Monthly Archives: February 2019

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Christmas countdown

SHOPPING SEASON: Christmas shopping can be stressful, but with a little planning and organisation you can have it done without the hassle right here in town.Advertising feature
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It’s no surprise that shopping during the festive season can be a daunting and stressful experience. Here are some tips that require minimal effort for maximum results.

Make a list

Write down everyone you plan to buy a present for, including smaller presentssuch as the office Kris Kringle. Don’t forget Christmas is an opportune time to also thank invaluable people such as school teachers. Include ideas of what to give each person, along with the amount you’re willing to spend.

Researchideas online

If you know what you want to give someone but are unsure of specifics, head online for price comparisons and to read reviews. If the thought of facingcrowds is too much to bear, try some internet shopping. Many online retailers guarantee delivery up to a few days before December 25.

Shop solo

If you do decide to hit the shops, make sure you go alone. You’re on a mission here – get in, get the job done, and get out. While shopping with someone else might seem like fun, it’ll end up taking twice as long and you run the risk of being influenced by their purchases and straying from your own list.

Buy less expensive gifts first

When you shell out for something expensive, your brain loses perspective on what’s a bargain and what’s overpriced. Once you’ve spent $400 on a game console, paying $10 instead of $5 for stocking fillers may no longer alarm you. Avoid this trap.

Set a time limit

During the festive season, Christmas tunes, staff offering samples, and the sensory overload in general, can make you lose sense of time. Combat this by making plans immediately after your shopping trip, so you have to leave at a specific time.

Consider DIY

If itall becomestoo much and you have a knack for all things crafty and creative, why not make some of your gifts. You could try your hand at making bath salts or festive treats, and present them in a beautiful glass jar adorned with ribbon. This is a good idea for those teachers, or elderly relatives who often don’t care for more stuff, but love the thought that’s put intosomething handmade.

FFA Cup final win rich reward for John van ‘t Schip, a Melbourne Heart original

John van ‘t Schip was there at the beginning, so if anyone has earned the right to be there at the moment of Melbourne City’s greatest triumph, their FFA Cup final success, it is he.
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The Dutchman was there when City were Heart, when the team played in red, not sky blue and white, when they trained at far flung locations in the northern suburbs, when they used wheelie bins for ice baths and portakabins as a medical facility.

He was there when it was underfunded, under-appreciated and, for the most part, underwhelming.

The club’s inaugural coach, van ‘t Schip was brought in from The Netherlands after an impressive playing career, a coach with regal personal connections (he was a friend to the likes of Marco Van Basten and had been mentored by the legend that is Johan Cruyff) and a grounding in one of the best football production systems on the planet.

Hired in October 2009, van ‘t Schip’s appointment was designed to make a statement about the then new club, the team designed to become an A-League rival to powerhouse Melbourne Victory: his arrival heralded, so it was said, Heart’s philosophy. This was a club that was to be soaked in “European sophistication”, to play the game “the right way”, one that would appeal to football purists.

They did, sometimes. More often than not they didn’t, as their lack of success showed. Sure, they made the finals in their second season but they struggled for crowds, an identity and relevance as Victory continued to rule the roost.

Van ‘t Schip eventually departed at the end of the 2011-12 season, having taken Heart to the finals for the first time.

He was gone nearly two years, but answered an SOS call to return and stabilise the club after it had gone into a tailspin in the 2013-14 season, replacing his successor, John Aloisi, who was sacked at the end of 2013, midway through what to that point had been a disastrous campaign.

Van ‘t Schip’s return coincided with the takeover by the City Football Group, and like Heart, which morphed into City and grown and prospered since, the Dutchman’s record in Australia has improved dramatically.

City have made the A-League semi-finals in the past two seasons under his tutelage, and this year sit second on the table and have collected their first silverware in men’s football.

The coach has proved himself one of the more tactically adept in the A-League, developing a group of players who can adopt flexible tactical set-ups, play an attacking game at high tempo and press high up the field.

He has collated a versatile group and has created a buy-in mentality in a squad where there are some big names, such as Tim Cahill and Bruno Fornaroli, and some squad players who will all come in and do a job when asked.

