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Australia at the 2022 World Cup

By Eliot Kennedy and Steve Dettre


Fabrizio Coco, Eliot Kennedy, Oli Ollnow, Hermann Kruse

Fabrizio Coco, Eliot Kennedy, Oli Ollnow, Hermann Kruse

It’s hard to know where to start in reporting on what was an amazing and, in some ways, overwhelming experience! Overall, it was a really great few days, with some impressive individual and team results, some disappointments and a few lessons learned. The Aussie team spirit was tremendous, and it was particularly lovely to see Hermann and Oli again, and to have great support from Fabrizio’s dad Vince throughout and, on the Sunday, Eliot’s wife Jutta.

The organisation by the Italian federation (FISCT) was in some ways brilliant, but in other ways could have been even better. The “room” was amazing (never seen 48 boards set up before with heaps of room around each board!), while the tables, boards and pitches (Astrobase) were very good. The pitches did slow down a little as the venue got warmer each day, but were consistent and of course the same for every player. A late morning start meant a very late finish on the Saturday…the Aussies bailed at around 7.00pm while the top flickers were still going. Just too tired. Getting to and from the venue was not easy either, but we managed in the end. All in all, though, well done FISCT!

WARM UP – Friday
We headed to the venue at around midday on Friday. As well as some flicking amongst ourselves, we managed to arrange international team friendlies with Gibraltar and the Republic of Ireland (ROI) on the Friday afternoon, which was both great in and of itself (our first internationals since the friendlies against Singapore in February 2020, and first against these two countries) and very good preparation for what was to come. Both matches were close, and were played without referees and in a really good spirit. After a narrow loss to Gibraltar, we managed a narrow win over the ROI – our first against European opposition since the 1994 World Cup versus Norway.

The full scores were as follows:

Australia v Republic of Ireland

Australia v Republic of Ireland

Eliot Kennedy 1 Joe Bonavia 1
Fabrizio Coco 1 Lawrence Alvarez 0
Hermann Kruse 1 Daniel Baldichino/Richard Berllaque 2
Oliver Ollnow 1 Joseph Sanchez 2

Fabrizio Coco 3 Brandon Rodgers 0
Oliver Ollnow 3 Oisin Mac Eo 0
Eliot Kennedy 1 Gary Moore 1
Hermann Kruse 0 Andy Fitzpatrick 1

I can say that even at 60, and with many events behind me, I was still very nervous! But the Friday flicks had helped and once I got into it the nerves mainly faded. Unfortunately, we all tended to play our matches at the same time or had to referee when others were playing, so we did not get to watch each other much.

Leroy Justin v Fabrizio Coco

Leroy Justin v Fabrizio Coco

The results:
v Leroy Justin (BEL) 1-6
v Alberto Di Maggio (GRE) 0-6
v Bennet Kaspar (ENG) 2-4

v Stefan Sandner (AUT) 1-3
v Lazaros Papakonstantinou (GRE)0-3
v John Marshall (SCO) 5-0

v Frank Stiller (GE) 1-7
v Cesare Santanicchia (ITA) 1-7
v Luis Abreau (POR) 0-6

v Cristian Antùnez (ESP) 2-2
v Christos Hitas (GRE) 0-4
v Francesco Vezzuto (ITA) 0-1

Some fun facts:
• For the second time at a world cup, Eliot won a match (1994: Miroslav Sulc (CZE) 2-1) and 2022 (John Marshall (SCO) 5-0), and in the process was the first Australian player to score more than 2 goals in a game in the FISTF era.
• He joins an elite group with Peter Thomas (2014, Rochefort) and Raffaele Lombard (2016 Framerie) [and himself in 1994] to win a match and thus not finish bottom of his group.
• Eliot’s win was our first since 2016.
• This was the first world cup since 2016 where all players scored at least one goal in their group.
• Oli was our first representative in an ‘Under 20’ to get a point since Will Johncock in 1994.
• His 2-2 draw matched that of Will, who drew 2-2 with Pavel Novak (CZE).
• The coach of the Italian youth team said after Oli’s narrow 1-0 loss to Vezzuto: “If he spends a month at my club, he becomes a top player in England!”

