Almanac Soccer: Back to the park


Jones Ntungwanayo of Truganina Hornets (13) takes on the Bell Park defence. [Source: Author]


Our family have a long involvement with Bell Park Soccer Club in Geelong. Our son began with the Under 12s and had a few games with the seniors before trying his luck in Scotland. I had spells as team manager and publicist for the youth teams and reported on games for the Geelong Advertiser, but there had been a long gap in attendance at matches recently until I looked at the fixture for Saturday’s game. As I read it there was a local derby with Surfcoast in Division Four West so I thought that would be interesting. Trouble was I had misread the program, they were actually up against Truganina Hornets from Melbourne. This is a relatively new team in an area where the population has exploded in recent years. So there was an interesting clash of migrant generations in the stories of the two clubs.



Bell Park was founded in the 1950s by a group of youngsters, some of whom broke away from the Geelong Soccer Club seeking a game. There was always a strong Italian influence but the club set itself up to be multicultural and played in all white. They still do and the present team still show names that are redolent of the post-war generation of migrants. Anthony Hayes, son of Geelong Soccer Club stalwart, Bobby Hayes, coaches the seniors.



The Hornets by contrast are a new club from a new suburb of south-west Melbourne and recent migrants from Africa form the majority of the team. They are coached by Tony Lettieri who played with Springvale City in the 1990s. So there were fascinating visual and stylistic contrasts on view in brilliant late autumn sunshine on a fresh green pitch. A good crowd relaxed in the stand.



Bell Park had the better of the opening exchanges and Tony Tassone’s free kick was just over the head of Josh Talev after eight minutes. The respective number 15s, Mijo Marinovic for Park and Paul Malith of the Hornets had shots directly at the opposition keepers. A couple of corners to Bell Park caused more trouble in the penalty area but on each occasion the ball was scrambled clear.



The breakthrough came after 33 minutes when Park won a free kick just outside the left-hand corner of the box. The man-of-the-match, Talev, spotted that there was a slight gap at the end of the Hornets’ defensive wall and fired the ball cleanly into the corner of the net. Simon Smyth, the Hornet’s goalkeeper, had no chance with the powerful low shot.



There was a strange incident at the kick-off after the goal when Malith kicked the ball twice before anyone else! This results in an automatic free kick against the player responsible. Bell Park had the better of the first half, though it must be said that cohesive moves were few and too many broke down before the final decisive ball could be delivered. There was no lack of effort by both teams though.



Mijo Marinovic had a golden opportunity to put Bell Park further ahead when he was clean through the defence, but he ran the ball wide and could not get his shot on target. He was also caught offside a couple of times.



The second half saw the Hornets exert a little more pressure in search of an equaliser, but the Park defence dealt competently with everything. There was frustration in keeper Smyth’s voice when a shot by Jones Ntungwanayo was driven straight at the Bell Park keeper Tiago Bonfacio in the 85th minute. ‘That was the first one all day’. It wasn’t quite but you could sympathise with him. Bell Park deserved its narrow victory.





The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in 2021. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order HERE




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