruck by incredible run of outs in loss to Melbourne Stars

Match stats / As it happened

As if coming up against the international standard Melbourne Stars wasn’t hard enough, the weather toyed with Sydney Thunder on Wednesday night at ANZ Stadium, throwing out captain Mike Hussey’s plans to finally crack a win for the hapless side.

Defending a decent score of 6-155 on a two-paced drop-in deck, Hussey was given advice that rain was coming, leading him to turn to his strike bowlers early.

“Our plans changed quite a lot throughout the night,” a frustrated but composed Hussey said.

“We were told there was quite a bit of rain coming. So we wanted to use our good bowlers up front and try and keep them behind the par score. Then the next message came out that ‘No, no, there’s not going to be any rain’. Obviously things changed quite a bit.”

Hussey said it was “obvious” that the Stars would target Tillakaratne Dilshan, but the Thunder was left with no option but to bowl the Sri Lankan off spinner and medium pacer Scott Coyte in four of the final six overs.

With Brad Hodge (64 not out from 36 balls) and David Hussey (16 off 13) at the crease, there was little chance of the Thunder holding on and the finally relented with five balls remaining.

“It’s frustrating, for sure. I like to win,” Hussey said. “But I’m still very encouraged. We’ve got a choice. We can either bow our heads and feel sorry for ourselves and get down on ourselves and start arguing. Or we can remain positive and keep backing each other and keep trying to play our brand of cricket. I’m sure that’s what we will do.

“We were very competitive again tonight. We were playing against a fantastic team and to push them all the way to the last over was a very good effort.”

Besides the weather, luck deserted the Thunder. Matt Wade (44 off 40) survived a huge appeal from Dirk Nannes when on zero. Later, Dilshan threw down the stumps to catch David Hussey out of his crease – but the bail did not completely dislodge.

“When you’re going well, those little bits of luck tend to go your way,” said Mike Hussey, who scored 66 from 48 in the Thunder’s innings.

“Unfortunately they’re not going our way at the moment. But if we keep staying positive, keep backing each other, keep trying to execute our skills, the worm will turn and those little things will go our way. And when they do, then hopefully a few wins go with that.”

Hodge said experience proved the key at the end for the Stars, who finish a clean sweep of Sydney and return to Melbourne atop the Big Bash League table with three wins from three matches.

“Between me and Huss we’ve probably played about 400 T20 matches, so we probably used our head a little bit to try and think through the situation,” Hodge said.

“I guess experience is worth a lot. That’s probably the main difference in terms of the Melbourne Stars winning more matches in their history than the Thunder.”

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Sophie Stanwell on track for Games qualification

THERE is no time like the present for Georgetown heptathlete Sophie Stanwell as she chases a Commonwealth Games B-qualifier at the NSW Combined Event Championships this weekend.

The 22-year-old and Maitland decathlete Matt Harris will both defend NSW titles at Campbelltown Athletics Centre with an eye on the qualifying marks for the 2014 Glasgow Games team.

But while Harris is preparing to build his Games selection campaign towards the national titles in April, Stanwell is keen to start 2014 with a bang.

Ranked No.1 in Australia after a strong 2013, Stanwell is in sight of the qualifying mark.

She needs to improve her personal best tally across the seven events by just 44 points to reach the 5600 target.

Although there are still several chances left to hit the score, Stanwell believes she can do it at the season opener.

‘‘I want to set PBs in the events I’ve really been working on over the last few months – the two throws and the hurdles,’’ she said.

‘‘If I can do that and do well in the other events, I should get near 5700 points.

‘‘My training all points to that sort of score, the weather should be good, so there’s no reason I shouldn’t be aiming for it.’’

Stanwell made her international debut in July, finishing ninth at the World University Games in Russia.

After a slow start, she was ninth in a field of 19, which included 2011 world champion and London Olympics bronze medallist Tatyana Chernova.

Despite disappointing efforts in the high jump and 100-metres hurdles, Stanwell took plenty of positives out of the performance heading into the biggest year of her career. ‘‘I had a pretty tough start in the first two events, but I did personal bests in the rest of them,’’ she said.

‘‘And I ran the fastest 200m in the competition, so that was pretty special, having my name next to No.1 on the boards ahead of the all those top athletes.’’

Meanwhile, Harris will shoot for an unprecedented sixth consecutive NSW decathlon title this weekend.

The 24-year-old was optimistic about bridging the 300-point gap from his personal best to the men’s Commonwealth Games qualifier this season but was looking further down the track.

‘‘I’m not going as good as Sophie at the moment – she is on fire – but everything is going well,’’ Harris said.

‘‘It will be tough to get the qualifier. I know I’m capable, but everything has to go well for me.

‘‘I’m really looking to build through the season towards the nationals.’’

Although further away from a Games berth than Stanwell, Harris said it was within sight.

‘‘The last one I did I lost 400 [points] in a single event, 200 in a another. And the 1500m I didn’t go too hard in because I’d already lost so many points,’’ Harris said.

‘‘You can pick up or lose a lot very quickly.’’

Both will back up in two weeks to compete in selected individual events at the Hunter Track Classic at Glendale.

HOPES: Matt Harris and Sophie Stanwell, who are defending their NSW titles at Campbelltown this weekend. Picture: Ryan Osland