Strikers v Force

Round 12 report by David Marshall
Brisbane Strikers v Adelaide Force

A very Happy New Year to you all! I think we probably have lots of wishes in common for 2001. Unfortunately, a few are unlikely to come to pass if they concern Oz football.

There had been no discernible publicity about the fact that this was to be the very last match the STRIKERS were to play at Lang Park cum Suncorp cum Suncorp Metway stadium - in fact there had been no publicity other than the Wail fragments about the game at all. Despite this, I really thought that there would be a good gathering at O'Leary's pre-match just because we supporters knew it was the last game and many of us knew that it would be also the last pint at that worthy establishment, as Rob is out of there pretty soon. An hour before kick off we numbered 5, just before the game, maybe 15 or 20. Sound decision, Rob!

Down to the ground, and I deliberately avoided looking at the great empty stand feeling rather less than chuffed about what has happened to the beautiful game here in Brisbane and wondering how things will go in Rah Rah Central for our next home game in four (yes, four) effing weeks. There is no pub within walking distance there, so all bar profits, presumably go to QRU in future. Oh, Perry Park, wherefore art thou?

The game started at, IMHO, the silly hour of 6.00PM in a strange light, the Milton Road end being bathed by light of the setting sun, the other still quite bright, but much darker. The floodlights were on, but not influential at this time. The lights were on, but the apology for a scoreboard was not. The renovations had clearly started as its entrails could be seen dangling from the opposite end. The new scoreboard seemed strangely appropriate for what NSL games here had become - a three by two metre board affixed to the fence at the halfway point opposite with "Home" and "Away" inscribed across it. It must have been a rush job as no sponsor had leaped at the opportunity to spread their brand name or logo before this captive audience.

The game started in the control of, I understand, a noviciate ref. I think he gave some odd decisions through the night and, towards the end, lost control almost completely. There had been some public talk of both captain and coach of the STRIKERS accusing some of the younger brigade of "going missing" recently. They heeded this because they were all up for it this time. The STRIKERS dominated most of the first half, pressed Adelaide into their own half, competed for and won every 50/50 ball - and a lot where the odds were worse than that. On one occasion, after a great one touch passing move up the left, Fernando went SO close to drilling it inside the right post. Just desserts when a penalty was awarded - I think for hand ball - just before half time and Fossie duly put it away. 1-0 at half time and our customarily fragmented supporters were happy that justice was done. We could not have guessed that the last 45 min at the Corpse would be possibly the best (GF excepted) we ever produced.

The second half remains a blur in my mind. Partly due to the tempo and emotion, partly that Fourex I shouldn't have had at the break. Seven goals, three all in stouches (Adelaide do not take a thrashing gracefully) and two red cards! I think the score sequence was 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 3-1, 4-1, 4-2, 5-2 and 6-2. Both Adcity's goals were scrambling knees and elbows affairs, at least three of ours would have made goal of the week in most leagues. If you get a chance to see them on the telly, don't miss it. I hope they look as good with the hindsightascope as they did last night. Our Brazilian has got it. Every game he looks better and the one he drilled into the bottom left corner was breathtaking. Another involved a class flicked on header from the left and first timer into the roof of the net. These two were within 30 seconds of each other to make it 3-0. Jeromy Harris joined the party with two goals, so I think Fernando had three, Harris two and Foster scored the penalty. In the last ten minutes or so, our visitors lost their collective rags. Possibly resenting the tight all over ground marking all night, perhaps because they are just sore losers, but on three occasions vulgar brawling erupted involving most of both teams. It has to be said that Arelio Vidmar did seemto be catalytic at least once. North and a balancing Adelaidian were sent off ultimately. I'm no judge of these things, but someone who may know thought the STRIKERS won the fights too :-).

It was very pleasant to leave the ground for the last time with fans buzzing. Thosewho have abandoned us missed a rare gem of a game. So, back to O'Leary's to celebrate with the like minded? Nine turned up.

We can look back on the Corpse years with mixed feelings. The magic of Frank Farina in that first season. As I said then, you felt like leaving at half time so you could pay again to get back in to see some more of him. Brownie and Frank on THAT day in May. The depressingly sad decline on and off the field since then. The bonding that occurred when we said "No" to Carrara leading to the formation of the BSSA. The transitions through The Irish Connection, Rainbows on Caxton and the sad end with O'Leary's. The good football mates we've made. I'm starting to feel nostalgic for the ugly old girl already! However, we must look ahead positively to the shift. Things can't get a lot worse and the club must now firstly look forward to acceptance into the NSL of the future, then has a month to prepare for the move. If the team play as they did last night, no other team in the league (from what I've seen) will live with them Can or will they make something of this opportunity? Please, Eric, let them!