The Locker Room (TLR) - "the real rollersoccer" TM
12pm, Thursday 22 July 2004
"We were robbed" says Dutch captain
Experienced rollersoccer player Ginio Elstak today described the utter despair felt by his team near the end of this years London RSWC final. With just two minutes left and with the South Germans leading 6-5, Dutch players began leaving the field:
"We thought it was 6-6 and felt this was the continuation of a long line of mistakes made by the referee", explained Elstak back in Holland after the dramatic turn of events last Sunday.
"There were plenty of decisions going against us throughout the match and the announcement made two minutes from the end capped a terrible display by the ref."
Elstak denied his team used excessive physical force against the Germans and announced a full appeal would be made to the International Rollersoccer Federation based in San Francisco.
The Dutch captain, who lead his team to a RSWC triumph in 2003 also criticised the tournament structure, his hotel and the fact that English taps are seperate, "either burning or freezing my hands".
Mr Elstak, we apologise for the taps...
German joy as Holland crash
The 2004 final will be remembered in years to come for many reasons; for the German victory; the very physical nature of the match but without doubt the fiasco at the end will stick longest in minds of onlookers. Never before has TLR witnessed such scenes at any RS World Cup match.
Most of the pre-match talk was of this being the final everybody wanted to see - a repeat of last years championship decider. It was an interesting clash of styles; a structured German approach with solid defense up against the colourful passing skills and build up play from the Dutch.
The game started with a strict refereeing decision - a taste of things to come - a yellow card for German playmaker Graf in just under two minutes. "I was only trying to play the ball, ref" explained Graf who had slid in from the side of a Dutch attacker. Sliding tackles are banned in Rollersoccer matches.
The Dutch were, skater on skater, the better side but didn't gel in the same manner as the Germans. For that part, the German play was predictable but effective against a Dutch team that played unpredictable rollersoccer - at times so unpredictable that even the Dutch must have been wondering if they had a game plan. The Germans edged ahead with some clever off-the-wall play from German captain Schmid with the Dutch drawing level with goals from players from all positions.
The teams were perfectly matched going into half time with three goals each. But a few minutes into the second half saw the Germans start to pull ahead with lone striker Schmid tearing into the makeshift Dutch defence. Half way through the half the Dutch recovery began taking shape and a flurry of opportunities for all players would have done more damage if it wasn't for the ever alert German defender/goalkeeper Schmalisch, without doubt the defender of the tournament.
As the game progressed the Dutch felt an increasing need to argue each decision with the referee, at one point conceding a goal in the process of making a claim. However it seemed the more they argued the more they created a sense of urgency in their play that resulted in chance upon chance on the German goal - were it not for their poor finishing the Dutch would have been 4 or 5 goals in the lead. These were desperate times for Holland and their failure to capitalise on their play slowly eroded team discipline. Even the normally calming influence of experienced Dutch captain Elstak seemed to be failing. At one point they disliked the fact that play had been stopped for an injured Dutch player at the very moment one of their forwards had a good goalscoring opportunity. LR asks, is scoring more important than an injured player?
And so after a seesaw scoreline throughout the second half and with the scores tied at 5-5 after two goals had been disallowed - one for each team - Schmid picked up the ball wide on the right and rifled a shot at the Dutch goal past the acrobatic efforts of the diving goalkeeper. Holland pressed on but with just two minutes left the Dutch players picked up the ball and started remonstrating with the referee that the score was in fact 6-6 and not 6-5 to the Germans as the ref had claimed. Two red cards were issued to their team for dissent. A free-kick for hand ball was awarded to the Germans but the Dutch were already on their way to the airport to catch their flight home.
Questions were asked of the reliability of the scoreline and partiality of the referee. The game was physical but there was an incredible amount of whistle blowing. After viewing video replays LR can exclusively reveal that the score was in fact 6-5 to the Germans.
May they celebrate with a clean conscience.
12:55pm, Sunday 18 July 2004
USA get organised to take third spot
The American team today edged out North Germany 7-4 to clinch third place in the 2004 RS World Cup.
It was a settling of scores for the 6-5 defeat they suffered to the same team in the Saturday group match. That game was a triumph of German enthusiasm over the the sometimes excessively complicated style of the Americans; it seemed the more variety of play the Germans experimented with the less effective the US team looked. American centre-forward Peter Fitch, a player rich on confidence and technique often blew his chances with too much dribbling. A similar criticism could be made of the whole team - too much approach play. With Solomon, Jeffers and Longly being in deeper defensive roles they had little chance to sparkle.