Some quick observations:
• Fab was drawn in one of the toughest groups, against three world class players. He did really well to score in two of his matches, and to push Kaspar Bennett to a 4-2 result (Kaspar drew 2-2 against Italian opposition in the team event on Sunday and is a top, top player on his day).
• My first match was critical. Stefan deserved to win but at 1-2 down, I managed to hit the post 3 times in the one shot…30 seconds later Stefan scored! But even with a draw, I would have gone out on goal difference. Happy to get a big win though, even though I should’ve scored more!
• Hermann, by his own admission, struggled to play his best, and to strike a balance between trying to be relaxed and trying to play hard. I think his (and Oli’s) lack of regular competition in Berlin makes it tougher for them. He had tough opponents though and did well to score in two of his matches.
• Oli acquitted himself really well in a tough group. Getting a point was well deserved.
• The standard of the top players was, as expected, unbelievably high. In particular, the speed with which players both attack and defend is amazing.
• Play goes so fast it is hard to tell, but I still think that there were lots of times when a defender had two flicks when they only should have had one (because the attacker had taken two flicks in very quick succession). I don’t recall it being pulled up even once.

Being drawn with Belgium (who made the final), England (very strong) and Northern Ireland, we had realistic expectations about qualifying, but did target the NI match as the one we wanted to win. We had Steve down as a sub for each match, but his FISTF Presidential and media duties unfortunately meant he was unable to flick in anger.

We played England first up. They were too strong for us, as expected. I had the pleasure (and misfortune!) to play Chris Thomas, Peter’s brother. What a great and fair player he is! My only regret was not scoring a consolation goal near the end, but truth be known my keeping kept the score down (as did Chris’s very nice decision not to go for goal when I missed a forcing flick with my spare keeper). And well done Fab and Oli at least scoring in their matches.

Full results were as follows:

Australia 0 England 4
Oliver Ollnow 1 Elliott Bellefontaine 5
Fabrizio Coco 1 Kaspar Bennet 5
Kruse Hermann 0 Darren Clark 5
Kennedy Eliot 0 Chris Thomas 4

Australia v Northern Ireland

Australia v Northern Ireland

Next up we had Northern Ireland, who had gone down 0-4 to Belgium. This was the one we wanted to win, and we came very close to doing so. We were up 2-0 at half time (with Fab and me leading), but NI did well to fight back and make it 2-2. We were well in front on goals overall, but unfortunately it still counted as a draw in a group match. In retrospect, we should have done more research on our opponents, as I think with a different match-up of players we would have won. But fair play Northern Ireland.

Full results were as follows:

Australia 2 Northern Ireland 2
Eliot Kennedy 4 Watson Lawrence 0
Fabrizio Coco 8 Adams Eoin 0
Hermann Kruse 1 Bradley Martinog 3
Oliver Ollnow 0 Stewart Simon 1

Next up were Belgium. Uh-oh!! They were pretty relaxed and I think took it easy on us, but were still way too good. The scores:

Belgium 4 Australia 0
Christophe Dheur 3 Oliver Ollnow 0
Bessim Golger 4 Hermann Kruse 0
Rémy Huynh 5 Eliot Kennedy 0
Florian Giaux 7 Fabrizio Coco 0

Northern Ireland managed to lose only 1-3 to England in the final round, with Simon Stewart having a fine 2-0 win over Bob Varney, meaning that they pipped us for third in the group. That was disappointing, but it was still a great day and we were very proud to fly the Aussie flag!

I stayed for the knockout rounds and witnessed some amazing and very close matches. The passion levels were high – sometimes too high for this Aussie – but most of the matches were played without too much controversy.
In sum, it was a brilliant few days and I hope to experience it again in 2024, rather than waiting 28 years for my next World Cup.

Final observation:
• I was impressed by the spirit of the team, despite losses. All the guys responded admirably, shaking hands, and congratulating opponents. There was no petulance from any of our lads (that I saw!)