“I am happy of course because it is the first trophy in the history of the club. Everybody has been waiting to get it done, so its important to win your first trophy,” he said after the final triumph.

“Everybody in the club … from the administration, to the players, the kitchen area, all the staff around the football team.

“Moments like this evening don’t come that often. Every time that you play a final its something very special. its the first prize we could win.”

In the immediate aftermath of the game, van ‘t Schip spared a thought for his mentor Cruyff, who died this year.

“I also think of Cruyff who passed away, his legacy and the football philosophy he left behind and I hope to contribute in the way he wanted to play football. I think we are making those steps here and the staff here are helping me. We have an incredible staff that are backing me. It’s a credit to the City Football Group that made these things happen.”

Van ‘t Schip’s contract expires at the end of this season, and who would bet against him finishing with the biggest trophy of them all, the A-League title.

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If Tim Cahill didn’t exist, could anyone dare to invent him?

Tim Cahill celebrates after kicking a goal during the FFA Cup final. Photo: Daniel PockettIf he didn’t exist, could you even dare to invent him?
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Tim Cahill is a player so improbable that his achievements, especially on the big stage, seem scarcely believable.

He’s not the most skilful player in the world, nor is he the most technically adroit. He is not Australia’s greatest player by almost any measure, although he is its most recognisable, and certainly the greatest Socceroo.

But he has something more priceless than both those commodities: he has the knack of rising to the occasion, the bigger the stage, the more impact he has.

And he has the gift of timing, knowing where to be in the penalty box, knowing when to be there and knowing how to finish.

Cahill has scored so many vital goals for both club and country over the years that it sometimes is easy to forget his crucial interventions.

Yes, everyone knows about his goals against Japan in the World Cup in 2006, or his spectacular volley against the Netherlands in Porto Alegre in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

But there are countless others that have arrived in big games, in Liverpool v Everton derbies in the Premier League, for Millwall early in his career when he scored an FA Cup semi final winner against Sunderland that took them to Wembley, along with countless goals for the national team in various tournaments.

Now can be added his winner in the FFA Cup final, when he rose to head home Ivan Franjic’s cross to make the crucial difference on the night when Melbourne City beat Sydney FC and won their first ever men’s football trophy under the City Football Group ownership.

In the aftermath of his matchwinning performance for Melbourne City he declared the FFA Cup triumph as “right up there” with the biggest achievements of his career.

It was pure Cahill, a textbook header early in the second half, which brought City glory. All his classic aerial skills were on display: his ability to push off defenders, to find a half stride of space, to leap with perfect timing and to place, rather than thump, the ball wide of goalkeeper Danny Vukovic.

It was reminiscent of the goal he scored against Chile at the World Cup of 2014, a header which had also come from an Ivan Franjic​ cross.

It was a script that could have been written days before the game, so often does the Socceroo frontman provide a storyline that seems to defy logic and expectation. Except that had any journalist speculated on how the winning goal would come it would probably been spiked by an editor on the grounds that this sort of fairytale could not happen, especially not when the protagonist is a 37-year-old who nowadays struggles to see out 90 minutes.

But Cahill does what others don’t, and in the wake of helping City to win its most significant trophy so far, he said the playing group could now build on that achievement and use it as a springboard for greater things in the future.

“My feelings are pretty amazing. Everything we spoke about for the past nine months, leading into this campaign and the FFA Cup … the culture of the club, to bring a winning mentality and a group of guys together.

“Its up there with the proudest moments of my career. You can have your wildest dreams … this is nice, it’s in Australia, it’s where I am from.

“I said I would give it everything, regardless of what people were saying about my age and my body,” said Cahill, wearing a T-shirt proclaiming City’s Cup success and his winners medal round his neck.

He also revealed that he had been made angry and determined to do something by the Sydney fans, who just before he scored had been taunting him with chants that he was “only here for the money”.

“It was like Chile, but I didn’t jump as high. Cic’s cross, I was thinking did I have to go and meet the ball … I could see Vukovic’s body was open …

“Tonight was just special, just before the fans were singing negative things about me, then I thought this is my chance.