But things were different in this match. From the start it is was clear the Americans were employing different tactics. Captain Zack Phillips could often be heard commanding team mates from the back and star player Kwame Jeffers was full of intelligent skating from midfield. Longly started to find her range and combined well with Phillips and Jeffers. Fitch was on another level - speed, control and now shooting too.
With five minutes of the first half remaining the Americans were 4-1 up with Fitch and Longly in fine form. Solomon seemed content to spend most of her time encouraging the US players from the sidelines but made several appearances up front. Just five minutes into the second half the Germans had pulled another two back to make it 4-3 and for the first time in the match looked menacing.
But it was not to be. Longly teased the German defence with some light footwork and crisp shooting. Jeffers switched to a more forward role and created several chances for the team. Phillips started long forward runs on the wing, causing havoc up front as the Americans stepped up a gear to score three successive goals making it 7-3. It was cruise control from there on and even a late strike from Germany's Shibby wasn't ever going to make a significant change to to this result.
In this match the impressive 'zonal' tactics employed by the Americans left the Germans with no answers.
German skater Torsten Blank was happy with his teams performance and insisted the four matches they had played in their first RS World Cup would lead to bigger things: "We had a great time and give credit to the Americans for their better organisation. We look forward to taking part next year"
England suffered their biggest ever defeat in the fifth place decider against ROTW conceding 24 goals, a world cup record they won't be proud of.
Captain Kathryn Davies was in reflective mood but rejected calls that she should quit as "I enjoyed looking at the legs of the men". Accusations that England had used dirty tactics during their matches were also rejected - England so far have the worst disciplinary record of the tournament.
England and Rest Of The World crash out
Both home teams were today knocked out of the tournament with England winning the dreaded wooden spoon in the fifth place decider. The surprise of the tournament was the group A match in which N. Germany narrowly defeated the U.S. team 6-5 to win the group.
No surprises in group B which was always going to be tough with favourites Holland and last years beaten finalists (South) Germany progressing through to the next round at the expense of the Rest Of The World team.
ROTW Forward Ben Phegan explained to LR
"The teams we played had at least three substitutes each and this was telling as the game progressed. They also all spoke the same language whilst we had to communicate in Australian, South African and Farsi. Sometimes I would be shouting, "Down the line mate!" and the player would be looking at me with no idea. We hope to be back next year, hopefully speaking the same language"
(Day 1 completed)
Can England Do it?
With just a few hours before their first match of the campaign, England favourite Adam Newson underlines why he thinks the home team will do well.
"There's a good team spirit and despite some of the talk in the last few days we are looking forward to hosting North Germany and the USA". TLR asks will they be offering anything more than grit, determination and positive words?
Meanwhile the US camp are happy to have avoided group B, the 'group of death' -
Captain Zack Phillips explained, "whoever comes out of that group alive will have given their matches a lot [of effort] and that means they may not be as sharp once in the semi finals"
8:30am, Saturday 17 July 2004
Holland team in total disarray
Questions were being asked yesterday of the Holland squad after their team turned up at the wrong place for a practice session and then missed the World Cup draw completely. Rumours have also started circulating that the Dutch will still face flight time issues on Sunday.
In London today members of the press noticed that Dutch captain Ginio Elstak is staying at a different hotel to other squad members.
Holland, S. Germany and ROTW enter "Group of death"
The 2004 draw has brought together three teams from last years semi finals as well as a repeat of last years finals, Holland V S. Germany in match number two. The Rest of the World complete Group B.
In the other group England face newcomers N. Germany in Match number one with Blair and
Bush sitting down over some Ovaltine to watch England v USA in the second Group B match.
North Germany offer refreshing outlook
With most of the teams arriving today in time for tonights draw, the team from Bremen announced that simply kicking a ball around a hall on skates and seeing the sights of London will be mission accomplished.
Captain Torsten 'Blanco' Blank explained their philosophy: "We love anything on skates and as Rollersoccer is a little bit new for us we will be playing with no expectations".
Such a relaxed outlook on the tournament is in stark contrast to some of the other teams. South Germany, last years beaten finalists, have apparently arranged police protection for their return home into Munich airport should they again fail to win the tournament.