Player Profile – Eliot Kennedy

27 eliot kennedyEliot Kennedy is one of the longest serving Australian players and has been a key figure in every era of the game’s competitive popularity in the country. He will be representing Australia in the upcoming World Cup in Rome, in the Veterans category and also as part of the Open Team event. ATFA sat down with him to ask him a bit about his history in the game.

ATFA: We’ll start it off simple by asking, how did you get into Subbuteo?

Eliot: I can thank/blame my older brother Martin! One of Martin’s best friends at school was the famous Gary Hosie. Gary and his equally famous brother, Donald, originally from Middlesbrough in England, were mad football and Subbuteo fans, and organised a multi-division Subbuteo league at our school (North Sydney Boys’ High) from about 1973 to 1979. My brother joined as Ipswich Town, and a year or so later (in 1974 or 75), I joined the second division as Burnley, thereby becoming the second of the “Emotional Kennedy Boys”! I would have been 12 or 13 years old.

ATFA: The Emotional Kennedy Boys? Sounds like a band!

Eliot: Martin and I were given that moniker after one too many emotional outbursts, normally after an “unfair” call or, even more commonly, losing!! But in our defence: 1. I don’t think we were any worse than many others, but there two of us, and 2. We were teenage boys!! Need I say more?!

ATFA: So, where did you sit in the pecking order of playing ability back in those teenage years?

Eliot (left) and Martin Kennedy (right), North Sydney Boys High Doubles Tournament, 1977

Eliot (left) and Martin Kennedy (right), North Sydney Boys High Doubles Tournament, 1977.

Eliot: Well down the order! Actually, if memory serves (Steve Dettre may have the records now), in my first year in the Second Division I came second and won promotion to the First Division, so that was pretty good. There were I think 10 players in each division in that year. In my second year, I think I may have come about 7th or 8th in Div 1. The Hosie boys (Don, then Gary at that stage) were untouchable at the top, then there were another 4 or 5 players (all 2 or 3 years older than me) who were a bit better than me at that time – Tom Mansikka, Rod Harrison, Adam Aitken, Geoff Corner. I was roughly equal with my brother, and there were a couple of guys I could beat!

ATFA: The game, in organised form, died out a bit after that, but you were also around during the late 80s Subbuteo revival in Australia which rolled into the 90s. Had you missed playing? Obviously, you were older, but how did that era feel different from the 70s era?

Eliot at the 1988 Sydney Open

Eliot at the 1988 Sydney Open

Eliot: Yes, we stopped around 1978, I think, and restarted in 1986. The first of a number of long breaks over the years, unfortunately. I had missed playing, though in the intervening years had been busy with uni, my first job, playing football, girls etc – not necessarily in that order of importance!! It was great to start playing regularly again, mainly to see old and good friends again on a regular basis. I think the main differences were in our levels of maturity – much higher, albeit from a low base! The visit of Willi Hoffman in 1988 had a revolutionary impact on the game here – primarily discovering the use of polish, but also seeing the style and speed of play and realising how well the game could be played, at least if you were a freak!! From the early 1990s, the biggest changes were probably in the figures (Toccer, Sports Figures) and getting international experience both here and overseas.

ATFA: You’ve always seemed to be around whenever the game gets going again. You played in the one-off tournament in 2010 and then have been ever present in the current era, starting in 2013 and continuing strong now. It seems your passion for the game has kept you around when so many others have fallen away. What is it that keeps you involved?

Eliot: It’s true, I’ve managed to hang around like a bad smell for many years! I think two main things have enabled or encouraged me to stay involved – the people, and the game itself. It’s been really great to meet up again regularly with people I’ve known for over 40 years, like Steve Dettre, Gary Hosie, Robert Green, Jonny Ball, Simon Cole, Paul Magee, Geoff Sirmai and others I don’t mean to offend by not naming them – and also to make great new friends around Sydney, most of Australia and a number of countries overseas (especially in Finland, my wife’s country of origin, but also in Singapore, the UK, US and elsewhere). Just fantastic. I also still really love playing the game – both in a relaxed atmosphere and competitively – and I still foolishly think I can get better, which help keeps me going!! The fact that my legs gave out on me about 10 years ago and stopped me playing football probably also meant I had some passion to spare. 😊

ATFA: The game has changed so much across those decades – apart from the ocassional curl flick, do you still use any of the skills or tactics you learned as a teenager?