“It’s the story of my life. That’s why I play, for moments like that. My job is to be in the box and if I score great … It was beautiful, nice the way it hit my head and went in.”

One of the reason City signed Cahill was top tap into his experience and know how, the ability to mentally prepare for matches at the highest stage and in the most difficult of conditions.

He said he had spoken in a heartfelt fashion to his team-mates before the game, impressing on them how they had to seize this opportunity.

“Collectively as a group I said to the boys before we went out, you don’t get a lot of chances like this in your career. For one night only we will play our heart and souls out and give it everything, and when you are cooked put your hand up … I wanted to get the fire out of their bellies.”

Cahill paid tribute to the City Football Group and the attention to detail and commitment they had brought to turning a broken down Melbourne Heart into the powerhouse that is City, setting standards off the field for the rest of the A-League to match.

“This club is run like a Premier League club. I am there from 8am every morning to three in the afternoons … I am so impressed with what we do in the community and with the women’s team.”

“This football club, we have to win things. Now we have won something, we take this momentum, we regroup, we stay humble, and go again.

“There would have been a lot of people watching that game, praying we would lose. I hope the other codes take notice.”

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Australia v New Zealand 2016: The innings that made one-day bolter Hilton Cartwright

Steve Smith last month demanded his team show more resilience and in Hilton Cartwright he has been given a player who fits that bill.
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The Zimbabwean-born West Australian all-rounder might not have the greatest set of numbers in the world to demand international selection but there can be no doubting his character.

Cartwright, who is poised to make his international debut in the Chappell-Hadlee series, left his state teammates and coaches in awe last year when he batted not once but twice after tearing a muscle off the bone to save a Sheffield Shield game against Victoria.

Facing a high-class attack including Test duo Peter Siddle and James Pattinson and ODI paceman Scott Boland, Cartwright batted for some 90 minutes to make an unbeaten 27 off 70 balls.

The injury required surgery and ruled him out for more than 10 weeks but won him rave reviews from the dressing room.

“He was very courageous. When you see someone do that, hobble on one leg, you know he has ability and he’s something special,” WA assistant coach and former Test vice-captain Geoff Marsh said.

“For any athlete you couldn’t get any higher praise than what he got after that game; that was a moment in his career we thought we had someone special, who crossed the line to do something for his team. He won’t leave anything out there.”

Despite his bravery, it’s unlikely Cartwright will be a familiar name to many cricket fans other than those who follow the state scene very closely. From 27 domestic one-dayers, Cartwright has not scored a ton or taken a five-wicket haul and averages 26.5 with the bat and 39 with the ball though clearly made a strong impression on selectors with a century for Australia A in September.

“He’s a beautiful player to watch, very elegant, plays all the shots, times the ball beautifully,” Marsh said. “He’s one of those players, you look at the scoreboard and he’s 20 before you know it.”

Ironically for Marsh, the player taking Cartwright’s position in the team is his son Mitchell Marsh. “They joke about it, they’re very similar players,” Marsh said.

Cartwright will be seen as a speculative selection though three years out from a World Cup is as good a time as any to take a punt.

Australian all-rounder James Faulkner did not train on Thursday due to illness.

The Black Caps’ 14-man squad contains only five players from last year’s World Cup final. Among those missing are former captains Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori, who have both retired, while star batsman Ross Taylor is injured.

Pace duo Trent Boult and Tim Southee are back, joined by uncapped quick Lockie Ferguson, who can nudge the 150 km/h barrier.​

“Lockie gives us that point of difference in our attack. He hasn’t played a huge amount up until the past two seasons where he’s got over a lot of injuries,” Black Caps coach Mike Hesson said. “He’s got to an age when those major issues tend to dissipate a bit, when you get to 24 or 25. He’s a strong bowler, he’s certainly quick and I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t play at some stage this series.”

