Skills still intact for 300 veterans

THEY’RE not quite as spritely as they used to be, but the almost 300 players who came to Armidale for the weekend’s over 35s football tournament showed they’ve still got the skills.

Nineteen teams competed at the Consett Davis Fields at the University of New England in what was the fifth such carnival held in the city.

Each side played five round robin games on Saturday and Sunday morning before the semi finals and finals got underway yesterday.

Joining the local teams like Armidale United, DK Non-Athleticos, Ex-Services/

Wests, Redbacks, Armidale Imports and the Glen Innes Highlanders were visiting teams from across northern NSW.

Among them was a team calling itself RC United from the Central Coast.

The side featured players from a few local clubs in that area.

The RC in RC United doesn’t really stand for anything.

It’s more of a comment on their style of football.

But whatever they did worked, because they took out the main final yesterday to win the Wards Auto Pai nt Supplies Cup.

Other teams came from Sydney, Gloucester, Coonabarabran and Coffs Harbour.

Meanwhile, much has been made of the ‘Alessandro Del Piero effect’ and the man himself is hopeful he’s already changed perceptions of football in Australia.

Del Piero’s Sydney FC drew a record regular A-League season crowd of 35,419 to Allianz Stadium for their first home game against Emile Heskey’s Newcastle on Saturday night, trumping the 33,485 they attracted when playing Melbourne Victory in January 2008.

The crowd left thoroughly entertained, having witnessed a goal-fest in Sydney’s 3-2 loss and seen both Del Piero and Heskey find the back of the net for the first time in the A-League.

And while Italian superstar Del Piero was disappointed with Sydney FC’s loss he was delighted by the turnout.

“We had 35,000 people (which is) amazing and we are very proud of this and we hope at the end of the season the fans will be proud of us more than today and I think that will happen,” he said.

“I think the people didn’t completely enjoy today because we lost but they watched five goals.”

The 37-year-old former Juventus playmaker, who stayed back signing autographs after the post-match media conference, said while the team had plenty of work to do he already feels the public’s appreciation of football is on the rise.

When asked how much of an impact his presence was having on Australians’ interest in the sport he said: “I don’t know, I hope a lot.

“I think everything has changed now, well not everything, but there is a different view of soccer now. But we have to work hard. It’s not enough. We have to work to change a lot of things.

“There is a good sensation around me, and I’m happy about that... so this is an exciting challenge.”

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