Eliot: Good question! I do love a good curl flick, but I don’t really think so, given how much the game has changed. Maybe the only constant is I’ve always loved to attack if I can – if I’m going to lose, I’d prefer to lose 3-4 than 0-1!

ATFA: You’ve played in National Championships, Asian Cups, World Cups, regular club nights. Any games that really stand out for you in some way across all those?

Eliot at the 1994 World Cup.

Eliot at the 1994 World Cup.

Eliot: A few matches do stand out for me. Finally managing a 0-0 draw with the amazing Gary Hosie in December 1990 – the only time I managed not to lose to him in the modern era! All my matches at the 1994 World Cup stand out, but the absolute highlight was Australia’s win over Norway in the team event, our first ever win, and my own part in it, coming from behind 0-1 at half time to win 3-1. That was just fantastic as I love the team events. Lots of matches from the “modern” era (for me, that’s since 2006!) have been memorable both here and overseas, but my 3-1 win over Bernard Lim in the Australia v Singapore international friendly in 2017 in Singapore stands out as one of the best matches I have ever played. Unfortunately we lost overall on goal difference but I was proud of my performance against a great player in front of a big local crowd. Sorry, Bernard!

ATFA: What would be your advice to players starting out or looking to get better?

Eliot: Well, it certainly pays to play regularly and, if you have a board at home, to practice basic skills as much as possible. I would also advise people to think about how they play and to try to learn lessons from every match – what can be done better or differently next time. Don’t be afraid to ask for tips/advice from more experienced players and, if you’re part of a club, try to encourage them to have training nights. And don’t worry about losing to more experienced players – hopefully they won’t be too brutal and will share their experience with you. But playing and practicing as much as possible would be my main tips.

A few other random thoughts:
1. You can always improve (or at least tell yourself that!).
2. Always try to play in the right spirit, even when it is hard to do. We’re not playing for sheep stations and everyone will enjoy it more. We are all only human and I admit to letting the odd expletive go myself, but try to be your best.
3. And, most importantly, treasure the friendships and the memories that you make through our great game!

ATFA WASPA Rankings – June 2022

The World Amateur Subbuteo Players Association have released their World Rankings for June 2022. There’s been plenty of movement for Australian players. The biggest mover has been Brisbane Succuteo Club’s Peter Benholm, up 11 places in the Australian rankings and a huge 155 world ranking places. Special mention also to Eliot Kennedy (Northern Falcons TFC) who maintains his No. 1 Australian rank and No.4 world rank; Fabrizio Coco (Sydney TFC) and Adrian Grunbach (Northern Falcons TFC) who made significant climbs on the back of their respective 1st and 2nd placings in the recent AGFA Cup; and Arjuna Hanafi (Melbourne TFC) who climbed 67 world placings and 7 Australian placings.

For the full rankings list, click here.

ATFA 2022 Trading Cards

Australian Table Footballers! It has been far too long and so now is the time for us to create a new set of trading cards. The plan is to have these ready in time for Subbuteofest in the second half of July.

So, what do you need to do? If you’d like to be part of the set, organise to have a photo sent to Adrian Elmer of yourself in some sort of table football related pose. There are four main criteria:
1. Your face should be clearly visible in the photo
2. The photo should be in portrait orientation – that means it should be taller than it is wide
3. The photo needs to be high resolution. The section in which you feature needs to be at least 800 pixels wide and at least 1000 pixels high.
4. The photo must have been taken sometime since June, 2021

See below for some ideas from previous card sets.

It would be preferable if you were wearing your club colours, but we can cope if you’re not. Contact Adrian at ajebec at netspace dot net dot au with your photos or if you have any questions or need any advice. The deadline for submissions is July 1. `

Season 2015/16 ATFA Trading Cards

Season 2015/16 ATFA Trading Cards

The 2016/17 Set

The 2016/17 Set

Australian World Cup Squad 2022

This year’s World Cup will take place in Rome, Italy in September, 2022. ATFA is proud to announce our squad for the tournament.

