During an amazing weekend of table football action at the magnificent Ultra Football facilities, Peter Thomas claimed the first FISTF Grand Prix Open Individual title and backed it up the following day to help Melbourne TFC win the club teams title in Melbourne on the weekend. This was the first FISTF Grand Prix held in Australia since the COVID-19 pandemic hit our shores in 2020.
The tournament schedule began with the dinner draw at Panenka Café. There was a strong turn out with most players attending the event to enjoy great food and the social aspects of the start to proceedings. Welcome gifts were given to Bryan Arnold as a thank you for travelling all the way from the USA to compete, and also to Richard Edeson who travelled from Auckland to be the first Kiwi to compete in a FISTF event. There was also a token of appreciation presented to Kevin Grant, a work-horse on the Australian table football scene without whom we wouldn’t have the quality tables we have today.
The crowd listens intently to the words of FISTF President Steve Dettre during the welcome address
The draw itself was always going to present some tough groups to escape from. Richard Wilson was left cursing being draw with Peter Thomas and the surprisingly unseeded Fabrizio Coco, likewise Tony Madiona drawn with Robert Green and Vikas Chandarimani. Most others saw their groups as tough but with some hope of progressing to the round of 16.
Demonstrating the depth of competition, and the turmoil COVID caused to global FISTF rankings, 5 of the 8 seeds did not top their group. Only Robert Green and eventual finalists Peter Thomas and Eliot Kennedy prevailed. However, all seeds except for Giuseppe Tardiota did progress from their group.
Some of the highlights from the group stage included:
- Peter Thomas defeating Australian 2022 World Cup representative Fabrizio Coco 4-0 in the first match live streamed on the marquee Dt38 Foundation table
- Richard Wilson taking the lead against Peter Thomas (in what was to be the only goal Peter conceded in the event)
- Richard Edeson picking up his (and New Zealand’s) first ever point in a FISTF event. Richard Edeson’s improvement showed in his first ever FISTF event, conceding 8 then 4 then keeping a clean sheet! 4-0 win next time perhaps!?
- Bryan Arnold defeating Luke Radziminski in their final group game to leapfrog him into top spot.
In the Round of 16 Luke Radziminski, Eliot Kennedy and Carl Young scored big wins against Paul Mercer, Kostas Barbaris and Tony Credentino, respectively. Nick Brill also had a comfortable 3-1 win over Steve Dettre. Top scorer of the group stages, Adrian Connolly, lost his scoring boots and ultimately the game in a shootout to Nathan Urbaniak who held his nerve to score his final penalty shot.
The round of 16 also threw up some clashes between players fancies to go deep into the tournament. In these games Peter Thomas overcame Vikas Chandiramani 1-0, Robert Green defeated Fabricio Coco 2-0 and Bryan Arnold bowed out in sudden death extra time against Daniel Lombard.
In the quarter finals, Peter Thomas was too strong for Nick Brill, whilst Luke Radziminski was made to fight hard for his 2-0 win over Nathan Urbaniak. Eliot Kennedy’s good form continued in a solid 3-1 win over Daniel Lombard. But the pick of the matches was Carl Young’s win over Rob Green that drew a big crowd during extra time and penalties. Carl came from a goal down to draw 1-1 in normal time. With no score in extra time, Carl again went behind in penalties before scoring with his 5th penalty flick to take the game into sudden death shots in which he then scored again to take out an epic encounter between to champions of the game.
In the semi-finals, Peter Thomas was again too strong for his opponent. This time club mate Luke Radziminski had no answers. Carl Young was again involved in another epic clash that will live long in the memories of many at the tournament. After Eliot took the lead, Carl again came back to draw level. However, this time he couldn’t respond when Eliot Kennedy took the lead a second time.
The final between Peter Thomas and Eliot Kennedy was a very tight game. After a period of second half possession deep in Eliot’s half Peter ultimately was able to break open Eliot’s defence and score what turned out to be the only goal of the game. The clash was also notable for Peter’s ability to retain possession for the last 5minutes (and more!) of the game to kill off the clash.
A WASPA was held for the 9 players eliminated at the group stage of the FISTF event. Played in the Fast20 format, with no extra time in the event of a draw, it was a do or die knockout cup!
Giuseppe Tardiota progress to the final without conceding, though had to fight hard to scrape past both Christos Garagounis in the ¼ finals and Richard Wilson in the semis 1-0. Geoff Sirmai was his opponent in the final after narrowly defeating Tony Madiona 1-0 and then Beth Eveleigh on penalties in the semis. The final was a high scoring affair. At the end of 20mins the scores were tied 2-2. This time Geoff didn’t have what was needed in the shootout, with Giuseppe taking out the title.
On Sunday, a WASPA was held for those players not competing in the FISTF Teams event. It was a more relaxed event, but with plenty on the line in the form of the choice of Hop Nation beverage for the winner as well as the trophy! A field of 9 players was divided into two groups playing in the Fast20 format. In Group 1, Vikas Chandiramani and Adrian Connolly quickly took control of the group, leaving Richard Wilson to hope that Adrian could overcome Vikas in the final game to give Richard hope of progressing. Unfortunately for Richard, Vikas won 1-0 to clinch top spot, with Adrian taking second.
The other group was very tight. All 4 players in the final round of games could progress. Geoff’s win over Nick Brill gave him top spot and in doing so ended the chances of Nathan Urbaniak reaching the semis despite his win over Tony Madiona. Richard Edeson’s earlier boilover win over Nathan ultimately cost him a spot in the semis after Nathan’s great run into the quarter finals in Saturday’s FISTF event.
Playoffs were held for classifications. Richard Wilson defeated Nathan Urbaniak 1-0 to clinch 5th, and Tony Madiona defeated Kevin Grant on penalties to take out 7th. In the playoff for 8th Kevin defeated Richard Edeson 1-0 on sudden death penalties.
In the semi-finals, Vikas and Adrian were again too strong for their opponents, setting up a return clash for the title. This time, after again conceding the first goal to Vikas, Adrian was able to level scores. Both players pressed hard for the winner in a very open game, but it was Vikas who took his changes to take the title.
Four clubs entered the teams event on Sunday – Melbourne TFC, Sydney TFC, Northern Falcons TFC and Northern Phoenix TFC. The tournament was held in round robin style. Whilst Northern Phoenix, boosted by the presence of American loan signing Bryan Arnold, put up stiff resistance in each game, the clashes between the other three clubs ultimately decided the winner and placings. Melbourne comfortably overcame Sydney TFC in what was a key result as in later games Northern Falcons could only draw with both Sydney TFC and Melbourne TFC. Rob Green’s winner against Daniel Lombard was key to the Falcons getting a point against Sydney. The final game between Northern Falcons and Melbourne TFC decided the title. It was another gripping encounter with individual games and the overall team contest see-sawing at various stages of the matches. With this, Melbourne TFC topped the standings to take out the title
Thanks to everyone who participated and helped out throughout such an amazing event full of great sportsmanship, camaraderie, and love for the beautiful game of Subbuteo table football!