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Modest sales for Michael Clarke autobiography compared to Ricky Ponting book

Book business: Former Australian captain Michael Clarke with wife Kyly and daughter Kelsey Lee at his book launch. Photo: Ben RushtonIt made an almighty splash when it landed on shelves and you can barely walk past a book shop without seeing a promotional poster of it, but Michael Clarke’s autobiography hasn’t made the same impact when it comes to sales. Clarke pulled no punches in the book, and it’s an indisputably compelling read. Compared to Ricky Ponting’s autobiography of three years ago, or previous Australian captain Steve Waugh before that, though, sales have been modest. Clarke’s My Story, published by Macmillan Australia, had shifted a little more than 13,000 copies since its release on October 26 in figures provided to The Tonk on Thursday. Of course, the peak Christmas buying period is still to come but it would want to get a hurry along if it’s going to hold a candle to Ponting’s At the Close of Play, which hit the 100,000 mark in its first few months on sale at the end of 2013. Clarke, who is believed to have been paid an advance of close to $1 million, hasn’t been helped by a crowded market for cricket and sports books already this summer, with releases from Mitchell Johnson, Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin, Jim Maxwell, Dennis Lillee and Brad Hogg among others. (Johnson’s autobiography Resilient, by the way, has sold about 5700 copies, while Lillee’s has done essentially its entire print run of about 4800). The industry has also changed dramatically in recent years with stores closing down and readers turning to Kindle but for a recently retired former Test captain, Clarke’s numbers are underwhelming.
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Prolific Perry

While we’re talking numbers, there are few who can boast better than Ellyse Perry. The Southern Stars all-rounder’s one-day international average since her shift up to the top five in the batting line-up is now at a staggering 92.53 after her player-of-the-series performance against South Africa, which wound up in Coffs Harbour this week. It’s no small sample size either – she’s been in the top five now, mostly at four, for 25 innings dating back to the tail end of Australia’s tour of England in 2013 and scored 1388 runs. Perry, 26, made 334 runs between dismissals across the Stars’ series in Sri Lanka and at home against South Africa – the men’s record is 405 set by Mohammad Yousuf in a series against Zimbabwe in 2003-04 – but remains typically humble, crediting coaches. “Mixed in is a bit of luck,” she said this week. “Every cricketer needs luck at different points in time.”

Not-so-fast finish

This column is hearing James Faulkner wasn’t the most popular person with the NSW dressing room after this week’s shield game. Both sides can agree to end a game early from tea on the last day if there’s no prospect of a result but Faulkner chose to play on in pursuit of a maiden shield century. Given his reputation as the finisher in Australia’s one-day side, we can only surmise the pressure of the moment weighed heavily on Faulkner, who took 29 balls to get out of the 90s despite the Blues having the field up. Play was eventually called off once Faulkner reached three figures but not before NSW captain Moises Henriques injured his side, slamming the ball into the ground before storming off. Henriques may still play as a specialist batsman in the next round of the shield but cannot bowl.

Stumper’s revenge?

There will be a lot of talk with the Australia-Pakistan Test series coming up about Mickey Arthur taking on the team from which he was sacked as head coach. But an equally intriguing narrative is around Pakistan’s fielding coach, Steve Rixon. The former Test ‘keeper and Australian assistant coach was overlooked for the head coach’s job when it was given to Arthur in 2011 and we’re reliably informed doesn’t have a great deal of time for some senior figures in Australian cricket, the team performance manager Pat Howard among them. An old-school type who was very close with Michael Clarke and highly respected by others of that generation, Rixon had bid to be the next man in line after Tim Nielsen departed the post – which makes it interesting that Arthur then went on to hire him on his Pakistan staff – and will be eager to have some hand in a series upset against his former employer.

Cotton wool SOK

You can all but mark down Stephen O’Keefe for a ticket to India despite his recent calf injury. The left-arm spinner appears set to miss the next round of the shield but that should not be read as a blow to his Test chances – quite the opposite. The Tonk has been told Cricket Australia have demanded the Blues not pick O’Keefe to give him extra time to recover from a slight calf strain or risk their wrath if he plays and breaks down. With a Test to come on the spin-friendly SCG and a tour of India to follow, there’s plenty of chances yet for O’Keefe to add to his three appearances in the baggy green.

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