Eliot Kennedy
Hermann Kruse

Fabrizio Coco

Under 20s
Oli Ollnow

Open Team
Fabrizio Coco
Steve Dettre
Eliot Kennedy
Hermann Kruse
Oli Ollnow

ATFA would like to wish our competitors all the best for the tournament. We are very proud of our representatives and will be following their progress with great anticipation.
27 eliot kennedy 28 hermann kruse 34 oliver ollnow 36 steve dettre 49 fabrizio coco

World Cup 2022 – Expressions Of Interest

259799845_3264610477106056_7727253097526534031_nIt was with heavy hearts that the organisers of the Rome 2020 FISTF World Cup had to cancel the event, having already postponed it to 2021. However, we are happy to announce that the all new 2022 World Cup is scheduled to go ahead on September 16-18 this year, with Rome, Italy, keeping the hosting rights.

As a FISTF Member Nation, Australia is permitted two participants in each individual category (Open, Women, Veteran, U20, U16, U12) plus two reserve nominations in each category (in case players are needed to fill the 64 or 32 places in a category), while we can also nominate teams of players for the teams events in each category (4 minimum needed).

In order to decide the best and fairest way to determine who might represent our association, ATFA is calling for expressions of interest from anybody thinking they might like to attend and compete. If the need for a qualifying tournament arises, the ATFA Committee will organise this to best suit to the greatest number of entrants possible. Expressions of interest will be accepted from any ATFA member.

Expressions of interest close at 11:59pm, Friday, March 4, 2022.

Please note: All costs involved in qualifying and/or competing (travel, living expenses, etc) in the World Cup will be the responsibility of that player.

Players will need to meet government COVID-requirements to enter Italy and return to Australia (or other nation of residence).

If a qualifying tournament is implemented, players will also need to comply with any local and venue rules concerning COVID-safe guidelines.

2022 Sydney Open + Registration

2022 so poster 700px for web

After the worst possible 2 years for Table Football (ever tried to social distance while playing Subbuteo?!) we are incredibly excited to be able to announce that proper tournaments are back! With borders opening around Australia, the 2022 season is able to start with a bang at the 2022 Sydney Open.

Sponsorship of the tournament from our host venue, Willoughby Park Bowling Club, and their restaurant, Willows Bistro, means that entry fees have been able to be kept to a bare minimum – $5 per player for the entire weekend of table football (or free for juniors). The Draw will take place as part of a dinner at the venue on the evening of Friday, January 21, with Individual Events in Open, Women’s, U20 and U16 categories held on Saturday, January 22 and Club Teams (Open & Junior) events (with a separate WASPA tournament for those without a club team) on Sunday, January 23. All players are welcome regardless of age, gender or experience.

Dinners on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights are also available, with Sunday’s meal available for free for players competing on both Saturday and Sunday. As part of our sponsorship deal, players are also asked not to bring food and drinks but to make any food purchases during the days of competition from the venue.

Hosted by the Sydney, Canberra and NSW South Coast table football clubs, we are looking forward to having the wonderful table footballing community of Australia (and beyond) reunited. Join us in January!

2021 Western Sydney Subbuteo Spring League

2021 spring league

It’s two months until Spring so it’s time to start organising the 2021 Western Sydney Subbuteo Spring League!! We missed it last year due to COVID restrictions but, hopefully, things will be good for the beginning of September this year.

Paul Magee is the incumbent champion, winning the 2019 edition, but has been heard to be offering up lame excuses about ‘bad back’s and the like, in case he gets defeated this year!
The league is open to any player of any age, experience level etc, who is happy to take membership with the Western Sydney Subbuteo club. Entry into the Spring League (and club membership) is completely free.

Follow the link and fill out the entry form. Feel free to pass details on to any players you know – all are welcome.

Click here for the 2021 Western Sydney Subbuteo Spring League sign up info.