8:55am, Friday 16 July 2004
USA captain Zack Phillips touched down with the American squad into Heathrow this morning, declaring his team fighting fit and ready for the tournament with five players.
It is a marked turnaround for a team that fielded only two players in the 2003 competition, relying heavily on volunteers from other nations.
"It was a tough way to play, especially as the competition was 5-a-side last year", explained Zack who also fields his wife June in the squad.
"Worst of all were the supporters singing 'Just The Two Of Us' every time we got near the ball".
"The Rest" weep like the rest
London-based misfits team and last years semi-finalists, "The Rest Of The World" today lost their star centre forward Ralph due to 'issues in getting a cheap enough flight' (speak to Easyjet says TLR).
This means that not only have they lost a team member but their championship campaign, which could last as long as five matches, will be supported by just four players and no substitutes. ROTW odds tumble.
7-2 South Germany
4-1 North Germany
100-1 Rest of the World
14,000,000-1 National Lottery Jackpot
New "Wooden Spoon" match added to schedule
Rollersoccer organisers Citiskate announce an extra 5th place play-off at the end of day one thus ensuring each team plays a minimum of three games.
A close friend of England defender David Pope explained that the experienced player was pleased.
1:16pm, Thursday 15 July 2004
Latest betting predicts no surprises
After confirming they will actually attend, Holland are now firm favourites but don't write off South Germany. The dark horses this year are North Germany & ROTW.
7-2 South Germany
4-1 Rest of the World
4-1 North Germany
14,000,000-1 National Lottery Jackpot
BBC TV announce live transmission from Friday practice session
The Friday warm-up session at Kew Bridge will be televised on BBC London with ex Crystal Palace player Mark Bright rumoured to be giving the sport a go.
English camp already predicting early
flight bus home
In a statement that will shock the Rollersoccer world England players are already talking about losing before the tournament starts.
Star centre-forward Mike Williams revealed his fears in an exclusive interview with LR: "Unless the teams change dramatically, England will do badly." When pressed by TLR whether he meant England improving dramatically or the other teams declining Williams insisted that a combination of both needed to happen as well as something combining extreme luck and miracles. England captain Kathryn Davies was unavailable for comment.
Dutch arrogance almost ensures early flight home
The Dutch bid to retain the RS World Cup looked certain to have failed after their side mistakenly booked an early flight back to Amsterdam.
This would have meant them travelling to the airport before the 2004 World Cup final had even been played. TLR asks, "Can a team be so confident of winning that they feel they don't even have to play?"
Dutch captain Ginio Elstak explained, "the 2003 tournament was only held on a Saturday and we thought this would be the case in 2004". Only the last minute intervention of Alistair Buckle at Easyjet avoided a possible national embarrassment. Elstak assured us that in fact only half the skaters would have travelled back to Holland, with half remaining in London. Now we understand what the term "Going Dutch" really means.
Referee pulls out of tournament
The English FA appointed referee has pulled out of this years tournament just three days before the first match is due to kick off.
His reasons were do to with Rollersoccer "not really being a sport" and the resulting difficulties with licensing and obtaining public liability insurance. Organisers Citiskate explained that they were in fact one of the world authorities on obtaining public liability insurance, hihi, and that the matches would have been covered.
Various country captains will now take on refereeing duties for the matches.
5:35pm, Tuesday 13 July 2004
North Germany the sixth team to register for 2004 RSWC
A multi-talented team from Bremen have now confirmed their involvement in this years tournament after initial confusion about registration requirements
In a separate issue Captain Torsten "Blanco" Blank denied rumours that the Bremen team were seeking to use negative tactics to draw each match 0-0.
Five teams registered so far
England, Rest of the World, Germany (south), USA and Holland are all registered with various no-frills airlines reporting a slight increase in bookings.
Noon, Monday 12 July 2004
70 years of Rollersoccer
Today at the LR offices we received anmessage that had us asking "Do our eyes deceive us?". A photo of well-to-do women playing rollersoccer!
Judge for yourself
3:05pm, Sunday 11th July 2004
Greece isn't the word
The Greek Rollersoccer Federation today denied they were sending a team citing "ongoing celebrations from our win in the grassy competition" as the reason for lack of preparation.
After weeks of partying LR suggests the Greek officials get cracking on finishing their stadiums and transport network in time for the 2004 Olympics.