Drama is probably the best way to describe the Australian Grand Prix 2017.
A late switch of venue, events during the Open competition, some classic encounters, a female competition for the first time, and the presence of representatives of 11 of our club, combined to make this the most dramatic Australian Grand Prix.
The dinner and draw on the Friday night, so ably MC’d by Geoff Sirmai, and catered brilliantly by our own Fabrizio Coco, resulted in some fascinating pairings in the groups of the Open.
In Group 1, Peter Thomas (MTFC) dominated, but one of the two Cherrybrook ‘prodigal sons’ — Nick Brill raised lots of eyebrows with his comeback performance after 20 years out of competition. In his first up match, using Toccers he faced Peter and came away with a credible 6-2 loss, before smacking Kosta Barbaris (Sydney) 6-0.
In Group 2 there was a big surprise when Giuseppe Tardiota (Brisbane) beat Eliot Kennedy (Falcons) 1-0. Yago Dzelalija (Canberra) made his ATFA debut, getting a credible 1-1 draw against Giuseppe, and a 0-0 with Jeremy Simpson (Hipfingerz) before succumbing to the raw power of Eliot 5-0.
In Group 3, Ross McNulty (Perth) threw caution to the wind in his opener against Steve Dettre (Falcons), and despite Steve twice taking the lead, Ross pegged him back — the second being an absolute screamer. But in the second half, Steve’s accuracy wore Ross down, scoring three unanswered goals. Fabrizio won the group after a 1-0 win against Steve.
Group 4 featured the bravest individual of the weekend. Despite suffering from the effects of a brain tumour, Harley Ullrich (Falcons) turned up on both Friday night and Saturday: “I wasn’t going to let anyone down. People were expecting to play, and I was going to be there.” He lost 3-0 to Benny Ng (MTFC) and then 2-0 to Rik Bland (Brisbane) before sharing the spoils in a pulsating 3-3 draw with Tony Credentino (Sydney).
Benji Batten (MTFC) made a spirited start to his title campaign with three wins in Group 5, ahead of Jon Ball (Falcons), another debutante in Terry Koutzas (Sydney) and Chris Thorn (Perth).
Hermann Kruse (Falcons) caused a boilover in Group 6, topping the table after playing some of the best table football he’s shown in the last two years. He held Adrian Elmer (Parramatta) 0-0, then Todd Giles (Newcastle) 1-1, before whipping three past another returnee, Richard Wilson (Cherrybrook). Todd had quite literally come straight off the boat, after a night shift in the navy, but lack of match practice took its toll.
In Group G, Paul Mercer (MTFC) topped the table, with Hugh Best (Perth) squeezing through in second place.
The barrage round threw up some of the biggest scores of the weekend. Rik could do no wrong as he beat Hermann 5-1, while Fabrizio went on a rampage against Jon, winning 5-0, and Benny beat Hugh 6-0. But the big surprise was Steve’s 7-1 thumping of Giuseppe, with every shot being an unstoppable meteor. Nick caused the biggest boilover when he beat Paul Mercer 2-0 to progress to the quarters.
Peter Thomas threw everything at Steve in the first half of their Quarter Final clash, with only Steve’s goalkeeping forcing him into the match. In the second half, a lightning attack by Pete broke the deadlock, and we progressed with a 2-0 win. Eternal rivals Benji and Benny faced off in their quarter, with Benji loudly proclaiming his 2-1 victory in a controversial climax to the game! Fabrizio comfortably moved past Rik 3-0, but Eliot had to battle all the way to sudden death extra time — at one stage being down 0-2 — before he could beat Nick 3-2.
In the final, some unbelievable defensive flicks from both players kept the game scoreless until Peter wove his magic to claim his second AGP in three years.
Tournament report by Steve Dettre
For more photos, click here.
For full results, click here.