I've returned from a very pleasant few days in Canberra. Went up to catch the Carlton game and take in the sights and surrounds of Canberra. The Academy will knock your eyes out. I spoke with Rocky O'Connor (Head coach) and naturally he started pointing out the squad photos on a wall in his office. They're all there - Farina, Viduka, Skoko, Moore, Foxe, Colosimo..
Spoke with Mitchell Prentice and Rhys Lahy, a couple of Academy players. Prentice may be off to Boro next season. He went there for trials and trained with the likes of Robson, Gazza etc, but started at the Academy Jan this year. Lahy is a mate of Josh Kennedy, played with him in Albury. When I said "What's your major goal?", they both replied "Play for the Socceroos".
Checked out some of the AIS facilities. The biggest, most expensive gym I've ever seen with NOBODY working out! The indoor football pitch. The outdoor SYNTHETIC pitch. Then there's the 4 perfectly surfaced fullsize football pitches with separate pavillon. The Cosmos were training there and so I took a billion photos and passed onto Munro and Fab (only kidding).
I began making disparaging comments about Canberra and Melbourne. "Melbourne is 10x larger than Canberra, has 10X less facilities and 10x less qualities, Bruce is 10x better than Colonial and 100x better than Olympic and Bob Jane.."
The first pub (City club) I go to in the city centre has a pic of a Matilda over the entrance. Inside there's pics of previous schoolboy tours, cups and medals. "Far out". I noticed that people of all ethnic appearances were hanging out together. At the nightclubs, it don't matter what you look like, all welcome. Ditto the pubs. Aboriginal, Biker gang, Asian, South European.. The contrast to Melbourne and Sydney is unbelieable. Multiracial verus Multiracial verus Monoculutral.
Game time. Bruce is a lovely stadium but suffers from the Melbourne low-attendance problems. About 30 Carlton fans made the trip (Hint : Do not try Melbourne-Canberra after work driving solo). We too were having problems coming to terms with the country air and peace of Canberra and were relatively subduded.
Thompson lit the night up with two sublime strikes sandwiched between an excellent long-ranger from Marcus Phillips. His first came from a hooked Vasilevski cross that Marth? knocked on at the near post. Thompson had to control, Thompson had to control, turn and shoot and he made it look easy. Phillips turned with a bouncing ball and lashed a great strike across Deano. Middleby checked and swung in a long cross that was missed by the last Canberra man and Thompson placed perfectly past the son of former AIS head coach Ron Smith. Vasilevski burnt his marker and swung over an absolute perfect cross (have we found the Ozzie Beckham?) that Thompson met well but Smith saved.
When Hooker hacked down Archie, I switched my attention to the bench and so didn't see the complimentary headbutt, but Munro was deadset furious with Archie and nearly took him off.
There was a discussion some time ago on this list regarding Asian players in the NSL. Canberra's #6 came off the Canberra's #6 came off the bench and it might be interesting knowing more about him. Anyone?
So Carlton start with a win on the backs of Thompson. How long we remain in the top 6 depends on how long Archie stays in the country. Thompson is ready for Glasgow, an ideal (for him, but Australia?) shopping window.